Setting Your Gardening Sights High: Building A Rooftop Garden

When your property has limited space for gardening or you just don't have the back yard you've always wanted, that doesn't mean that you're out of luck for gardening. Instead of looking for ground space to plant, set your sights a bit higher – about rooftop height. Rooftop gardens are growing rapidly in popularity, not just in urban environments but also in the suburbs and rural neighborhoods. Not only does it give you the space you want to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables, but living roof structures are great for the environment, too. If you're getting ready to replace your roof and you want to install a rooftop garden, here are some things that you should think about before you get started.

Safety Worries

The most important consideration for rooftop gardening is ensuring that the rooftop and your gardening space is safe. Not only do you need to find a way to keep yourself secure and prevent falls, you'll also have to keep your tools from sliding off the roof onto the ground beneath. Heavy tools can be a serious safety hazard falling from that kind of height. Create a barrier at the roof edge using either mesh or lattice material to block things from sliding off the edge of the roof. If the tools should slide, the barricade will keep them from injuring anyone below.

Structural Concerns

Rooftop gardens can be heavier than you might imagine. When you add planting structures, soil and growing plants to the rooftop, you're adding significant weight to your home's roof. Before you get started on your roofing renovations, you'll need to talk with a roofing contractor about reinforcing the structure beneath to support the weight. You can add reinforcement beams underneath the roofing material so that it won't buckle under the new garden.

Choose a planting medium that's lightweight. Instead of using traditional potting soil, which is quite heavy, opt for a loam or similar medium instead. Just remember that you'll probably have to replace it every planting season since the nutrients in those lightweight soils don't hold up very well for more than one season.

Container Considerations

The choice of planting containers is as important as the type of soil you decide to use. You'll want to make sure that your planting containers aren't adding any more weight to the roof, but will still allow the soil to drain well. This will not only prevent the plant roots from drowning, but it will also protect your roof from prolonged water exposure.

There are many different options for rooftop garden planting. You should opt for structures with flat bottoms and raised sides for the best soil retention. If you prefer to order prefabricated planting containers, you can choose from several styles and designs. Otherwise, you can build your own from wood, plastic or other similar materials. Line the planting structures with weed barrier products so that you don't have any risk of root growth into the roof.

Watering Woes

Particularly in the hottest part of your growing season, you're going to need to have a way to water the garden. If your roof is easy to access and you can safely walk on it, it may be easiest to climb up and do the watering on your own. Just be sure to take the necessary safety precautions so that you don't fall.

If you can't get up on the roof to water, you'll want to invest in a watering wand. The wands come in many sizes, so you can find one that will stretch far enough to reach your rooftop planting boxes. Just make sure that your roofer installs sufficient drains along the roof and waterproofing membranes beneath the root barrier so that you protect your home from water damage.

Take the time to evaluate each of these factors before you install a new rooftop garden. You'll want to be sure that your garden is structurally sound and secure, and these tips will help you do just that. Talk with a roofing contractor about your options so you can be sure that you have the best choices for your home, or go to sites of local roofing companies to learn more.