How to start a garden on your upper level deck, rooftop, or condo balcony
Many people who live in urban areas think they are unable to enjoy the pleasures of gardening; especially if they live in condominiums, apartments, or houses with very small lots. Rooftop gardens are the answer for anyone with limited to no space, like a condo terrace, balcony, or a rooftop deck, who would like to give their green thumb some exercise. Gardens in general offer some great benefits, including providing healthier foods and a relaxing hobby. With this unique type of garden, more people can reap these benefits, plus there is an added element of helping the environment.
In order to establish a rooftop garden, or enjoy plants on your condo balcony or terrace, there are a few things that must be taken into account. First and foremost, the roof (or balcony) must be able to take the weight. It may not seem like much, however, it all adds up. Factor in that a single gallon of water comes in at just under eight and a half pounds, and you could have a real disaster on your hands if you expect more out of your roof than it can handle. Which type of garden will be planted is also important. Soilless varieties are popping up everywhere. Increasing popularity of these may be due to the fact that they tend to be lighter. As the name implies, planting is done without the use of soil. Using this method will allow planting on some structures that would be otherwise unstable under a full load. An added bonus to soilless gardening is the lack of any weed growth.
To start your rooftop garden, you will need a list of supplies. There are several options pertaining to each method of gardening. If you decide to use soil, keep in mind that you should opt for a lightweight one. Coconut husk fiber, peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite are all excellent choices. Fertilizer use is necessary when using one of these, and organic is recommended.
Accessible water is very important. It should be available at a good pressure. Medium to high is desired. Correct pressure will allow use of a drip system to keep plants hydrated.
At one time, rooftop gardens consisted mostly of flowers and herbs. Now it is common to see fruits and vegetables being grown as well. Deciding what you would like to grow mostly depends on what you would like to harvest. Plants that have roots that spread out as they grow rather than grow downwards will help you use less soil. Climate may have the most significant impact on the success of rooftop crops. Be sure to select plants that are hardy enough for the weather in your location.
Containers are often used. When they are, it is important that they are not filled to the top with soil. Leaving space will give the plant some protection from the wind. Certain types of pots can actually dehydrate your plants. Porous materials, like terra cotta, will actually draw the moisture away from the roots. In conventional situations this is not always a problem, but a rooftop environment is different.
These are just a few things to get you started. Welcome to the wonderful world of rooftop gardening!