Traditionally ‘barren’ rooftops can, with a hint of imagination, be transformed into dazzling, rainbow hued gardens with all manner of seasonal and perennial flowers. They are also the perfect place for a kitchen garden producing everything a cook could desire.
If you are thinking of creating a ‘green’ rooftop paradise of plants, keep the following in mind:
- It is imperative that decisions about the distribution of the weight bearing load are made in conjunction with an architect as plant pots/containers, especially when wet, are surprisingly heavy.
- The inclusion of waterproof material in roofing design is of major importance, as are drainage channels to allow an easy escape for excess irrigation water.
- The erection of a wall around the roof is a basic safety requirement and should be a minimum of four feet in height. This wall will, apart from being a useful place on which to train climbing plants, offer protection to plants as rooftops can be windy.
- Well placed taps are essential; plants growing in exposed positions such as rooftops need far more water than their counterparts growing in the ground.
- If your rooftop garden is to be large, an exterior staircase is recommended as few people would relish the regular transportation of pots/containers up and down an interior staircase.
- The provision of shade is highly important: fixed uprights (these can be concrete or rust proofed metal) are ideal and can be used as corner/main posts for the erection of firmly secured green netting or for the support of interwoven, strong, termite-proof, bamboo or wooden poles, over which an assortment of climbers (grapes being ideal), can be grown.
- Any plant, except for very large, deep rooted species, can be grown on a rooftop providing that appropriately sized clay pots/containers are employed for the purpose.
Ultimately, it is a wise person who, when building a house, includes a rooftop garden in the construction plan; not only is it the perfect private place to be in, it also keeps buildings relatively cooler and consequently aids in conserving energy.
– B Khan
First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 1, 2013.