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How to Start a Rooftop Garden

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Written by Thomas Conroy   



Introduction: It is unfortunate that every person desiring to have a garden may not have access to open spaces, but even city dwellers can start a rooftop garden to fulfill their need to cultivate their own plants. In just about every congested metropolitan area rooftop gardens are quite common, as all that is really necessary to start a rooftop garden is a reasonably level roof and a good plan sprinkled with a little bit of knowledge.

In addition to the obvious benefits of starting a rooftop garden they can often become a center of socialization, especially in apartment buildings where tenants tend to congregate and share space as well as conversation.

Step 1: One of the most important aspects to start a rooftop garden is to assure that the garden is safe for all concerned. Because heavy containers are placed on a roof of often considerable height, it is imperative that there is absolutely no chance of anything falling from the rooftop garden, including gardening tools. It is also a wise move to assure that there are no trip-hazards present in your rooftop garden.

A good rule-of-thumb is to make certain that there is at least a five-foot walkway around all of the plants in your rooftop garden for the sake of safety. Similarly, when you start a rooftop garden it should not contain excessively large planters, and it needs to be established that the roof is structurally sound enough to handle the added weight of a rooftop garden.

Step 2: In terms of the added weight issue when you start a rooftop garden, there are a number of ways a gardener can ease the structural load on the building. One of the best is to incorporate the use of light-weight planters that are made of plastic and moderate in size. Another good idea is to disperse the weight evenly across the usable roof surface, and to make absolutely certain that all planters have proper drainage features. Container bottoms should be lined with landscaping fabric to prevent plant roots from possibly damaging roofing materials.

Step 3: When you start a rooftop garden a light-weight soil mixture works best for reducing overall weight and allowing for better drainage. A  mixture of 10% to 15% vermiculite, 20% to 25% compost and 60% to 70% potting soil works great and will normally support any plant you start in a rooftop garden very well nutritionally. Lastly, if you decide to start a rooftop garden and share the space with other residents of your building be courteous and helpful - odds are your rooftop garden neighbors will reciprocate.






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