How to Create a Rooftop Garden to Help the Environment

I live in Bangkok, Thailand, one of the world’s most polluted cities. The pollution is so bad that the Bangkok government is coming up with innovative ways to cut down the smog. One of them is asking Bangkok residents to create a rooftop garden. A rooftop garden or green roof can actually cool down the temperature of the building below, making air conditioning bills lower and contributing less to pollution. A rooftop garden can also improve air quality by storing CO2, thus reducing its ability to trap heat and contribute to global warming. Also, a rooftop garden is pretty. So, if you want to create a rooftop garden, how do you go about making one? It’s easy. Follow these simple step by step instructions and you’ll have a rooftop garden in no time.

Ask Permission.

If you live in a rented apartment or house, make sure you check with your landlord first before you shove a garden on the roof. Most landlords will probably be okay with it, but some might not so make sure you get permission before you start work.

Draw Up a Plan.

For any rooftop garden, you want to make sure you have planned everything carefully. Don’t just start throwing plants up there with no idea what they’re going to look like. I went to my local art supply store and bought a large piece of white cardboard. I drew a template of my rooftop on the cardboard with a scale similar to the roof, then cut out other pieces of cardboard in the shape of tables, chairs, plant pots, small trees, etc. and started placing them on the roof template. Once I had a design I liked, I glued the pieces to the board so they wouldn’t fall off.

Decide What Plants, Flowers, Trees or Vegetable Plants You Want.

Once I had my plan finished, I made a list of the types of plants, flowers, small trees and vegetable plants I wanted. Bangkok is very hot all year round, so I had to take into consideration the ability to withstand heat and limited shade. You may have to look at plants that can withstand heat or excessive cold depending on where you live. I chose several small plants, a few small ornamental clumping bamboo trees, some flowering plants perfect for the Bangkok climate, and herbs.

Shop for Supplies and Plants.

Once I had my list finished, I went to the local nursery and started to shop. I bought plastic sheeting to put under the containers I was going to use. Clay pots and wooden containers came next, followed by bags of soil, plant food, fertilizer, a bag of mulch, all my plants, a bag of white pebbles, a couple of white plastic chairs and a table. I finished off my purchases with a small garden umbrella, to provide shade for sitting under. Now I was ready to start creating my rooftop garden.

Creating the Rooftop Garden.

I laid down my plastic sheeting first, in the areas I wanted the plants to be arranged in. Then I put my clay pots and wooden containers on top of the plastic sheeting and half filled them with soil. I planted the plants, herbs and bamboo trees in the containers and filled them up with soil. Adding plant food and fertilizer was my next step. I also added some mulch to the top of each pot as this helps retain moisture in the plants so you only have to water them every couple of days. Finally, I scattered white pebbles over the plastic sheeting to cover it so it looked prettier and more pleasing to the eye.

Final Arrangement.

Finally, I set up the chairs and table and positioned the umbrella to get the best shade. I fine-tuned the placement of the plants and, voila, I had a roof garden.

Follow Up with Watering and Fertilizing.

Don’t forget that roof gardens will usually need more watering than a regular garden as the water burns off faster. Check every day, and water at least every other day. Your plants will also need fertilizing. I use a liquid fertilizer every three weeks and that seems to do the trick.

A rooftop garden will give you hours of joy, help keep the environment clean and can even provide you with fresh herbs and vegetables. Give it a try. You’ll love it.

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