Those who live in a small city apartment are often forced to give up their dream garden due to lack of space. However, even if you have a roof space, you can take advantage of the new furnishing and gardening trends to transform rather bare surfaces into enchanting corners of paradise.
In spite of what one might imagine, creating a roof garden is not complicated and not too expensive, but to optimize the few square meters available, it is essential to respect some compositional and design rules that will allow you to obtain results.
Here are some ideas and suggestions on how to convert unused spaces into spectacular green oases that will make the sad paved expanses of roofs and terraces more fascinating.
The advantages of having plants and lawn under cover
Having a roof garden is a precious resource to insulate and protect the underlying structure.
There are many good reasons for choosing to have a roof garden, in addition to the aesthetic one: plants and lawn on the roof allow for a well-insulated roof capable of blocking heat dispersion (with consequent savings), also protecting the underlying structure and slowing down its deterioration.
Vegetation also forms a barrier against noise and is also able to purify the air, absorb rain and attract local fauna: strengths that fuel a new sensitivity to the environment.
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Where to start?
To design a roof garden, the first thing to do is to ask an expert for advice to evaluate the maximum weight that the roof is able to withstand. This is because the soil tends to double in weight with rainwater, resulting in a water saturation which, in some cases, can even exceed 200 kg/m². In addition to the thickness of the substrate, the maximum load is also determined by the type of plants to be cultivated and the furnishing solutions that may be inserted.
If you are passionate about garden design and you want your garden to be always looked after, we advise you not to overload it with excessive weights, opting for essential accessories that allow you to optimize the walkable area without adding too much weight to the environment.
Different styles of roof gardens
How about transforming your terrace into a beautiful and welcoming garden where you can relax or receive your guests?
In this article you will find some very useful ideas for renovating your roof garden:
- Country Style
If you’d like to implement a country style, make way for evergreen plants to create the typical country atmosphere and if your roof allows it, add some small trees such as hazel, maple, birch or Prunus. The furniture will instead consist of simple wooden furniture, decorated with accessories and cushions with Provencal or shabby chic motifs;
- Urban Chic
Even if you live in the city, you can transform your small green space into a tropical forest with brightly colored walls and plants such as Yucca, Melia, Alocasia and Aspidistra.
You can also place your plants in pots and containers with grates, the important thing is that they are tall and allow the vegetation to climb vertically. To avoid unpleasant discussions with neighbors, it is better to opt for plants with unobtrusive roots such as Chinese jasmine or roses, which however require pruning every year and periodic harvesting of fallen foliage.
The ivy or the American vine are in fact the cause of water infiltration or damage to the plaster.
- Oriental style
You can fly in exotic lands while staying at home, all you need is statues inspired by Asian culture such as Buddha or Zen-style furnishings that invite meditation. You can take advantage of the climbing attitude of some plants such as yucca or bamboo, which will protect your privacy from prying eyes.
A valid alternative to the classic terracotta pots resting on the ground can be structures that allow them to be suspended from above, thus creating a totally renewed environment. For an optically wider effect, you can choose vases of the same color but of different heights and sizes. If you want to capture even more attention on flowers and plants, bright colors will prove to be excellent allies.
Roof Garden Maintenance
When you have a roof garden, you need to take great care of the plants and make sure they grow healthy. During the first months they should be irrigated 2-3 times a week, then once or twice every 15 days.
If in doubt, contact a gardener, who will explain the needs of each individual component of your green space. It is also equally important to constantly check waterproofing and drainage to avoid infiltration and damage to the building.
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How To Create Your Own Roof Garden
Once the style is established, you can proceed to create your own private green oasis, but you will need a few tricks.
In order to minimize the burden of rain and the like, it is advisable to schedule the start of the works during the summer, otherwise they can be limited with temporary roofs.
Then you’ll need to think about other aspects, namely:
- Materials to use: to obtain a harmonious effect, it is better to choose them harmoniously and combined with each other;
- Thermal insulation: it is essential when there are inhabited rooms under the terrace, as they reduce the exchange of temperature. The thermal insulators can be achieved with 3-4 cm thick polystyrene panels to be placed under the waterproofing layer, but they can change according to the thermal capacity and size of the area;
- Waterproofing: it is of vital importance because it protects the lower floors from water infiltration, which may be caused by sudden changes in temperature, rain or regular watering of the plants. To have perfect waterproofing, use synthetic membranes made up of a series of bitumen glass fiber sheets overlapping each other;
- Floor: for the floor of your terrace, you can choose between stone, porcelain stoneware, concrete or outdoor wood slabs, all capable of withstanding different weathers and temperatures. Those in stone or porcelain stoneware are heavier than ceramic ones but easily washable.
Concrete slabs are easy to lay, resistant, economical and quickly removable if you change your mind. You can also place them on an old pre-existing floor. As for the outdoor wooden floor, it has the great advantage of not overheating with the heat of the sun because it is treated with special products.
- Lighting: a good lighting system will allow you to enjoy your roof garden even in the dark hours of the day. So, choose beautiful lamps, just as if you were furnishing an interior environment of your home.
The plants in your roof garden
When choosing the vegetation to grow in a small green space on the attic or on the terrace, it is good practice to favor plants and shrubs with shallow root systems, in order to minimize the risk of damage due to the branching of the roots.
To ensure that the solution adopted has a good watertight seal, it is essential to place a waterproof polyester sheet on the pavement, to be covered with a solvent-based protective sheath to counteract the absorption of water and protect the underlying surfaces from any infiltrations.
On the sheath, it is then necessary to place an additional draining layer with high resistance against corrosion caused by atmospheric agents, such as expanded clay, gravel or composite wood planks.
Once this is done, you can then move on to the laying of the soil, preferring a material that ensures good water drainage, creating a stable environment for the radical development of plants, flowers and shrubs.
Regularly take care of the pruning of shrubs and fill any holes in the ground with other soil to prevent dangerous water infiltrations. Finally, also remember to give your beloved plants all the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong by fertilizing the soil at the end of the growing season with a specific fertilizer.
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You don’t need to be the owner of a beautiful house to have a well-kept garden: sometimes it is enough to live on the top floor of a building and here is the solution: a roof garden. Many homes offer this possibility, but not everyone knows how to make the most of the space available to them.
Each roof garden responds to the needs of those who create it. It could be a convivial space in which to welcome your guests during summer evenings, or a simple vertical garden where you can insert all the types of flora that you like best.
You can even create your own roof vegetable garden, where you will always have fresh fruit and vegetables at your disposal.
Owning a roof garden, first of all, contributes to environmental protection, in fact the presence of plants allows the blocking of thermal dispersion, the plants protect the underlying structure, slowing down its deterioration. Furthermore, the presence of vegetation will act as a natural barrier against noise and the air quality will be significantly better. This green solution is also an excellent space to spend pleasant moments of relaxation. There are no downsides to having a roof garden, so start creating yours with our guide and enjoy!
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