Terrace gardening is a trend that is popular in metropolitan cities, due to space constraints. Terrace gardens can help people to enjoy greenery and nurture vegetables, flowers and fruits. A terrace garden can be developed on the roof of any industrial, commercial or residential building.
Benefits of terrace gardening
Gardening is a fun way to relax, overcome mental exhaustion and anxiety. Building a terrace garden helps the environment by reducing one’s carbon footprint and improving greenery in megacities.
“Today, people are attracted to the idea of terrace gardens / food farms, as these support local green spaces, enable one to recycle organic waste, grow organic items, vegetables and fruits for self-consumption and to bring back the lost diversity of butterflies, birds and bees. It also becomes a hands-on environmental learning ground for urban children and adults,” says Preeti Patil, founder of Mumbai-based Urban Leaves.
The terrace garden design does not merely involve styling and layout of the area. Various other aspects also need to be considered. So, here are some terrace garden ideas that one can consider.
Terrace garden flooring
While designing terrace garden, take into account the civil conditions (load/weight-bearing capacity), waterproofing of slabs and structure of the building.
“The slope of the terrace garden roof floor should be towards proper drainage outlets. The type of tiles fitted on the floors play an important role in keeping the space clean and skid-proof, especially during the monsoon. In high-rises, next to the sea, windbreakers may be needed to keep the home terrace garden safe from strong winds, especially the smaller plants. A small, shaded and protected area can be used, to keep the garden materials/tools safe and secure,” says Patil.
Read also: A guide to waterproofing your home
Terrace garden water and drainage systems
It is advisable to waterproof the terrace surface to avert any leakage. A proper drainage system is a prerequisite. If the water does not drain properly, it will stagnate and damage the building. Ensure there is proper slope. In areas that are windy and receive heavy rains, dried leaves can choke the drains. So, proper maintenance is a must. A watering facility should be planned so that it can reach all areas of the terrace for efficient watering of the terrace garden plants.
Terrace garden design and layout
Choose a layout based on the available space and then, select the type of plants for the terrace garden. Some plants need more sunlight. Try to understand the plant’s requirements and then, finalise the layout. Depending upon the space and the availability of sunlight, one can grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers on the top roof garden. Always opt for diverse plant types. You can plan the terrace garden setup, based on the area available for plants, the colour of plants and pots, type of flooring, furniture, canopy, a grass lawn, meditation corner, lights and other décor elements.
See also: Balcony gardening ideas for Indian homes
Raised beds or pots for terrace garden
Depending on the civil conditions and load-bearing capacity, one needs to decide which containers to use. With terraces having good waterproofing and load-bearing capacity, brick beds can be productive. While placing brick beds, one needs to ensure that it does not obstruct the flow of rainwater and allows good drainage. However, for terraces that do not have adequate load-bearing capacity, smaller containers like drums or beds on stands can be used.
Plants for terrace garden
Flowers on the terrace garden
One can grow hibiscus, frangipani, marigold, periwinkle, rose and other flowers that can add a colourful dimension to the terrace garden landscape. If there isn’t enough space on the terrace, one can grow flowers in garden boxes and hang them along the railings.
Vegetable gardening on terrace
Sunny terraces are ideal spots to grow edible plants. With people increasingly focusing on health and wellness, one can grow immunity-boosting plants like aloe vera, ginger and tulsi.
See also: Tips to grow your own indoor vegetable garden
“One can grow almost everything on a terrace, including mango, papaya, pomegranate, betel nut, cotton and rice too. However for beginners, while selecting plants to grow on the terrace, one must first list what one needs or uses regularly in their kitchen. So, go in for lemongrass, mint, ginger, curry leaves, chilli, turmeric, spinach, fenugreek, green sorrel, radish, beetroot, etc., which are easy to grow. Try to grow local and seasonal varieties, depending on which part of the country you live in. For example, there are varieties of eggplant in India that grow in different seasons. In any region, one has at least one variety growing in each season,” adds Patil.
Terrace garden seating area
Select furniture that matches the overall setting and create a place to lounge with family and friends. The seating area of the terrace area can be covered with bamboo roofs or colourful canopies, for protection against the sun and rain. One can build a bench-style seat or have hammocks and swings. Also, there is a huge range of all-weather furniture, from rattan, bamboo, wood, metals, etc. Combine plants with seating – you can use tall plants in raised beds behind the seating to screens or trellises for privacy.
Lighting for terrace garden
One can go bold for a dramatic effect or subtle for an intimate ambience. Choose low-voltage, energy-efficient and long-lasting LED lighting all around the walls. Use interesting lights, from walkway lighting, walls lights, hanging lights, or glowing rocks, to create an ethereal effect in the garden area. Use wide spotlights or floor lamps to brighten up the garden area. Solar-powered lights are another great option today.
Composting on a terrace garden
Composting is a form of waste management and recycling. Composting kitchen waste on a terrace provides nutrient-rich soil for plants. Compost helps to reduce waste that goes to the landfills and is the best nourishment that one can give to the edible varieties of plants. It is also lighter in weight than soil bought from stores. Vegetable refuse, peels, tea, etc., can be turned into compost with a carbon catalyst such as dry leaves, sawdust, etc. The addition of microbes to the mixture boosts the composting process and breaks down the garbage into rich black compost, in approximately six weeks.
How to prepare terrace garden?
Designing a terrace garden involves planning the layout, selecting the plants and pots, arranging seating options and an ecosystem to nurture the plants.
Is terrace garden safe?
A well-planned terrace garden that is built taking into consideration the load-bearing capacity of the building, can not only be safe but also add beauty and value to the building.
What are the common terrace garden problems?
Leakage, water seepage, pests and accumulation of dirt are the most common problems in terrace gardens that are not maintained properly.
What to grow in terrace garden?
One can grow flowering plants, edible vegetables and even tall trees on a terrace garden, depending on various conditions.