Pakistan’s urban centres are developing at a rapid pace, and only a few cities have space set aside for landscaped parks. As such, a concrete jungle rises, leaving enthusiastic gardeners wondering where they can go to fulfil their desire of having their own green space to relax and unwind. If you’ve got a green thumb and lack the space to grow your garden, you should consider setting up a rooftop garden. This will not only allow you to indulge in gardening to your heart’s content but also add to the beauty of your roof and help the environment in turn.
Now, of course, this is easier said than done. Homeowners have ownership of their roofs and can easily convert it into a garden using the processes mentioned below, but what about those of us who live in apartments? Well, there are ways around that too. Stay with us as we discuss the specifics and tips to set up a rooftop garden with regards to your particular situation.
Setting Up a Rooftop Garden in Pakistan—Some Tips and Tricks
- Preparing your roof for the process
- Buying the plants
- Taking care of the logistics
- Decorating the rooftop garden
Now, we’ll discuss each of these aspects individually and in detail to give you a comprehensive account of what needs to be done to set up a rooftop garden in Pakistan.
Preparing Your Roof for the Process
First things first; you need to prepare your roof for the additional weight of the garden and determine whether waterproofing is required to avoid seepage and drainage issues down the line. Here are some major roofing concerns that you will need to tackle:
Check for Building Codes and Regulations
Some housing schemes in Pakistan have their own set of building codes, like the construction bylaws issued by DHA Karachi for its residents. Thus, if you’re living in one of the more modern and well-organised parts of town, you need to determine whether it is acceptable even to have a rooftop garden. Many communities have privacy restrictions on rooftop constructions as well, especially if you live in an apartment building where others can certainly peep and pry into your garden.
While living in an apartment complex, you will also need planning permission from the building management as well as the top floor homeowners, if you do not live on the topmost floor yourself. Additionally, you might also have to share your garden as a public space with the rest of your neighbours if you do not possess sole ownership of the roof as part of your apartment ownership contract.
For renters, the process is even more challenging. If you are paying rent on a house, talk to your landlord and discuss whether they would be okay with setting up a rooftop garden. You can even share the costs if possible. For those renting an apartment, consider setting up a kitchen garden in your balcony instead.
Determine the Load-Bearing Capacity of Your Roof
While you may want to start planting pots on the roof straight away, we recommend homeowners to call up an architect or engineer and determine just how much weight your roof can take. Your plants, garden furniture, and your guests will all bring additional pressure on the roof, and if it’s not stable enough, you’re in for a disaster.
At best, you’ll find cracks in the ceiling of the room below; at worse, the roof could collapse under pressure, which may or may not result in injuries and fatalities, depending on the circumstances. There is also no point in moving the planning process ahead unless you’re confident that the roof can hold the extra weight.
Monitor Sun and Wind Exposure for Your Roof
Some plants require more sunlight than others, but in most cases, your roof bears all forms of harsh weather, including burning sunny days and rough storms. As such, you need to determine whether your roof is the best place for growing plants. If a tall skyscraper overshadows your home, you might not be as successful in growing plants that require a lot of sunlight to survive.
What’s more, the higher up you are, the rougher the winds will become. So, if your roof is on the 10th floor, you might need to determine just how much wind exposure is ideal for growing plants and add windbreakers to your garden plans.
Sort Out Waterproofing and Drainage Issues
If you’re setting up a rooftop garden in Pakistan, waterproofing the roof and ensuring proper drainage of water might be your biggest concerns. If the construction itself is not waterproof, consider using thermoplastic membranes to keep the water from seeping down into the floors below. Additionally, your drainpipe should not simply pour water out onto the street every time you water your grass or plants. Make sure to add an additional pipe from the drainage spout that leads straight to the gutters below, keeping your area clean and dry.
If drainage and waterproofing concerns cannot be addressed in their entirety, consider using artificial grass that does not need watering to give your garden a better appeal. Moreover, keep your plants in pots that have water trays beneath them which you can empty with ease in case you end up overwatering your plants.
Plan Out Your Rooftop Garden
While you can always consider mapping out a layout of the garden yourself, it is advised that you hire a professional for the job. They will be able to guide you expertly in terms of the space available and the design constraints that you might face during the process.
With regards to the design, you can simply choose to plant a few pots, lay real or artificial grass, add some garden furniture, build privacy screens and windbreakers, create a barbeque area for outdoor family get-togethers, and a lot more. Discuss your ideas with the people involved in planning and designing the garden and work out the purpose behind creating a rooftop garden in Pakistan.
You might require a quiet place to relax amid nature, you might need additional space to entertain guests, you might want to grow fresh produce for your kitchen, or you just might want to display your success as a gardener and prove that you have a green thumb. Design and plan your garden’s layout accordingly.
Buying the Plants
Now that the roof design has been finalised, let’s move on to the process of buying and planting the seeds and seedlings. One of the best tips to set up a rooftop garden is always to choose plants that are native to your particular area, as they will thrive the best. Let’s look at some other tips below:
Choose All-Weather Plants
If you want a green and lively rooftop garden, select plants that can bear harsh weather as well as extreme sunlight and wind conditions. You’ll also need to build shady or calmer areas for sensitive plants if you want to grow them on your roof.
Opt for Smaller Plants
Considering the load-bearing capacity of your structure, you should always choose smaller shrubs and ornamental trees in favour of larger ones that might burrow their roots into the floor of the roof. Remember to trim your plants regularly to maintain their size and weight as per your specific needs.
Taking Care of the Logistics
A rooftop garden gets sufficient sunlight, occasional rain, and plenty of air, but there are a number of factors involved in the healthy growth of plants and shrubs. Here are some of the issues you might need to resolve:
Find a Water Source
This is often easier said than done because most roofs do not have a direct connection to the waterline. If you live on the top floor or in a bungalow, it is easy to extend the pipeline to connect it to the roof. Add a faucet and a hose, and you’re all set to water your plants. Otherwise, you’ll need to find the nearest water pipe and connect it to the roof for your ease. Opt for a watering can if this option isn’t feasible.
Keep Your Plants in Containers
Unlike a normal garden, you will need a variety of large and small containers to plant the seeds. Ensure that you use lightweight plastic or wooden pots in favour of terracotta or ceramic varieties, as they will weigh down your roof even more. Make sure that the containers are deep enough to accommodate the plants’ roots and place the containers where they can receive a healthy balance of light and shade.
Plant the Seedlings
You can choose to use seeds or seedlings, but growing plants from seedlings is a more successful option. You can take care of young plants in a well-lit area at home until they are strong enough to be moved to the garden.
Install Shades and Windbreakers
If your roof gives no cover or protection from the elements, your plants have little chances of survival. Ensure healthy growth of your plants by installing trellises which can shade your sensitive plants while also providing some cover from strong winds.
Decorating the Rooftop Garden
Once the plants are all set, you can move on to decorating your rooftop garden with other furniture and accessories. Here are some décor ideas to consider:
Add Lightweight Furnishings
Lounge chairs, picnic tables, and foldable furniture can be a great way to decorate your rooftop garden. However, if you live in a windy city, consider nailing down furniture pieces to the roof or storing them away when they are not in use so that they do not blow away in heavy winds.
Do Not Overcrowd the Garden
As is the case with any garden, you need to create an equal blend of green and empty spaces. Create pathways between pots, use vertical gardening techniques, and hang flower pots from a wall or railing if possible to give dimensions to your garden. Setting up a rooftop garden horizontally can make the space seem too crowded.
Pick the Focal Point of Your Garden
Similar to home décor, you need to provide a focal point in every area you decorate. The statement piece draws the eye towards it and adds to the appeal of the space. A luxurious sofa, a covered seating space, a statue, a rock formation, a water fountain, or even a large tree can be the focal point of your garden. Remember that you need to add other decorations around it so that it belongs to the landscape you’ve created.
Once you’ve done all of the above, you’re all set to relax and enjoy your garden. Setting up a rooftop garden in Pakistan isn’t difficult if you follow the right steps and can get permissions from the relevant authorities. So, use our tips to set up a rooftop garden and create a green haven for yourself amongst a world of concrete. Happy Gardening!