A mini garden of your own

A mini garden of your own

If your terrace has not been used to its full potential, here are some ideas that could transform it into a heavenly green abode, writes Swati Kapur.

Typically, a terrace is either used as a laundry and drying area or occasionally spruced up for relatives and friends for a get-together. But what fun if you can transform this dull space into a groomed green heaven. It all starts with an idea but when it comes to gardening, ideas need immediate translation. Folks, it’s time to get down on your knees and do some spade work! 

Still feeling lazy about this summer project? Here’s something to convince you – It’s your very own treasure house of pure oxygen. It definitely gives a character and style to your otherwise boring rooftop. Rainwater can easily soak them up. It will bring down your house’s overall temperature by a few degrees and also keep you cosy warm in winter. Guests would applaud your creativity and you will certainly earn some eco points. 

My rooftop garden 

Before kicking off this DIY assignment, make sure you’ve cleared out your balcony or terrace of unwanted or unused stuff, especially if you’re short on space. Also check for the orientation of the sun as this would help you decide the positioning of the plants. If your terrace gets plenty of direct sunlight, you can opt for dreamy, colourful and flowery plants. If the sun is not too strong on your side, you can still use plants that go well with just a little sun shine. 

Water proof: This is an important task. Besides reducing the heat radiated, it will also prevent any leakage in future. The first thing you should do is to power wash the entire surface area of the roof, which will remove most of the loose material. Also fill any large cracks and crevices with mortar. Prime the surface with acrylic plastic primer which dries rapidly and also flows into the cracks and crevices of the concrete surface. You can then seam tape all remaining cracks larger than one-eighth of an inch. 

A peel and stick tape is available in the market, that contours easily to the surface and sticks to the primed surface. The seam tape will be difficult to remove from here on out so place it carefully. 

Now apply an elastic acrylic top coat for a lasting finish and surface. Ensure a smooth drainage so that water does not stagnate at any point. 

Paint: You may like to paint the walls green or any other colour along with applying a weather coat to help it stand the test of time. You can be creative here and etch murals or paint a graffiti just to sign it off. 

Pots: Containers are one of the most expressive components of a rooftop garden. This is where you can express your style. However, keep in mind the size, weight and material of containers before you purchase. 

Look for containers large enough for the roots of whatever plants you choose. The amount of soil needed will vary, so research your choices, before you plant them. You will find a lot of plants labelled as ‘great for containers.’ The weight of the container becomes an issue if you are worried about how much your rooftop can support. Also, they get heavier when you water them. Traditional materials like clay, terracotta and cement can be quite heavy, so opt for their plastic lookalike or synthetic containers that are light enough to lift. 

Seeds: Hybrid seeds are generally treated and are best suited for terrace garden. Look for interesting ones at your local nursery. 

Kousa dogwood grows to a small height for a tree, with some varieties maxing out at just about 30 feet, making it an excellent foundation plant for a rooftop garden.

Contorta twists itself into seemingly unfathomable shapes making it a sculptural plant. Single seed juniper or the blue star shines with skinny needles that have a silvery-blue cast. 

Carnations reward gardeners with rich crimson colour that blooms midsummer (typically July). Astilbe shoots up stalks of about a foot-and-a-half.

A ground cover that is attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, bugle needs water on rooftops but rewards with steady growth.

Silver beauty is another good choice, as is bronze beauty, which has deep blue flowers and bronze-tinged foliage. 

Set it up: Position the pots, grass beds and small trees in a fashion that makes for a pleasant setting. Now deck it up with some decor elements. Tiny light bulbs clung onto the trees give a dreamy look. Choose from a variety of spotlights that can dramatically transform the space. Throw in some garden furniture for guests. A swing or cane furniture is a good idea. 

“Our whole family enjoys the Delhi winters and we also do barbecues at times in the terrace garden. During summers, we open up our garden umbrellas and it makes for a comfortable Sunday breakfast venue,” says Shaleen Chawla, a garden enthusiast from Noida. 

Watering the plants: Ensure a regular water supply. “It’s best if the home owner can invest time and energy into their gardens. Or at least have someone taking care of the plants as a rooftop garden needs daily care and attention,” says Shikha Adlakha from Delhi who has been maintaining a terrace garden for the last six years. 

Automatic timed sprinklers are available in the market that can water the garden every day at a particular time without any wastage or unnecessary drip drop. If time is a factor, investing in one such watering facility can be a smart idea.  

Handy hints

It is best to prepare your own manure to avoid additional costs. You can prepare it using bio kitchen wastes and fallen foliage.  

Grow what you need. Do not get excited and tempted to grow everything at one time. Start slow. Vary the height in different pots and planters. Some plants are taller than others, so place taller planters next to a shorter ones,” says Shaleen. 

A landscaped roof can also increase the value of your home, so it’s a smart idea to put money into this space.

A terrace is a perfect place to cultivate your own herb and spice garden. Nothing beats a dish spiced up in your own garden herbs! 

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