How to Set Up a Rooftop Garden and 9 Things to Establish Before Doing So

Developing a rooftop garden would be a nice way to transform the rooftop of your building into a place you can relax. Along the years, city dwellers have been planting plants on roofs, developing their own little gardens there. Rooftop gardens of all sorts have increased in popularity in both commercial and residential sites.

When creating a rooftop garden, you actually make use of all that unused space there. Furthermore, every neighbor can enjoy the beauty of your plants which can also help provide some privacy. Rooftop gardens are environmentally friendly. Moreover, plants will also get enough sun exposure here. If you are a gardener and you want to populate the rooftop of your building with plants, you should consider a few things before that.

You could develop a fully planted green rooftop. In this case, you have to bring soil up on the roof and plant your plants directly in the ground there. However, this could be a difficult task for homeowners to do it by themselves. First, you might need the help of a structural engineer or architect who could develop a structural analysis. Then, you might also consider getting in touch with a professional company which can help you install it.

The easiest approach you could choose when it comes to rooftop gardening is the use of raised beds and containers. With container-grown plants, you may develop any style of rooftop garden. Therefore, you can reach from a few simple herbs to an elegant potager. Containers are easier to use, being portable, light, affordable and flexible. It is just like having containers with plants in your house, except you carry them on the rooftop, and you take care of them up there. Nevertheless, before bringing your pots outside on the rooftop, you should consider a few aspects.

Before you develop the garden…


You have to communicate your idea to your landlord or building code. Therefore, you will need to ask them more questions about building height restrictions, accessibility, and fire regulations. You may not know this, but there are rules which may prohibit the use of the rooftop.

The structure of the rooftop

Before developing the rooftop garden you want, make sure the structural integrity allows you to fill that space with pots of flowers. Pots filled with soil can be heavy, and they can become even heavier when the plants grow.


This could be a problem when moving your supplies and materials up there. You have to make sure you have access to the elevator that leads you to the top. You should also consider having exit lighting and fire alarms up there.

A rooftop garden with two chairs and coffee table in the middle

A rooftop garden can be the perfect place for a gardener to relax, providing fresh air and a drop of green in an urban jungle.

Sun exposure and heat

Too much sun exposure can damage your plants, so you have to consider whether your building is shaded by the terrace above or a nearby building. Furthermore, too much heat can also be a problem. The heat is reflecting from street cars, metal exhaust, utility structures, surrounding buildings and even the roof surface. Therefore, you should consider providing some shade for the plants.

Electric wiring

Even if this is not essential, it would be very useful in case you want to enjoy the garden at night. You should know that candles are not such a good idea. Electric wiring would be better, also providing greater light.

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Another aspect to consider is watering the plants and how you will be doing this. Will you run a hose out to the roof? The easiest way to do it is to install drip irrigation and a rain barrel. Otherwise, carrying watering cans to the roof may be a burden, and you might waste a lot of water.


Since most rooftops are surrounded by other buildings, your rooftop garden will be in full view. You should plan for screening and try to plant a hedge of evergreens. Furthermore, you could also install up there an umbrella table where you can relax.


Before starting anything, you need to establish how much you are ready to spend for a rooftop garden. The best way to do it is to start small and then add more plant pots as you go. You may need to pay more if you want to build a luxurious garden on the rooftop. If you want to lay tiles, develop raised beds or add furniture, this can cost you extra money. Furthermore, you may also need more structural work to support them.


You will need buckets, compost, fertilizers and tools for your rooftop garden. You need to make sure you also have enough storage space. On the rooftop, it may be hard to camouflage a storage area. You may install some shelves or a narrow closet. Furthermore, you could opt for bench seating that features built-in storage.

How to develop a rooftop garden

Prepare the site

If your rooftop is nothing but concrete, the easiest way to do it is by planting flowers in large pots with waterproof saucers. The plant pots should not be made of plastic. This can break down in the hot sun. It is best to use high fired ceramic pots. In case it freezes, you have to use some wood barrels and pots. The saucers should collect the watering overflow. Otherwise, ceramic pots will crack in freezing weather.


You should save some boiled eggshells. The eggshell calcium could help you provide more nutrients and calcium to the soil.

Source your seeds

Look for a source of heirloom seeds. First, consider preparing the soil in pots before you buy the seeds. Make sure you research the plant to know how to augment the soil to meet the plant’s needs.

Summing up

This idea of developing a rooftop garden could be helpful in transforming a dull place into a useful, relaxation area. Furthermore, this type of garden is environmentally friendly. You will finally be able to use an unused space if you get your neighbors and landlord’s approval. Make sure you prepare the soil pots before you purchase the seeds and also think about a way to water them.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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