In congested urban areas of major cities, owning a rental property with a small rooftop garden or patio is a huge bonus. There you can create an oasis for relaxation and a place where your tenants can entertain guests and simply spend quality time outdoors. While there are many rental-friendly rooftop garden designs, make sure you take these considerations into account.
Use Raised Beds
If the rental property‘s roof structure supports it, create raised beds along the walls. They are typically made of timber, metal, or concrete, but since you’re renting out the rooftop, focus on the first two choices, as your tenants can easily dismantle them if they wish to add their own personal touches. If you like DIY projects, you can even build wooden beds yourself using 2 x 4s and 2 x 10s. Two feet deep and wide is the optimum size, as it allows you to grow tall shrubs and even small trees. However, in both cases, regular pruning and root trimming are necessary to prevent them from overgrowing.
Plan the Layout
The shape and orientation of your rooftop garden should be based on the available space and type of plants. Some plants need more sunlight, so make sure to include sunnier and shadier zones. Besides, planting should be done with understanding the direction of the wind. Windshields can prevent taller plants and small trees from being overturned. What is more, the garden layout should be chosen in such a way that containers are accessible for watering and maintaining. Avoid the clutter of pots and planters, and maintain the golden ratio of 1:3 for free vs. used space.
If your rental property‘s rooftop is larger than you need for your piece of garden, or there’s a bad view you want to conceal, make sure you plant tall vegetation around the walls. This will maximize the green element and separate your tenants from the concrete city landscape. Bamboos and tall grasses are the quickest and easiest options that don’t take a lot of maintenance, but if you have time and space, grow shrubs and small trees, either in raised beds or in pots. In both cases make sure to use waterproofing membrane and lay a thick root barrier that blocks root and prevents damage to the roof.
Consider Ground Cover
The rooftop surface can be covered in several ways. For example, you can use upcycled paving stones, which can be laid in different patterns, like a mosaic, or irregular shapes. Gravel is another inexpensive way to fill the bare surface and give your garden a more finished look, especially if you want to make a rooftop sitting area for your tenants. Break the gravel surface with several patches of mulched space, where you can group planters with shrubs or tall annuals.
Choose Garden Furniture
If you’d like to create a space for your tenants to lounge on your rooftop patio, you should focus on space-efficient teak corner sofas or chaises. The trend of eating outside is being revived, especially in regions with mild temperate weather. So, if you’re creating an alfresco dining space, you need an outdoor-friendly dining set that can double as informal seating when the party starts. For example, the latest outdoor furniture collections propose returning to all-time classics and understated glamour pieces like teak director chairs or powder-coated aluminum chairs with organic woven accents.
Decorate with Accessories
Garden statues are a smart choice for rental property rooftops– resin statues are better in this case, as they are easier to move around. Small portable fountains can add a water feature to your rooftop landscape without making permanent alterations and rerouting plumbing lines.
While there’s little chance you’ll want to install a large garden structure like a gazebo or pergola on a rental rooftop, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a shady spot for dining and lounging. Portable canopies are perfect for renters, as they are easy to assemble and disassemble, so you can move them easily. Apart from these freestanding structures that resemble open-sided tents, you can also use shade sails. Made from durable UV-resistant nylon, they come in a variety of colors, so you can easily match them to your garden décor. Apart from providing permanent shade on the patio, these sails are great for special occasions and rooftop parties.
General Rooftop Gardening Tips
Since there are no worms on the 12th floor to aerate the soil, your rooftop garden needs a good quality potting soil, which you can mix with slow-release organic fertilizer and Perline or Vermiculite. Choose containers with sufficient aeration and drainage holes. If you’re going to use raised beds, makes sure to leave plenty of holes for air and water. Roofs tend to get warmer more easily, you need to monitor water requirements for your plants more frequently than you would in a backyard. You can use the “finger” method or moisture monitor for more accurate values.
When compared to suburban backyards, rooftop gardens are severely limited in the scope of things you can do, so it’s important to keep the plants diverse to create a layered effect. Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is an excellent foundation planting. In spring, this small tree has small white to pink flowers, which are replaced with deep green foliage in the summertime. In autumn, the plant offers red-purple leaves and fruit. For shadier spots of your rooftop, big blue-green leaves of “Big Daddy” Hosta can make the last patch of concrete disappear. Apart from these, make sure to include ground covers and annuals, as well.
For city-dwellers, a rooftop garden is a premium outdoor space that is within the reach of the apartment. If you own a rental property and are renting out the top floor, the roof offers great opportunities to create an attractive and relaxing spot of greenery amidst the concrete jungle.
This article has been contributed by Lillian Connors.