As more and more of us move into urban environments, our space becomes smaller both inside and out. We lose room sizes as our buildings become towers and apartments, we lose number of rooms as larger properties are divided into a number of smaller residences. But the biggest loss, in our humble opinion, is the almost universal loss of outdoor living area. Gardens are just empty building plots to many property developers, a unnecessary addition that might add a few thousand onto a house price; but won’t reap the returns of a new build.
Not every new property is devoid of space and we’re not taking a swipe at developers by any means. We like to help people make the most of what they’ve got, whether that’s with a contemporary town garden, designing a beautiful front garden or getting clever and intricate with small gardens. We also have an increasing amount of experience in roof gardens, a growing trend in 21st century homes. Unused roof space is being transformed into that elusive outdoor living area and it’s something both challenging and exciting.
It might not be the most exciting step in the garden design process, but make sure that all your ducks are in a row before you begin. How much weight can your roof take? How waterproof is the membrane in your roof? Which room sits directly beneath and what runs in its eaves? Are there water pipes or electricity cables? Do you have or need planning permission to extend? Where are your heavy objects going to sit? Where are your load bearing walls? These are all things you need to ask yourself and find the answers to, if you’re to embark on a successful project.
One of the biggest environmental risks to a roof garden is the weather. All gardens can suffer from poor weather, but roof gardens are particularly vulnerable to strong sunshine and winds; such is the lack of traditional shelter offered. Gardens are sheltered by buildings, fences and overhanging trees; roof gardens are rarely protected in this way. Consider the features of your design and whether you need to factor in cost and space for extra protection. The combination of rain and watering also presents the problem of irrigation, all run-off should be directed to drainpipes and flowerbeds need to have suitable drainage. The only thing below your roof garden is probably your sitting room…
Again, protection should always be considered when designing a roof garden, but choosing the right greenery can make the job a lot easier to tackle. Look for flora that is resistant to the elements like those with smaller or needle-shaped leaves, reducing the amount of surface evaporation. Waxy leaves can also boast this ability, while the more dense evergreens can be used to shelter and protect more delicate flowers.
Things often overlooked…
- Leaving candles out in your roof garden is easy and convenient, but candle wax can actually melt in temperatures much lower than that of a nearby flame. A day of summer sunshine in Britain will easily reduce them to a pool of wax on your expensive wooden decking…
- Plastic furniture is cheap and functional, some of it is even beautiful. But almost all of it is lightweight and the last thing you want is your chair blowing from your roof and onto a neighbour’s car.
Designing your own roof garden can be difficult, let alone implementing the construction and creation of it. Get in touch with Eden Restored for a quick chat and we can help you to get the ball rolling, advice is always free!