How to Build a Terrace Garden : Rooftop Garden Ideas and Tips

Learn how to build a terrace garden and terraced vegetable garden which you can build on roof-top, terrace and balcony.

People living in cities and apartments can grow their own vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits on the terraces and balconies. This way you can get fresh organic vegetables. Growing your own vegetables gives you satisfaction and mental happiness. You will be thrilled to see growing tomatoes, chilies, cucumbers, etc. in pots in your balcony or terrace.

Benefits of a Terrace, Rooftop & Balcony Garden

Blueberries growing in a Pot
Blueberries Growing in a Pot

Picture of Guavas growing on guava tree
Before starting a rooftop garden, make sure that your terrace or balcony will be able to hold the weight of plants. The normal concrete roof slabs in the houses can take heavy weights, so don't worry. The balconies can also bear the plants weight. Note that older the building construction, the less weight it can support. Also ensure that the roof and balconies have water proofing.

Why to build a terrace or rooftop garden? Look at the following advantages of having a garden at your home , which should be sufficient to motivate you.
  1. You get the fresh, delicious and organic fruits and vegetables, which taste more nutritious and healthy because the food is free from chemicals and pesticides.
  2. You and your family, specially children are utilizing spare time.
  3. It gives satisfaction and happiness. You remain in-touch with nature.
  4. It is an excellent and educational activity for you and your kids utilizing spare time in a good way.
  5. If you change your house, you can take with you almost all the products and materials used in the garden.
  6. It improves the look of your property and adds value to it.
  7. You’ll enjoy a much healthier and calmer lifestyle, and be more in-touch with nature

Rooftop Garden Design Ideas and Tips

You need to do some simple planning  like combining container gardening, vertical gardening, raised bed gardening, and using hanging and containers mounted on wall. This way you can utilize the available space efficiently.

You need the following things to start a terrace garden to enjoy enough fresh healthy vegetables and fruits throughout the growing season.

Use Space in Sun and Shade

  1. You can utilize sunny as well as shade areas of your terrace as different plants have different sunlight requirement.
  2. Some plants thrive in shade or semi shade and some need 4-5 hours of direct sunlight, some require even more. In hot summer, even the sun loving plants may require to be shifted to the shade area to prevent them from getting scorched.
  3. If you live in a warm tropical climate, it is advisable to provide afternoon shade to plants if the sun is strong.
  4. Grow vegetables on the Southern or Western side of the terrace, so the plants will have enough sun.
  5. Too much rain is also not good for plants. Move the plants to a shade cover.

Containers For Rooftop Garden

Containers are the best options for rooftop and balcony garden where more traditional gardening is not possible.
  1. You can use any size and shape of pots for your terrace garden.
  2. Gardening need not to be expensive. On a council clean up day, your neighbors may leave out containers, junk for them but a garden gold for you.
  3. In addition to regular pots, I use buckets, Styrofoam fruit containers, old wheelbarrow, vegetable crate, packing boxes, oil containers, fruit juice jars/bottles, idli batter containers, large water bottle, old frying pans,  sandbox, etc. (my container gardening experiences). In fact you can use any container that is able to hold water and soil. Don't be afraid to use wheat and sugar bags, empty cement bags, these are good for one season.
  4. You can grow tomato, chilies, capsicum, eggplants, in plastic pots of size 12 inch or more.
  5. Raise the bottom of the container by putting "feet" at the bottom for air to move and water to drain out.
  6. Put a cloth lining in the pots to stop soil and nutrients from creeping out through drainage holes.

Raised Beds For Terrace Garden

Growing Turmeric in a Pot
Growing in a Pot
  1. Raised beds for plants on the terrace are the alternative to the beds in a regular garden. The greatest advantage of raised bed is its wideness as compared to the pots and small containers.
  2. You can place raised beds adjacent to the walls. Plants will get ample space to spread their roots and will thus thrive better with less care and maintenance, and less strain on your back.  An investment in raised beds in raised will reward you with lots of vegetables, fruits and flowers in compare to containers.
  3. You can find special raised beds for terraces in garden shops made of metal or wood. You can get constructed a permanent concrete raised bed of size 60 cm deep.
  4. You can also use a children's play area sandbox as a bed which is ideal as a herb patch. of course, you will have to make some holes at the bottom for drainage.
  5. It is better to place the beds slightly elevated from the surface so that the roots of the plants may not penetrate into the roof.

Use Vertical Space, Vertical gardening

Vertical gardening
Vertical gardening
  1. You can use the vertical space on the walls of the terrace to increase the space for your plants. Special stands, pot holders, hangers and pots are available for vertical gardening.
  2. You can hang planters on walls and railings to grow vegetable shrubs. The vines like beans, bitter gourd, bottle gourd and tomatoes can climb on the wall on strings or trellises.


  1. The success of your gardening depends on the kind of soil you use for your plants. the soil should provide important nutrients to the plants for their the growth. Use premium quality potting mix, add lots of compost (composting for beginners, Composting in balcony), river sand and manure.
  2. Different plants need different type of soil, though most plants will grow well in the above mentioned soil. Some plants like citrus and azalea need acidic soil, while succulents and cacti thrives in sandy soil.
  3. Add compost every 2-3 weeks to replenish the nutrients.
  4. You also need to buy manure like cow manure and some liquid fertilizer and slow release fertilizer.

What to Plant

Start your rooftop garden with a small pot and single vegetable, if you are new to gardening and than gradually increase the number of pots. Plants like chillies and cherry tomatoes are easier to grow with little care.


  1. Watering regularly is very important. In summers, you will need to water twice a day. In winters, you can water on alternate days. You can skip watering for a day or two after a heavy rain.
  2. Rain water is good for the plants as it contains nitrogen. Store rain water in a large container and use it later on.
  3. Do not over water, the draining water will take away the nutrients and soil.