Creating a terrace garden can provide you with a private, green sanctuary in the middle of the concrete urban jungle. A terrace garden will also provide living beauty, shade, cleaner air, and fresh food if you decide to grow food-producing plants.
A simple garden terrace, produce plants and trees, the terrace might needed added support in order for the structure to support the extra weight is easy and inexpensive to create. Use these planning tips and create your own outdoor garden oasis this weekend.
Start the garden creation process by considering the strength of your terrace. Moist soil is heavy, so are planters. If you only plan on using a couple of mid-sized containers for creating a simple terrace garden, then the terrace is probably strong enough to support the additional weight. However, if you plan to transform the entire terrace into an outdoor garden, added structural support may be needed.
If you plan on creating a larger garden, complete with flowers, vegetables and trees, additional support may be needed for the terrace. Speak with the building’s maintenance personnel or an engineer to determine how to reinforce the terrace so it will be strong enough to support the weight of a garden.
Draw Up a Plan
Consider what you want from a terrace garden, then sit down and draw up a plan. A plan on paper is much easier to tweak than moving plants after they have been planted.
Do you want a living screen to provide privacy from neighbors? Do you need shade from the hot afternoon sun? Do you want blooms and fragrance? How about some fresh vegetables and fruits? Or perhaps you want a little bit of everything. It’s all doable if the terrace is large enough, strong enough and you plant wisely.
The amount of sun your terrace receives will determine what can be grown in the location. Most plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Observe your terrace to determine how much sunlight it receives on an average day.
Place taller plants and trees near the back of the terrace so they won’t block the sun off of shorter plants.
To make the most of every available inch of space, chose dwarf plants and trees. These smaller plants and trees will still bear the same size leaves and produce, just on more compact plants that will take up less space.
For privacy, shade, color and interest, chose:
- Japanese maple
- Dwarf spruce
- Dwarf larch
- Dwarf poinciana tree
- Fringe tree
- Persian ironwood.
Dwarf citrus trees, like Meyer lemon, Clementine or Valencia oranges, will provide fragrant and colorful blooms in the spring and fresh citrus fruit during the summer. Placed around the terrace perimeter, these citrus trees will also provide shade, privacy and decorative interest.
Flowering or food-producing vines make great living privacy screens for a terrace. Train the vines to grow vertically and enjoy fresh berries or vegetables in your semi-enclosed outdoor space. Blackberries, raspberries, grapes, cucumbers, beans and certain types of squash grow on attractive vines and will provide both floral beauty and fresh food.
For fragrance only, it is recommended to select:
- Cypress vine.
Try to select dwarf or bush varieties of vegetable and fruit plants. These will adapt better to life in a container (if you need to use containers) and take up less terrace space.
A layer of burnt bricks will be needed to line the floor of the terrace prior to adding growing medium. This layer will create a drainage system for the terrace garden. Regular bricks will disintegrate over time and create a muddy mess, but burnt bricks will retain their shape and promote good drainage to protect the structure and create a healthy environment for plants.
Cover the burnt bricks with outdoor fabric mesh, then add the growing medium. The fabric mesh will keep growing medium in place and prevent it from leaching out and impeding the drainage system created with the bottom layer of burnt bricks.
Create a lightweight, nutrient-rich growing medium for your terrace garden by mixing equal parts of potting soil, compost and peat moss. Use this growing medium mixture for containers too.
Wait until all danger of frost has passed for your area before planting.
Vertical gardening containers, shelves, and hanging planters can enable those with even the smallest terrace have some colorful plants growing outdoors.
When creating a planter, use three plants types – a thriller, a filler and a spiller. The thriller is the tallest plant in the middle, the filler fills in around the base and the spiller, spills over the edge of the planter. Two stalks of corn, two snap pea vines and one squash will make an attractive and edible terrace planter.
Regardless of the size of your terrace, you can still create a garden sanctuary on it by using these helpful tips.
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