Terrace Garden Tips

Terrace Garden Tips

Are you bored with the dull look of your terrace? Do you want to make your terrace your own private sanctuary after toiling all day in the office? Terrace gardening is an option that may appeal to those who are more inclined to creative gardening projects. By focusing on a terrace, over time, it grows into a distinctive signature of your gardening efforts. Many sites on gardening mistakenly equate terrace gardening only with rooftop gardening, but terrace gardens are actually ANY garden built on a raised area.

Terrace gardening encompasses both gardening and landscaping skills, requiring an eye for design if you want a really stunning looking terrace. Most people outsource the terrace garden work to landscape design companies, but to really ensure that you get what you envisioned as your terrace garden, why don’t you grow it yourself? For the DIY approach, here are some tips for consideration.

The first thing that you need to consider if you want to create your own terrace garden is the viability of your terrace. It has to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the media, the material design, and of course the growing plants. You don’t want to compromise the integrity of the building. If you’re not sure how much load your terrace can support, ask your engineer friends about it; they can estimate the load your terrace can support. It depends on the height and the material used for the built-up area.

rooftop terrace garden

Terrace gardens often are:

  • With soil as the base material or foundation, for the plants
  • Housing potted plants, without soil being the foundation.

Soil obviously increases the weight of the terrace garden, and so is usually unsuitable for rooftop terrace gardening, unless it is sited on ground level. The best material to build up the terrace and hold the soil in, are bricks. Wooden walls run the risk of fungi, termites, powderpost bugs, or wood borer beetles, and are really only suitable for temporary outdoor terraces. If you plan for small terraces out in the garden, you can easily wall in a raised terrace using wooden plywood strips. Such terraces can be created for raised flower beds.

outdoor terrace garden
Outdoor terrace garden with soil as base.

Now that you have a go signal to proceed with your plan, try to picture out how you want your terrace garden should look like. This helps to get a head start for your project. But know that when you have a lower terrace compared to your neighboring building, you want your garden to provide some kind of privacy for you. Using taller plants and dwarf trees can give this privacy. Some shrub species are Xylosma or Abelia. You also have to consider the size of your terrace. You don’t want to plant taller plants and heavy foliage when your terrace is limited in space.

Along with shrubs or dwarf trees, another way to screen the terrace is by addition of pergolas. Pergolas made of ceder and coated with exterior varnish are resistant to outdoor conditions for a long time. By adding a screening plant like Wisteria Sinensis, it performs just as well as any other shrub in shading your terrace from the sun and providing privacy.

As mentioned earlier, your terrace is best walled in with bricks. Waterproof your terrace by lining it with burnt bricks – not just brown bricks. Before you lay the bricks, be sure to wet your terrace well and observe how the water drains. They all need to drain towards the main drain pipe. Lay a very fine mesh over the bricks before you put in your planting media, which is your soil, in order for it not to seep into the cracks of your bricks defeating its draining purpose. Now you’re ready to place your soil, but soil tends to be heavy so that it’s advisable to use a mixture of soil, compost, and peat moss. In the case of totally soilless terraces, you only need to make sure the drainage works as it should. Collected, stagnant water can cause all kinds of problems.

terrace garden made of stone
Balcony terrace garden made largely of stone.

When your media is ready, you can now plant your flowers and your trees in your terrace. You need to use plants that don’t have tap roots because they can grow deeper and can very well damage your terrace. Get ones that have fibrous roots. If you want to plant small trees in your terrace, be sure that the tap roots are bound or the tree is contained in a special container to restrict the growth of its tap roots. Try to have balance of flowering plants and foliage plants that will survive through winter to provide you with shades of green even during winter. Suitable plants or trees for terrace planting, are those with some hedging characteristics, or able to tolerate droughts, and are relatively small in size. Some species to consider are:

  • Rosa eglanteria
  • Abelia grandifolia
  • Buxus species
  • Olive species
  • Wisteria sinensis
  • Juniperus (shrub types)
  • Date palms
  • Ligustrum jonandrum
wisteria sinensis for terrace gardening
Wisteria sinensis is among the best plants for a terrace garden.

What if you only have a tight balcony instead of a spacious terrace? Don’t worry because you can still have your mini garden in your balcony so long as it can support the weight that you’ll be adding to it. There are gardening boxes you can get from gardening shops in which you can hang along the rails of your balcony and plant flowers in them. Arrange short flowering plants in the center of these boxes and plant hanging foliage along the edges to create the illusion of variety and space. You can also slot in small rocks to create an exquisite rock garden right within your terrace.

No matter how big or small your terrace or your balcony is; you can still create your own garden sanctuary in it. You just need to compensate space with your creativity and you definitely turn a small terrace into a very unique one.

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