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I live in India. I have quite some space in the terrace. The roofing is of concrete slab with some weather-proofing done and red oxide tiles laid above. The climate is tropical ( Chennai ). I would like to know:

  1. How to go about setting up a garden in the terrace ?
  2. Is there any threat to the building structure in the form of water seepages, algae formation etc.
  3. Are there any specific watering needs as the terrace can get quite hot during the day time.
  4. Do I use just earthen pots or is it better to construct tray-like concrete structures ?
  5. Any other precautions to be followed while setting up roof gardening?
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You probably get a lot of rain? So water seepage is probably trivial compared to the rain. Still, trays might be an idea to catch the water as it might contain humic acid and similar. It would be fine if they overflowed in the rain as it would then be very dilute. I don't have an answer but it is an interesting problem to have. I think you could do a lot with a tropical roof garden. Also "living roofs" are a very fashionable way of keeping a building cool but your roof might need strengthening in order to take the weight. –  winwaed Jun 16 '11 at 14:00
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+1 We would make arrangements for rain water to drain into the well on the ground. Yes. I too hope the building cools down a bit ! –  Sathya Jun 20 '11 at 5:16
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted
  1. I think setting up a terrace garden is a great idea!
  2. I agree with @winwaed, the risk from water seepage is probably minimal considering the amount of rain you get already. You might consider putting some mats down to walk on in case it gets slippery up there though.
  3. The watering needs would depend on multiple factors, including the type of plants you are going to grow. I would make sure and only plant stuff that can handle full sun though. You can reduce your watering needs some by putting a layer of mulch on top of your soil. This will help the soil retain moisture.
  4. My preference between those two choices would be the earthen pots, just because I think they'd be easier to move around if you wanted to re-arrange. You also need to be careful that you don't build something that weighs more than the roof can handle. It sounds like it's pretty sturdy, but you definitely don't want your roof caving in on you!
  5. If you don't own the building, make sure it's OK with the owner first though.
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Thanks Shane. Yes it is my building. It is still under construction so there is time to build the roof strong enough. I plan to grow veggies, Spinach and some flower bearing plants. –  Sathya Jun 20 '11 at 5:15
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@Sathya: Sounds fantastic. I would love to see pictures when you get it up and running! –  Shane Jun 20 '11 at 13:25
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