Roof Garden Retrofit Design
(this is an example of a design that is being implemented posted here for educational purposes)
Site Analysis overview: Roof has been reinforced and designed for growing trees and plants with drainage and irrigation already in place. Wind from the East/SE is consistent and may be strong at times. Soil conditions are not favorable for a veggie garden and will need to be improved. Only city water is available for water needs at the moment. Appropriate access and pathways to beds for gardening purposes are needed. Most plants have been identified and some will be removed. Water reclamation systems are very appropriate for design. Birds are attracted to site and enhancements to the habitat are appropriate for design. There is full solar access with some shading from retaining walls and trees. Plants are mostly doing well with a few doing poorly. Electrical lines, lighting and irrigation lines inhibit the need to raise soil level and would need to be adjusted, moved or worked around.
Objective: In the southeast bed, create a functional and accessible garden bed for the growth of food crops for owner and friends. Remove Bougainvilleas that block the sun and are not doing well and sheet mulch the area. Remove Aloe Vera to bring downstairs to share with others. In the northeast bed, create a functional and accessible herb garden bed for the growth of herbs, spices and other foods for Owner and friends. Remove root mat from previously cut tree. Remove other plants and sheet mulch area. Grow foods for barbequing, medicinal and other uses. Plant windbreaks and other useful vines and potted plants to fill in the remaining space. In the shower area, create a meditative space and improve natural habitat for a type of wildlife sanctuary. Produce a grey water system for shower and bring privacy and a feeling of tranquility and beauty to the space.
Observation: Based on site analysis and soil testing; We suggest a plan for rehabilitating the soil conditions while implementing container gardens with a passive drip irrigation system for better quality of water (chlorine evaporation) for vegetable growing. Garden bed will need a wind break on the east side so small soft herbaceous plants are protected and will not break or transpire to fast. Shower area is the first thing you see when walking up to the roof from the stairs. Seeing only Lush trees, plants and bamboo can be quite inviting when going up to the roof. Birds have little or no habitat in south beach and seem to be attracted to the roof top garden. Enhancing the habitat with food, water and protection with native species will increase the consistency of being able to see the beautiful birds. Two designs for the garden beds are offered along with the shower area design. Process of implementation and their estimated costs are what follow.
Sector Analysis and Design
South East Garden
Suggested improvements and implementation for garden
- Stop using any form of Chemical based fertilizers or pesticides in the area
- Remove Bougainvilleas from area to bring in light and remove some of the root matt.
- Remove Aloe Vera and transplant downstairs to prepare space for windbreak and edible plant species.
- 4 to 6 inches of Sheet mulching the garden area of 25 feet by 6 feet (average) with mulch, hay, horse manure, organic matter, inoculants and compost
- Bring in local night crawlers (worms) to keep soil aerated
- Plant windbreaks along the east side of retaining wall
- Install container beds of your choice: (2 Maha Garden Beds with 5 gallon bucket drip irrigation set up or Custom Circle garden design with Slow drip pot and bird bath)
- Interplant part-shade loving perennial edible plants west of garden bed with ground covers like sweet potato, mint and ginger, turmeric, Katuk
- Embed or Paint some Indigenous Peruvian symbols on the retainer wall to make the space sacred
- Install a wooden foot set to get up and over the retainer wall easier
Herb Garden (North East)
Suggested improvements and implementation for Herb garden:
- Stop using any form of Chemical based fertilizers or pesticides in the area
2 Remove root mat from pre-cut tree stump for proper leveling of area.
3 4 to 6 inches of Sheet mulching the garden area of 20 feet by 6 feet (average) with mulch, hay, horse manure, organic matter, inoculants and compost
4 Bring in local night crawlers (worms) to keep soil aerated
5 Plant windbreaks along the east side of retaining wall
6 Install container beds of your choice: (1 Maha Garden Beds with 5 gallon bucket drip irrigation set up or Custom Herb Spiral garden design with Center drip from your irrigation system and small pond)
7 Interplant perennial edible plants along side garden bed with ground covers like pinto peanut and vanilla, black pepper, tea, chives, chili peppers, etc
8 Embed or Paint some Indigenous Peruvian symbols on the retainer wall to make the space sacred
9 Install a wooden foot step to get up and over the retainer wall easier
10 Potted Citrus like Persian lime or Meyer Lemon around the BBQ.
Suggested improvements and implementation for Nature’s Shower:
- Remove Dead trees (ie the large palm, bamboo, and other smaller trees not doing well.
- Remove Natural wood seat not often used
- Plant 15 diverse species of Native shrubs and trees along the retainer wall on both sides to fill in and develop more of a Habitat for birds. Interplant multiple layers of ground covers shrubs and edible / native or medicinal plants in between.
- Redesign shower Privacy with a living entry way, river stone flooring with waste water recycling to feed water loving plants. The area will have Edible plants, natives, a water feature and a small meditation space for seating and enjoying the lush greenery and tranquility.
- Solar Water Heater or instant electric water heater for shower will save on energy and water. Low GPM shower head.
- Extend the shower head piping out so it is more in the center of the shower area and cover piping and wood with Bamboo for a more natural look.
- Interplant vines that come over and cover the retaining wall for a more ‘jungle’ look of the space.
- Bring in a Bee hive for honey and to increase pollinators.
Soil Conditions: Years of rain and irrigation splashing pooling and compacting the soil surface. Exposure of soil surface to wind and Sun further deteriorates the soil conditions. Chemical fertilizers and city water destroy any microorganisms remaining in the compacted and waterlogged soil. Soil is now sour, eroded, oxygen depleted and with years of surface fertilizing produced a thick root matt from root bound plants. Based on soil test, there is some organic matter that is locked up and unavailable to the plants. Little exchange occurs between the microorganisms and because the PH is Alkaline, uptake of minerals may be inhibited. Enhancing the population of microorganisms in the soil will improve the health of all the trees and plants. Microorganisms and other life forms live productively in the soil when the soil has 25% water and 25% air throughout. By improving these conditions we can dramatically improve the health of the plants and the look of the rooftop garden. After a decade of the plants and trees being in the retainer wall beds, it is actually a good time to remove, root prune and restore all the plants and trees capable of being moved so that they can continue to thrive within the space.
Plants: We have decided to go with trees that can handle wind conditions well and some drought. These kinds of trees will work in places where wind and/or salt conditions may be stronger. Also, we are choosing more understory trees and shrubs that will not become as root bound to the contained space as fast as large trees which can be quite difficult to work with if you needed to remove and prune back the roots.
In the Garden beds all fruit and veggies protected behind the windbreak will do just fine.
Edible plant list and suggestions: I have two books to recommend and I will bring for a list of plants to choose from. Dwarf trees, herbs, spices, shrubs and water based plants are all included. Book is in titled: “Florida’s best herbs and spices and Florida’s best Fruiting plants by Charles R. Boning.” It has quite an extensive list of edible/usable plants.
Native and edible: Simpson stoppers, Elderberry, Darling Plum, sea rocket, Myrtle, Wild Cinnamon
Herbs and Spices: Ginger, chives, chili peppers, cardamom, Black Pepper, Pandanus, Watercress, vietnamese mint, Turmeric, Thyme, Sage,
Fruiting, tea plants: Green Tea, Star Anise, Rumberry, Moujean Tea, Lemon Grass, Jamaican Mint, Mexican tarragon.
Fruit trees: Wind tolerant – grumichama, kai apple, mulberry, carambola, barbadoes cherry. In pots – Miracle fruit, lemons, limes, dwarf mango, Cherapu
Other ornamental foods – Monstera, pineapple, prickly pear, cocoplum, Carissa, sweet potato/yam, Katuk
It has been a please sure to serve you with this permaculture design. Please call so we answer any of your questions.
Permaculture Miami team