Garden terraces provide a transition between hardscape and softscape.  Also called a roof garden, it is a garden in which vegetables, fruits or flowers are grown on terraces, balconies or roofs of buildings.  The kitchen garden, a standard in every Indian household, has now shifted to the roof due to constraints of space, and is called a terrace garden.  Increasing pressure on land and escalating costs have also added to its growing popularity.


Where can one start a terrace garden?

These gardens can be created on almost all kinds of buildings like residential flats, individual houses, commercial hubs, and factories.


Using the roof as a terrace garden?

Simple waterproofing of the roof is enough.  Various waterproofing products are available in the market that will ensure that the roof is protected, water-resistant and leakage-free.


Can roots of plants causes any harm to the building?

Plants with fibrous roots do not cause any harm to the roof but avoid plants with tap roots (like mango) as they may penetrate the roof and harm it by growing its roots in the structure.  Sometimes the wind or birds may bring seeds that can germinate and take root on the roof itself.  These should be checked for and removed.


How do I begin to grow food on my roof?

You can begin greening your terrace with these simple steps, and then move on to bigger ideas:

  • Take any simple pot or ‘gamla’ or better still recycle any of your old containers.
  • Mix compost, soil, coir peat or sand and vermicompost in equal quantities.
  • Cover the drainage hole at the bottom of the container with a broken pot piece or a flat stone and fill it up with the mixture. You will have to drill a hole in a recycled container first.
  • Pour water and check that no soil is discharged through the bottom hole.
  • Wet the soil and plant your seed or sapling.
  • Watch your greens grow!


Containers of all sizes, shapes and materials, (plastic, ceramic, metal or mud) can be used.  If you are an environment buff, you just need to use your imagination! Your Coke bottles, take-away plastic boxes, old sacks, coconut shells, old broken buckets, dented kitchen pots and pans, just about everything can be recycled and used as containers.

You can start with something from your kitchen shelf, that is available and used in everyday cooking like coriander (dhaniya), fenugreek (methi), gram (chana) and chilli (mirchi). Once you gain confidence you can move onto vegetables of your choice and even grow fruit trees like banana and pomegranate.  Almost all vegetables can be grown (creepers, drumstick, lime, tomatoes).  You can grow at least 6 vegetables per season.  Your 1 sqm terrace area can give you anywhere between 25 to 50 kg of vegetables in a year.


What are the advantages of terrace gardens?

  • Some of the benefits to health, aesthetics and environment include:
  • Reduce indoor temperature by 6- 8 degree and can reduce air conditioning cost
  • Reduce overall heat absorption of buildings and insulate the building against heat and cold
  • Convenience of safe, pesticide-free, healthy green and fresh vegetables
  • Conducive to a routine of physical exercise, clean air and being close to nature
  • Increases amount of oxygen in the air
  • Reduce sound pollution
  • Act as a habitat for city-weary birds



Since a level site is generally regarded as a requisite for comfort and repose, the terrace as a raised viewing platform made an early appearance in the ancient Persian gardening tradition, where the enclosed orchard, or paradise, was to be viewed from a ceremonial tent. Such a terrace had its origins in the far older agricultural practice of terracing a sloping site: see Terrace (agriculture). The Hanging Gardens of Babylon must have been built on an artificial mountain with stepped terraces, like those on a ziggurat.


Ancient Rome

Lucullus brought back to Rome first-hand experience of Persian gardening in the hilly sites of Asia Minor; the villa gardens of Maecenas, which included libraries open to scholars, incurred the disdain of Seneca. At Praeneste during the early Imperial period, the sanctuary of Fortuna was enlarged and elaborated, the natural slope being shaped into a series of terraces linked by stairs.  Steep ground at Powys Castle, Mid Wales, falls away in a series of terraces, some supported on vaulted undercrofts.

The imperial villas at Capri were built to take advantage of varied terraces.  At the seaside Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, the villa gardens of Julius Caesar’s father-in-law fell away in a series of terraces, giving pleasant and varied views of the Bay of Naples.  Only some of them have been excavated.  At Villa of Livia, probably part of Livia Drusilla’s dowry brought to the Julio-Claudian dynasty, rooms in the cryptoporticus beneath terracing were frescoed with trees in bloom and fruit.


Italian Renaissance

During the Italian Renaissance, the formalized, civilizing imprint of human control over wild nature expressed in terracing that was combined with stairs and water features, drew villa patrons and garden designers to escarpments that surveyed a handsome prospect.  At the influential Cortile del Belvedere at the Vatican Palace, perfected under a series of popes from the earliest 16th century, the backdrop within the enclosed court was a raised terrace.  An example is from the Stanze of Raphael on an upper floor of the Palace.


English landscape garden

Even in the most naturalistic landscape gardens of Capability Brown, a raised graveled or paved terrace along the garden front offered a dry walk-in damp weather and a transition between the hard materials of the architecture and the rolling greensward beyond.



Contemporary terrace gardens, in addition to being in the garden and landscape, often occur in urban areas and are terrace architecture elements that extend out from an apartment or residence at any floor level other than ground level.  They are often discussed in conjunction with roof gardens, although they are not always true roof gardens, instead being balconies and decks.  These outdoor spaces can become lush gardens through the use of container gardening, automated drip irrigation and low-flow irrigation systems, and outdoor furnishings.


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Contact us at 908-322-1533


Union County Hardscape Contractor