It is all too easy to overlook the simple things in life. People have taken up gardening as a hobby to help them relax and centre themselves mentally for centuries, and you can easily do the same.
There are many ways gardening can improve your mental health, and can even be used to combat serious problems like anxiety or depression. Gardening helps us appreciate the cyclical nature of life, and to appreciate every moment for what it is.
It is very easy to feel like your world is out of control, especially right now. Gardening is a deeply ordered activity that puts you entirely in control of at least a tiny patch of that world, and the satisfaction of maintaining a garden of any size can’t be underestimated.
This is especially important as exams, deadlines and other stresses loom over our heads. Taking even just a few minutes out every single day to tend the garden and practice mindfulness can really help keep our problems in perspective!
There is no shortage of good reasons to spend a bit more time in the garden now that the weather is finally beginning to warm up, but here are a few ways that ‘pottering around out back’ in the afternoons can help heal the wounded environment.
Gardening reduces your personal carbon footprint. Each of us bears a responsibility to contribute as little as possible to global warming and climate change, and a leisure activity like gardening that actually reduces your carbon output rather than increasing it is a wonderful thing!
At the same time, gardens actually absorb carbon from the atmosphere. By some estimates, nearly ¼ of trees and an even higher percentage of smaller plants in cities are located in gardens. Collective effort is the key to beating climate change, and every square metre of garden we grow makes a small but meaningful contribution to stopping global warming!
So come out and do your part! Gardening is fun and relaxing, and our collective effort with this really will help the planet!
Posted 20 Mar 2020 14:54
Rooftop gardens are wonderful for many reasons, but any time you’re working with tools (or on top of a building) you need be careful.
One of the best ways to protect yourself while gardening is to wear proper PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). Sturdy shows, long trousers and a good thick pair of gloves will often be plenty. Safety goggles might be helpful as well. And finally, protect yourself from the sun. A big floppy hat or sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher is a must!
99% of the time, injury care is straightforward. Most of the injuries possible while gardening are minor, and easily taken care of.
We’ll have a safety induction before we start. This will be delivered by the workshop which is loaning us the tools and equipment we’ll use. They’ll explain about the potential hazards each piece of equipment might present, and the use of PPE.
Safety is our top priority, after all!
Posted 21 Mar 2020 17:02
Planters need to be well designed to have the greatest success. This is going to be challenging, but also exciting. The design needs to be suited to its intended users, and should accommodate their needs. Will it be the kind of rooftop garden we stroll through, or the kind of space where a few people could have a good chat?
In this case we’ll be building planters, but we’ll have to think about the scale and a few technical issues. We’ll need to decide where to place them, ensuring that we allow easy access and safety for ourselves, but also giving the plants all the sunshine, drainage and shelter from the wind that they need to thrive. We’ll also need to consider what works for the building itself. Our end goal is to enhance the underused space without damaging the roof.
Next, we’ll follow up with a few key design principles we need to follow. Building the planters is going to teach us a lot about carpentry, engineering and technical skills.
Strategic planning is the key to success!
Posted 22 Mar 2020 12:26
TECHNICAL RESOLUTION (I)
Now that we know what we want our rooftop garden to achieve, we can get down to the technical details. The most important might be drainage, waterproofing and wind protection.
Our planters can’t be watertight, or the plants inside can easily ‘drown’ when they fill up with water after a rain. Proper drainage is vital to healthy plants. But that means water spilling out onto the roof on a regular basis, so we have to make sure that the entire area is well drained.
One of the best ways to protect the roof itself is to lay down or apply a sturdy waterproof membrane – one that won’t tear and leak when someone accidentally scrapes it with a spade, and won’t cause a trip hazard. You’ll also need to locate the planters near a roof drain so that excess water will flow away.
The wind is simply stronger atop most roofs than it is on the ground. That means soil tends to blow away, and plants can easily be damaged on blustery days. In all cases, make sure that both the waterproofing layer and the planters themselves are firmly fastened down!
Posted 22 Mar 2020 12:28
TECHNICAL RESOLUTION (II)
It is important to consider two other technical design concerns. Structural loading is something we’ll only need to consider once, but maintenance will be an ongoing responsibility. Luckily, as you’ll see, our duties will be quite light!
A structural engineer’s opinion is often necessary to determine whether a particular roof can bear the weight of a garden safely. We are glad to announce that a special guest from Bell Munro consulting will be coming in to give us a talk about roof gardens. They can offer advice where the best place to locate the planters might be. After all, all that wet soil is going to be heavy!
Planters don’t require a significant amount of maintenance. They must be weeded and watered regularly, and fertilised a few times a year. The weeding will be fairly simple, as rooftop gardens get fewer wind-blown weed seeds than gardens on the ground. The good news is that, unless the planters or furniture become damaged somehow, that’s all there is to it.
Remember, gaining practical experience is very useful as a future architect!