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This roof garden design in Manhattan's West Village features a custom-built wood deck with matching planters made out of ipe, a hardwood with a 30-year life expectancy.  We used very thin wood planks on the planter facade for a very contemporary looking effect.  We planted bamboo on one side to provide some much needed privacy from a neighboring terrace.  On the other side, we planted white birch trees, which stand out nicely against the existing dark fence behind them.  Underplantings include tree peonies, herbs, barberries, and white flowering annuals.  We also ran drip irrigation lines and low-voltage lighting lines up into the planters prior to planting, making them completely invisible from the surface thanks to a layer of mulch.  The irrigation system runs on an automatic battery-operated timer, making these plants very easy to maintain.  Up-lighting in the planters adds a dramatic nighttime effect.  See the "before" photos of this garden and read more about how we designed it on my blog, www.amberfreda.com

STEP 1 - Installation of Deck
This deck was installed using a pedestal system that helps keep the entire deck surface level, while allowing water to flow beneath them and make its way to the drain.  This sort of system is essential for rooftop gardens, which need to be kept clear of obstructions.  It also enables easy access to the drain for cleaning and allows sections of the deck to be taken up for cleaning and maintenance to the roof as needed.

STEP 2 - Put weed barrier fabric in all pots
A layer of weed barrier fabric at the bottom of your pots will let the water out but keep the soil in the planter from leaching out onto the deck.  Choose a thin weave weed barrier fabric, as the thicker cloths tend to not drain as well.

STEP 3 - Installation of Lighting and Irrigation Lines
We left a 1-inch gap around the entire perimeter of the deck to run all of our irrigation and lighting lines discreetly up into drainage holes drilled into the bottoms of the planters.  If you've never installed irrigation or lighting lines before, check out my Instructables on how to do both of these.  Drip irrigation actually ends up saving people money over the long-run on having to replace plants because it waters the plants for you automatically just the right amount.  Low-voltage up-lighting can be placed into the soil around the plants using metal stakes.

STEP 4 - Mulch
A 1-2 inch layer of mulch at the top of your pots will help hide irrigation and lighting lines for a more attractive surface appearance.

Step 5 - Relax and Enjoy your New Garden!

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm a home and garden designer in NYC specializing in roof gardens, rooftop terraces, backyards, and interior design projects.
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