Garden Rooms forum: Renovating my roof garden

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Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
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extranjera
Aug 7, 2014 6:11 PM CST
I started making a garden on the roof off my bedroom 5 years ago. It's grown like Topsy with a pond and plants. It became the place I put things that weren't really ready for prime time. As my downstairs garden became more and more shady, it also became the only spot where I had full sun all day. The main problem with it was that I had to walk along a narrow ledge to get out to it and there were several levels because of the concrete beams that ran across it. Here are some pics of it before we started the renovation, it really helps to see it if you click the pictures.

My dobie walking out to the roof from our bathroom.
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This is the drop off right outside the door
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looking towards the street from the door.
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and looking back towards the entrance to our bedroom and bath, you can see the sloped ledge I use to get out there.
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The problem was that I share this roof with an AC compressor, the water softener and pressure tank, the gas tank, water heater and various water and gas pipes.
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The pond is made from a cattle trough, we painted the outside white to reflect some heat. While it worked fine, it's not very attractive.
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This roof can only be accessed from our master suite so it isn't what I would consider a public space. I'm not going to be having any parties out there. That is what has kept me from renovating it before this. However, it's not really safe walking out there and I am getting older. I watched my old dog almost fall off the ledge one evening and it struck me that I really should at least make it all one level for safety. Well, one thing led to another and I decided if I was going to have it leveled and tiled, I might as well have some planter boxes built in and a real pond made of concrete. So, this project has grown a bit.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
[Last edited by extranjera - Aug 7, 2014 6:14 PM (+)]
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Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
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extranjera
Aug 7, 2014 6:52 PM CST
The work started this week, it's a PITA having workers here at 8am and staying until 6pm every day. In addition, there is an enormous amount of construction material being delivered. I really can not believe how much cement and gravel and sand and rebar and concrete beams there are. Storing them is a problem, getting them up 3 turns of a staircase is a problem and so far they have only delivered what they need for half the roof. Because of the pond and the trees it was decided to do half first and then move everything onto that half and do the other half. It looks to me like they are doing the right side first instead of the street side but hey, I'm not going to argue over that kind of detail. Filling in the big drop outside the door was a problem. If I have this right, they are going to leave part of it deep but with aluminum slats over it, a small section that we can lift off easily and make sure that everything is draining correctly. We get monsoon rains here in the summer and drainage is a huge consideration. All that water has to be gotten off the roof and down to the street level. The roof above it, over our bedroom, also drains to this roof so that water has to be channeled off as well.

Also, the AC compressor for the office has to be moved. The water and gas pipes have to be secured and then covered. There are a lot of details. Because of all that, I got the architect who did our original renovation 6 years ago to draw plans and manage the project. He is good, he knows the systems of the house and he guarantees his work so if something goes wrong (madly knocking on wood now) he will fix it. Since we can put whatever we want under the new floor, I'm having a cold water garden sink and a potting table put in, lighting put around the perimeter, electrical for the pond put in, and hose bibs and irrigation outlets around the planter boxes.

The first few days they were mainly moving stuff and cleaning the area. The pond was moved to the area near the house and all the trees were moved.

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The smaller plants were put on the little terrace off the bedroom.
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We had already moved out of the bedroom and pushed the bed and furniture up against the wall. Now the bedroom is full of construction material. The foam is what they will use under the tile to raise the level of the floor.

Thumb of 2014-08-08/extranjera/16a76b

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A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
Aug 7, 2014 7:03 PM CST
Wow I bet it will be great when it's done but it looks like a HUUUUUGE undertaking! Looking forward to see the progress.
Name: Jean
Hot Springs Vlg, AR, DeLand, F
Region: Florida Daylilies Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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rocklady
Aug 7, 2014 7:10 PM CST
I agree
Any day you wake up on the sunny side of the grass is a good day.

"The moving hand writes and having writ moves on. Neither all thy piety nor all thy wit can lure it back to cancel half a line nor all thy tears wash out a word of it." The Rubiyat by Omar Khayyam
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
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extranjera
Aug 7, 2014 7:13 PM CST
Yes, funny how a simple thought about putting some tile on the roof and making it level can grow into all this.

Here are a couple pics from this afternoon. The concrete beams that were delivered yesterday are now in place. I wondered why they were making holes in the wall. Also, lots of bags of gravel and sand. The concrete and foam are in the bedroom to keep it out of the rain.

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All of those bags of gravel, sand and concrete as well as the rebar and beams were hauled up by hand. Mostly on top of their head. These Mayan guys are small but they are incredibly strong, watching them zip up the stairs with a huge bag of rocks on their head is an amazing sight.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
[Last edited by extranjera - Aug 7, 2014 7:17 PM (+)]
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Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Aug 7, 2014 7:13 PM CST
I agree with Hetty. That is a lot of weight going on to the roof, glad the architect backs up his work. Eager to see in-progress photographs,Jonna. Thumbs up
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
Bearded Dragon young male
Region: Australia Annuals Canning and food preservation Herbs Tropicals Foliage Fan
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Gleni
Aug 7, 2014 8:12 PM CST
This is exciting. Such an interesting area to do up. Love the water lilies in your bath tub.
Name: Jean
Hot Springs Vlg, AR, DeLand, F
Region: Florida Daylilies Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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rocklady
Aug 8, 2014 7:17 AM CST
This is really a huge job and I agree with Debra that it's a lot of weight on the roof so it was good to get the architect involved.
Any day you wake up on the sunny side of the grass is a good day.

"The moving hand writes and having writ moves on. Neither all thy piety nor all thy wit can lure it back to cancel half a line nor all thy tears wash out a word of it." The Rubiyat by Omar Khayyam
Name: Kelli
Canoga Park, CA, Sunset 19 (Zone 10a)
Where summer is winter
Region: California Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Kelli
Aug 8, 2014 8:19 AM CST
If I may ask, what does extranjera mean or stand for?
Take a walk with me at http://cubits.org/dayhikes/
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Aug 8, 2014 9:32 AM CST
Jonna, what an awesome project! I'm really looking forward to seeing the progress and the finished result Smiling
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
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extranjera
Aug 8, 2014 12:26 PM CST
Kelli, extranjera just means a foreigner (female) or foreign as in a foreign country. It is a polite term, not slang or possibly insulting as gringa would be. I thought about using La Gringa as a username but decided it was divisive as it can be an insulting term depending on how it is used and also depending on the generation of the listener. It's one of those words that is becoming less charged because it is being used without insult by the young but that still is very insulting to the older generation.

Funny how I sometimes still think of myself as part of a younger generation. I am not. Today I was out on the roof with the architect and job boss and I was touched by how careful they were to make sure I got out there safely. It's full of stuff and the beams are not cemented in yet so they are not really stable. I watched the architect lightly leap from beam to beam as they wobbled and I was not at all sure how I was going to get out there. He came and held on to my hand and walked me on the more solid parts until we were in the clear. When it was time to leave he insisted on getting up first and then walking me back again. I felt like the old lady I am and to be honest I was very grateful for the assistance.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Aug 8, 2014 1:47 PM CST
Smiling
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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CDsSister
Aug 8, 2014 6:42 PM CST

Glad you have such a nice polite and helpful builder. We all need a hand now and again.

Do you bake cookies for them? Or is it too hot?

Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
extranjera
Aug 8, 2014 9:36 PM CST
It's pretty hot this week to be turning on the oven, if it cools down I may make them some banana bread. I've got way too many bananas to use up and they seem to like banana bread. Cookies here are not as sweet as they are in the US and I think the few times I've made them and handed them out, I was getting that polite look as they ate them but no requests for more than one.

I took this picture today once I was back on solid ground. You can see it is getting more crowded than ever out there. I had to walk down that narrow beam to the right of the AC condenser and the Pandanus. The architect stood on the wobbly beams that are just laying there and held on to me the whole way.


Thumb of 2014-08-09/extranjera/89e02b

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Aug 9, 2014 7:22 PM CST
Jonna, kudos to your architect and job boss! I realized quite some time ago that I'm not as nimble as I once was (HUMONGOUS understatement!), but still hard to admit to ourselves, isn't it?? But then, there are so many people much worse off... so I will just happily accept a helping hand when offered Smiling
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
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C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: Jean
Hot Springs Vlg, AR, DeLand, F
Region: Florida Daylilies Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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rocklady
Aug 9, 2014 8:41 PM CST
I was never very surefooted so I obviously accept any and all helping hands. Thumbs up
Any day you wake up on the sunny side of the grass is a good day.

"The moving hand writes and having writ moves on. Neither all thy piety nor all thy wit can lure it back to cancel half a line nor all thy tears wash out a word of it." The Rubiyat by Omar Khayyam
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
extranjera
Aug 10, 2014 1:47 PM CST
Since a half day on Saturday is part of the normal work week here, Sunday is the only day no one is here. I went out on the roof today and poked around, checked on my fish and added some water to the pond and to some of the trees that were too sheltered to get much from the rains.

The fish seem to be fine, the lilies are blooming. I am kind of glad that my favorite molly, Big Mim, died a week before this all started. She was at least 5 years old and is probably the grandmother of all the black and white mollies in the pond. I was really attached to her and I still catch myself looking for her when I go out to feed. I would have felt that I somehow hurried her death if it had happened after all this construction began, so, it is good she went in her calm and normal pond.
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The process of raising the level is pretty interesting to me. This is the area that was the lowest and is the area that will still be open under the new level. It has the drains, and will serve as a place for the water to back up if it can't drain fast enough. That happens in some of our monsoons, the water just comes down faster than it can run off. It definitely happens in a hurricane so it is good to plan for that kind of deluge. The foam is fitted over the concrete beams, rebar mesh is over that and then a concrete base for the tile. The section at the front will be covered by a light aluminum grate that we can lift to clean out the drains and check on them.
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They have also used the foam and concrete to raise the street side, it was not as big an increase in height but it is about a foot higher. Once the tile is on it will be even a little higher. I spent some time getting the feel of the new level with less distance to the top of the wall and a better view. My worry about raising the level has been that it will be high enough for the younger dogs, the dobie and the new rescue Molly, to jump onto the wall. Feral cats run along the wall at times and they get really excited about getting up there. It's kind of a scary thought, I may have to make some kind of barrier on the street side.
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The view back towards the door to the bedroom. What a difference it will be to be able to just walk out and not slide along the wall. I'm really thrilled about that.

Thumb of 2014-08-10/extranjera/d116ce

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Aug 10, 2014 2:10 PM CST
Looking great, Jonna! Hurray! Thumbs up
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Kelli
Canoga Park, CA, Sunset 19 (Zone 10a)
Where summer is winter
Region: California Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Kelli
Aug 10, 2014 2:31 PM CST
Yes, it is coming along nicely.
Take a walk with me at http://cubits.org/dayhikes/
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Aug 10, 2014 3:20 PM CST
Seems like lots of progress! Glad you're taking such good photos so we can all enjoy the renovation.

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