How Do You Protect a Terrace, Patio or Roof Garden From Rain?

So many homes today are more compact and without much green space. Whether you're in an inner-city apartment, a shared wall townhome, or a garden unit type stand-alone house, the lack of yard doesn't mean you can't garden. Terraces, roofs, balconies, and patios can be home to beautiful gardens. But sometimes they can also be extremely exposed to the weather. How can you protect your terrace, or roof, or patio garden from the driving rain?

There are a variety of ways to protect your terrace, roof, or patio garden from the rain, including:

  1. Building a fixed pergola.
  2. Attaching a fixed awning to the building wall.
  3. Placing a folding awning or canopy next to the building wall.
  4. Putting up a portable gazebo.

We're going to take a look at each of these options and examine the pros and cons of each within this post. We'll also spend a minute discussing when rain can be too much of a good thing in the garden.

Container gardens can be magical. It's a way to have luscious plants, flowers, and edibles near your home and within easy gardening reach. It's great for homeowners without a yard, or for those who don't want to deal with weeds, pests, and uncertain soil conditions. But container gardens come with challenges when it comes to the weather. Too much rain, wind, or even sun can cause plants to burn up or rot in their pots. So let's look at some ways to keep your garden at its best.

1. Building a fixed pergola

A fixed garden pergola is a way to protect your plants from burning up in the extreme sun, to shelter them from battering rains, and with some strategically placed windbreak plants along the sides, even protect from winds.

This pergola is approximately 10' x 10' and made of powder-coated industrial aluminum. The fabric overhang is a breathable and light-filtering Coolara fabric that is weather-resistant and long-lasting. It's also removable if you prefer the overhead part of the pergola to be home to vining plants.

With any permanent structure in your garden, particularly if you're on a rooftop, you must check about permits, zoning, and permissions from owners and HOA's before you invest. But if you can pass all of those hurdles, this is a one and done kind of solution that will transform the look of your green space.

2. Attaching a fixed awning to the building wall

If your garden is in a compact space near your house, you might use a fixed awning. Awnings are roof-like structures that extend out, often above a window or door, to provide protection from the elements. There's no reason not to take this concept and run with it for your garden plants.

Obviously, you don't want thick light-blocking canvas, but an awning like this one, made of translucent polycarbonate, allows the sunlight in while protecting tender plants from storms. The disadvantage here is that you can't roll it back to let the light rains soak your plants so you may spend more time with the hose.  

Just like with a fixed pergola, you will need to check in with your HOA or building owner if you have either before bolting this to the home. Once it's up, your ongoing maintenance is minimal, but it will require installation, which may or may not be able to be done by you, so consider that when deciding on the best solution.

3. Placing a folding awning or canopy next to the building wall

Another option for protecting tender plants from driving rain is a folding awning or canopy. Like the fixed awning, this is a permanent installation to the side of your house (yes, it can be removed, but you will make installation holes).

Unlike the fixed awning, this option gives you the ability to roll the awning back on mild weather days to give your plants the benefit of sun and light rains. These types of canopies are available in many sizes and shapes and fabrics to match any exterior design.

Click here for this one on Amazon.

Like the first two options, because this one requires a hard installation, you must check with HOA or property owners before greenlighting the project. And you also must remember to roll this up in high winds. It's great for keeping off driving rain, but not as durable for powerful winds as your first two options.

4. Using a portable gazebo

Like the permanent pergola, the use of a gazebo is a great way to protect your plants. You'll need space to install one (this one is 10' x 12') and permissions, of course. If you have your garden in an area of high wind, you'll want the option of staking this into the ground or taking it down completely.

The side netting gives you the option to work on seedlings and plants in a bug-free environment or set up a table inside of your garden to entertain friends. Because the canvas top is solid, you won't get as much direct sunlight with this option. You'll want to take that into consideration as you choose the plants to occupy the space.

Is Too Much Rain Bad For My Garden?

Retractable awning for outdoor interior design

Too much rain can be bad for your garden. It can damage your plants. Excessive rain can compact your soil and cause erosion issues in ground-planted plants. Root loss can occur with too much water, and rain can also leach valuable nitrogen from the soil during summer months. The good news is that by planting in containers, you have far more control over your plant's environment. It's easy to add plant food, provide windbreaks, and cover for extreme weather days.

How Do I Prevent My Garden From Getting Waterlogged?

If you're dealing with a container garden, be sure to provide drainage holes in your pots. This will allow excess water to seep through and out from the pots. Always put a layer of gravel at the bottom of your pots or raised beds before adding soil; this creates a porous layer for water to escape. Plant a windbreak at one end of your garden to provide shelter from the gusts that come with heavy rain. Another trick is to tilt your pots slightly, so that excess water runs off rather than pooling in the top of the container.

You can also use a soil-less mix for planting as it doesn't hang onto the water as some potting soils do. These are made from a blend of composted materials and barks and have great aeration for potted plants.

Click here to see this on Amazon.

Mostly, rain is a great thing in our gardens and something we're happy to have. But on those occasions when it's been a super wet season, or you just want to be prepared, look at one of these solutions for your own outdoor patio or terrace garden. If you've enjoyed this post here at, please check out these other great posts below:

10 Awesome Balcony Garden Containers

What Are The Common Problems With Rooftop Gardens?

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