Cost dynamics of setting up a rooftop Kitchen Garden

12.08.18 04:02 AM Comment(s) By CityGreens

We get frequent queries from our readers on the cost dynamics of setting up a Kitchen Garden on their terrace.  If put to good use, an empty terrace space can act as a source of engagement for the homemaker and elderly at home. It can also help in generating some additional income. Still, more than the income, the amount of confidence and feeling of self-worth it can create for the stay-at-home family member could be a reason enough to undertake such a pursuit. 

With that intent in mind, we tried to determine the cost-dynamics of setting up and maintaining a terrace garden. Through this post, we will share the results of that exercise with you. If it can help some of you to decide and take the plunge, we will feel our efforts were well justified.

CityGreens Urban Gardening Research Centre - 2017

For the sake of this exercise, since we are also contemplating the potential of producing food for generating revenue, we will only consider a closed environment or a Mini-Greenhouse. 


Also, to be as close to reality as possible, we will take data based on the 300 sq. Ft. Urban Gardening Research Centre that we have set-up on our terrace office in Bangalore.

Set-up Cost

For the sake of ease, we will divide the set-up cost into three distinct components, viz Cost of Expertise, Cost of Outer Structure, and Cost of Grow Structures inside the greenhouse. 
Cost of Expertise

This cost you will incur if you plan to get an experienced professional to design your kitchen garden, help you set it up, and train you on growing and maintaining the plants.

Take time to understand how much grow area you will be getting in a fixed space. In our case, we achieved a grow area to floor area ration of 98%.

Cost of Outer Structure

The second cost head is towards the mini-Greenhouse. The price will vary based on the kind of set-up, the quality and quantity of inputs, and charges for the labor involved. It will be site-specific. For example, if you have a wall that can act as one of the sides or if Green House supports can be attached to a concrete railing/balcony, the cost will be lower. The expenditure will be maximum for a standalone greenhouse not connected to any sidewall or railings or to the roof itself (like the one we have set-up in our office). 

Cost of Grow Structure

This cost will also vary depending upon the material used and the layout planned. One can go for simple grow bags placed on the terrace, or a multitude of fancy pots, or a custom-designed waterproof structure. We went for a custom-designed multi-layered, eco-friendly, structure of wood-based waterproof frames. These are costlier than the alternatives, but the objectives we had with our Research center needed specific custom-build elements. In our case, including all the three factors above, it cost us 377 INR p.s.f. 

Growing Area vs. Floor Area

In order to optimize the available space better, one should understand how much productive (read growing) area one would be able to get based on the design selected.

Let's say you place one pot (of 1 sq. feet) in every four sq. Feet of terrace area (to allow space for walking, and to give room to plants to spread out), the actual growing area will be 25% of the floor area. In terrace conditions, you should be able to get between 50% to 60% of the growing space (as measured against floor area). Anything above 60, you have done an excellent job. 

How much should your terrace garden cost you?

For a simple household case, the max it may cost to set-up the Terrace Garden would be Rs. 300 INR p.s.f. of floor area. That is the upper bound; you can work with a range of Rs. 250 to Rs. 300 p.s.f. as the cost for setting up of a terrace garden of approx. 300 sq. Ft. Thus, a 300 sq. Ft. terrace garden in a GreenHouse set-up will cost between Rs. 75,000, and Rs. 90,000 at current prices (in the Year 2018). 

In the next part of this article, we will cover the cost of growing plants and the revenue-generating potential


Happy Gardening!

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