Good Neighbors Waterproof Their Rooftop Planter Boxes

Have you ever been seated at a sidewalk cafe and suddenly felt a tell-tale drip, drip, drip down your back? Maybe you even got a full-blown drenching. Chances are it came from someone above watering their plants. Understanding the importance of waterproofing planter boxes is the difference between being a good neighbor or not, as well as avoiding a nuisance complaint or liability lawsuit.

Rooftop Gardens

The trend of rooftop gardening is growing hard and fast. Considering the many benefits these green spaces create, it is highly unlikely they will be banned or lose popularity anytime soon. They help minimize rainwater runoff, reduce energy costs within a structure and improve air quality.

Despite all of these wonderful contributions by rooftop gardens, they can also spell trouble between neighbors regarding water runoff unless planter boxes are waterproofed. In addition to the nuisance of getting a thorough soaking if a person below happens to be in the line of fire of a draining planter box, there is also the potential for algae growth and discoloration of building surfaces from mineral deposits along the path of travel of the water runoff.

The Good & The Bad

Water is good. In fact it is great. It is the source of life, necessary for all things green and clean. However, if you are on the receiving end of your neighbor’s water runoff, water is just plain bad. It can even make a neighbor mad. Perhaps mad enough to sue.


Attorneys who specialize in real estate law explain that water damage disputes between neighbors is common. Water runoff that is not naturally occurring and causes damage becomes the responsibility of whoever created the source. If a rooftop bar is elegantly graced with planter boxes filled with gorgeous, aromatic roses, it is their responsibility to control the water runoff of their gardening irrigation.

Although there may not be a specific law that reads “rooftop rose gardeners are responsible for water damage from their planter boxes that affects their downstairs neighbor”, an affected person can use different “reasonable” rules. It is reasonable to hold a neighbor responsible for water damage if an alteration they perform causes damage to a neighbor’s person or property with resulting water runoff.

There is also the Civil Law Rule that can be applied. It reasons that if a person changes the natural flow of water, such as capturing rainwater for use in a rooftop garden, they are liable for any damage resulting from this change. This is sometimes called the Natural Flow Rule.

Where rooftop planter boxes are concerned, it may be an issue of careless water damage as far as prevailing legal arguments are concerned. This covers any act of carelessness or neglect that results in harm to neighboring property from resulting water runoff. If a rooftop garden’s planter boxes’ water runoff is the source, that rooftop gardener is going to have to pay.

Good Neighbor/Good Gardener

Being a good neighbor means being a good gardener. A good gardener is not just conscientious about his pruning and fertilizing habits. Good gardeners also make sure that they are not harming others as they putter about their planter boxes. However, in addition to installing a self-contained irrigation system and lining planter boxes effectively, the best gardener will also waterproof all of the lumber used to construct the planter box.

Rooftop gardens are constantly exposed to the elements. Temperature extremes, sun damage and frequent soakings from rain or irrigation systems will wreak havoc even on lumber that is pressure-treated and designed for outdoor use. In addition to rot and decay, there is also the possibility of warping. This can result in installed waterproofing liners to completely fail. Then a rooftop gardener is in danger of becoming a bad neighbor with leaky planter boxes that can cause property damage.

For the best waterproofing products for your own rooftop garden planter boxes, please contact us. With more than 35 years of excellence in waterproofing homes, decks, and patio structures, the planter boxes of a committed rooftop gardener are in good hands with our waterproofing experts.