5 Things to consider when designing a Roof Top Garden or Patio

roof top design ideas
Photo by John Nail from Pexels

If you have ever been to London, Berlin, New York, or any other large city anywhere in the world, you would have noticed many roof top gardens. They make the perfect city oasis, especially in places where there isn’t any room for a small patio or garden on the ground. Do you happen to have roof access through a window in your home or office, and ever wondered if this could turn into an extra usable living space? Now might be the ideal time to explore making the most of this unused space.

Before you begin, you’ll need to do some research.  Building restrictions and planning permission may be required, and there are lots of practical considerations to take into account, such as how much weight the roof can take. You may need to consult a structural engineer. So the first step is to check with your local government planning department and of course, always remember to make sure it’s ok with your landlord – unless you own the building and know exactly what roofing materials and type of construction you’re dealing with.

Once planning and permissions are in place, here are 5 important considerations when preparing your rooftop garden from scratch:

Entrance to the roof

rooftop access
Photo by Huy Phan from Pexels

The first consideration is whether there is a way to access your roof. The most common roof types are pitched – where you have the perfect opportunity to add some beautiful cedar gable brackets which give an air of charming rustic character – or flat and not every roof lends itself to a roof garden. Whilst a pitched roof may enable you to have a door or a window installed, there is not always space outside to build a patio because of the shape of the construction. A flat roof with its neat, minimalistic design lends itself more to a roof top garden, however access to it may not be as simple. One option could be installing roof lights for flat roofs or roof hatches that could come in handy if say you just wanted to create a green roof. The best thing to do if you are unsure is get a specialist in to look at the potential for utilising your roof space fully.

Garden roof vs. green roof

Rooftops consisting of concrete and steel will greatly benefit from the addition of plants and flowers to soften and bring colour to your rooftop patio. You could start a new gardening hobby and get into growing vegetables, as they will receive plenty of sun and water naturally. Research the sort of plants that work well in your location’s climate and try to incorporate planting that will attract nature such as bees.

You might also consider a green roof instead which is a positive eco option. If you’ve never seen a green roof, it resembles a lawn, with a carpet of low maintenance plants on top of your roof. Both gardens and green roofs positively impact our ecology by reducing air pollution and protecting the building’s surface.

Rooftop design

As with any patio, family and friends could use the space on your roof as a perfect outdoor meeting spot. Think about whether it is a space just to socialise in, or if you want to use it to work from home sometimes or do your daily yoga. Whatever the purpose, plan out your ideal layout including sufficient floor space for an exercise mat, containers or raised beds, seating, table etc. It is vitally important to make sure your patio is going to be safe, too – some roofs are not meant for outdoor activities, especially if kids are present. To secure it, hire a specialist renovator to help you with approved railings and all necessary safety features, such as non-slip flooring.

Lighting and shade

Rooftops are fully open to the sun, and the temperature can rise dangerously. Our skin absorbs sunlight to receive vitamin D, but you might also get sunburnt. Along with wearing sunglasses and applying sunscreen, why not consider installing a shade over your lie-in spot for extra protection. There are some portable and retractable shades such as patio umbrellas, canopies, awnings etc.

At night, there are many exquisite options for outdoor lighting such as festoon lights. Wall mounted lighting is ideal, as well as table and floor lamps. You might consider rechargeable outdoor lamps or candles in lanterns.


roof top garden
Photo by Skylar Kang from Pexels

Just imagine your open space furnished with cushions,  armchairs, sofas and a coffee table. You can consider getting a mini barbeque grill, a water feature or even something as simple as an outdoor rug to have that homely look and feel. The right furniture can make your patio look ever so cosy, and decorations will enhance it even more. Besides plants, rugs and shades, decide the tonal palette for your place to keep lighting and furniture in colour synergy. Integrate garden sculptures, a mini-bar, hand-made shelves and decorative plant pots into your rooftop design.


Having an open space in your roof area has considerable potential if you decide to utilise it. The investment will pay off in the long run when done correctly and will ultimately add value to the property and your day to day life. As a project, once the groundwork is signed off and completed you can enjoy the process of decorating your roof step by step, and improving it over time. Think about the fun you could have without leaving your home! The perfect roof top escape from the world, during and after lockdown.

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© Copyright 2021 Antonia, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tidylife
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