Published: July, 2016

Constructing rooftop gardens

Tranquillity, space, views and greenery - certainly not the everyday vision for a standard rooftop in the UK.

People expect access to outside space at ground level but neglected roof spaces all over the country are becoming the focus of major architectural projects to make them equally as appealing and valuable.

Designing and creating inspiring gardens can be a complex task as there is so much to consider. Keep the challenges faced with a garden on the ground, take them 20 feet into the air and they can become somewhat more technical. Not all rooftop spaces were built with the prospect of housing tonnes of earth, decking, support structures and furniture. A new range of technicalities will present themselves. 

So how is it possible to create a stunning roof terrace?

The vision 

Good design, expertise and planning are crucial to getting a garden project off the ground. The complexities will likely require the input of multiple professionals including architects, landscape architects, structural engineers and installation experts. If a roof terrace is part of a new build project it can be integrated from the earliest stages of planning. Converting existing roof spaces can require planning permission and there are other elements such as access, drainage and ensuring the safety of inhabitants to contend with.

Some of the most stunning roof gardens in existence today are part of residential developments. A report by the Greater London Assembly stated that typical Georgian and Victorian streets in London hold huge potential for the addition of roof terraces and modern apartment blocks are increasingly adopting communal roof gardens as a space saving alternative to private gardens. We worked on a private residence in Hampshire to create a beautiful external rooftop living space that made the most of the fantastic rural views. 


Converting roof space and building at height can impose certain restrictions but there are ways to get creative and achieve the desired outcome. Floating construction with minimal weight resting on waterproofing is typical. Composite decking or porcelain paving are hardwearing, low maintenance surface finishes which also look great alongside varieties of artificial grass. They can be installed on support structures that reduce material, construction and lifecycle costs. Support structures also facilitate rapid surface drainage, provide a cavity to conceal services and are excellent for improving heat and sound insulation.

Greenery is essential for a roof garden and sturdy planters are ideal for creating contained and raised beds. They provide sufficient soil volumes for plants to grow successfully. High spaces are exposed to the elements and will act as suntraps in the summer, becoming windy in winter storms. Wind and sunshine will increase the transpiration rate of plants so another important factor in the design will be provision for effective irrigation. Considering which plants will survive on the 3rd or 13th storey of a development is important as they can act as effective dust traps and absorb sound to help create a peaceful oasis in the heart of a bustling city.

Added value

With plans and a budget in mind, building a garden at height can be made possible. Creating outdoor space can add significant value to a property according to recent research, which states a roof terrace can add around 12% to property value. This soared to as much as 20-25% in prime London locations such as Chelsea - we explore why in our previous blog.

There is a real need to provide usable outdoor spaces in increasingly populous cities. The space above our heads may well hold the key. We work closely with architects and contractors to create inspiring spaces. With the right products, expertise and ambition, you really can have a fantastic external living space.

We have designed a complete terrace package, streamlining the entire process and ensuring a build that is on-budget, on-time and on-brief. Get in touch to speak to a member of the team about how we can help with your project.



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