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Some useful Tips to think about when planning a rooftop garden

Plant Specialists has been creating spectacular rooftop retreats in Manhattan for over 51 years –  that’s a lot of gardens !

Here are a few tips that we consider with every garden that we design. If you are looking for good terrace design – consider these, then call Plant Specialists !


Tip 1


Keep it open ! – you want to accentuate the view – the plant material you choose should accentuate your view, or block out anything that you may not want to see.


This Plant Specialists rooftop landscape accentuates the river views.  The taller plants to the side offer privacy from the neighbors.


Tip 2


There is no reason why you can’t go big – if you have a view that is not pleasant block it out with a tree or some taller planters. This is your Oasis – it can be whatever you want it to be.


This Plant Specialists garden hides the venting pipes with taller plant material.  It creates a lovely sitting area that would be nowhere near as pleasant if the pipes were not hidden.


Tip 3


Create raised beds or at the very least use interesting planters. Make sure that you make them big enough to allow for the plants to grow and to install lighting & irrigation. You will also want to make room to plant annuals or seasonal flowers. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not making the planters hefty enough.

You will need to make sure that your rooftop can handle the weight of the planter – not only empty but full of soil and Plant Material.  The soil in the planter will weigh more wet than dry so that needs to be taken into account.


This Plant Specialists garden has impeccable design with custom planters. They are slightly raised from the roof surface to allow for air flow.


Tip 4 


Plant carefully and thoughtfully – what does that mean ?? I hear you say !

Use a mix of evergreen, deciduous, and annual plants.  You don’t want your garden to only look good during summer.  Evergreens will give it some texture in winter.  Annuals will allow you to bring in different colors and themes without the expense of changing the entire look of the garden.

Taller and shorter plants also give it a different dimension.


The hedge in this Plant Specialists garden frame the Park and the City.  The custom planters look seamless but are actually many different planters with one facing board which we custom made.


Tip 5


Furniture – there are many different directions to go in here, and many factors to consider.

It needs to look good and suit your style.  It needs to be heavy enough to not blow off of your terrace in strong winds.  It needs to be functional.


This Plant Specialists terrace has components of everything we have talked about.  Nice solid furniture, an unobstructed view, and also a taller hedge hiding the wall behind the dining area – even a nice splattering of colorful annuals!


Tip 6 


Do you have a focal point or something that draws the eye. Is it a specimen tree, a color, a water feature, or a sculpture. Something should draw the eye.


Custom made bird house in one of our gardens.


Tip 7 


Light it up ! You should always include lighting in your landscaping plans. Lighting will enhance your garden.


Lighting should not be crazy bright or in your face.  You want it to be subtle and enhance your garden and the view behind it.


Tip 8 


Water baby ! – no matter how diligent you feel that you will be – a watering system on a rooftop is a must.  Without it you are fighting an uphill battle – just set the timer and away it goes.


Another Plant Specialists garden – beautifully lit and irrigated! Look closely – you will see how we have adhered to all of the above tips!!

Tip 9


If you are looking for your own beautiful Oasis on a rooftop – you should have some ideas of what you are looking for before you call a professional. A book of ideas can go a long way – start tearing sheets from magazines or printing out pictures from Pinterest.


When your picture book is ready – Call Plant Specialists !

Our Design Team can help you with all your questions!

Don’t delay – the sooner the better !







Article written by Grahame Hubbard, Owner, Plant Specialists

All photographs used with permission of own gardens !