If you currently live in the country or the suburbs, you might have access to a backyard for growing flowers and vegetables. But if you live in the city, then chances are that your yard is a rooftop!
The good news is that even in densely populated urban areas, it is still possible to grow greenery. Look no further than the roof to create a great space for cultivating plants and spending quality time in nature.
Meanwhile, check out our 33 best rooftop garden ideas for a little bit of inspiration!
Table of Contents
1. Rustic Pergola
A simple wooden pergola will provide partial shade where you can sit and hang out while taking breaks from tending your plants. Plus, it’s the perfect spot for entertaining or spending time with friends on summer nights. In addition, a pergola will also add visual interest and dimension to your rooftop garden.
2. Park-like Paths
Wide, walkable paths create an ideal place to relax while surrounded by the ambiance of a high elevation. While this level of landscape design would involve quite a bit of architectural planning, pathways can be a great way to transform an industrial environment into a place of ordered beauty. They also serve the function of protecting the grass from excessive foot traffic.
3. Bird’s Eye View
From a bird’s perspective flying overhead, this rooftop garden is an oasis of green in a landscape of gray. The rigid look of concrete and steel in a city can always benefit from some verdant rooftop dressing. Even from the street level, pedestrians will be able to appreciate the appearance of skyscrapers that have roof gardens.
4. Urban Charm
The use of plants, shrubs, and trees in a rooftop garden can help to obscure or distract from urban blight. Industrial features are softened when they are surrounded by greenery. This, in turn, will make the city a more amenable place to live for everyone.
5. Beautiful Balcony
As in any garden, the natural elements of sunlight, fresh air, and rain will create a magical transformation on a rooftop garden. If you don’t have access to a rooftop, you can beautify your balcony with flowering plants and fragrant herbs. Even adding just a few pots with mint, dill, basil, or oregano will create the feel of a rooftop garden. Plus, you can pick the herbs for culinary usage whenever you are ready to make dinner!
6. Wooden Bridge
Adding a decorative wooden bridge gives this urban rooftop garden a beach-like, Cape Cod feel. If you look closely, you might also notice the incorporation of flagstones into the garden. The use of flagstones here creates a simple stepping-stone path through the grass, which again adds to the beach-like feel.
7. Raised Beds
Raised beds are classic for rooftop gardening, especially for growing tomatoes. They also make it much easier to tend to flowers or vegetables since you don’t have to bend over as far (thus preventing an aching back). Plus, raised beds will give the plants some added depth in which to stretch out their roots into the soil.
8. Solar Power
If a rooftop garden has sufficient space, it can be an ideal place for solar panels. The high elevation puts you closer to the sun, so that solar panels can easily capture the rays.
Cultivating a verdant lifestyle is the trend of tomorrow. The use of trellises on this urban rooftop makes us feel like we are standing in a forest, even though this rooftop garden is actually right in the middle of a city.
10. Rooftop Lawn
This elegant lawn creates an especially inviting look for the rooftop garden of this contemporary condominium. We are ready to take off our shoes and enjoy the soft grass!
11. Treetop Space
Trees will naturally absorb carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen, which humans then breathe. Given the tendency for excessive city smog and high carbon dioxide levels, planting trees on urban rooftops can only be a good thing. It makes the air that much cleaner for all of us.
12. Verdant Dining
Rooftop restaurants are becoming a major trend in the bigger cities. Dining on an urban rooftop can feel either casual or sophisticated, depending on the space. But either way, we think that food somehow has a way of tasting better whenever we dine while being surrounded by greenery.
13. Have a Picnic
You don’t need to go to a restaurant to enjoy the benefits of rooftop dining. Instead, consider adding a wooden picnic table to your rooftop garden. If you place the table adjacent to raised beds filled with herbs and vegetables, you can enjoy the added benefits of a dinner-at-the-farm experience.
14. Maximize Space
If you don’t mind a rooftop garden that looks like it’s bursting at the seams, there are several ways to maximize space, from pots to trellises. Some pots can even be mounted onto a railing for an added level of space and dimension. Use varying levels of height to make the most of limited space and to make your rooftop garden look lush and full.
15. Water Feature
Add a water feature such as a decorative raised pool to give your rooftop garden a sophisticated modern flair. This rectangular option has a sleek, contemporary appeal. It also creates an attractive reflective surface for outdoor contemplation in nature.
16. Utilitarian Charm
If you are serious about vegetable gardening on your rooftop, consider incorporating walkways between garden beds. Using a soft cedar mulch to line the walkways will make the overall design more attractive. However, if you don’t want to buy mulch, which can be expensive, you can consider other alternatives, such as hay.
17. Aerial Interest
Gardening on your roof will create an intriguing view, not only for birds flying overhead, but also for other city residents whose roofs look out upon yours. By that same logic, you might also get to enjoy the opportunity to look out at a few other roof gardens around you, if the trend for rooftop gardening keeps up.
18. Have Fun
Does the idea of starting a rooftop garden seem a bit daunting to you? If so, think about getting together with friends and neighbors to have a rooftop planting party. One of the benefits of rooftop gardening is that it can be a communal activity, since urban roofs are often shared. This means sharing the labor together, and also sharing the rewards.
19. Contemplate Nature
If you do have a rooftop garden, be sure to take a minute and just enjoy the moment whenever you spend time working in your garden. Growing plants on your rooftop garden can add years to your life, since gardening can become a positive way to help you destress. Always remember to look around and take in the view from above.
20. Vegetable Bounty
Spend a little time cultivating your rooftop vegetable garden, and it will offer you back a veritable bounty of fresh, colorful, and healthy produce. In fact, you could end up with an assortment of veggies for your dinner table without even having to go to the grocery store. Just pluck, wash, and then dice!
21. Simple Space
Sometimes a few potted plants are really all that you need on your rooftop. This simple garden space has fragrant herbs, colorful hanging lights, and wicker furniture in soft tones to help you relax and unwind at the end of a busy workday.
22. Rooftop Market
Grow vegetables on your rooftop, and then swap them with your neighbors and friends. Or better yet, sell them at a local farmer’s market! Making good use of your roof could mean growing hot commodities like zucchini and squash, and then selling them to a few hungry city folks.
23. Feed the Birds
Consider adding a bird-feeder to attract feathered friends to your rooftop garden. Birds often like to feed at dawn and dusk, when the sunlight is mellow and things are quieter. If you have a water hose on your rooftop or even just a watering can, you can also add a birdbath, where birds can splash the city soot off their feathers.
24. Get Crafty
You can craft your own DIY trellises using hardy stalks of bamboo. However, if you don’t have access to bamboo, you might be able to acquire a few pieces of scrap wood from a lumber store. For another option, you could even gather several sturdy branches during your next hike in the woods. Creating a terraced trellis will allow more plants to access the sun and rain. Plus, it looks pretty to see the variation in levels.
25. Lemon Tree
A potted lemon tree will give your rooftop or terrace an exquisite Mediterranean feel. Your lemon plant will naturally want to soak up the sun. You can enjoy the colorful fruit and then harvest the lemons to make lemonade all summer long.
More Unique Ideas for the Best Rooftop Gardens
Are you feeling inspired to start your own rooftop garden or to elevate your current rooftop garden design?
In this section, we’ll wrap up our list of the 33 best rooftop gardens by taking a look at a few unusual options for greenery on the roof in differing locations and climates.
26. Palm Tree Car Park
If you live in the tropics, palm trees can provide visual interest to a rooftop garden of sufficient size. Here, the palm trees are serving to beautify this large condominium car park.
27. Futuristic Vision
This terraced green skyscraper seems to hold out a hopeful vision of the future. As people incorporate more plants and trees in our cities, the urban air becomes much cleaner and healthier for all of us.
28. Quirky Location
Most rooftop gardens can be accessed by elevator, fire escape, or multi-story walkup. In this case, access looks a bit tricky. But a rooftop garden can thrive anywhere the sun shines.
29. Modern Style
This small manicured lawn reminds us of a golfer’s putting green or mini-golf. If you choose to incorporate a small lawn with a putting green in your rooftop garden, you might have just the right space for a hole-in-one.
30. Quaint Cottage
This rooftop flower garden is planted in carefully delineated rows. We love how it gives the rooftop a colorful rainbow effect. Birds will naturally be drawn to this rooftop, and you could even harvest the flowers if you have a sturdy ladder.
31. Green on a Tin Roof
The small ridges in this tin roof make it hospitable to greenery. Seeds and roots can wedge their way into the grooves and find a home. Not to mention, the greenery provides a pretty covering for an old rusted tin roof.
32. Chimney Planters
These rooftop planters would certainly make things cheerier if you were a chimney sweep. The greenery will naturally absorb some of the smog from your fireplace and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen for better urban air quality.
33. Rooftop Beekeeping
Even bees appreciate a good view. Keeping bees in your rooftop garden means that you can bottle your own honey and also play a role in helping to pollinate plants, thanks to the efforts of your busy bees. Yes, you can really keep bees on your rooftop, as long as you also surround them with plants in your roof garden where they can find their natural food sources.
As we wrap up our list of the 33 best rooftop gardening ideas, we hope that you found some inspiration to get started with a rooftop garden of your own (or better yet, along with your friends and neighbors).
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you are planning to grow flowers or vegetables. In fact, it doesn’t really even matter if your rooftop garden is in an urban, suburban, or rural area. You can grow plants upon a roof in virtually any location.
Rooftop gardens are becoming a major trend worldwide. So, if your backyard is a roof, we think that it might be time for you to get on board. Whether you are aiming for beauty or function (or both), all you really need is a rooftop — along with some sun, rain, and a little ingenuity.
And as you can see from our 33 best rooftop garden ideas, there are lots of different ways that you can transform your rooftop into a verdant wonderland!