Urban Garden Roof Design

We have recently completed an Urban roof garden design in Covent Garden London. The project involved working closely with the developer of the newly refurbished and extended penthouse and the new owner. Our client wanted to create a sense of escape with lots of his favourite plants and textural, colourful foliage and flowers that would look and smell great. The terrace itself has a brushed steel and glass balustrade and granite coloured italian tiles so achieving a look that was in harmony with the contemporary hard landscaping and the soft naturalistic style of planting desired by the client took a lot of consideration.

There are a lot of considerations when planning the planting of any urban roof garden. The weight that can be loaded onto the roof is the main priority. Our designers have to calculate and agree weights with the architect or structural engineer and then we produce a concept of the garden design that we would like to create. We then have to communicate the idea to our client and if this concept is approved then we will start the work of calculating the weight of the chosen materials and producing construction drawings that will enable us to produce planters that give us the look we want whilst not breaching the weight loading. We will often have to look at alternatives to our original choice of finishes but we can often find a compromise that achieves the right look. For this project we used a hard wood to clad the planters which used a lot of our weight allowance. Lightweight drainage material was added to a depth or 60cm leaving us with just enough soil depth for our plant selection to survive with the assistance of an irrigation system. To offer a more versatile space for entertaining and relaxing, some of the planters were fitted with castors so that they can be moved around into different positions.


The plants chosen for the urban roof garden have been selected to try and maximise effect throughout the year. our client was keen to attract wildlife to the garden and have as much scent and colour in the summer as possible. The roof garden also has to look good through the rest of the year as it is the main view out of the living area. In a narrow planter it is hard to strike the balance between all year round foliage and flowers with the added restriction of an exposed and sunny position. A selection of bulbs will be planted in the planters in the autumn but the main feature plants for impact are Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’, Lavender ‘Hidcote’, Eryngium ‘Bowles Mauve’ and a selection of transparent and textural grasses including Briza and Calamagrostis.

The roof area is an ‘L’ shape and the client liked the idea of having a separate dining and relaxation area with comfortable garden sofa for enjoying the sun. With the ability of being able to move the planters and dining set, the space can be opened right up for larger parties gathering to enjoy drinks in the roof garden. Evergreen plants including Star Jasmine and Bay laurel have been used to screen the less attractive buildings and the best views have been framed with planting. As well as lots of beautiful flowers the garden planting scheme also includes herbs for cooking and cocktails.