A roof terrace is a great place to sit and enjoy a garden while also enjoying commanding views over the surrounding area. Designing and installing a roof terrace takes a great amount of expertise. Key considerations include working out the load-bearing allowance, which is how much weight the terrace can take and planning an automated irrigation system.

The key feature of a roof terrace is usually the view it offers, so designing sympathetically is key, using plants to hide unsightly parts of the skyline while also framing the better parts of the skyline.

We bring 22 years of experience to each project, making the design and installation process stress-free. 

THE LIFESTYLE ROOF TERRACE

A roof terrace typically serves several functions in one small space. This terrace provides space for a good-sized sofa for relaxing and a dining area to accommodate six people. When designing a roof terrace, we take into consideration that the focal point is the view rather than the garden. To avoid detracting from the view, we utilised low-growing plants and ensured plenty of large open spaces and blocks of green to counteract the hard landscaping.

It’s important to use plants that thrive in challenging conditions, as roof terraces can get very windy and bitterly cold. We used grasses as they provide screening without blocking the view.

THE GLASS ROOF TERRACE

When very few plants are required on a roof terrace, then the type and style of furniture are key. It must be architectural and have a presence. In this garden, we used a modern sofa with a wooden lower facia. The facia goes well with the decking. We placed two styles of armchairs around a fire pit, creating a cosy, comforting space.

We planted two trees and a bonsai to hide the buildings behind the terrace, which are not as attractive as the main view of the Shard.

We laid offset decking. It doesn’t run parallel to the house; instead, it runs at 45 degrees, which helps to make the small space look much bigger.

THE CONTEMPORARY DINING TERRACE

Creating bold focal points is a must when lighting a garden, especially on a roof terrace. Without them, there would be nothing to light. It’s surprising what you can do in a small space and how zoning a small garden can completely transform the space.

Every garden needs a signature piece or primary feature. Here, we installed a fireplace in front of a Corten steel screen. The screen introduces a more industrial look but also breaks up the monotony of the wall. The grey steel used underneath the fireplace is the same as is used in the steel pots, providing a sense of continuity throughout the garden.

THE BLACK ROOF TERRACE

Long, narrow roof gardens really need eye-breakers to hold onto the gaze. Here, we introduced pot plants to serve that purpose. By giving the eye more to look at, they prevent the impulse to scan up and down the garden in a single glance. This also makes the space seem wider than it actually is.

The relatively dark wood decking, meanwhile, enhances the contrast and draws attention to the green of the shrubs. Adding matching wood cladding softens and sets this garden apart from the walls of the neighbouring homes.

THE GLASS ROOF TERRACE

As far as roof garden design ideas go, this one is certainly among the more interesting. We designed this terrace around the focal point of the glass floor. The garden is intended to be viewed from both below and above. The decking is almost a formality and is largely obscured by the pots. It provides a neutral backdrop to allow the plants to be the central focal point.

The garden is especially striking from the kitchen below. It’s not often you get to look up and out into a garden.

The visual effect of a roof terrace can often be less important than creating a garden that is crammed full of plants, which can be important to people who love plants.

THE LUSH GREEN TERRACE

Roof terraces are often used solely as entertainment spaces. On this terrace, the large dining area can accommodate a good number of people. The planting provides a luxurious feel that connects the garden to the interior of the house.
In our view, there’s nothing worse than furniture taking centre stage, especially in a small garden. As there wasn’t much space for planting, we placed plants in small pockets between the seating areas, creating a zoned feel and a sense of separation.

This terrace could easily have felt cramped, which is why we used so much bright white. White cushions and furniture also help to give the impression of space, while the black accentuates the green foliage, making the plants the main feature of the garden.

THE FLOATING SEAT

This garden provided a few challenges. Large borders with lush plants were required, but due to the load-bearing restrictions, we were not able to build on top of the roof Instead, the wall was held in place with steelwork connected to the wall of the building.

We used astroturf to minimise the severity of the walls. In some gardens, too much hard landscaping can make the garden feel arid. It also provides a nice place to sunbathe.

The curved nature of the wall creates a softer effect and creates an alcove, which is a nice place to relax, especially when it goes into a border, allowing the plants to wrap themselves around the seating area and creating a cosy feel.

THE ELEGANT TERRACE

Seaside roof terrace gardens can be constrained by limited planting options. Only the hardiest of plants can stand up to icy gales and salt-laden, drying winds. Here, we’ve de-emphasised the role of plants instead of the eye-catching feature wall. We also placed small metal birds on the wall to further connect with the seaside.

Since this roof garden design was intended for night-time use, we went with a darker decking to prevent it being a feature of the garden. We also placed the seating away from the back window to separate it from the indoor seating, which is placed right next to the window. 

We used glass balustrading to allow uninterrupted views of the sea. The low planting is very minimal and frames certain areas of the beach, while the taller planting hides the pier.

THE ENTERTAINMENT TERRACE

It’s important not to over-design a roof terrace garden, as many of them, especially in London, are bought for the views. Keeping a simple, clean design will allow the city landscape to take centre stage. Just a dividing planter can be used to define the two seating areas. After all, a roof terrace wouldn’t be a roof terrace without a few plants.

The paving is high quality and laid on feet. These feet allow the paving to be placed directly on the concrete roof and allow water to drain in between. Since roof terraces tend not to be too large, such high-end stone is normally affordable.

Connecting items to the house is a good way of creating a symbiosis between the building and the roof terrace. We connected a swing seat to the roof, providing a romantic feel.

THE LARGE OPEN TERRACE

On large roof terraces, it’s important to carefully calculate the weight to be added. Too much weight can damage the roof. To alleviate the issue on this terrace, we used a thin paving stone and placed it on feet to avoid using mortar that would have added to the weight.

When a roof terrace is south-facing, we try to avoid lighter colours of stone. This minimises the amount of heat reflected into the building and prevents the terrace being too bright to look at. That’s why we used mid-grey paving on this terrace.

Mid-grey is a favourite of ours when we want to make more of a feature of the planting, especially when the client specifies a minimal number of plants.

THE BLUE TERRACE

This roof terrace is another great example of how we can use carefully placed lighting to integrate inspirational ideas into practical designs. The blue LED strip lights bathe the entire space in a wonderfully electrifying glow.

We placed white pebbles around the black pots to soften the paving and act as a frame for the pots and planting. The pots are high-gloss to reflect the lighting.

The ladder motif, repeated in the windows and trellis, further draws this design together, giving it a certain symmetry. It also links the terrace to the shelving in the room beyond. This was an important consideration given the fact that there’s such an open view of the home’s interior.

THE STRUCTURED ROOF TERRACE

Elegant roof terrace planting comprises formed plants as focal pieces and softer feathery trees to provide contrast. The formed plants on this roof terrace are box balls. Using too many of them can make the garden look contrived. The feathery plants temper the balls, providing lushness and privacy from the neighbouring houses.

There is very little to maintain as the plants have an automatic irrigation system. Most of our roof terraces come with irrigation. Pots can dry out very quickly due to high winds and heat associated with roof terraces.  

The seating is central to the terrace garden and must be sympathetic. We chose modular low seating in a neutral tone. It shows how modern seating can be paired with more traditional planting.

THE FORMAL TERRACE

Every garden designer knows that terraces can be tricky. The thing to remember is that every square centimetre counts and that all designs must be sensitive to function and use.

In this garden, we installed a trellis on one side. This splits up the space into zones without creating an enclosed feel, as the trellis does not completely block the line of sight. It also allows the wind to pass through.

This roof terrace design prioritises space for entertaining. That means plenty of seating for both lounging and dining. The arrangement and placement are uncluttered and the choice of box hedge and topiary complements the elegant simplicity.