What we are asking is, how are you maximizing your building’s available rooftop space to create an outdoor living environment that increases property value, attracts tenants and offers a welcome breath of fresh air that we’re all seeking during this unprecedented time? More New York City property owners are recognizing the value of green roofs, rooftop gardens and rooftop wet bar/deck areas that allow tenants to relax, gather, garden or all of those things.
Not to mention, incorporating plants into a rooftop landscape design can help reduce stormwater run-off, reduce heating costs if you’re installing a true green roof, and improve air quality. Rooftop living spaces provide exciting views of the city. That explains why they’re a real draw for residents looking for modern apartment homes, or employees who want to work somewhere that offers a green space for breaks or collaborating.
We’re tracking the top rooftop landscaping and outdoor living trends, and here are five design concepts we’re excited about heading into summer 2020.
#1 Green Up a Roof with Containers
Actually planting on a rooftop requires specific infrastructure, and you might not be prepared to completely go green in terms of growing grasses and plants that sprout directly from the roof surface. But you can gain the benefits of plants and create a vibrant outdoor living environment with containers. Generous-sized containers in various shapes and materials can hold dwarf trees, evergreen shrubs, topiary, perennials and annuals you can change out each season. Containers are a low-maintenance, high-impact way to landscape a rooftop space.
#2 Create a Border with Seating
Depending on the size of your rooftop space, you may decide that the priority is to accommodate tenants and visitors—and to do so, the main feature should be seating. Smaller rooftop entertainment spaces can be designed with a border of seating, with interesting planters serving as accent pieces. Structures such as pergolas or sun shades like cantilever umbrellas add intimacy and protection from the elements.
#3 Raise the Roof with Garden Beds
Basic raised garden beds provide some seating and an opportunity for tenants to grow herbs, vegetables and flowers. Hiring a landscape professional is critical for these types of projects because of the materials that need to be hauled to the rooftop surface. Care must be taken to prepare and preserve the roof structure as landscape features are built, and there are weight considerations, as well, which is why an engineer might be involved. However, the aesthetic and recreational benefits of a rooftop garden space for tenants is a real selling point—and it shows a commitment to healthy living.
#4 Focus on High Dining
Before we design a rooftop outdoor living area, we always want to know what activities will take place there. Is this space for lounging during cocktail hour—for gathering with neighbors, cooking out and entertaining? Or, do you expect the rooftop to be a get-away space with intimate gathering zones where people can relax, enjoy some privacy and be outdoors? Some property owners want to provide a hybrid of those—and others are focused on the gardening aspect. We find that many want to offer a place to eat out or enjoy a happy hour, so dining becomes the focus. This can play out with a communal “statement table” surrounded by lounge seating, or bar-height tables and stools that have a more casual feel.
#5 Step into Roof Gardening
This design incorporates custom wood-built containers for gardening with attractive walkways that allow guests to get their hands dirty or simply meander and enjoy the environment. There are many ways to create an outdoor gardening space. The key is to determine how much of the rooftop space will be dedicated to gardening, and how others who are not working in the garden can enjoy the area. By including walkable space, tenants and guests can “play” on the rooftop without actually getting their hands dirty.
Maximizing Space to Create Outdoor Living Opportunities
Rooftops are an empty canvas where we can design and build outdoor living space that accommodate the lifestyles and needs of your tenants and guests. We hope these ideas inspire you to rethink an underutilized area of your building.