The properties prices in the cities are sky high…and even the thought of owning a garden seems to be more of a fantasy than reality. Yet, with Spring on our footsteps, we’d like our children to spend time outdoors, run around, jump on the trampoline or kick a ball.  And the same goes to ourselves, who doesn’t like to sit in the garden with a relaxing glass of wine at the end of a hot summery day? Or have friends over for a weekend bbq party?

Rooftop gardening is nothing new. City dwellers have been using roofs as an alternative to gardens for generations now. Even green roofs covered with soil and plants have been around for years!

In its recently published housing white paper, the government warned that the density of development in England’s urban areas would have to increase, with land used “more efficiently.” With space at a premium in many cities, could tackling the nation’s housing crisis mean ditching the back garden in favour of a roof terrace?

Before you start planning, there are a number of considerations.


Before you get your hopes high, check with your landlord or seek local planning permission to ensure your roof is suitable and meets the given criteria. Questions about accessibility, building height restrictions, and fire regulations can prohibit any type of roof use.


Make sure your roof can hold extra weight. You need to hire a structural engineer or architect to conduct those checks. Green roofs can easily weigh 100 lbs per square foot. That’s before adding people on top of that!


It’s all about safety regulations – how are you going to get in and out? What about in a case of emergency? Is there a fire exit, emergency lighting? Your architect will know the answers to all those questions.  


Depending on how you are going to utilise the space, you may need water access. If you have a green terrace in mind, this could mean a lot of water. You may need to investigate connecting a water hose or perhaps consider installing a rain barrel that would fill with water over time.

Sun and heat

Rooftop gardens usually have great sun exposure but then it depends on the height of surrounding buildings. Besides the sun heat, there is a heat being reflected from the roof surface, surrounding buildings and other structures. Think about ways to get some shade, if not for you – for your plants!  


You will need to consider some form of a safety barrier or fencing around your roof garden. Depending on the height of your building, the wind can get really strong! Our architects can advise you on the structural stability and legal requirements.

Finishing touches

You may want to lay tiles or stone, build raised beds and boxes for your plants or go for a fully planted green roof. You may want to add shelter for  yourself to feel really private or add millions of fairy lights and decking with a few pots of plants. There are endless possibilities on how to make your roof top garden truly yours.

JDW Architects

Here at JDW Architects, as a practice, we like to work in collaboration with you to develop your ideas alongside our own to ensure aspirations are not just met but exceeded. To understand more about our design processes and techniques, please take a look at our portfolio or contact us directly.

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