Small Roof Garden Design Ideas 

small roof garden design ideas

Roof gardens have become somewhat of a popular phenomenon in our urban settings. Many reside in apartments and condos, and not all have a regular garden area. Still, for those who love exterior design or growing their own gardens, there are options, with roof gardens being one of them.

Growing plants on a rooftop is a bit more challenging than growing them on the ground. You have to consider the fact that plants don’t usually choose to grow on a rooftop. When designing a small roof garden, you should be mindful of three important notions:

  1. How much space do you have?
  2. Can your plants of choice survive the environment?
  3. Can you get those plants and pots up there?

True enough, these are all limiting factors, but don’t be so timid! A few pots arranged in a line on the edge of a terrace don’t make a garden! Just as one can design their regular garden with plants of different patterns, colors, and heights, you could also design your small roof garden to have better, more creative views. Here is a splendid example of such a design:

Tip: Use an online free floor visualizer to design your small roof garden.

The Best Small Roof Garden Design Ideas

Small roof garden design pictures

One thing to consider before designing your small roof garden is the weight your rooftop can endure. Saturated soil is the heaviest element there is out there, therefore you need to make it quite shallow as to not exceed the weight limit. Using lightweight product such as LECA is a good way of filling the planter.

How do you choose containers?

As for the containers, you’d need galvanized steel of at least 3mm. the galvanization will help with the rust. You could also powder coat them with a blending color. Don’t forget: you want your plants to stand out not your containers.

What are the best flooring options?

The rooftop and roof terrace usually have suspended floors. This means that water may pass through the floor surface, thus making porcelain, stone, or composite deck boards very practical choices for your flooring. We like not too bright porcelain since sunlight will not make it glare, and we love composite decks since they are long lasting and fairly low maintenance.

Tip: Check out our SPC flooring sale in San Jose. 

Tips for Seats 

Think of a good spot for some seats and shading; you’d want to enjoy your garden as soon as the weather allows it. Do mind the wind, as it could get very intense up there. Also, we think it’d be great to bring plants right up to your windows since you often view your garden from inside. By doing this, you could feel the garden without needing to go out.  

What plans are the best for rooftop gardens?

Small roof garden photos

Your rooftop is going to be windy, dry, and quite hot. So, you’d need to take this environment into consideration when choosing your plants. Mediterranean is our advice since those are used to such harsh environments. Another tip is to go for small leaves; wind can pass through these wells. Plants such as Lavender, Santolina, Grass, and herbs meet the quota. Ceanothus will bring beautiful color to your garden design and landscaping, as will short irises. Plants that spill out of the planters are also a favorite of ours since they look quite natural.


Buildings often have restrictions on height and weight of what you put in your terrace or rooftops. All for safety reasons, but they still make having some privacy a bit of a challenge. Having big and tall plants is a good option for this purpose. Pittosporum tenuifolia plants do these AND are wind tolerant. You could plant them and they will soon grow into shrubs, pines are also a great evergreen choice for your garden. 

How to arrange a roof garden?

Simple small roof garden design

When it comes to arranging your small roof garden design, there are some factors you should pay mind to, assuming you’ve got the building permission and structural safety covered. When it comes to designing the layout, you want to make it safe, practical, and beautiful.
You need shades for yourself and your plants and you need to arrange them strategically since sunlight reflects from the neighboring buildings. Also don’t forget windbreaks, or all of your efforts will be blown away, pun intended.
Access is another topic worthy of notion. You need to regularly visit the garden, take your material up there, and show off the fruit of your labors to your friends. Will you need a ladder or are there another options? If you are a fan of green walls, and putting more plants and pots, this is another good option for your small roof garden design. There are lots of new cool technologies that can give you new balcony design ideas or roof garden and terrace ideas for your house.
You will not necessarily need power up there, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a waterproof electricity outlet. Gardening tools aside, you may need to charge your phone, or you’d like to work sitting in your garden.
Irrigation and drainage are two very important factors. You’d need to water your plants regularly, and using a water drum and drip irrigation is way more efficient than taking water buckets up there every day. Also, the excess water needs to go somewhere. Maybe think of gutters and storage to reuse it again? This is also where you should think about making the floor waterproof.
Speaking of storage, think about where you’d want to store your gloves, compost, and equipment such as forks, spades, compost, potting mix, etc. You should consider designing a small cabinet or other smart storage in your furniture.