Rooftop Gardens – Inspiration and DIY Tips

I love the idea of the roofs I expertly craft becoming cleverly utilized spaces of lush foliage. Most rooftop gardens are beautifully sculpted havens of greenery framed by the backdrop of a grey urban environment. The Kensington Rooftop Gardens are no exception.

View of The Spanish Garden at The Roof Gardens, Kensington with city beyond - © Richard Bloom/GAP Photos

View of The Spanish Garden at The Roof Gardens, Kensington with city beyond – © Richard Bloom/GAP Photos

Kensington Roof GardensA must see on any gardeners visit to London

1 and a half acres of carefully maintained rooftop gardens are open to the public, complete with exotic ducks and flamingos. Here’s what to expect at the 3 Kensington Rooftop Gardens:

The Spanish Gardens are a Mediterranean paradise with running streams, exotic flowers and Chusan palm trees. It’s vibrant and colourful, with only the tops of the trees being visible from the busy high-street below.

All 3 Kensington Rooftop Gardens invite you into a quiet secluded world, none more so than the Tudor garden. A maze of old brick walls covered in vines, scented with lavender and roses. I admire the architecture of the roof, intelligently designed to withstand the weight.

The English Woodland rooftop garden is home to over 100 species of trees: it’s amazing how a rooftop can be home to such diversity. Cared for by professional gardeners, it’s hard not to be inspired by these havens.

It’s incredible when think that all this is located in a busy city! When you leave the Kensington Rooftops you may be inspired to plan your own rooftop garden. With a strong, well-built, flat roof the possibilities are endless…

'Living' flat roof in Bath - July - © Charles Hawes/GAP Photos

‘Living’ flat roof in Bath – July – © Charles Hawes/GAP Photos

Domestic Roof GardensConsiderations and Professional Help

Modern techniques to create lightweight gardens are continuously being developed and as time goes by, the demand for domestic installations will increase. A trend we have noticed at Findley’s is homeowners attempting their own installation and causing damage to their roof structure. It’s important to know what you’re doing and when to involve professionals when creating your own rooftop garden.

Before you start, there are things you need to check: firstly, if you don’t own the property, do you have permission to use the roof? Next you need to ensure that your roof has the structural integrity to withstand a garden: the stronger it is, the more garden you can have (plant pots can be incredibly heavy).

It’s a good idea to involve a professional before you start, so they can evaluate your roof and let you know what it’s suitable for. If you’re looking to create a lavish roof garden (more than pot plants and garden furniture) then I suggest hiring a professional. When you start introducing large areas of soil or deep rooted plants you’ll need an expert to modify the roof to be structurally sound, drain water properly and meet safety regulations.

Flat roofs are most suitable for rooftop gardens, whether that’s one large roof or several smaller roofs turned into linked garden areas on different levels. From my experience, creating unique ‘Grand Design’ roof gardens in tricky locations is possible but not easy – not something to undertake yourself.

Your rooftop garden could be as elegant as the Kensington Tudor Rooftop Garden itself, or as low maintenance as a wild meadow. You could opt for a practical food garden, full of growing fruit and veg, or you might be more inclined to a roof top patio with collections of beautiful flowers in brightly coloured plant pots.

With the right builder, any rooftop garden is possible! What innovative creation are you going to dream up for your unused roof space?

Rose Gray's Rooftop Garden - © Sarah Cuttle/GAP Photos

Rose Gray’s Rooftop Garden – © Sarah Cuttle/GAP Photos