If you live in a densely populated urban area, you probably are well aware of the mantra “the only place to go is up.” After all, with heavily built-out environments, high costs per square foot, and large, growing populations, city developers often find it most profitable to build up, rather than out. It is these market forces that have bred America’s large urban skylines over the past century.
For the individual living in one of these cities, the desire to build up is usually manifested by transforming an unused rooftop into an appealing gathering place. This trend has become even more prominent in recent years, as baby boomers look to retire not in the suburbs but in Los Angeles Condos and DC Condos – places that offer a more vibrant lifestyle.
While these retiring boomers generally enjoy the opportunities offered by city life, most of them come from suburban areas and miss certain benefits of having a larger place. They might miss having a big basement, perfect for storage, or a large kitchen, which makes it easy to host parties.
But in their concrete urban surroundings, many also miss the gardens and backyard patios that they left behind. To remedy this, some decide to convert the roof of their building into an outdoor recreation area, complete with patio and garden. While this can be a great way to use the space and a great place to escape from city life, there are a few tips that anyone in this position should keep in mind:
A rooftop can be a dangerous place, and any developer foremost needs to insure that they design their garden in a safe manner. More importantly, this means securing the perimeter so that no person can go close to the edge. An aesthetically-pleasing way of doing this is with a wooden fence bordered by a hedge. You may lose your skyline views, but your garden will seem more authentic and you – and your guests, and your family – will remain safer.
Comply with city building code
Some people want to create a safe rooftop environment without sacrificing their views by constructing a glass perimeter around the roof. Doing so, however, would violate building codes in many cities. Before you start spending money and putting in work, make sure that your plans will be approved.
Consider the elements
Plants growing on a rooftop are often exposed to weather conditions more severe than plants growing at ground level. This depends largely on the height of your building. Accordingly, if your roof is more than a few stories high and you live in a cooler climate, some flowers and plants will fare more poorly when transported to the roof. With this in mind, many developers opt for a simple French garden look with some seasonal flowers during the calmer months.
Rooftops are often littered with water units, cable antennas, and various other poles and wires that cannot be removed. Even though the space may be uninhabited, this does not mean that it is a blank slate upon which any design will work. Make sure that you consider the unique features of your rooftop and sculpt your plans accordingly.
Have a theme
On their own, rooftops are often an ugly, unsightly place. Consequently, those who seek to develop their rooftops usually want to do more than throw in a few patio chairs and plant a flower bed. Having a unified theme is perhaps the best way to make your rooftop look completely transformed. Otherwise, if it simply reflects an assortment of various designs and ideas, the true colors of the roof are more capable of shining through.
Hopefully these tips can help anyone interested in converting their roof into a backyard. While the process can be an expensive and difficult one, few people would deny that having a garden in the city is a luxury that is often worth the costs.