Rooftop and Balcony Garden Options

Roof gardens are idyllic throughout summer; perennial plants in containers can be removed during winter to a less exposed position.

| May 2017

  • Balconies are great for trailing plants.
    Photo by Fox Chapel
  • Rooftop gardens are great for plants potted in containers.
    Illustration by Fox Chapel
  • Create colorful displays in a trough or large pot.
    Illustrations by Fox Chapel
  • The ability to garden "on top of the world" has unmatched eye appeal.
    Photo by Fox Chapel
  • Secure pots to top of railing and let ivies trail through the railing at the bottom.
    Illustrations by Fox Chapel
  • “Small Gardens” by David Squire is the essential guide to improving a small garden and turning the most modest-size space into a stunning outdoor area.
    Cover courtesy Fox Chapel

Small Gardens (Fox Chapel, 2016), by David Squire, offers guidance through the seasons for creating a thriving colorful sanctuary regardless of your space. Squire contributes his lifetime experience with cultivated and native plants with an interest in historical medicinal roles, folklore, and customs of plants. This excerpt is from “Choosing the Style” section.

It is surprising how much colour can be created on a balcony or roof, whatever its aspect. Pots, troughs and hanging-baskets packed with summer-flowering bedding plants are ideal during summer, while from autumn to spring reliance is mainly on small, evergreen shrubs and dwarf conifers. When tender plants are grown, these may have to be taken indoors during winter. Alternatively, a friend with a frost-proof greenhouse might be able to offer them sanctuary.

On Top of the World

Roof gardens are popular where the climate allows more than half the year to be spent on it. In other places, despite initial enthusiasm, the reality of a seasonal garden becomes apparent when icy winds roar across the site. Conversely, during summer the area may be exposed to strong, scorching sunlight, which may be ideal when attempting to gain an attractive sun tan but will shrivel plants which are not regularly watered. Nevertheless, the ability to garden ‘on top of the world’ has unmatched eye appeal.

Roof-Garden Ideas

Construct screens to create privacy as well as giving you protection from strong wind. In summer, temporary privacy screens may be all that is needed. Privacy screens are also essential to reassure neighbours they are not being spied upon; before problems arise, tell them about your plans.



In windy positions, it is best to rely on summer-flowering plants in troughs and tubs to create colour.

Construct a series of strong railings along the outer edges of the roof garden and then train small-leaved, variegated Ivies to grow over them.






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