Your urban concrete and glass building sure could use a leafy garden oasis.

Trouble is, there’s nowhere to go — but up. Imagine a trendy, inviting, peaceful escape from the bustle of the big city.

Time to hit the roof.

Marion Delano, Director of Technology & Marketing at Level Green Landscaping, says rooftop gardens are the big new escape.

What makes a great rooftop planter design? Why do you need one? What should you grow?

Here are some great rooftop planter ideas.

Why Put Planters On Your Roof?

Everybody else will.

“Every new office building in the DC area is going to have a rooftop patio,” Delano says.

rooftop planters and seating

Recent zoning amendments mean developers can be a lot more creative with rooftop spaces, adding sky-high amenities to attract tenants willing to pay extra for the perk.

“We can partner with property managers to make those spaces as inviting as possible,” Delano says.

Everybody wants an escape from the bustle of the city, he says.

“When you’re in the urban core of a city, you’re boxed in by concrete and glass,” Delano says. “When you’re able to go out on a roof that’s filled with plants, have a Saturday barbecue with your friends or relax and have lunch, it moves you right out of that urban jungle feel.”

Go ahead. Imagine it.

“The first thing that hits you is the breeze in your face because you’re up in the air,” Delano says. "It can create a very parklike setting that’s really unique and special.”

Rooftop Gardens Attract Tenants 

Who wouldn’t?

“For commercial tenants, these spaces are a nice place for employees to have lunch or gather after work,” Delano says.

Head up to the roof, grab a shady perch next to a drift of colorful blooms and feel the morning’s stress waft away as you munch your lunch.

roof with planter gardens and people

Want to attract tenants to your apartment building? You better be prepared with competitive amenities like relaxing rooftop garden ideas..

“Residential properties that have an outdoor component are more popular to tenants in a city where green space is at a premium,” Delano says. “It creates value. Tenants are willing to pay more for this kind of outdoor space.

“Maybe creating a garden at ground level isn’t possible, but we can create some amazing spaces up high.”

What Plants Are Good For Rooftop Gardens?

Rooftop gardens are bound to be picky, right?

“You’d be surprised,” Delano says. “You see almost everything.”

Rooftops do tend to be sunny, dry and windy, though, so Delano says plants that can stand up to these conditions work best.


Another consideration? Cold. These plants are in containers above ground, so their root systems are exposed to lower temperatures than if they were in the ground.

Delano suggests choosing plants with one hardiness level lower than you might typically plant.

Still, there are lots of options for rooftop planters:

  • Evergreens. They’re drought tolerant and their thick, waxy leaves make them hardy against the wind. Arborvitaes and Blue Star juniper are two of Delano’s top picks, as they’re available in small varieties perfect as centerpieces in pots or planters.

  • Ornamental grasses. They stand up to the wind, are pretty drought tolerant and add graceful movement in the breeze.

  • Think fuzzy. Fuzzy-leafed plants like lavender and lamb’s ear are great rooftop picks. Their leaves slow the evaporation of water from the plant.

  • Trees on the roof? You bet. Lots of dwarf varieties work up here.

A great rooftop planter design accentuates the views of the city, Delano says. The key is to complement the views without obscuring them. Plants with low profiles are great for this.

Planter Options

Built-in planters can complement the building’s architecture in concrete or brick. Or free-standing large-scale decorative planters can add architectural interest and color.

Some planters even help out with the watering.

“Technology has made it to planters,” Delano says. “You can fill a large basin at the bottom with water and it self waters. That way you don’t have to water them every day — you just fill it up once a week.”

Ask Level Green For More Rooftop Planter Ideas

Ready to create a sky-high garden paradise with a lush, inviting rooftop planter design?

We have everything you need to create a vibrant green getaway smack dab in the city.

If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers. Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.

Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.

We’d love to hear from you.

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