10 Balcony and Rooftop Garden Ideas for Creating a Serene Space

balcony with plants and wicker chairs
Photo: Kritsada Panichgul

You don't need a ground-level yard for growing and gathering. A balcony or rooftop provides the essential outdoor space to plant herbs, shrubs, flowers, trees, and even a small vegetable garden if you desire. As long as you have some containers, topsoil, and seeds, you can turn your balcony or rooftop patio into a personal garden sanctuary. Sprucing it up with decor also adds to the ambiance. While not having a yard may seem limiting, just look at it as an opportunity to get a little more creative. Use these ideas as inspiration, and get growing.

01 of 10

Sky-High Rooftop Garden

patio seating with table on rooftop
Peter Krumhardt

A rooftop patio space offers a relaxing getaway right at home. Add a few small trees for shade, privacy, and an outdoorsy feel. Using pea gravel instead of hard flooring provides a softer surface and excellent drainage. The built-in brick planters create a textural element that contrasts the poured concrete walls. Select sturdy outdoor furniture for your patio garden so that it holds up to high winds and other intense weather. A soft groundcover shields the area around the container-planted trees.

02 of 10

Intimate Balcony Garden Nook

balcony with wooden table, chairs, and birdhouses
Rob Cardillo

Despite their size, small balconies provide a lot of room for personalization and planting. You can find a range of heavy duty, all-weather rugs that add color and pattern. Instead of built-ins, furniture placement positions the balcony to focus on the woodland view. Opt for pieces like movable benches and ottomans for extra seating and surface. Dwarf trees and shrub varieties work best for a small balcony garden, as they offer contained growth while softening the edges of a landscape. Place small containers on side tables to maximize gardening space, and use the railings for accessories like birdhouses. To stash outdoor decor in the off-season, get a coffee table you can open up for storage. It's also a good place to set out a vase or two.

03 of 10

Urban Utopia Rooftop Garden

red wooden chair next to pond
Marty Baldwin

A plethora of plants and water add natural beauty to this urban rooftop space. The raised water garden creates serenity and visual contrast to the hardscape elements, and the raised garden bed elevates a pretty collection of flowers. Setting out some containers is another good option for rooftop gardens: They're mobile, can be planted with annuals or perennials, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials that add personality. If you have room, consider incorporating a fire pit—gas or wood—to cultivate a cozy atmosphere. (Make sure it's constructed and built of materials that meet local fire codes.)

04 of 10

Veranda View Balcony Garden

balcony with white furniture and yellow star
Bruce Buck

City scenery acts as a backdrop to this compact balcony garden space. Here, the layout divides the rooftop into two sections—a sheltered sunroom and a dining area. Get the look yourself with an artsy use of outdoor furnishings or other room accents, such as rugs and wall decor. To create a warm ambiance, mount outdoor lights (try solar-powered if your balcony gets a lot of sunlight) on the walls. For a dose of greenery, plant easy-care ferns in containers and place them throughout your space—they go perfectly with exposed brick.

05 of 10

Rooftop With Tropical Screening

bamboo plant in outdoor wooden container on balcony
Erica George Dines

Less is often more, as demonstrated by these minimalist plants and materials. Plant selections and placement can offer blissful privacy in any rooftop garden space: For example, a long container planted with tall, full bamboo shields the view here. In place of an ordinary wood wall, glass blocks allow sunlight to shine through while providing a screen. Hardworking evergreens double as outdoor decor and year-round structure, and a variety of floral foliage can provide plentiful visual interest too. Depending on your style and taste, wood flooring can be left to wear to a soft gray or refinished regularly to maintain a rich color.

06 of 10

Spacious and Scenic Rooftop Garden

tiled balcony with lounge chairs
Matthew Benson

Large wooden planters bring life and personality to this sweeping balcony garden. The variation in flooring—regular pavers bordered by colorful river rock—keeps it from feeling bland and boring. A series of planters in various sizes frames the edges of the balcony and makes the space feel extra cozy. Benches placed by the railing offer a nice spot to enjoy a drink with a friend or read a good book. A trellis over the dining area separates it from the rest of the rooftop. Use a variety of plant types—dwarf trees, shrubs, a few perennials and annuals—to keep the eye moving through the garden space.

07 of 10

Rooftop Garden With a Pretty Pergola

pergola on wooden deck
Erica George Dines

The way you decide to design your layout allows you to enjoy your balcony garden view from numerous spots. A subtle shift in the flooring grade divides relaxing and gathering spaces from where you dine. For shade and protection, add a pergola to cover your sitting area. Winding vines incorporate more color to the trellised sides, and a collection of rocks and boulders also increases visual interest. Setting up electrical wiring on your balcony or rooftop should be part of any design plan; outlets here are hidden on the deck step-up.

08 of 10

Idyllic Garden Patio

wire trellis patio furniture seating area
Matthew Benson

On a balcony or rooftop, a small water feature like a pond or fountain can help to quiet surrounding urban sounds and create a focal point. Containers for plants and vines offer an alternative if it's too inconvenient to transport a large amount of soil. Depending on your style and preference, you can build a trellis out of a variety of materials for more growing opportunities. Here, wire offers a lighter, more airy structure that lets the light through beautifully. A combination of built-in benches and movable chairs increases your seating arrangement potential. Plants and shrubs work with the trellis to screen the view.

09 of 10

Simple Balcony Garden Design

tiled balcony with wooden lounge chairs
Matthew Benson

Simple materials and plants pull this narrow balcony together with effortless style, and a uniform selection of plants gives it a cohesive look. Here, a solid row of evergreen shrubs provides a stunning minimalist border. The use of different materials increases contrast, such as the metal railing paired with a raised wood bed. Planted with dynamic grasses and bright flowers, a few portable containers add pops of color and texture. Here, teak chaise lounge chairs and sage green pillows maintain a sophisticated, on-trend aesthetic.

10 of 10

Decked Out With Greenery

balcony with plants and wicker chairs
Kritsada Panichgul

The plants and pergola turn this rooftop terrace into a garden haven and vibrant hang-out spot. They also shield the space from above and the side, providing privacy and shade. A trellis adds a division in any balcony, from seating to dining to relaxing, plus serves as a support for any vines you want to grow. Wood flooring ties into the planters for continuity and balance.

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