Roof terrace, London


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This roof terrace was decked with a contemporary glass balustrade overlooking the garden below, but empty of plants or other features. The client wanted to create an intimate refuge full of structural plants, shrubs and even a tree. Since the garden below had an exotic theme to its planting, the client wanted this space to feel different with a preference for formality, low maintenance plants and strong structural foliage.

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An unsightly plastic chimney vent emerging from the deck partway into the space needed to be hidden and access to a drainage hatch needed to be maintained.  Since the terrace was directly above the client’s kitchen, load bearing was obviously a real consideration.

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I commissioned the advice of a structural surveyor to ascertain how much weight we could put on the structure and where, and designed a modular system of powder-coated aluminium planters from IOTA in Pebble Grey that maximised the potential for planting.

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By stepping some of the planters in height, I could create the depth of planter necessary for trees and mature shrubs without putting too much pressure on the structure. An internal cowel within one planter hid the air vent completely from view.

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The layout of the planters allowed for a low hinged table/seat in which to store garden equipment and on which cushions could be spread for lounging.


In front of the balustrade, three tall terracotta pots planted with stripy Zebra grass create a focal point without blocking the view, and leaving enough space for two spacious sun loungers. An irrigation and lighting system – uplighting the silver birch and spotlighting the grasses – was installed by Waterwell
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To increase privacy, I planted two facing hedges of evergreen magnolia ‘Little Gem’ while a handsome multi stem silver birch tree in the far corner brings height and a woodland feel simply underplanted with Japanese forest grass. A planting scheme of strong shapes and coloured foliage included evergreen white agapanthus ‘Arctic Star’, trios of box spheres, stripy Zebra grass, the vivid purple foliage of Cotinus coggyria ‘Grace’ and silvery lushness of Melianthus major.

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