Rooftop Retreat

Rooftop Retreat


This inner-city rooftop garden is a stylish and private haven
Story: Karen Booth
Photos: Patrick Redmond

With space such a precious commodity in most urban settings, roof gardens offer city dwellers a means of enhancing their lifestyle by providing extra space for relaxing or entertaining.

When the owners of this Melbourne property decided to create a rooftop retreat, they knew exactly what they wanted: simple, clean lines, improved functionality, low maintenance, ambient garden lighting and the subtle sound of moving water.

Once the plans, designed by Steve Taylor of Creative Outdoor Solutions, were finalised the challenge of construction fell to Greg Wylie, director of Evolution Landscaping.

As Greg explains, access was tricky, so all materials had to be painstakingly carried through the house up to the roof and, once there, all construction was manually performed.

To offer privacy and protection, the rooftop garden is surrounded by rendered Blue Board screens. Large, galvanised containers were installed inside the planter boxes to house feature planting, the positioning of which proved a delicate task due to their size and weight, says Greg. Once positioned, the planters were rendered with an 18/40 sand finish just like the feature wall, which incorporates a seat and a triptych of water features.

Cleverly, all power and lighting cables, as well as the irrigation infrastructure, are hidden within the walls, behind the seating or in galvanised housing that has been camouflaged with a complementing paint finish.

Plants were thoughtfully selected for their drought tolerance, low-maintenance and, in some cases, their architectural presence. There is even a small herb garden, not only for culinary use but also for the delightful mixture of aromas it provides.

Architectural form comes in the shape of the foxtail agave (Agave attenuata), a hardy and extremely popular succulent in these water-wise times. Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ is the feature planting. This is a small tree that has distinct, glossy, green-and-copper leaves and produces large, white open flowers in spring/summer. For added fragrance, there are gardenias.

Infusing the space with some natural warmth, and providing a backdrop for the magnolias, there are slatted merbau timber screens on either side of the rendered feature wall, which were sanded and then stained with decking oil to bring out the richness of the colour.

As you can see, lighting plays a key role in the success of this garden. Thanks to a well-considered lighting scheme, this rooftop space is as welcoming during the evening hours as it is on a sunny summer’s day.