If you’re one of those lucky people with a rooftop terrace but don’t know what to do with it, then it may be time for a rooftop refresh. What you’ve got up there, other than a blank canvas, is the potential for great entertainment or a little rest and relaxation spot.

In this article, you’ll learn how you can spruce up your rooftop with a garden, a pool, an outdoor kitchen, or even a bar.


Rooftop refresh for a garden

girl standing on her roof garden looking at the city

Sometimes called a “green roof,” a roof garden is literally as it sounds: a garden grown on your roof. The difference between a garden grown on a rooftop and one grown on the ground is a matter of structure. Several layers are required for this kind of rooftop refresh to ensure it’s safe and doesn’t pose a risk to the roof underneath it.

These are the layers the garden will need:

  • Structural support: This layer will ensure your roof can hold the weight of the garden.
  • Vapor barrier: Vapor barriers prevent water from seeping into your roof.
  • Thermal insulation: Thermal insulation helps prevent the rooftop from heating up.
  • Root barrier: A root barrier prevents the roots from penetrating the supporting structure and the rooftop.
  • Drainage layer: The drainage layer allows water to run off the roof after passing through the soil so it doesn’t pool and damage your roof.
  • Filter membrane: The filter membrane provides a safeguard for the growing medium so it doesn’t wash down into the drainage layer.
  • Growing medium: The growing medium provides the material for the garden to grow in.
  • Vegetation: The vegetation is the top layer, which can be anything from grass to vegetables to trees.

Benefits of a roof garden

While building and maintaining a roof garden may seem like a substantial project to undertake, the benefits of having one are just as substantial.

Here’s a quick look at some of the biggest benefits of creating a roof garden as part of your rooftop refresh:

  • Quality alone time: A roof garden provides an out-of-the-way space to get a few minutes to yourself.
  • Dream garden: A roof garden is ideal for growing flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Beautiful views: The best place to take in the view is at the top of your house, and it’s even better when a garden surrounds you.
  • Higher property value: A well-cared-for roof garden will boost your property value.
  • Great natural insulation: The soil and vegetation layers act as natural insulation, thus lowering the cost of heating and cooling your home.
  • Improved air quality: Since plants produce oxygen, having a roof garden will improve the air quality around your home.
  • Environmental benefits: Roof gardens, especially if they are planted with native species, provide habitat for birds and insects.

Three types of roof gardens

There are three types of roof gardens. This is due to the fact that they are built on top of buildings and have practical functions outside of growing produce.

Those three types are as follows:

  • Extensive: Extensive roof gardens are typically limited to mosses, herbs, succulents, and other low-maintenance plants. The growing medium is a thin layer of around 3 to 6 inches.
  • Semi-intensive: A semi-intensive roof garden is somewhere between extensive and intensive in type. The growing consists of a 6-to-12-inch layer and can support small to medium-sized plants.
  • Intensive: An intensive garden has a mixture of large and small plants, usually designed to look like a park. Since this type of garden is designed to support heavy weight, it’s typically found on commercial buildings and acts as a kind of public park.

Maintaining your roof garden

Many people choose plants native to their area because they require less upkeep. But even if you do, there’s still going to be maintenance needed, like the following:

  • Feeding and watering: Due to the shallow nature of the growing medium, there’s naturally a limited amount of nutrients available in it. So, you will need to add a slow-release fertilizer to ensure your plants get what they need. In terms of watering, once the plants are established and depending on your garden type, you may need to include a drip irrigation system.
  • Weeding and trimming: A roof garden is less susceptible to weeds but still needs some weeding while it gets established.
  • Leaks: A waterproof membrane is required to ensure water doesn’t seep through your roof. Before you start planting, be sure to test the membrane for leaks by spraying water onto it.
  • Pests: Roof gardens can also provide food and shelter to pests, so it’s important to inspect the garden regularly for signs of an infestation.
  • Fire resistance: If a roof garden is allowed to get too dry, it may become a fire hazard. Even if your garden is full of native plants that don’t require much watering, it’s still a good idea to inspect it regularly to make sure it isn’t getting too dry. 


Rooftop refresh with a splash

Woman sunbathing on her rooftop pool

In the simplest terms, a rooftop pool is constructed on the roof of a building or home. This type of pool not only occupies an often-underused space but also adds an element of style to the home.

Benefits of a rooftop pool

There are several benefits to installing a rooftop pool, including:

  • Luxury: One of the biggest reasons you might want a rooftop pool is for the luxury of it. Life doesn’t get much better than lazing in the pool, enjoying a few drinks on a sunny day.
  • Privacy: With ground-level pools, there is always the risk of someone invading your privacy, but with rooftop pools, that risk all but evaporates.
  • Views: The best views can be had at the top of the building, and with rooftop pools, you can enjoy the view while cooling off.
  • Space: Rooftop pools are essentially making use of the building’s existing footprint, so they don’t actually take up any additional space, making this an ideal rooftop refresh project.

Key considerations for a rooftop pool

Before installing your rooftop pool, you will need to consider a few things.

  • Get the proper permissions: Not only do you need a permit for the pool itself, but you will also need permits for the electrical and plumbing work.
  • Check your homeowner’s insurance: You will need to make sure having a rooftop pool won’t void your homeowner’s insurance or cause other problems with it.
  • Meet with a contractor: Before you start making plans, you need to find a contractor and meet with them to see if they can deliver the right pool for your needs.
  • Decide on size and design: The last step before you start creating this kind of rooftop refresh is to decide on the size and design you want.

Maintaining your rooftop pool

As with regular pools, rooftop pools require a certain amount of maintenance to keep them running well. Fortunately, what is necessary to maintain a rooftop pool is essentially the same as their ground-level counterparts.

  • Circulation: For your pool water to be healthy, it needs to circulate, which means that the pumps and the circulation system must be kept in good condition and clear of debris.
  • Cleaning: The pool needs to be vacuumed and skimmed to be kept free of debris, as well as brushed to ensure that algae doesn’t have a chance to build up.
  • Chemistry: Maintaining proper pool chemistry will help prevent algae, remove harmful metals from the water and increase your pool’s life without irritating your skin and eyes.


Kitchen rooftop refresh

rooftop outdoor kitchen that provides a rooftop refresh

During the warmer months, many people like to cook in an outdoor kitchen they’ve built on their back patio, but if you don’t have that space, what can you do? Opting to build an outdoor kitchen in your rooftop terrace design may seem like a bit of a stretch, but it’s an increasingly popular choice.

Benefits of a rooftop kitchen

As anyone who regularly cooks outside knows, there are a number of benefits to having an outdoor kitchen built onto your roof.

These benefits include: 

  • Energy bills: Since outdoor kitchens don’t use electricity, cooking outdoors regularly will result in lower electrical bills.
  • Cooking smells: Cooking smells may be wonderful when they are cooking, but residual food smells aren’t always as nice. Using an outdoor kitchen means those smells stay outside.
  • Socialization: Having a rooftop kitchen offers a prime excuse to invite friends over for a BBQ.
  • Value. Attractive features like rooftop kitchens can boost the value of your property.
  • Fresh air: Having a place to spend time will encourage you and your family to spend more time enjoying the fresh air.

Key considerations for a rooftop kitchen

Installing a rooftop kitchen is a significant project, so there will naturally be things you should take into consideration before you start.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to think about before you start building:

  • Available space: No matter what your dream outdoor kitchen looks like, it will need to fit the available space.
  • Amenities wanted: Is your kitchen going to be a basic grill-and-countertop variety, or will you include other amenities, like an oven or even a dishwasher?
  • Appliance weight: If it’s hard to move your chosen appliances around, just think how heavy they will be on your roof. How much weight can your roof support?
  • Desired layout: As the owner and the cook, you must ensure the kitchen is laid out in a way that works best for you.
  • Required materials: Although it’s important to choose a durable and attractive material, you will also have to consider the weight of the material and how much will be needed to create your kitchen.
  • Fire hazards: No matter what amenities you have in your outdoor kitchen or what it’s made of, there is always a fire risk. Make sure to keep an up-to-date and functioning fire extinguisher near the cooking appliances.


A rooftop refresh for the bar 

four cocktails on a rooftop

Having a rooftop bar creates a unique opportunity to indulge in your favorite drink in a quiet space or share a few rounds with friends. Much like a rooftop kitchen, including a bar in your terrace design provides an excellent space for entertaining friends or having a little quality “me time,” depending on what suits you best.

Benefits of a rooftop bar

If you’re not keen on going out to random bars but still want to be able to have a few drinks in a quality establishment, a rooftop bar offers plenty of benefits.

Here’s a quick look at some of them:

  • Socializing: Having a dedicated outdoor space expressly built for hosting is a fabulous way to inject some energy into your social life. 
  • Views: The roof is always the best place to take in the view. Why not admire the view from a comfortable chair with your favorite drink in hand? 
  • Fresh air: Indoor bars tend to gather alcohol odors. With a rooftop bar, those odors get blown away with the breeze. Plus, who doesn’t love some fresh air?
  • Value: A rooftop bar may cater to a specific audience, but it is still a desirable feature that can boost your property value.
  • Entertaining: Like kitchens, home bars are natural gathering spots when you’re entertaining.

Key considerations for a rooftop bar

Like any rooftop refresh project, there are some things you will need to bear in mind when you begin creating this kind of outdoor space.

Here are some of the considerations you’ll need to think about:

  • Permissions: If you intend to include electrical or plumbing fixtures in your rooftop bar, you will need permission for that. You may also want to ask your municipal office about building codes and zoning laws.
  • Accessibility: How are you going to get up to your rooftop bar? Is your potential access route safe?
  • Weight: You will need to know whether your roof can support not only the weight of the bar but also the weight of the people who will be on it.
  • Cover: You’ll need to ensure you can cover the bar up when it’s not in use to prevent weather-related damage.


If you don’t have space in the backyard, but there’s a nice empty spot on your roof that’s crying out for a rooftop refresh, start dreaming about what you could fill that space with. Maybe your ideal rooftop refresh is a beautiful garden or a great little outdoor bar with a stellar view. No matter your choice, a rooftop space invites daydreams and clever designs — there’s so much you can do to refresh your rooftop.