Designs With Altitude

A rooftop or balcony garden can create valuable living space outdoors, but making the most of what can be a small area can be challenging. Here are some factors to consider.

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Making a small space seem bigger. Working with a small space or a balcony? Landscape designer Carmen DeVito offers some design tips to make a small space appear bigger.

  • First, adjust expectations of what you can do in this size of space. You may not be able to accomplish everything you want to in a small or narrow garden, but you can get creative.
  • Use a monochromatic color scheme. Simplicity makes the space seem bigger because there isn't too much going on.
  • Use a bright primary color in plant material or furnishings to draw the eye and expand the garden outward.
  • Camouflage or screen to draw the eye inward, especially away from an unsightly view. To maximize views while also adding privacy, use blinds that can be pulled up (see image to right) and down (see image above).
  • For narrow spaces, construct a long, narrow planter that stretches to fit the space.
  • For shady spaces, use tropical plants, such as elephant ears and passion vine, to give a lush, oasis effect. Chunky furniture and colorful tiles also help to complete the look.

More rooftop garden projects from HGTV's landscape designers:

  • Contemporary roof terrace, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Luxurious rooftop garden, Chicago, Ill.
  • Comfortable, inviting deck, San Francisco, Calif.

    --Photos courtesy of Chicago Specialty Gardens

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