The Best Rooftop Gardens in The Inner City And Inner West

March 31st, 2023 - by Brad Gillespie

Rooftop gardens, or ‘green roofs’, can boost our health and wellbeing, the aesthetics of our neighbourhoods, our environment, and our property values, to name but a few of their benefits.

And they’re in demand from buyers, as the interest around our recent sale of 2 Crown St, St Peters shows. We find out how to make your own rooftop garden and round up some of the best examples the inner city and inner west have to offer.

Rooftop gardens add space and beauty

Space is at a premium here in the inner city and inner west. Creating gardens on the rooftops of houses, apartment buildings, and office blocks is a clever way to harness areas that might otherwise lie dormant, creating more opportunities for outdoor living. Rooftop gardens on houses, terraces and apartment blocks can help beautify our homes and our suburbs, greening the concrete jungle and taking the edge off the hard lines of our urban environment in an aesthetically harmonious way.

The health and wellbeing benefits of rooftop gardens

Rooftop gardens are more than just aesthetically pleasing. With science showing that spending time in nature can improve our mood, sleep and physical and mental wellbeing, rooftop gardens can lower our stress and anxiety and contribute to a better quality of life.

The rooftop garden at Alexandria apartment complex Arkadia is a perfect case in point. The development’s four buildings are topped by a vast interconnected rooftop garden complete with communal veggie gardens, a chicken coop and external parks. The complex’s designers, local architecture firm DKO, set out to create a building that allows residents to connect with nature. As DKO Principal Koos de Keijzer says, “we are interested in the concept of everyone having a garden, even those who live in apartments. Studies show that having a garden and green space is good for your mental health.” Residents love the 360-degree views from the rooftop, as well as the sense of community fostered by caring for the chooks and the veggie gardens.

Residents of the Amara apartments on Botany Road, Alexandria, also enjoy 600 square metres of rooftop green space, with veggie gardens, meadows and barbecue areas, and northerly views over the city. The UNO complex in Green Square, currently under construction, also promises residents a landscaped communal rooftop garden with sweeping city and district views.

Because the lifestyle promised by a house or apartment with a rooftop garden is so alluring, these properties are prized by buyers and can fetch a premium at sale. Our recent hotly contested sale of the home dubbed the ‘industrial treehouse’ at 2 Crown Street in St Peters is a perfect case in point.

The environmental advantages of a rooftop garden

Rooftop gardens don’t only benefit our health, but they can also bolster the health of the environment. More plants equals better air quality. Rooftop gardens naturally harness rainwater, helping to reduce flooding, and they can make use of recycled greywater, too. They improve a building’s insulation, reducing the need for artificial heating and cooling, and they can also act as acoustic insulators. Green roofs also provide habitat for wildlife and insects, bolstering biodiversity in our urban environment. Rooftop greening can even boost the efficiency of solar panels and extend the life of roof structures.

The South Eveleigh Community Rooftop Garden, also known as the Yerrabingin Rooftop Garden, is a triumph of biodiversity in the heart of an urban inner city neighbourhood. Completed in 2019, the 500 square metre garden atop an office building in South Eveleigh is Australia’s first Indigenous urban rooftop food farm. The garden has used the principles of Aboriginal knowledge, permaculture and collaborative design to grow more than 2,000 edible, medicinal and culturally significant plants.

How to create your own inner city or inner west rooftop garden

Creating a rooftop garden takes a little planning and investment in its initial stages. Roofs that are partially or completely covered in vegetation may need a layered drainage system, a waterproof membrane and specially engineered soil designed for rooftops. Just like a terrestrial garden, the choice of plants for a rooftop garden will depend on the climate. Conditions on rooftops are often windier and sunnier than those on the ground, so plants will need to withstand this harsh environment.

You can watch the process of creating a rooftop garden in the inner west from start to finish in the ABC TV program Dream Gardens. Erskineville residents Ronene Cauchi and Ean Rodrigues were determined to transform the hot, windy and unused concrete desert of their apartment building’s rooftop into a peaceful, green space. It took a year, but they pulled it off, and the results speak for themselves.

Depending on what you’re hoping to create, you may need planning permission from your local council. Inner West Council has prepared technical guidelines and a design and documentation checklist that provide advice and an overview of designing, building and maintaining green roofs, walls and facades.

If you’re looking for more local green roof inspo, check out the rooftop garden at 107 Redfern Street, Redfern. This urban oasis, conjured from a once-bare rooftop, and its adjacent conference room can be booked for gatherings, workshops, discussions and presentations.

If you’re looking to buy or sell in Sydney’s inner city or inner west, we can help. Get in touch with our team today.