25 Rooftop Gardens That Will Make Your Jaw Drop

Published April 2, 2015
Updated January 24, 2019

Just in time for spring, these rooftop gardens convene aesthetics, environmentalism and urban savvy into one stunning package.

Rooftop Gardens

Urban planners are frequently including green features like rooftop gardens in their designs. Source: Homes Direct

Rooftop gardens might seem like a development of modernity, but they actually date back to antiquity. From the famed ziggurats of Mesopotamia to the wondrous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, roof gardens have not only served to delight people, but also to grow food, provide flood control and insulate homes. Many cities across the globe are promoting the installation of rooftop gardens for these very reasons.

Rooftop gardens are most commonly found in cities where free ground level space is limited, heat build-up is of concern and water overflow is an issue. Gardens can actually reduce the overall heat absorption of a building, thus reducing energy consumption and helping fight smog. But that’s not the only thing these little environmental superheroes do. They also provide space for growing affordable and sustainable crops, recreation and migratory way stations for animals.

Just as ancient rooftop gardens were instrumental in human survival, modern roof gardening might make a difference in our own future. Roof garden advocates believe that roof farming can be the answer to food insecurity in cities and environmentalists believe that these green spaces will have a positive impact on climate change mitigation and adaptations.

For beauty, for economics, for survival, rooftop gardens are bringing the past into the 21st century, and the following gardens are no different. These 25 rooftop oases are so stunning, they would make King Nebuchadnezzar’s jaw drop:

Rooftop Gardens
This modern concrete home is accented by multiple lush roof gardens. Modern architecture often brings the environment inside and allots space for outdoor living, including patios and gardens. Source: Picksa

Rooftop Gardens Pictures
A cabin and shed built into a hill features a perennial garden flanked by a natural stone staircase. Source: Eco Furniture Blog

Roof Forest
This Willy Wonka styled apartment complex in Darmstadt, Germany has an actual forest growing on its rooftop. Source: Inhabitat

Beautiful Rooftop Gardens
Roof gardens are beneficial in reducing the effects of temperature versus rooftops without gardens. Source: GVCC NYC

Cool Rooftop Gardens
Rooftop gardens also reduce the rate and volume of rain run-off, as the plants and soil absorb rainfall. Excessive run-off from impermeable structures like concrete buildings can lead to overflow events, which are a common issue in large cities. Source: GVCC NYC

Acros Fukuoka
Over 75 different species of plants are represented by 35,000 plants on the terraced roof of the Acros Fukuoka building in Japan. Source: Architecture News Plus

Kensington Roof Gardens
Central London is home to the Kensington Roof Gardens, 1.5 acres on top of the former Derry and Toms building on Kensington High Street. Source: Xclusive Touch

Gary Comer Youth Center Roof Garden in Chicago
The Gary Comer Youth Center Roof Garden in Chicago is worked by students and provides fruits and vegetables to them, local restaurants and the center’s café. Source: ASLA

Rooftop Gardens In Sydney
This hidden garden rises over 25 floors above Sydney, an oasis in the middle of skyscrapers. Not only are gardens beautiful, but they also provide getaway space from the hustle and bustle of cities. Source: Secret Gardens

Casino Theatre In New York
Available garden space is seriously lacking in many cities, which has encouraged the installation of gardens on rooftops. The first roof garden in New York City was on the Casino Theatre in 1882. Source: Most Beautiful Gardens

Chicago’s City Hall
Chicago’s City Hall even has a rooftop garden. Big cities like Chicago, New York, London and Singapore are leading the way in rooftop gardens and putting the environmental movement at the forefront of urban planning. Source: Urban Magazine

Brooklyn Grange
Brooklyn Grange operates the largest rooftop soil farms on two roofs in New York City, growing over 50,000 pounds of produce, and even raising bees. Source: Nona Brooklyn

Brunley Living Roofs
The Brunley Living Roofs at Melbourne’s Brunley Campus are a teaching and research facility designed to show how communities can be transformed through green changes. Source: Hassell Studio

Largest Rooftop Garden In The World
Built atop a parking garage, Chicago’s Lurie Garden is the largest rooftop garden in the world. It supports green initiatives and local conservation by using plants native to Illinois so that is blooms Spring through Fall. Source: Growing A Greener World

Kings Cross Roof
Gardens provide the public with leisure and recreation opportunities beautify the environment and clean the air. Source: The Telegraph

NYC Garden
Roof gardens don’t have to be large to be beautiful. This small rooftop garden in New York City is only 66 square feet, but manages to be an enclave of natural surroundings. Source: Blogspot

Staedel Museum in Frankfurt
The Staedel Museum in Frankfurt boasts a polka dotted rooftop garden. The dots are actually skylights that look down into a subterranean gallery. Source: Inhabitat

Rooftop Gardens Terrace Bangalore
Migratory birds and insects also require waypoints as they travel great distances. Many habitats have disappeared due to city expansion, but rooftop gardens can provide stop overs for threatened animals. Source: The Better India

Carnegie Mellon University Green Space
Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh commissioned a roof garden to sit over its collection of rare books and antiquities. The garden provides leisure space and an artistic statement. Source: Pinterest

Kazuyuki Ishihara Rooftop Garden
Designer Kazuyuki Ishihara’s rooftop garden was created with the intention to make visitors forget that they’re standing on a roof and appreciate nature instead. Source: Inhabitat

Park Royal Hotel in Singapore
Park Royal Hotel in Singapore is a surrealist fantasy. Modern architecture blends with organic shapes that all lead into multiple sky-gardens. All four stories of the hotel feature lush gardens that complement the nearby public park. It’s green building, modern style. Source: Freshome

Small Urban Gardens
Smaller rooftop gardens can also encourage environmentally responsible practices by using less space than traditional farms, eliminating or reducing pesticide usage and limiting tilling practices. Source: Simon Metz

Norwegian Landscape
Sod roofs are a traditional Scandinavian green roof covered with sod over birch bark. The grass helps keep the birch in place, making the roof waterproof. The grass is also an excellent insulator in the cold winters. Source: Amazing Places

Secret Rooftop Gardens
Whether a roof garden is used for small scale farming or for sheer relaxation, they’re definitely more aesthetically pleasing than concrete and iron.

Susan Sims
When she's not fighting crime or cleaning the garbage disposal, you can find Susan writing about travel, science and things that go bump in the night.