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We’re often asked to design outdoor common spaces for co-op apartment buildings in New York City. Spaces like this rooftop garden are meant to be enjoyed by multiple groups of people who live in the apartment building at the same time. In this situation, it’s crucial that we create the feeling of separate outdoor rooms so people have separate spaces designated for dining, seating, lounging, relaxing, and entertaining. While total privacy is pretty much impossible in a space such as this, it’s important to create buffers between the various rooms that give people a sense of having their own personal space. We accomplish this through the placement of furniture, planters, and architectural features such as pergolas that can help create a sense of intimacy within even the largest communal space.
When creating outdoor rooms, it’s a good idea to think about defining the space in much the same way as you would the interior of your home. You want to dining furniture to feel like an outdoor dining room, the seating area to feel like an outdoor living room, and the plants and planters are like living paintings or accessories that help add warmth and color to the space.
Another important thing to think about in a community garden is the maintenance factor. Since there tends to be less personal involvement by the building’s residents in the upkeep of the garden, we design these gardens to be as hassle-free as possible. We choose low-maintenance plants like evergreens, grasses, and flowering shrubs that don’t need a great deal of tending to.
We also recommend installing an automated drip irrigation system. Set to come on and off automatically using a timer, these irrigation systems will water the plants for you, delivering the precise amount of water that the plants need each day. The result is happier, healthier, longer lasting plants for you to sit back and enjoy throughout all the seasons.
Another automated system that we frequently install on our gardens is low-voltage up-lighting in the planters. All of the lights are connected to a transformer that can be plugged into any standard outdoor outlet. The transformer turns the lights on and off automatically at pre-determined times. Up-lighting is a wonderful way to add focal points of soft, ambient lighting throughout an entire garden.
Our maintenance team is also available to make regularly scheduled visits to your community garden to help tend to the plants. We recommend once per month maintenance, which includes fertilization, pruning, deadheading, organic pest control, leaf clean-up, and seasonal adjustments to the irrigation and lighting systems.