The History of Rooftop Gardens

Rooftop gardens have skyrocketed in popularity recently. Frankly, it’s not all that surprising. Just take a look the next time you’re out and about in the city. We live in a land dominated primarily by concrete and steel. There’s no question it can be challenging to find open areas of green space with plants and trees. That’s partly why communities are making more of an effort to build their own rooftop gardens. As humans, we need to connect with nature whenever possible. Keep reading as we take a journey back in time with rooftop gardens.

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The First Known Roof Gardens

Food52 mentions the ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia as coming up with the idea of a rooftop garden. This is evident in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. These pyramid towers featured stairways that spiraled along their outer edges, with nearby trees to provide temporary relief from the hot sun. Unfortunately, no archaeological proof of these towers has been found. The only evidence of their existence lies in classical writings based on oral histories.

Let’s move on to The Renaissance, when the Italians took gardens to the next level. During this time, the best green spaces were symmetrical and ordered in design. Interestingly, the oldest preserved rooftop garden is located in Siena, Italy, where Pope Pius had a palace built for himself. Eventually, a formal garden was erected on the roof for him to hold audiences.

Modern Rooftop Gardens

Fast forward to the 19th century, when these spaces became gathering spots for the public. Take the Casino Theater in 1882, for example. History buffs may already know that this theater was the first to be completely electrified. However, visitors flocked to the venue for another reason: the roof garden theater. On hot summer nights, this quickly became the place to be. Theaters across Manhattan and throughout the U.S. took notice. Simply put, roof gardens allowed open-air theaters to remain in business during the summer. Guests were treated to one-of-a-kind lineups that included singers, magicians, dog acts, and dancers. Who knew that roof gardens could spark such incredible entertainment?

Rooftop Gardens in NYC

The roof garden craze followed suit. All you have to do is look at the gigantic rooftop garden at Madison Square Garden (which is still often referred to as “The Garden”). The space spanned the whole block between Madison and Fourth Avenue. Not only that, but it could accommodate up to 4,000 people. Madison Square Garden wasn’t the only prominent rooftop garden in New York City. The Paradise Roof Garden featured a village setting with a windmill, pond, waterfall, several cows, and a milkmaid. Lastly is the Hotel Astor, which boasted a whopping 20,000 feet of space including a 1,000-foot-long tree-lined promenade.

As time went on, it wasn’t just the wealthy who were interested in rooftop gardens. Local libraries quickly found the need to establish reading rooms on roofs. Metropolitan restaurants even went so far as to grow their own ingredients on the roof if space was available.

How Our Landscaper Can Help With Rooftop Gardens

Now that you’re interested in a rooftop garden, what’s the first step to take? Well, you could ask your landlord or property management company what’s allowed and what isn’t. Unfortunately, you may not get the clear-cut answer you’re looking for. Here at our luxury landscaping company, we recommend getting in touch with a rooftop garden designer to handle the entire process.

Amber Freda has been recognized across the region for her high end landscaping since 2004. As opposed to standard lawn care or maintenance companies who have no design expertise, Amber offers cohesive, fully integrated plans that include everything you want. Whether it’s furniture, plants, pergolas, benches, or something completely different, you can count on Amber to bring everything together in a way that feels like a natural extension of your home.

Let’s provide a little more insight into our rooftop garden design and custom landscaping as a whole. The process begins with an on-site consultation to understand your style and vision. Next comes the design phase. Feel free to ask us about incorporating landscape lighting, a custom bench, custom decking, a rooftop terrace, or something else. Once the plan is finalized, we move on to installation. Unlike other landscapers who hand off tasks to third parties, we install all of the plants and planters ourselves. Any custom features are installed by our general contractor. For your convenience, Amber also offers ongoing maintenance to keep plants healthy and thriving.

Amber Freda is New York City’s choice for urban landscaping and common space gardens. Let us help you enjoy the rooftop garden or healing garden of your dreams. Contact us now to schedule a consultation.   

How To Plant Your Own Healing Garden

Have you noticed that you feel very peaceful and calm in a garden or when you’re around lots of green foliage and beautiful flowers? That’s because there are incredible benefits for the human mind and spirit when surrounded by nature. While all green, luscious gardens could be considered soothing and healing, the term “healing garden” refers to spaces with plants, flowers and greenery in hospitals. These healing gardens are known for promoting health in patients undergoing or healing from health related issues, as well as hospital staff and the patient’s family members. These healing, therapeutic garden landscapes promote an overall improved sense of mental, physical and emotional health, as well as assisting in relieving stress and negative health symptoms. Being in nature is healing in all sorts of ways, and there is no reason why you can’t plant your own healing rooftop garden. Increase your positivity, sense of awareness and overall mental and emotional health by planting a healing garden in your own backyard. Read along to learn how to design and plant a personalized healing garden and get ready to reap the rewards of this custom landscaping.


Put your mind at ease by creating a healing garden that stimulates all your senses, including color. Color can be very therapeutic. Not only that, but what is a garden without flowers in all sorts of bright, natural colors? If you are a fan of greenery, look for plants with lots of foliage. Flowers with cooler tones, like blues and purples can be very calming and peaceful. Brighter colored blooms, like orange, pinks, yellows and reds are said to promote activity, and generally speaking, make you feel really happy and alive. Whether you are wanting a tranquil environment to sit and relax in or a place where you can get creative, your options are limitless. You can choose your healing rooftop garden’s color palette however you’d like.


Our sense of smell is another incredibly powerful tool. Certain smells can trigger memories, promote peace and are just pleasant in general. Your oil diffuser is fine indoors, but bring the same sense of aromatherapy outdoors by incorporating natural aromas from flowers and plants in your healing garden. When you design a healing garden, incorporate plants and flowers with strong, pleasant aromas to enhance your overall garden experience. You can look for flowers with sweet smells, like lilacs, roses and gardenias. Add in some herbs, like peppermint, thyme and basil for added whiffs of aroma. Your sense of smell will be invigorated and this will only help to relax you.


There is nothing more soothing than the sound of flowing water. Whether it’s waves crashing on a shore in the ocean or early morning rain hitting the roof, there’s something about the way water moves that is pacifying and stress relieving. The sound of water has healing benefits that you will definitely want to include in your personalized garden. Even if you live in a busy city, adding in a simple water feature to your healing rooftop garden will add a tranquil element and ambiance to your environment. Not only is the sound of water relaxing, but it can improve concentration. If you don’t have room to put in a small pond, think about adding in a tabletop fountain that you can place on a rock or even patio furniture.

Healing gardens are easy to create, and their emotional and mental benefits are long lasting. Figure out which elements, like plants, flowers and water features, you want to include and design your garden to meet your needs and preferences. To find more information about designing rooftop gardens and landscape design in New York City, contact us at Amber Freda Landscape Design.

The Benefits Of Having Your Own Rooftop Garden

Just because you live in a big city, like Manhattan, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a backyard garden. Rather, you can design and plant the most dreamy of rooftop gardens! Believe it or not, there are wonderful benefits to gardening and custom landscaping in New York City. Without constructing a full on healing garden, you can plant a garden with your preference of flowers and greenery that you will enjoy spending time in, and that will provide you with a sense of self satisfaction. Today we’ll be listing out three significant benefits of growing and tending to a rooftop garden in a bustling city. Read along to see how beneficial gardening and landscaping in New York City can be.

Place Of Solace After A Long Day Of Work

Living in New York City, especially Manhattan, is exciting, but it can also be exhausting. Navigating your way through constant crowds of people, dealing with the variety of not so pleasant smells and cramming yourself into a subway to and from work can definitely wear you out. When you get home after a long day, you are going to want to unwind, relax and destress. What better way to do that than in your very own rooftop garden? The number one benefit of having a personal garden is that you can find a place of solace after a long day of being around people. It’s hard to find your own space in large, congested cities. Luckily, a rooftop garden offers a quiet space just for you. Plant and install your favorite flowers and foliage, water fixtures, decorative rocks and even a custom bench. By designing your garden to meet your wants and needs, you will never want to leave your rooftop. Sit out in the sun with a good book, look at the luscious flowers and enjoy a time to relax.

Environment Benefits

There are environmental benefits to having your own rooftop garden. Aside from nurturing even more greenery and foliage, which is a wonderful way to enjoy nature, you can use your garden for composting purposes. Rather than throwing away kitchen scraps, put them into your rooftop garden soil. You can compost leftover fruits, vegetables, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells and even vacuum dust if you have woollen carpeting. You can also use your garden’s soil to dispose of scraps from other parts of your garden, like grass trimmings, prunings and old leaves. Further, instead of throwing out dying flowers and plants, mix them into the surrounding soil. By composting, you are helping the soil withhold carbon dioxide, which in the long run, reduces emissions. When you compost leftover fruits, veggies and other dead plants into your garden’s soil, you are revitalizing the soil and giving it the boost of minerals that it needs to be healthy. This is an incredibly easy and effective way to reduce your carbon footprint, while also keeping your rooftop garden’s soil fresh, rich and healthy.

Increase property value

By planting and maintaining a rooftop garden, you are increasing the property value of your apartment. You’re adding to your neighborhood’s aesthetic with a beautiful and pleasing garden, and almost everyone would jump at the chance to live near a green space, especially in a city. By tending to your rooftop garden, you’re actually making your area, and your home specifically, an enticing and desirable location.

As you can tell, a rooftop garden in a city is never a bad idea. We hope you felt inspired to design one of your own. For landscaping in New York City, contact us at Amber Freda. We can’t wait to help you enjoy the rooftop garden of your dreams.