When we were approached to remake a garage roof garden and several terraces at our client’s modern home in Bucktown we considered it to be a fairly basic undertaking. Salvage mature plantings. Demo the existing garden. Replace. Simple.

But we wanted to make this a special place for our developer client, and decided to incorporate several modernist elements to provide both form and function in this multi-level garden. Our designer began with a massive cedar-beamed shade structure which houses fabric screens which are rolled out on sunny days. Clean deck and planter lines keep the space visually uncluttered. A simple but striking bamboo panel occupies one wall; recessed white LED lighting gives the night garden a cool, clean ambience, more that of a hip urban bar than a conventional garden. Customized outdoor bench cushions and lounge chairs provides a relaxed vibe; sleek metal mesh gates and fencing, framed in wood, keep sight lines open; and a built-in sound system pumps music through the space.

Clean deck and planter lines keep the space visually uncluttered.

Custom kitchen cabinetry is sleek and simple and features Paperstone countertops, an environmentally friendly combination of pressed layers of recycled paper and resin.

Salvaged plantings – Whitespire birch, sand cherry, forsythia – soften the hard lines of the built structures and extend the garden vertically. All are uplit and micro-irrigated. A limited palette of perennials provides texture and color, and a long row of steel planter boxes houses a riot of colorful annuals.

The result is a clean, contemporary recreational garden space which not only meets the client’s needs but pushes the envelope on urban rooftop garden design.