We’ve been on the hunt for the prettiest roofscapes around, and recently stumbled upon the design duo responsible for some of NYC’s best.
The husband and wife team behind HARRISON GREEN specialize in creating elegant outdoor spaces (like the ones pictured above) that allow NYCers to get a dose of the great outdoors, without forgoing the luxuries of their modern urban lives.
We asked these urban landscape artists to give us their best tips for styling up a stunning rooftop oasis. Read on for essential tips for styling your own roofscape, including which plants to pass on (save those flowers for vases!), the pesticide-free way to keep bugs at bay, and why less is more — even if we want it all…
Damien and Jacqueline Harrison, HARRISON GREEN. We’re a landscape design, installation and maintenance company in New York.
Our style in 3 words:
Structured, elegant, green.
Favorite recent project:
We are about to start installing a 2,000 square-foot terrace in Meatpacking, not far from the Highline, which will use only native plants endemic to our Northeast region. We have an amazing client who is really excited by the concept and we cannot wait to get started.
Design tip for small spaces:
Less is more! Don’t overcrowd a small space with lots of ‘stuff.’ Keep the planting and materials palette simple and pick one thing to be the star of the space (e.g., a beautiful over-scaled pot, a tree with interesting foliage or form, or an amazing piece of furniture). The space will remain useable and, if done well, will look bigger with appropriately scaled elements.
Tell us about the foyer at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge:
It really was a fun project. The 1 Hotel ethos is all about connecting their guests with nature, so as a landscape company it was a match made in heaven. We were engaged as the interior landscape designer/installer, bringing plants to every corner of the hotel, including every hotel room.
The living wall in the lobby is the backdrop to the space and references the location’s industrial past and its present, sited next to the Brooklyn Bridge Park and East River. Vegetation is invited to emerge and grow over the steel mesh framework and raw concrete wall. Much like it would in nature, the planting will develop and change over time. Additional greenery was provided with large established trees, and vines have been planted to cover all of the columns.
Design tips for outdoor spaces:
Inside-outside: The garden should be an extension of your home. In New York, our gardens add valuable square footage to the useable space of our client’s homes, so ensuring that the exterior and interior is thought of coherently is very important. Not only should the aesthetic of the garden be complimentary, but the layout should also be considered. For example, putting an exterior dining table immediately adjacent to an interior dining space is not ideal.
Keep it cool: Gardens should be calming, so don’t go crazy with a rainbow of colors that will make the space busy and convoluted. We love colors on the cooler side of the color wheel (blues, purples, greens, white) because they are often much more relaxing. Green is the best color any garden can have!
Use a professional: If you can, hire a professional designer. A good designer should know what the right thing to do is almost immediately – and should certainly understand your personal taste and your desires for the space.
Any natural tips for designing space?
Beneficial insects, which you can attract to your garden with particular plants, are one of the best ways to deal with harmful insects. Ladybugs and praying mantis are an effective control for aphids, mites and scale and can avoid the need for spraying artificial pest control. Plants such as angelica, cosmos, yarrow, marigold, raspberry and herbs such as dill and fennel will attract these beneficial insects.
Favorite natural materials to work with:
Plants! (Obviously!) We love using plant material wherever possible to create the backbone of the space. Whether it is vines covering a trellis or fence, trees and climbers used to create a shade or privacy canopy, or ground covers used as a natural carpet, using a living material will always be our favorite!
Get out of the city by:
Heading to our favorite magical spot Upstate to swim and lie in hammocks and drink G&Ts.
Fave healthy spots in the city:
Any of our gardens to escape the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
Summer cocktail of choice:
Hendricks and Tonic. A classic but always pleases.
Favorite nyc haunts this summer:
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge and its newly opened rooftop bar. Glady’s in Crown Heights for the best Caribbean food in NYC! Central Park (we know it’s obvious but it is always amazing!).