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Creating an Oasis in the City

The sun is out and it's time to dust of that balcony. Here are some tips on how to create your perfect outdoor retreat in the middle of a city.

Summer is here – finally! City living (combined with the virus that shall not be named) means getting creative when the sun comes out and the outdoors beckon. If like me, you live in a built-up urban area but have access to a rooftop or balcony, what better way of embracing summer than by creating the perfect city oasis?

A well-dressed balcony or a rooftop garden has a plethora of benefits including fresh air, sunlight and a little change of scenery. They give you the perfect space to relax and unwind. But how do we go about making your garden in a city? Read on to find out my top tips …


// We love plants

Plants and Greenery

I know we talk about plants ALOT in our monthly edits, but they play a huge part in our planet's life cycle. As a sustainable brand plants are the most raw eco-friendly tools we can use around. To perk up that outdoor space you don't need to go all Monty Don on it. A few select easy maintenance plants will serve you just as well to brighten up the place. For the newbies we would suggest sturdy plants with low upkeep, that will survive if you forget to water them and is very happy to be left out all year. Try some a lavender or citronella plan;, these will survive in almost any climate, they smell great and they deter mosquitoes. For the more advanced gardeners - you know the drill, check the sun exposure on your balcony versus the information for the plants you want. Don't accidentally bake a shade-loving fox glove! Try to buy native species and to find a mixture of flowers which will blossom over the year.

For unreachable outdoor areas or to add a little extra to a larger space why not try Wildflower Grass Roof Tiles. Transform your flat space with a beautiful ecosystem and a diverse mix of plants. Not only are these tiles aesthetically pleasing adding colour and diversity to your space, they also help with air quality, rainwater retention, sound insulation and biodiversity. What more can we ask for? Recommended supplier : Grass roof tiles, GrufeKit Planters, Elho Recycled Planters Your local garden centre!


// We love patterns and colour

Finishes and Flooring

Upgrading your flooring is a wonderful way to enjoy your outdoor space. Using sustainable eco-friendly materials will help your budget by reducing long-term maintenance costs, and it’s also great for the environment. Pick from multiple finishes such as wood slates, stone tiles, outdoor paint or just an outdoor rug for a pop of colour. For those with a lot of outdoor space embrace natural wood decking to create a deck surface that is warm and homely. This type of installation also helps flatten out wonky roof terraces. Consider using recycled or reclaimed wood from other buildings for the ultimate eco-friendly finish. Do remember to clean and reseal it once a year to regularly maintain the quality and colour of the wood. Other options such stone or paint have very little maintenance beyond cleaning (though if your paint chips you will need to do a little touch up). Try to pick brands which are specifically for outside, this means they will be more durable. Fun colours or patterns are always encourage for that little extra happy feeling.

Recommended suppliers :

Rugs and furniture, Maison Du Monde

Outdoor paint, Farrow and Ball


// We love furniture

Outdoor furniture

The outdoor furniture market is a minefield. You can either go for bank account friendly options that usually last less than a year or, break the bank for something that will last you a life-time. There doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground, unless you wait for the May Sales on the higher end products (well worth it!)

For us it's about practicality and low maintenance when selecting the right outdoor furniture. Consider sun exposure bleaching your fabrics; dirty children and animals jumping around, and just as clumsy - if not even worse, drunken adults spilling Pimms or BBQ sauce everywhere. Our suggestions include easy clean, moisture resistant fabric cushions (machine washable); real wood tables and console units (resealable) and rattan or wooden seating (resealable).

If you liked our previous blog around giving old interior furniture a new lease of life, why not repurpose décor for exterior use too? Take a beaten-up table, add some outdoor paint and voila: no fees for the tip; no need to buy a new table and you finally have space for that new dining table you've been dreaming of!

Recommended suppliers :


Furniture, Amara

Outdoor cushions and rugs, Weaver Green


Getty Images

// We Love Insects

A little bit for the eccentrics

For those of you dedicated to creating a rooftop oasis like no other, why not consider a rooftop beehive? There’s a lot of buzz around rooftop bee keeping at the moment and there are a heap of great reasons to embrace the new trend: add a sprinkle of honey to your life; improve your vegetable patch yield; get those flowers blooming and saving the bees, of course! However, before you go ahead with this endeavour, do consider whether the roof is in a viable flight position and make sure you let your neighbours know what you’re doing.

Other less eccentric options include bee bricks for masonry bees which live alone and do not produce honey, insect hotels and bird baths (though I'd watch out for pesky pigeons with this one!)

Recommended suppliers :

If you're feel friendly, pop into your local garden centre

If you're self isolating, Amazon!


Ready to get started?

At Katriona Alice Designs, we’re always here to help and we have experience in creating urban oasis’. We specialise in providing a bespoke service with exceptional design solutions and take pride in getting to know our clients individually to help with any kind of project – large or small. Some things will work for a rooftop, some won’t.

Consider your options carefully and if you would like some advice, do get in touch. We’d love to help!


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