American inspired urban garden designs

A green outdoor space in New York

New York

A four storey townhouse in the hustle and bustle of New York, made designers Steven Harris and Lucien Rees Roberts think outside the box when it came to a small space in a large city. It features a planted screen of bamboo to block neighbourly views, making them feel like they are isolated from the city in their backyard oasis. The view from the top room is of an unexpected lush green environment below.


This single family residence takes city living seriously. A challenging section with a backyard too narrow made Architects, Höweler + Yoon look into utilising the space between the garage and front entrance of the house to develop an ‘internal courtyard’ getting fresh air and natural space with a low-maintenance upkeep. This is achieved with planted wild grasses and a Japanese maple, along with built-in wooden benches and a flowing contemporary water feature of precast concrete toughs. The Japanese-inspired design gives the home owners a serene place and a change of scenery to the inner-city busyness.

A couple sitting in a garden on the top level of the building
Credits: Höweler + Yoon Architecture/MY Studio

San Francisco

Urban gardens don’t necessarily have to squeeze in as many functional features as possible. Here is a sculpturally designed garden directed on a 62 degree angle with bands of repetitive stone and pebbles, plants and steel balls; creating a mood for reflection and enhancing visual space.

The built-in concrete firepit is an added comfortable bonus to enjoy the simple yet effective garden design within a small space.

An outdoor garden with plants, floor tiles and decorative rocks in San Francisco
Credits: Arterra Landscape Architects. Michele Lee Wilson Photography


This Brooklyn townhouse utilises the flat vacant space on their rooftop to deliver a spacious area for lounging about outside on a hot summers day, while also having plants and soil with a waterproof base to make the owners feel at one with nature.  This particular rooftop garden is portraying aesthetic beauty and enhancing leisurely space through green outdoors.

Rooftop gardens are also effective for temperature control and popular for growing vegetables and improving surrounding air quality – why would you not want a rooftop garden?

ground and rooftop gardens in the same photo in Brooklyn
Credits: Peter Aaron/OTTO/Raven & Snow

You might be interested in reading: A home made up of layers of louver-like concrete planters


This article by Nicole James featured on page 20 in Issue 017 of Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.


Get in touch with Zones to discuss your landscaping project

If you would like to discuss options and ideas for your outdoor renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

Read Next

All Zones Landscaping franchises are independently owned and operated.

Landscaping Enquiry

We're ready to help you with your landscaping project.

If your enquiry is not related to renovating your home, you may wish to use one of our other enquiry forms to ensure your message reaches the right team:

Please Wait ...


Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Are you ready to discuss your ideas?

Please fill out your details in the online form provided and we’ll get back to you within 48 hours to arrange a free, no obligation consultation.

Get in touch