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Creating a Leafy Green Oasis on a Manhattan Terrace

The terrace was designed for year-round enjoyment with flowering perennials that will change colors with the seasons.

New York landscape-design firm Harrison Green has turned countless lackluster roofs and terraces into green urban dreamscapes. For this residential project, the husband-and-wife design team flipped a raw (and less-than-enchanting) terrace on the Upper West Side into a verdant al fresco living space.

Photo: Courtesy of Harrison Green

The husband-and-wife team behind landscape-design firm Harrison Green are known for transforming commercial and residential outdoor spaces into urban edens. (For proof, look to their recent work on the ravishing 25-feet-tall vertical green wall in the newly opened 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge.) They did exactly that for a client who, while combining multiple apartments in an Upper West Side building, gained a substantial amount of outdoor real estate. Harrison Green made it into an oasis.

Photo: Nicholas Calcott/All rights reserved except with express permission of author

“The large rectangular terrace was dissected into smaller intimate spaces,” says Damien Harrison, who worked with his wife and partner, Jacqueline, and Harrison Green designer Robert Green to “humanize it with comfortable furniture, terra-cotta pottery, and flowering perennials” as well as INC Architecture & Design on the outdoor furniture. With the rest of their team, they installed an elevated deck of Ipe wood to raise the floor by a foot, creating space for a second seating area while offering better views of the neighboring Dakota building. Plants like common boxwood, viburnum, Tardiva hydrangea, bridalwreath spirea, Russian sage, and silver mound Artemisia envelope the area.

Photo: Nicholas Calcott

The terrace is divided into intimate al fresco “rooms,” each sectioned off by plant and furniture arrangements. Stellar views of the neighborhood’s prewar buildings add an extra perk to the outdoor space. The furniture is from Teak Warehouse.

Photo: Nicholas Calcott

Harrison Green designed the terrace for year-round enjoyment by installing evergreen shrubs, deciduous trees, and flowering perennials that will change colors with the seasons. Concrete roof pavers were installed on a pedestal system.

Photo: Nicholas Calcott

Multi-stem birch trees add some height and texture to the terrace’s varying greens, which also include a boxwood hedge with border planting of hosta “Francee,” begonia, meadow sage, coral bells, diamond frost, and English ivy.

Photo: Nicholas Calcott

The terrace provides all kinds of luxuries: birds, the ideal place to watch the changing light throughout the day, and, again, views of great architecture. Harrison Green strategically placed trees so that they’d mask some of the less scenic infrastructure — such as roof vents.

Photo: Nicholas Calcott

Lighting installed in the planters and freestanding lanterns make the terrace fit for outdoor dining and entertaining, especially on balmy summer nights.

Creating a Leafy Green Oasis on a Manhattan Terrace