How to design a rooftop garden is something that has kept me busy already last year. I love nature, and I love to design my little fairy garden. Now our environment has big problems with architects building lots of houses on disappearing green landscapes.
In the Netherlands, houses are built very often with small gardens where you find a stony terrace, but nearly no plants and trees. The cities try to plant flowers, especially wildflowers, between the strokes of the streets that are flowering a certain time which is not enough for bumblebees, wild bees, and many other insects to live on. They can’t find enough food in early spring and late autumn because the distances of plants growing between the houses are too wide for these insects.
Honey bees and bumblebees can fly about 2-3 kilometers to find flowers. However, wild bees can only fly about 150 meters, not finding enough flowers to feed their breed. It is a huge problem for the bees, and finally for us. Without bees, we will not survive very long, so it should be the task of everybody to create gardens with lots of different flowers and plants bees are recognizing, helping them survive.
Many flowers are mutated and changed in a way that bees can’t reach the polls. All bees have different tongues, short or long, making them depending on certain sorts of flowers. If we don’t have these plants in our gardens, bees and butterflies will finally die.
It is my heart to help them survive, creating an insect-friendly garden. Many houses have flat roofs; planting a garden on the roof will help us, the bees, butterflies, and other insects. A beautifully designed rooftop garden is a beauty in a stony, brick-wall landscape.
If you look at Singapore’s architecture, you will see how beautifully they have included well-designed gardens on a skyscraper rooftop, amazing! Singapore has architects who are fascinating advanced in modern architecture, combining with green gardens or a park.
We can do this as well in the Netherlands. In Switzerland, Zuerich already has many rooftop gardens, which complement the whole city. Countries like the Netherlands, which are crowded with houses, could create a livable environment using rooftop gardens, resulting in less air pollution, improving people’s depression, increasing insects, and finally birds, hedgehogs, and other animals. It is a win/win situation, hopefully leading to the city council’s approval and receiving subsidies by the government.
What is a Rooftop Garden?
A rooftop garden is a garden planted on a roof, flat or vertical; it doesn’t matter, as long the roofs are covered with plants. A vertical roof needs a different approach than a flat one, but plants can cover both roofs. It is a different method of fixing the boards. There are gardens which are having vegetables grown in them so that you can harvest vegetables. They need to have another construction because they are quite heavy.
If you think of solar panels, which are also quite heavy, your roof needs to be able to carry that load. I would always ask an expert, never do something on your own if you are not sure your roof can handle it. Of course, you can buy everything you need in a garden center or do-it-yourself-store, but you need to know that your roof can carry the weight of the planks, the soil, and the plants.
There are different possibilities to get a roof garden, like a vegetable garden or sedum plants, and small trees or hanging plants, even climbing plants are a great addition covering the brick.
A rooftop garden is perfect for the climate and your house. Rainwater evaporates by 50 % back to the atmosphere, and that is excellent because it will not disappear into the ground but helps the climate and the insects and birds.
Looking beautiful, the green and the flowers relax the mind and purifies the air. There is still some work to do in such a garden as taking care of the plants and checking the roof regularly to prevent developing a leakage.
Maintenance of the roof is essential, preventing damage to the materials.
The advantages are many that I think it is a great plan to grow a green roof.
Benefits of a Rooftop Garden
I already listed some benefits, like improvement of the climate, the air. These rooftop gardens are very beneficial for big cities where traffic pollution is creating respiratory diseases. People have an improved living environment which increases the health of a nation.
Trees and plants are vital for the cities, and even so, you have parks for recreational activities; it is a bonus to increase green spots in a city, like rooftop gardens. Bees and butterflies, and other insects will love them, and the increase of their population will benefit the birds which live of insects.
Researchers have found out that improving the environment is affecting the psychological well-being of people. There are fewer mental disturbances in such cities due to the improved quality of life.
Rainwater is not wasted but given back to the atmosphere, cooling down the climate, making a great investment in a rooftop garden. I think that this will be the future, and I welcome these gardens, a further step in the direction of sustainability!
What Do We Need to Create a Rooftop Garden?
First of all, you need an expert who can calculate the carrying capacity of your roof to determine what kind of plants your roof can carry. That is essential otherwise; your roof could come down. Actually, it is not so difficult to work it out by yourself, especially there are clickable elements, being ready for you to fix them on your roof. After you have calculated how many elements you need, you lay out a special foil to prevent damage on the surface of your roof, and then you start organizing the elements; everything is described. A sedum roof is the easiest way of managing a rooftop garden, being simple and easy to handle.
A vegetable garden is more intensive to take care of. Being heavier, your roof needs to be capable of carrying the vegetables and the soil. An expert should check the stability of the roof before planting the vegetables, which need to be watered and taken care of. But it is a great fortune to have your own organic vegetables. Some houses even have a park on the roof for recreational use. You can see this in big cities.
Hanging Rooftop Garden
Normally, plants are prevented from growing over the edge of the roof, but some gardens have hanging and climbing plants that create a beautiful view by the plants covering the houses’ ugly grey walls. Improving the climate of a house, cooling it, and absorbing water prevent leakages.
If you see the flowering plants growing over the edge, you feel relaxed by the beautiful scenery. The green and the colors of plants are improving the picture of an ugly-looking house. The living comfort will increase, providing a relaxed, peaceful feeling. We don’t need all the antidepressants if we redesign our environment by using rooftop gardens. Viewing grey ugly housewalls gives a depressed, low feeling, which increases mental and physical disorders, especially the day is misty and grey.
People are not made to live in a stony grey forest of houses, of brick walls, but they need nature and a green environment to relax. Including rooftop gardens in the city’s architecture will improve health, which should be the first concern of society. Creating a healthy environment for people, animals, insects, and plants needs more green spots throughout the cities, even on the roofs. Did you ever see an image of such a city from above, many little green gardens spread over the place make a difference for the eye and the well-being of people?
Improving our environment and including more nature should be our motto, like big cities do, for example, Singapore. Amazing architecture meets nature, combined in a beautifully designed living environment that raises peoples’ moods, bringing healing to the body and soul.
Starting to create a rooftop garden at your home will bring many advantages to you and your neighbors, but also the birds, and insects, and finally, the climate. If we invest in our living climate by creating more green spots, we will improve the polluted air of the cities and the mental disorders of people living in this ugly jungle of bricks.
We depend on nature to be in balance. By creating a natural, green environment with rooftop gardens, and parks, life in the cities will be livable again, giving people a restful mind and increasing insects and birds.
I have a honey bee population in my house wall for nearly 3 years, and I am so joyful when I see them every spring flying around, knowing they still alive. Populations of different bumblebees also live each year in the walls of our house, and I love to hear the sound of the bees flying from flower to flower. It is so beautiful!
Please let me know what you think! How do you experience the cities and the grey bricks? Would you like to have a rooftop garden? I would love to hear your thoughts.
All the best,