a mediterran rooftop garden
Sustainable Living

How to Design a Rooftop Garden?- Happy Bees


How to design a rooftop garden? Happy Bees

How to design a rooftop garden is something that has kept me busy already last year. I love nature, and I love to create my little fairy garden. Now our environment has significant problems with architects building lots of houses on disappearing green landscapes.

In the Netherlands, houses are often built with small gardens where you find a stony terrace but nearly no plants and trees. The cities plant flowers, especially wildflowers, between the strokes of the streets that are flowering a particular time which is not enough for bumblebees, wild bees, and many other insects to find enough polls. In sweltering summers, these flowers are burnt, and the bees don’t see enough food. They also have problems finding plants in early spring and late autumn because the plants growing between the houses are too wide for these insects.

Sedum on a roof


Honey bees and bumblebees can fly about 2-3 kilometers to find flowers. However, some small wild bees can only fly about 150 meters, not enough flowers to feed their breed. It is a massive 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 that bees are recognizing and help them survive.

Many flowers are mutated and changed in a way that bees can’t reach the polls. All bees have a different length of their tongues, short or long, making them depending on certain sorts of flowers. If we don’t have these plants in our gardens, bee and butterfly populations will decrease and 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. I have seen in South France cactuses growing out the walls. It is a beautiful picture. Here in the Netherlands, we have plants that love to grow in stone, making the bricks more attractive and helping the insects. These plants are robust, capable of getting around with little water and nearly no soil.

Looking 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 playgrounds or a park. I  think they are even better than architects in Dubai because they integrate houses, skyscrapers, and gardens in a fantastic way that is breathtaking.

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, 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?

singapore, garden on a roof

A rooftop garden is 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 another 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 pretty 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 the weight.

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. I haven’t done it yet, because we think about moving to another place. I can’t handle the EMF from our neighborhood. It gives me so many symptoms that I feel exhausted and without energy quickly. A few months ago, they rolled out the 5th generation in our area, which I think badly. This is why we might need to leave our garden and settle in a place where I don’t feel ill.

However, there are different possibilities to get a rooftop 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 or some damage on the walls.

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

balconies of a appartment building covered with plants

I already listed some benefits, like improvement of the climate, the air, depression. 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 town, 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 significant 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?

a park on a rooftop terrace of a business building

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. It is not so difficult to work it out yourself, especially clickable elements ready for you to fix 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 details; everything is described. A sedum roof is the easiest way of managing a rooftop garden, being simple and easy to handle, and lightweight.

A vegetable garden is more intensive to take care of. Being heavy, your roof needs to be capable of carrying the vegetables and the soil. An expert should check the roof’s stability before planting the vegetables, which need to be watered and taken care of.  But it is a great fortune to have your organic vegetables, consuming healthy food. A plus point is that snails are not finding your vegetables destroying your harvest. Some houses even have a park on the roof for recreational use. You can see this in big cities, like Singapore. I think it is a significant development!

Hanging Rooftop Garden

Hanging pots with plants

Improving the climate of a house, cooling it, and absorbing water prevent leakages. 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. My walls are covered by wine and ivy, which are favored by bees and birds when they have fruits.

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 ugly grey housewalls gives a depressed, low feeling, increasing mental and physical disorders, especially when 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 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?

Final Thought

Improving our environment and including more nature should be our motto, like big cities do, for example, Singapore. Unique architecture meets nature, combined in a beautifully designed living environment that raises moods, healing 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 atmosphere 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 had a honey bee population in my house wall for nearly three years, and I am so joyful when I see them every spring flying around, knowing they are 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! However, I experience a decrease in their population. As long we allow pesticides and herbicides, like ” roundup,”  to be used in our gardens and parks, we will see that these insects decrease, but our health will suffer.

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,



  • Leah

    Beautiful pictures and ideas. I would love to see more rooftop gardens around to help combat climate change and pollution. My local nature center has a rooftop garden on it and it is so fun to watch it grow and change. Very inspiring!

    • Sylvie

      Thank you very much, Leah, for your comment! Yes, it would help so much if we would have gardens everywhere, even on our roofs. The bee population is reduced so much, and this would allow them to increase in amount. And it beautifies cities and particular ugly areas where we have much brick.
      I love that picture! 🙂

  • Kokontala

    Hi, I’ve just gone through your article about how to design a rooftop garden?- happy bees. I find this article very helpful, informative and educative. I never even thought that flowers can be so useful not just to the bees, but to human beings as well. Thank you for sharing such important information. I’m definitely going to start planting flowers of different types in my garden and will surely share this amazing post with my colleagues.

    • Sylvie

      You are very welcome, Kokontala! Thank you for your comment, and please do share the article! We need to do more to improve our living environment!:)

  • wbredow

    I believe every big city needs to have rooftop gardens. With the ever-growing population everywhere, we are running out of sustainable places for green-spaces. It’s quite alarming.

    It’s the same thing with dog parks as well. But cities like Chicago have figured out a way to have their big buildings, while having rooftop gardens and other green-spaces as well. On one of our recent trips to Chicago, we saw a dog park that was halfway up one of the skyscrapers. It was fascinating to see.

    • Sylvie

      Wow, that is so great to hear about Chicago! We need more rooftop gardens and parks in the cities, the people, and the birds and insects. I love to hear your comment! Thank you very much! We need sustainability so much! I welcome these ideas! 🙂

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