Building a Green Roof

If you have heard about a green or eco roof, or been interested in possibly installing your own, some of the benefits include:

  • Decreasing your energy costs
  • Cleaning the air
  • Reducing urban heat effect
  • Beautiful to look at
  • Reducing storm water runoff

Your choices may be limited if you want to put a green roof on your existing roof. Although lightweight green roof systems are available, weight is a definite concern. A 20 foot garden can add thousands of pounds of extra weight to your roof. If you have access to the rafters in your attic your local roofer can add reinforcement and lateral supports to shore it up.

Get a Roof Report

Having a structural engineer examine your roof will tell you the load your roof can support and if you will need a roofing company to add support if needed.

Once you have determined the load capacity of your roof, you will want to lay down a water proof liner to protect your home from moisture and also to keep roots from creeping into your roof structure. If your roof has a slope, add a lattice type grid over the liner to keep the dirt and plants from sliding off.

You will need to mix your potting soil with sand or dirt, peat moss or coconut husks and organic matter and usually a water absorbing material to keep the plants from drying out. Your local nursery will probably be the best source of information on the type of soil you will need and the plants that will grow well in your climate.

When considering the vegetation you want to put on your roof things to consider are:

  • Amount of work you are willing to put in to maintaining the greenery
  • Ornate plants will need more work than moss or sedums
  • Wildflowers will attract butterflies, birds and bees
  • Grasses will need to be mowed

There are several companies now that specialize in green roof systems, before you invest in your first plant you should make sure your roof can support the added weight.

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