Green roofs

Fri. Dec. 9, 2016

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Green roofs

I recently interviewed an author who writes childrens books and one of the photos was in Norway of a lean to with a green roof and a reindeer walking on it.  That got me thinking about green roofs here in the U.S.

The Reindeer Wish by Lori Evert
The Reindeer Wish by Lori Evert  – 

The book series is A Christmas Wish by Lori Evert.  Her husband Per takes tremendous photos and the child in the photo is their daughter.  The books are delightful.  Sorry, got sidetracked there for a moment!

Green Roofs are starting to make more appearances in cityscapes.  But what about we regular folk?  Is it possible… sure, but it’s not super simple to install and the more pitch of your roof, the more complicated. Minnesota Green Roofs suggests no more than a 3:12 pitch.  Introduction to green roofs:   Greensulate.

Minnesota Arboretum Green roof layers:  Click on the link for a wealth of information.   Find an extensive-plant-list-for-green-roofs from Capital Green Roofs [note: check zone hardiness]


You need to find out if your roof can handle the weight of a green roof as it is considerably heavier than traditional materials but it also lasts much longer once installed.  While there are a variety of systems, they all have, at a minimum, a waterproof membrane topped by a root barrier, drainage layers, soil medium and plants.


Depending on your level participation in the process, the roof can cost anywhere from roughly $10 to $30 per square foot.  That can seem spendy but consider that a well-installed green roof can last 35 to 50 years, or even longer. And since the plants are perennials, regular replanting isn’t necessary.  Weeding and watering are particularly important for the first two or three years, as the plants become established. After that, watering may still be necessary during extended droughts.


Regular inspections are important, to make sure that the plants are thriving and the drainage systems are working properly.

Green roofs store 50 to 60% of rainfall, considerably lessening stormwater runoff, they can also reduce energy costs as they further insulate the structure.  One of the more popular trends is placing green roofs on smaller sheds, garages and additions to homes.  Plants for your roof must be hardy to your climate zone and remember, your roof takes the brunt of all the weather.

Here’s a link to the “Ten Best Green Roofs for home in the U.S.”


And then there’s the extreme!

Eco lodge in Patagonia
Eco lodge in Patagonia


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