Green Living Roofs
What are they?
Green roofs are roof tops that have vegetation growing on them, such as a garage roof, shed roof, an extension roof or workshop, in fact any roof type.
There are different types of Green Roofs too.
What are the benefits?
The benefits are enormous besides the initial visual qualities.
Some of the benefits are the low maintenance or actually no maintenance as drought tolerant and wind tolerant plants will grow well unattended.
Excellent insulation properties to the building they sit upon.
In addition this can have a marked effect on reducing fire risk too.
Providing an attractive colourful roof which changes with the seasons rather than a plain hard roof of concrete.
Wildlife it attracts is fantastic.
Very urban areas appear almost rural.
So what wildlife does it attract?
Considering wildlife by using a beautiful biodiversity of native and indigenous plants and flowers along with a few other varieties, creating a natural looking meadow that attracts butterflies, bees, other pollinating insects and birds. So with such a range of fauna and flora on the roof which is carefully designed for it to have flowers from March through to October. The evergreens such as sedums, saxifrage and other alpines will give interest in the winter along with seed heads and grasses. One will look forward to the seasonal changes and the different types of wildlife that will be attracted to it through these seasons.
Will plants survive on a roof, how much soil depth is required, will I have to cut back plants or grasses?
Access to water is what gives plants the prospect of enduring the harsh realities of being on a roof- exposed to wind, sun, climatic extremes of temperature, flash floods to drought!
The substrate depth (soil depth) correctly required for plants is minimal 50-75mm.
All ’Green Living Roofs’ we do are designed and constructed in such a way to allow for all the technical scenarios; for instance. . . a down pour of rain, to leave the roof swiftly. So correct gullies and drainage technicalities have to be designed to work for each roof type and its gradients.
On my roof I decided to have a ’Rain Chain’ as a rainwater pipe instead of a plastic one. A chain is a series of little copper buckets in the shape of a lotus flower and connected by links. It will hang from the roof gulley and lead to a water butt. Fascinating how that water always follows a chain so no need to be contained in a plastic pipe. The chain looks attractive and sounds nice too!
No it is unlikely that you will have to cut anything back or even the grasses, as the soil depth is shallow and the types of meadow flowers are those naturally found on shallow poorly nourished soils. Chalk downland is a good example or the mountains with alpines. Because the soil type is low in nutrients, you will not get lush growth, just lots of flowers!
A plant in theory will produce an abundance of flowers if it lacks nourishment and if relatively dry. Natures way of reproducing particularly if starved or under threat of survival!
Each roof is never the same. Every roof has a different aspect and degree of slant. It is unique to the owner’s preferences too, just like your own garden.
Can I have a living roof that does other things besides ecology considerations?
Definitely. It is possible to be unique and creative by creating patterns with plants, perhaps a chequerboard design, especially if in a very urban site. We have been considering doing a logo for a restaurant roof!
A challenge is always desired by us though, so regardless of its size, being a simple shed roof to a restaurant roof or the usual garage, workshop, warehouse roof, anything can be achieved.
However I still say ‘Overall, this is our way of getting back the nature robbed by urban builds!!’
If this has inspired anyone to turn their roof into a living roof for nature, you can contact us via the contact page.
Remember the insulation benefits too and a better view to look out to, besides seeing nature just outside your window!