Living Roofs

Living roofs may seem like an odd concept at first glance, but the approach is gaining popularity for a growing number of homeowners. In Scandinavia, turf roofed houses have been used for centuries due to the excellent insulation, while sod homes have long been used in prairie areas. The modern living roof was developed largely in Germany in the 1970s and some have been in service for decades now. Consisting of a waterproof roofing barrier and covered with a layer of soil and plants, living roofs have been used in many cultures throughout history.

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“Although they seem strange to some people, living roofs are actually a very old idea that is finding new life today.”

Basics Of Living Roofs

Living roofs start out with a bottom waterproof roofing barrier to protect the home from any water or moisture damage. The next step is one or more layers of soil that both insulates the home and provides a great base for plants. Soil depth and composition are important factors that can dictate the level of success for a project such as this. The final step is to plant the flowers and plant life that serve as the focal point for living roofs. There are any number of layouts available – from plants and flowers only in a certain portion and the rest of the space set aside for entertaining to the entire area covered with beautiful plants and flowers.

Cost Of Living Roofs

Ranges Of Prices: $10 to $40 psf installed

The biggest cost factor is the soil depth and design. The choice of plant covering is also a factor, but is largely determined by the location of the home and the lot features. Some areas require permits and licensing. Finding an experienced roofing contractor that specializes in this option can be a challenge.

Advantages of Living Roofs

The biggest advantage of living roofs is the insulation. Heating and cooling costs can drop dramatically. Because they are especially effective at keeping the home cool, they offer the most benefit in summer or warm climates. The soil absorbs moisture and the plants keep it shaded, preventing the sun from heating up the home. In cold weather, the soil and plants help to reduce heat loss.

Long Life
Living roofs can last for a very long time. Turf and sod roofs on some ancient sites have lasted for over a hundred years. Although plants may die, the roof structure is protected by the soil and replanting is simple. Protected from sunlight, wind, and rain, the roofing materials may last for twice as long as on a conventional roof.

Environmental Benefits
Living roofs are truly a green option. The plants are important for cleaner air, as well as providing a habitat for insects, birds, and other small wildlife. Rain water that falls on the roof is filtered and much is retained, which helps to control erosion and pollution.