What You Need to Know About Adding a Green Roof to Your Landscape Enhancements

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Are you thinking about adding a green roof to your shed or on an outbuilding’s flat top?

Green roofs provide a unique focal point for your landscape while also reducing heat islands.

Read on to learn more about green roofs and where you can find DIY green roof designs.

Green Roof

What Do Green Roofs Do?

Green roofs, also called live roofs, gained popularity over the past decade or so. Commercial properties build green roofs on their buildings to reduce energy costs and to be good environmental stewards.

Homeowners install green roofs for landscape focal points and provide insulation on outdoor buildings that generally don’t have it, such as garden sheds and garages.

Some folks, who are hobby farmers, even build green roofs on their chicken coops to keep their flocks cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Most homeowners find that installing a green roof on one of their exteriors involves basic engineering and construction skills.

Here are four basic guidelines to keep in mind while designing your live roof:

1.  Know how much weight the roof can hold. You’ll be adding insulation, drainage, root barriers, 2”-4” of soil, and plants on top of the existing roof. Can it bear that extra weight without collapsing?

2.  What will be the green roof’s purpose? For example, is there a functional reason to add a green roof to your shed? If you add a green roof to a chicken coop, will it be aesthetic and functional?

Learn more: New Drip Control Zone Kit Keeps You in Compliance


3.  Consider the climate in your backyard. Is your shed in full sun? If you’re building a green roof on a garage, is it surrounded by blacktop or concrete pavers? Plain asphalt will make the micro-climate hotter because of absorbing the sun’s rays.

4.  Think about stormwater drainage. How will stormwater drain on your garden roof? You don’t want any ponding water that would add extra weight to the top.

Live Roof Layers

Prepare to add eight layers to your outbuilding to create a live roof. If you plan to DIY your new green roof, make sure you understand the technicalities of weight load and green building techniques.

Here are the eight layers to expect when you build your live roof—even if it’s only on a rabbit hutch or a chicken coop:

  • Structural support
  • Moisture barrier
  • Thermal insulation
  • Root barrier
  • Drainage layer
  • Filler membrane
  • Growing medium, such as soil
  • Plants.

Read more: How to Meet Your Lawn and Garden’s Unique Watering Needs


You can find green roof designs on the Internet. Here are three places with live roof design ideas:

  1. Hobby Farms – Make a Green Roof for Your Chicken Coop

  2. Pinterest

  3. This Old House – How to Install a Green Roof.


9 Benefits of Green Roofs

Live roofs provide a miniature eco-system and micro-climate that adds energy savings and a place to attract pollinators and other wildlife.

Here are nine benefits you receive when you add a green roof to your shed or other exterior buildings:

  1. It produces oxygen
  2. It cools the building in the summer and provides extra insulation in the winter
  3. It reduces energy resulting in lower utility bills
  4. It curtails stormwater run-off
  5. It provides shade
  6. It gets rid of heat from the air
  7. It lowers the roof’s surrounding area’s temperature
  8. It protects your outbuildings from the elements
  9. It lowers your stress levels because it’s a green space to spend time in.

Plants to Make Your Live Roof Pretty

A green roof won’t live up to its name without plants. Fortunately, live roofs on outbuildings are low-maintenance because you’ll be installing a lot of succulents.

Here are some plants to add to your green roof:

  • Flame flower
  • Herbs and other herbaceous groundcovers
  • Ice plants
  • Ornamental flowering onions
  • Sweet William
  • Sedges, such as blue sedge and Bowles’ golden sedge
  • Sedums, including gold moss stonecrop and houseleeks
  • Takeshima stonecrop

What about watering these low-maintenance plants living on the roof? Drip irrigation is your best bet. It won’t weigh down the roof, and it provides water right to the roots, so you don’t have to worry about overwatering your roof garden.

If you’re a DIY’er and ready to build your first live roof, consider adding a K-Rain dripline kit. Our newest dripline kit, Drip Control Zone Kit, keeps you compliant with your state’s water regulations as well as reduces water waste.

You can find a sample irrigation system design on our website. If you’re new to dripline systems or want a pro to help you, look for an irrigation contractor on our website to design and install your K-Rain dripline.

You can also buy your K-Rain dripline system parts at our online store or your favorite big-box retailer.

If you have any questions about your K-Rain dripline sprinkler, call our customer service at 800-735-7246 or fill out our contact form.

Sources:

EPA.gov, Using Green Roofs to Reduce Heat Islands.

GreenRoofPlants.com, Green Roof Stars.

Land8.com, Top 10 Plants for an Extensive Green Roof.

LoveYourLandscape.org, Basics of Green Roofs and Green Walls.

TurfMagazine.com, Designing Green Roof Irrigation.



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