Ever heard of a living roof? It's perhaps the ultimate way to go green in your home.
A green or living roof usually consists of a waterproofing membrane covered in vegetation. You might also find a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems. And if you really want to make your roof work hard in the sustainability stakes, you can even get rooftop ponds which are used to contain recyclable waste water.
Green roofs have German roots...
Green roofs first became popular on multi-storey buildings in the late 19th century in Berlin, and this trend continued into the 20th century with more city-centre structures reaping the benefits. In the present era, legislation has been introduced to encourage the installation of green roofs, and by 2001 43% of German cities provided incentives for them.
The UK has also seen a rise in roof gardens over the past decade, with people becoming more aware of the environmental benefits and wanting to preserve green spaces in urban areas.
More than just a pretty roof
As well as providing you with an extra space to do your gardening, green roofs serve several purposes for a building:
Green roofs in action...
Our Chobham Manor development will have an extensive green infrastructure, with green roofs across the tops of many of the apartment buildings. There will also be fruit trees and planting in public spaces providing shading, pollution absorption, flood and wind mitigation and biodiversity benefits.
Want to go green on your roof?
Not everyone can install a real living roof on their home. However, a simple way to achieve a similar effect is by planting a container garden on your roof, if it is safe to do so!
Container planting is versatile, but because your plants will be up on the roof, you might want to focus on planting plants that can withstand sun exposure and heat. That's because not only are rooftops exposed to the sun, but they can also create micro-climates because they hold heat.
Annuals will enjoy the sun but might need more frequent watering. Herbs, vegetables and smaller perennials have small root systems and so you won't need to carry lots of soil up to the roof.
Although a container garden is not generally considered to be a true green roof, it will mean that you're encouraging wildlife to inhabit the space and can provide an oasis in built-up areas. And of course, you won't be short of privacy and sunlight when you're up on the roof!
Do your research first though, as the conditions of each roof garden must be evaluated before construction, to ensure you have the right landscaping, drainage and ecology for your rooftop.
You should also check the construction of your roof before climbing on to it, and ensure it is strong enough to take the weight of the pots you’d like to put on there. Pots and soil can be heavy items after all, and it will be much easier to carry them up separately rather than together.