What Is a Green Roof?

What Is a Green Roof?

In this month’s edition of “Around the Garden Center,” we want to highlight something you may not have heard of before but it might pique the interest of some gardeners and energy conservationists! Green Roofs are an exciting concept that can be used in a wide variety of situations. They cool buildings, saving hundreds and even thousands of dollars in utility costs. They also reduce stormwater runoff by absorbing and using rainwater to nourish plants. Finally, they add a dimension of beauty, unique to each type of roof garden.

While most roof gardens are installed on commercial buildings, we are seeing many installed on private residences as well, typically on a portion of the house or on a smaller shed or outbuilding. Even large birdhouses can have a green roof!

Today we want to tell you about 2 different Green Roofs and show you “how they grow”! Both of these examples are at least 3 years old, and we are excited about the results we’ve seen!

First up is Lurvey’s green roof sits atop the LEED-certified building built-in 2012. It is designed to reduce stormwater runoff and aid in cooling the building.

A Duro-Last roofing system was used in constructing Lurvey’s green roof. The high-quality pre-fabricated PVC membrane liner is leak-free, resistant to fire, chemicals, punctures, high winds, extreme temperatures, and more.

Lurvey’s roof is classified as an intensive green roof because the planting medium is 12 inches deep, allowing for the use of native plants and even shrubs in addition to heat-tolerant groundcovers like Sedum. With grasses, shrubs, and native plants now well established, Lurvey’s green roof now also adds depth, beauty, and seasonal interest to the building.

Our second featured green roof was installed on a garden shed in a residential setting in 2011. The primary purpose: to add beauty to the garden. The first step involved reinforcing the roof to hold an estimated additional weight load of 2250 pounds (when wet). Since the roof is angled, each side was also divided into two sections lengthwise and holes were drilled in the longboards to aid drainage of excess water. The final framework created four sections, each 2×9 feet.

The green roof, installed directly on top of existing shingles, was custom designed using three layers: a moisture barrier, Enkadrain roofing fabric, and finally Terraviva green roof medium. The final depth is approximately 6 inches.

Each season, the homeowner adds small amounts of roof medium to the beds, trims and cleans up plants, and fills in empty spaces. While this garden is not deep enough for shrubs, it includes a wide variety of native plants as well as herbs, grasses, and groundcovers.

Native plants, which tend to be smaller on the roof than in garden settings, bloom throughout the season. They include Coreopsis, Silky Aster, Sky Blue Aster, Monarda, and Goldenrod, among others. Succulents in this garden include Hens and Chicks, Sedum, and Ice Plant. Herbs that do best include Sage, Chives, and Marjoram.

You may be asking yourself if a Green Roof would be right for you. If so, here are some things to consider

  • Where will you put it? Do you have a garden shed, a playhouse, or even a large bird feeder that might include a green roof?
  • Is your structure wooden or metal? How is it constructed? This will determine how much weight it can support and what materials you must use.
  • Will it be flat or pitched? This will also impact what type of materials you use.
  • Will it be extensive, with four inches or less of media and heat tolerant ground cover plants, or intensive, with the medium that is deeper and supports native plants and others that grow taller and provide more variety for a “roof garden” look?

At Lurvey, we always want to try and help you find new ways to “Come Alive Outside”, and Green Roofs are just an example of something that can be beautiful and functional! If you would like more information on Green Roofs or maybe you have an idea of your own you want to try, stop by one of our 5 locations and speak with one of our friendly associates to see how we can help you with your project. Also, if you have any other out-of-the-box ideas, let us know in the comments! We always love hearing from our awesome customers on what they are doing!


Share this article

Related Articles


Understanding Soil pH

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “soil pH” thrown around before when referring to the soil in the landscape or regarding what pH a particular

Read More »