How to Create a Living Roof

Apart from looking fantastic, a living roof has many other wonderful benefits such as providing insulation, a new habitat for wildlife, and helps improve air quality in the local area.

If you are wondering how to get started, here is a step by step guide on how to create your very own living roof:

Materials you will need:

  • Water proof plastic/ pond liner & a protective fleece.
  • Timber – this is to create a raised wooden frame around the roof.
  • Sedum, turf or a your wildflower of choice
  • Topsoil (approximately 2cm layer)

Tools you will need:

  • Staple gun
  • Tape measure
  • Saw
  • Rake
  • Watering can/ garden hose
  • Ladders

Ensure Your Roof is Structurally Secure Enough to Withstand a Living Roof

Depending on the size of your project your structure will need to support a lot of additional weight it was not necessarily designed to handle. Most people opt to install a living roof on a domestic garden shed and if that is the case, it is unlikely that this will compromise the structure.

Install a Raised Timber Frame.

For a living roof to flourish, you need to ensure that it has some room to grow. We recommend giving yourself approximately 3cm above the roof level. Simply measure and cut your timber to size and affix it around the roof level.

Cut Your Waterproof Plastic Layer & Protective Fleece to Size.

You will need to apply a plastic waterproof sheet of plastic to the roof to ensure that any moisture from the living roof does not seep into the actual roof! To apply your plastic layer, simply use a stapler to staple the plastic into the timber frame.

Repeat the process with the protective fleece layer. This layer will further protect the roof from the roots of your sedum/turf and allow it to simply sit on top.

Apply Your Topsoil.

At this point in the process, you will be ready to apply your substrate layer. In this case you will want a high-quality topsoil to help your sedum/turf retain moisture and anchor itself as it takes root.

Take extra care when lifting heavy materials such as topsoil to an elevated place such as a roof. If you aren’t strong enough, simply get help from a friend to lift a sealed pack of soil onto the roof and open it there – or fill the soil into buckets and lift it up one bucket at a time.

Spread at least a ~2cm layer of soil onto the roof with the flat side of a rake. This will help achieve a nice even finish and avoid piercing the protective plastic with the sharp side.

Apply Sedum or Turf!

Now the topsoil is down, you are ready to put the finishing touch on your living roof – the actual live part! Simply roll out your turf or sedum onto the topsoil, and cut to size so there are no gaps – but be careful not to stretch it. Now that the living roof is finished, ensure to give it a good watering every day for the next week so the new living roof does not dry out – and the roots can establish into its new environment.

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