“If there is one message to come out of this book, it is that making a green roof does not have to be a mysterious or complicated matter, nor does it need to be expensive. Most structures open themselves to some sort of greening.” — from Small Green Roofs
Here is one of the most exciting new volumes on the Land Library’s shelves, Small Green Roofs: Low-Tech Options for Greener Living by Nigel Dunnett, Dusty Gedge, John Little & Edmund C. Snodgrass — the first book to deal specifically with small-scale and domestic green roofs. This well-illustrated book profiles more than forty projects: sheds, garden offices, studios, garages, houses, bicycle sheds, and more. Along the way, you’ll be introduced to the many plants choices ideal for roofs: grasses, succulents, sedum, flowering herbaceous species and alpines, native wildflowers, small bulb varieties, moss, and much more.
Beyond the hobbit-like aesthetic benefits, the authors show how green roofs contribute to better rainwater management, cooling and energy conservation, noise insulation, and increased biodiversity:
“…flowering plants will encourage insects such as bees and butterflies to feed on the nectar. Seed-eating birds such as finches and sparrows will come in autumn and over the winter. Beetles, spiders, and other invertebrates will make their homes among the foliage. But it’s not just animals that are drawn in: green roofs can be havens for rare plants or for native plants that are typical of your region.”
Of course, adding a bit of turf over your head is an ancient worldwide tradition. Here’s a couple of especially lovely examples:
The Sod Roofs of Scandinavia: Skansen, Sweden, & Gudbrandsdal, Norway.
For more on green roofs, here are two more excellent resources from our shelves:
Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls by Nigel Dunnett & Noel Kingsbury, Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide by Edmund & Lucie Snodgrass.
Visionary Austrian artist and designer Friedensreich Hundertwasser created several buildings with rooftop garden/forests. Here’s what he had to say about green roofs:
“The true proportions in this world are the views to the stars and the views to the surface of the earth. Grass and vegetation in the city should grow on all the horizontal spaces, that is to say, wherever rain and snow falls vegetation should grow….I’ve worked a great deal with grass roots, putting soil on top and having things grow, but there is something strange in this, more than ecological. It is a religious act to have soil on your roof and trees growing on top of you — the act reconciles you with nature — a very ancient wisdom.“
Definitely NOT a small green roof, but here is Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s Waldspirale (forest spiral), a residential complex in Darmstadt, Germany. Completed in 2000.
So, we’ve established that a roof can be green, but how about the next logical step??