Many people assume that green roofs are self-sustaining systems, but in fact they need continuous care to remain healthy and efficient.
It takes more than rainfall and prayers to ensure green roof health.
Unfortunately, while our sense of environmentalism develops by the day – and we’re seeing an explosion of green roofs as a result – too few people are talking about what it takes to keep a roof green after it’s built.
As in, once we implement a living system, how can we ensure that it remains balanced over time?
The overarching answer is stewardship: routine check-ins that ensure a green roof is performing as expected, that plants are safe and protected, and that animal communities are flourishing. Do this, and you’ll see major benefits from green roof health.
Without further ado, here are five benefits of regular stewardship:
1. Fights Invasive Species Takeover
Invasive species are constantly seeking a foothold anywhere they can get it, and green roofs are no exception.
Oxalis, for instance, is a particular problem in the Midwest. Not only can it take over from the species intentionally planted on the roof, it can even cannibalize roofing media and other surfaces.
Not good for green roof health, folks. Not good at all.
Regular stewardship can identify and root out problem plants before they take hold, helping ensure ongoing success of the roof and minimizing expensive rescue missions down the road.
2. Protects Plant Diversity
Even if you don’t get an invasive species takeover, green roof plants still require nurturing to stay in balance.
While a good green roofer won’t fuss over plant migration – we assume that species seek the best habitats for themselves – we do want to keep the right ratio and spacing of plants. Otherwise you’ll get bare patches here, clumping there and reduced green roof health altogether.
3. Reduces the Need for Pesticides/Herbicides
When you weed, fertilize and adjust your environment as necessary, you have to spend less time managing outbreaks. That includes:
… and other potentially damaging situations. Then, instead of resorting to chemical solutions, you can make the small adjustments needed to improve green roof health.
4. Safeguards Animal Communities
Any time you have a seriously ill green roof that needs emergency care, chances are you’re going to have to overhaul the system.
Spoiler alert: Major disruption isn’t great for the plants and animals that already live there. If you want to protect urban ecology and ensure healthy insect communities – not to mention birds and microorganisms – it’s important you minimize disruption.
That in turn means you must maximize stewardship. By checking in regularly, you can adjust as necessary to keep the green roof healthy without making drastic changes that affect urban ecology.
5. Ensures Functional Components and Structural Integrity
Believe it or not, the infrastructure used to build the green roof is just as important as the plants growing atop it.
Drainage layers, waterproofing membranes and other rooftop systems help a) protect the building envelope from the elements, b) ensure that the system functions as expected and c) maintain stormwater management effectiveness.
Without regular checkups, though, things can get wacky.
Or downright disastrous. In the latter situation – such as when the waterproofing barrier gets pierced or a drain clogs – thousands of dollars of damage can result. Who wants to pay that when they could take the much more affordable route of regular stewardship?
No one, that’s who.
So, ready to learn more about how stewardship impacts green roof health and what you can do to safeguard your system today?
We’d love to help. Ecogardens has three decades’ experience building and nurturing green systems, and we’d love to help you keep yours fighting fit today.
All you have to do is get in touch.