Careful stewardship of your green roof means frequent site inspections to ensure its health and stability, but how often should they occur?
If you build it … they will come. “They” being the birds, butterflies, insects and other fauna that inhabit green roofs across our fair cities.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Green roofs need careful balancing. A green roof's purpose is to mimic nature in a very condensed profile. You have deep soil profiles in nature, around 2 feet on average, but we’re asking the same type of natural habitat to perform in only 6 inches, and often less. That's a big ask.
In other words, they need our help maintaining balance. While an established green roof does settle into a low-maintenance equilibrium, there’s no such thing as a no-maintenance system, no matter what some green roofers will tell you beforehand.
Just ask anyone who’s ever dropped tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a project, then let it “take care of itself” for a few years.
Spoiler alert: It won’t. Which is where green roof site inspections come in.
Why Green Roof Site Inspections?
Site inspections are a crucial component of ongoing green roof stewardship.
Why “stewardship” and not “maintenance,” you may or may not be wondering? Because the former implies partnership with the system, an ongoing effort to keep it in balance before anything goes wrong. It is proactive.
Maintenance, on the other hand, is reactive. It implies that you can keep a roof healthy with routine services that don’t take its season-to-season, moment-to-moment needs into account. Not so.
That’s where site inspections come in.
When you put boots on the ground (or in the sky, as it were), you get a much clearer picture of how the roof is doing and what it needs. From soil health to plant balance to weed checks, an inspection will tell you what you need to know.
Then the question becomes, how often?
Get a Site Inspection: Every Few Months After Installation
The first year after installation, its important your green roofer stay intimately involved with the roof. Many of the plants are still maturing, and a little extra TLC will ensure they stay hale and hearty over the long run.
Your green roofer will also check that the drainage layers are functioning perfectly, the roofing media is pH-balanced and the roof can still bear the weight well. This not only protects your investment – i.e. the cost outlay from building the roof – it help protects the building as well.
Get a Site Inspection: 3-6 Times a Year for Routine Stewardship
After a year or so, if everything looks good, you can back off to three times a year, minimum. In some cases, the roof may become pretty self-sustaining, and won’t need a lot of extra nurse-maiding.
In others, however, it will continue to require stewardship regularly. This is especially true in harsh environments, such as exposed rooftops or those sited dozens of stories up, where wind and cold become major factors. Neglecting the roof in such cases can result in major wind erosion, plant die-off and other unpleasant side effects.
Luckily, there’s no need to guess. A professional can suggest the proper frequency at the time of the build or when you schedule your inspection.
Get a Site Inspection: Whenever Worry You There’s a Problem
If you think something is wrong, don’t wait for the next green roof site inspection. Not only can waiting have disastrous consequences for your plant and animal community, it can mean hundreds or thousands more dollars than you would otherwise have paid for stewardship that year.
Think about how many macchiatos that equates to (roughly 250). Think about how many rescue cats that is (about 10). Think about how many lab-grown diamonds you could buy (like, one fifth of one diamond … bad example).
Point being? It’s a lot of money you could spend elsewhere instead. So don’t wait. If you notice:
- Runaway weeds
- Unseasonal plant die-off
- Roof leaks
- Standing water
- Invasive plants
Oh, you need someone right now? Ecogardens is happy to help. Just get in touch today.