Taking care of your green roof does more than keep it pretty, but do you know how to do so for maximum benefit?
Maintenance is an important part of any living system. When we cultivate something, we must keep cultivating it in order for it to survive – and offer the benefits we’re looking for.
Green roof, rain garden, bioswale, even a nature-scaped yard … these are all natural habitats forced into populated areas. Even with the right mix of native plants, these systems are unlikely to survive on their own within the milieu of human habitation.
So today’s question is: How can you maintain your green roof for maximum benefits? How should you think about maintenance in the first place, what benefits are we talking about, and how can you achieve them?
It starts with a better definition of maintenance.
Stewardship: A Better Way to Think About Maintenance
The words we use have power.
Unfortunately, not all those words use their power for good.
Consider the word maintenance, which carries overtones of regularity, scheduling, rules, inflexibility. As you know, however, the natural world is not a regular place. Adverse conditions such as weather and disease arise; plants drift into organic and irregular formations; animals settle where they will. There exist patterns, but there are few rules.
When we try to “maintain” systems with regular and unchanging care, we fight against the natural order.
Stewardship, rather than maintenance, is the right approach. The main difference between maintenance and stewardship is that the latter involves a working partnership with the green system, one that takes its changing needs into account on an ongoing basis.
With this approach, you keep a green roof much healthier, and so reap far more of its benefits.
What Are the Main Green Roof Benefits?
So what are the benefits you’re trying to maximize when it comes to green roofs? There are quite a few, including:
- Better air and water quality
- Reduced amounts of stormwater rushing into sewers and waterways
- Protection of the building envelope
- Increased property values
- Reduction of the health-harmful urban heat island effect
- Energy savings across the city as a result
- Energy savings in the floor below the green roof
- Habitat for native plants and animals
… to name some of the most important. However, none of these benefits accrues if you are not very careful to monitor the green roof, provide care where necessary and ameliorate any problems as they arise.
That means a consistent stewardship schedule, visiting the roof often enough to note harmful changes in the system in time to prevent further damage. Again, it’s not enough simply to visit and maintain … you must always ask what the roof needs, then provide it.
How Do You Achieve Those Benefits with Ongoing Stewardship?
Getting the most from a green roof means a) taking care of the plants and b) taking care of the layers underneath the vegetation. In order to achieve each of the above benefits, you must:
- Keep plants healthy and supplied with nutrients
- Respond to weather challenges and disaster immediately
- Ensure the drainage layer and waterproof membrane are sound
- Test soil or soilless media to ensure it’s still doing its job
- Replace plants as necessary
- Check plant, mammal and insect life for signs of ecosystem imbalance
Unfortunately, unless you have a green roof professional walking your roof at least four times a year, it will prove very difficult indeed to check off this list of tasks.
How Do You Get Started with Better Green Roof Maintenance?
That makes it critical you get in touch with a green roofing expert today.
Here at Ecogardens, it is our distinguished pleasure to work with business owners, managers and private citizens to steward healthy green roofs and revive ailing ones when necessary. No matter what kind of partnership you’re looking for – both with your roof and with its caretaker – we are happy to provide it.
Want to learn more? Get in touch.