Tips For Converting Your Flat Roof To A Living Roof

If you've been thinking about installing a flat roof on your home, this is the perfect time to transform it into something truly unique and environmentally friendly. A living roof is a roof that's covered in plants of various kinds. You can plant ground cover, flowers, or even produce if your roof is accessible enough for harvest. Before you make the final decision, here's a look at some of what you should know about choosing plants for your new living roof.

Consider The Soil Weight

When you're planting on a living roof, you need to remember that everything that goes on the roof adds weight. Since this is a serious concern for your home's structural integrity, you'll want to reduce weight everywhere you can. One place to do that is in the choice of the soil that you use. Choose something loamy so that it's airy and lightweight. It means choosing plants that don't need dense soil, but it reduces the weight on your roof significantly compared to traditional potting soil.

Think About The Planting Structure

Anything you construct on a flat roof is going to need drainage channels to ensure that you don't have pooling water on the roof. Since pooling water leads to roof leaks, this is an important consideration. Talk to your roofing contractor about the benefit of building an elevated planting space so that you can add sloped drainage paths at the base. Route the drainage into your gutters so that it flows away from the house.

Make Sure You Add Protective Barriers

Before your roofers lay the new roof and add the planters, make sure that the design incorporates a water-safe barrier beneath it. That way, any water that does overflow the drainage channels isn't going to penetrate the roof and cause costly water damage.

You'll also want garden fabric beneath the planting spaces to protect the soil and plant roots from any chemicals that might leech out of the roofing materials or other debris. As an added bonus, that garden fabric will also serve as a weed barrier, letting the plants you choose thrive while the weeds are unable to germinate.

Select Plants Carefully

While you're planning out the structure with your roofer, talk with him or her about what the best choice is for plants that won't add too much weight to the roof and also won't threaten the structure with invasive roots. Look for lightweight plants that have shallow, gentle root systems. That way, you don't have to worry about anything potentially trying to root beyond the planting structure. Invasive, strong root systems can be trouble for your home's roof. Your roofer will let you know how vulnerable your roof is so that you can choose your plants accordingly.

Things like wide-sprawling plants, wildflowers, shallow-rooting herbs like Thyme, and even some drought-tolerant grasses are great for roof planting. Just make sure that you don't plant something that needs a lot of water or doesn't do well in direct sunlight. Rooftop planting is a somewhat harsh environment, so you want to be sure you're choosing something hardy that can stand up to the abuse without you needing to babysit it all the time.

With a little bit of preparation, some thorough understanding, and the help of the right roofer, you can turn your flat roof into a rooftop garden. When you want the opportunity to give back to the environment and make your home stand out in the neighborhood, this is a great way to go. Make sure you plan your planting boxes, soil, drainage, and barriers carefully, then plant something that will hold up to the exposure. For more help, talk with a roofing contractor, like one at Fischer Roofing - Flat Roof Pros, today.