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Living Roofs

One of our most innovative projects at Hood Landscaping has been the living roof we installed at a property out in Silverthorne. We worked with Jorg Breuning of Green Roof Technology, a renowned specialist in building living roofs. He helped us plan out how to approach the construction process and lent his expertise to designing the layout.

Here’s the finished house.

Living roofs are roofs covered with natural vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproof lining. They serve a lot of purposes, including absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, and in some cases, providing additional space for growing food. Living roofs have become trendier in big cities like New York and Chicago, where there isn’t much space for planting. Living roofs last longer than conventional roofs, lower carbon emissions by reducing the need for heating/cooling systems, and provide an attractive and harmonious look to a living space.

Before you can plant on a roof, you need to make sure the roof can even hold plants! This roof had to be rebuilt in order to hold soil and vegetation.

After the roof was rebuilt, we laid down liners to keep the irrigated water from leaking through the roof, followed by a layer of volcanic rock. On top of that we put some soil, which we lifted up onto the roof by crane.

Flat as can be.

Jorg and Ryan unloading soil

Once the roof was ready, we started planting! The goal was to use mostly xeriscape plants –or plants that don’t consume much water, so as to be more sustainable. We chose a variety of brightly colored, vibrant plants that will do great in the high-altitude environment. My favorites are the yarrow and sagebrush, because they blend so well into the natural vegetation on the hills surrounding the house.

Getting to work on planting

By this time, it was almost snow season, so we came back in the spring to replant and finish irrigation. The plants are thriving up there in the sun and we think the property looks great!

Sagebrush and yellow yarrow!

We also did some nice landscaping at ground level, including a beautiful water feature and a couple of planting beds with a dry stream bed for drainage.

Working away on that water feature

Garden and drainage

Resources about living roofs:

Green Roofs, a non-profit helping increase awareness of the benefits of living roofs

One of the coolest living roofs at the California Academy of Sciences (in my hometown, San Francisco!)

National Geographic article about rooftop farming in New York City