An Introduction to Green Roofs

What is a Green Roof?

A green roof, as the name implies, is a greenery-clad roofing system predominantly found on flat roofs, but pitched variations are also on the rise in popularity in many areas of the world. In the UK, however, flat green roofs are more popular, and can be found on an increasing number of buildings in both urban and rural environments. Usually made up of various trays containing an abundance of plant life, they are (for the most part) self-sustaining, and grow and evolve as time goes on to be more effective and visually appealing.

Green roofs can actually be traced back to ancient times and were especially popular in Northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden right up to the modern era. In fact, the UK has been notably slower than other countries in catching up on the green roof trend, but with both commercial and residential properties starting to take up green roofing, that is now changing. Several cities around the country are especially welcoming of green roofs, including London and Sheffield.

What are the Benefits of a Green Roof?

There is a plethora of benefits to installing a green roof onto your property. Primarily, green roofs are incredibly beneficial to the environment. Cities continue to expand, taking up more and more of our green spaces throughout England, Scotland and Wales, and when we lose this green space, we also lose the plants and animals that once thrived there. Green roofs are a way of ensuring that ecosystems have a chance at continuing even with urban expansion, giving a home to various plants, insects and birds, some of which are becoming increasingly rare as their habitats disappear.

Another benefit to having a green roof is that it works as a natural drainage system. As the rain falls, instead of pooling and causing leaks and other types of damage to your building, it is absorbed by the soil and plants in your green roof. Any excess water will either be stored by soil or will trickle down into your drainage system without overwhelming it. While a drainage system will still be required, the green roof will serve as a valuable relief for your structure, especially on flat roofs where water collection is a very common issue.

While there are numerous practical benefits, the overall visual appeal of your roof cannot be understated. With an abundance of possible flowers, plants and shrubbery which can be supplied for your roof, it will look fantastic at all times of the year. While looking unquestionably bright and vivid in the summer, it will still maintain a lush, green appearance even during the peak of winter, with the flowers returning into bloom in mid to late springtime. The trays walls will ensure that no matter how successful your green roof is, it will never overgrow the boundaries you have set for it, and by attracting pollinating insects such as bees, the ecosystem is completely self-sustaining.

How Does a Green Roof Work?

Your green roof will be functional as soon as it is installed. The plants will most likely start off fairly small but will grow considerably both in size and number as time goes on. At first, the trays that make up your green roof will resemble pieces of a jigsaw, with clear lines in between each tray. However, over time the plants within each tray will grow and spread, eventually resulting in a seamless green surface across your roof. You won’t need to worry too much about them overgrowing, though – the plants are sedums, and will require minimal maintenance as they grow to limited heights and are restrained from spreading out by the trays they come in.

A green roof’s main purpose is to provide a self-sustaining ecosystem that encourages life where it otherwise would not be able to grow. This ecosystem will benefit you and the environment in multiple ways, including producing oxygen and preventing damage to your roof caused by rain. It will also add an extra layer of natural insulation, keeping your home noticeably warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Where can I Find a Green Roof?

Here at Roofing Megastore, we offer the Wallbarn M-Tray, one of the leading names in UK green roofing. With this innovative system, you can buy 1m x 1m trays that are filled with a variety of beautiful flowering plants that will cover your roof in a palette of different colours. From the vivid yellow Sedum Organum to the deep pink Sedum Spurium and pale white Sedum Album, the M-tray flower selection comes with enough visual appeal to add character to any property.

With M-Trays, you get the benefit of the latest in green roof technology along with specially picked vegetation that offers long lifespans and excellent growth rates. M-Tray installation is quick and easy, especially when compared to competing green roof brands. The strong roots of the plants mean that there is far less dependence on irrigation.

Are Green Roofs Difficult to Install and Maintain?

Green roofs are getting easier and easier to apply and look after. Historically, green roofs were much more difficult to maintain due to the ineffective methods of preventing water leakage and flora control, leading to very damp, overgrown roofs. However, this was many decades ago, and since then several manufacturers have strived to improve on an innovative idea in order to make it as simple and straightforward to oversee as possible.

Certain brands such as the aforementioned M-Tray are particularly great for those with little experience of installing and maintaining green roofs. Using simple features such as a ‘click and connect’ interlocking system that connects the trays, and a set tray size that simplifies the planning of your roof layout, it is used by professionals and amateur DIY enthusiasts alike.

It is worth noting, however, that green roof trays can be very heavy, especially a few months after installation when the plants have had time to grow. We strongly recommend using them strictly on stronger roofs and advise that you ensure your roof is capable of supporting a green roof before attempting to install one.

How long do Green Roofs Last?

Green roofs have a life expectancy of around 40 to 50 years, giving them a lifespan that outperforms a number of alternative roofing options considerably. This long lifespan can be attributed to several decisions made in the design and production processes of the latest green roof products. First of all, the plants featured are carefully selected with durability and longer lifespans in mind. Should the plants die, their fast seed production rate means more will quickly take its place.

The materials that make up the trays that are implemented into most UK green roof systems are also strong and resistant and have a long lifespan.

We hope that this guide has been a helpful introduction to the green roofing industry. Please don’t forget to have a browse through our selection of green roofing products and accessories, which will provide you with everything you need to install and maintain the perfect green roof.

Best of luck!

Have Further Questions About Green Roofs?

If you need to know more, don’t hesitate to contact our team here at Roofing Megastore. They will do their best to help you find out everything you need to know in order to tackle your roofing project. Simply call us on 01295 565565, email us or chat to us online.