Doug and I have had several houses with shingle roofs and even lived in a house with a thatched roof in the Netherlands, but a living roof is a whole new beast. In fact, it seems a lot like having a pet.
In review, we craned about 3 inches of top soil onto the roof.
We watered it regularly and sat back to watch it grow. It took a lot of watering – more than we gave it in some areas – because this has been a brutally hot dry summer in Southwestern Wisconsin. It did grow, but the grasses didn’t look much like Sideoats Grama Grass or June Grass.
People keep asking us how we are going to mow it, and in fact, we don’t intend to – once the prairie grasses are established. But, being newbies, we were a little too happy just to watch it turn green. Gradually we began to realize that we should scythe these rogue grasses.
I was a little hesitant to go up on our roof with a scythe, and we were very careful about where we set our feet when scything along the edges (also when scything near the watering hoses). We have our sprinklers set up on old milk crates so they weren’t overwhelmed by the tall grass surrounding them.
Hopefully we did not act too late.
As always, it’s wonderful to be up on the roof, looking out across our valley, and it took less than an hour to scythe the opportunistic grass we that we don’t recognize, rake it up and tossed it off the roof.
With any luck, next year, the prairie seeds will make their appearance, and our roof will get some stability. The prairie grasses should be more drought resistant, and gradually we will probably add more types of plant as we get more ideas. It has been a blistering summer, and we stayed pretty comfortable without air conditioning — I’m sure part of the reason is that our roof was using that solar energy to grow grass instead of convert to heat.
If we did it right, it is going to last much longer than asphalt shingles, and even longer than a metal roof.
What do you think about sod roofs?
Do they seem too far out there?
Would you consider one for your next place?