Guide to Maintaining Your Green Roof

With the rise in environmental consciousness, green roofs have swiftly gained popularity across the UK, presenting an eco-friendly solution that combines sustainability with architectural innovation. In this article, we look at key information relating to maintaining your green roof and some common questions related to the maintanence.

Not only do they contribute to a more pleasant urban aesthetic, they also extend the longevity of your roofing structure, while being instrumental in conserving energy, thanks to their natural insulation properties.

While the initial installation is key, the ongoing care of your green roof is crucial to ensure its continued health and vitality. Fortunately, maintenance demands are moderate, allowing you to reap the numerous advantages of your green roof without a significant investment of time or resources. Let’s explore the essential maintenance tasks that will keep your green roof lush, effective, and damage-free.

maintaining your green roof

Routine Maintenance for a Thriving Green Roof

Managing Plant Overgrowth

Overgrowth of plants on a green roof can find its way into areas it’s not meant for, such as gutters or vents, which in turn can lead to damage or blockages. Vigilance is key to preventing these issues:

  • Regularly inspect your green roof for any vegetation growing beyond its intended area.
  • Should you find sedum or other plants in these areas, simply relocate them to parts of the green roof that may be sparse in vegetation.

Sedum, a popular choice for green roofs due to its hardiness, should adapt swiftly to its new location, ensuring no plants are wasted but simply repositioned.

Perform these checks every few months to ensure your plants remain in their designated spaces.

Efficient Watering Practices

Watering is vital for maintaining the vitality of your green roof.

  • For sedum roofs, resilience is a fort√© and they can often endure long periods without water.
  • More intensive green roofs, with larger flora like bushes, may need watering during prolonged dry spells.
  • Roofs with wildflowers are the most water-dependent and need regular checks during dry weather.

Create a watering schedule based on the length of time without rain and the type of plants on your roof. Always aim to water in the evening to reduce water loss from evaporation.

Rehydration Timeline:

  • 1 week dry: No need for additional water for sedum and often wildflower roofs.
  • 2 weeks dry: Wildflowers and intensive roofs may start to require watering.
  • 3 weeks dry: Increase watering for wildflowers and start to water a sedum roof if the foliage is looking stressed.
  • 4+ weeks dry: Water all plants, taking care not to overdo it if they appear to be coping well.

An irrigation system can ease the process, providing water as needed.

Weed Management

Maintaining flower diversity and plant health on your green roof may sometimes entail controlling weed growth.

Identify Harmful Weeds:

  • Tree Seedlings: These can cause substantial damage due to their robust root systems.
    • Remove promptly to preserve the roof’s integrity.
  • Moss: Common on many roofs, moss can indicate excess moisture or lack of sunlight.
    • Investigate underlying causes such as drainage issues or shaded areas.

Weed management is essential in preserving the biodiverse ecosystem of your green roof and preventing potential damage to the structure below.

Caring for Your Green Roof Membrane

Properly caring for your green roof membrane is vital to prevent water ingress into your building and to safeguard the root systems of the plants above it. To ensure the longevity of your green roof, follow these guidelines:

  • Monitor Watering: Avoid excessive watering to reduce strain on the membrane. Overwatering could, in rare situations, cause leaks or damage.
  • Regular Checks: Routinely inspect your irrigation setup for leaks, which are often the culprit behind additional pressure on the membrane.
  • Inspect for Debris: Keep the drainage system free of debris to allow unobstructed water flow. This involves clearing gutters and rainwater outlet chambers regularly.
  • Lightweight Solutions: Opt for a lightweight membrane where possible to ease the load on your roof structure.
  • Prevent Root Damage: Choose a membrane that resists root penetration to avoid damage from your green roof’s vegetation.

Types of Membranes:

  1. PermaSEAL PRO 8: Ideal for both extensive and intensive green roofs, it also serves well beneath parking areas and walkways.
  2. PermaSEAL PRO 20P: Acts as a water storage and drainage layer, compatible with various roof types, including inverted warm roofs.
  3. PermaSEAL PRO 40: Offers high capacity for drainage and water storage, suitable for extensive green roofs demands.
  • Pebble Borders: Around the perimeter, use pebbles to aid drainage and protect the membrane from weathering.
  • Membrane Testing: Regularly test your membrane for integrity and to ensure the waterproofing layer remains uncompromised.

In the event that substantial damage is identified, a membrane replacement might be necessary, potentially involving significant refurbishment of your green roof. Nevertheless, by choosing a highly durable membrane designed for green roofs, replacement should be a rare occurrence. Remember, these membranes complement but do not replace the primary waterproofing layer that provides the airtight seal for your building.

Indicators of Green Roof Deterioration

Issues with Plant Survival

When plants start disappearing from your green roof, it’s critical to ascertain the cause. An inadequate or incorrectly laid drainage membrane often precipitates this issue by failing to divert water appropriately, leading to waterlogged plants. It’s prudent to inspect for clogs and assess whether the drainage component is functioning optimally.

Frequent footfall over the vegetation can also result in plants dying off, as green roofs aren’t designed for regular pedestrian traffic. Additionally, high winds, particularly in coastal or exposed areas, can damage or displace plants. For locations prone to high winds, opting for robust, ground-covering plants that withstand such conditions is advisable. Incorrect plant selection for the environmental conditions or roof type can further exacerbate plant loss.

Wilting Vegetation on Green Roofs

Drooping plants on your green roof could be the result of either insufficient or excessive watering. If plants are under-watered, especially during dry spells in the summer months, they may begin to wilt. Water the roof and observe if the vegetation recovers by the next day to confirm if lack of water is the problem.

Conversely, over-watering can also lead to droopy plants. In this case, reduce manual watering and allow the natural rainfall to hydrate the plants. Most green roof plants are adapted to thrive with less water, so in a mild climate, they typically don’t require frequent watering.

Leakage Complications

Leaks can be a significant issue in green roofs, potentially causing extensive property damage. Root penetration, caused by incompatible plant selection or a breach in the membrane, is a key culprit. It requires thorough examination of the membrane and, if necessary, a complete replacement.

Over-watering can also lead to leaks if the membrane cannot handle the surplus moisture. This could be a malfunction in the irrigation system or simply too much water retention. High-quality components and correct green roof construction should mitigate risks of leaks, even when subject to heavy rainfall.

Maintaining Modular Green Roof Systems

Modular green roof systems, such as sedum trays, are beneficial in their ease of maintenance. Should a problem arise, individual trays can be effortlessly removed and replaced without disturbing the entire roof setup. Ensuring each tray’s integrity will help curb issues highlighted previously.

To maintain the tray system effectively during extreme weather conditions, regularly examine for signs of exhaustion or damage. During periods when temperatures fluctuate, keep an eye on the moisture levels within each tray, guarding against both drought and over-saturation. Regular inspections and timely interventions will help your green roof withstand even the most adverse weather.

If you would like any help regarding your green roof installation or maintenance, then please contact SPS Roofing Ltd and we’ll be happy to offer assistance.

Commonly Asked Green Roof Upkeep Queries

Expense Considerations for Green Roof Upkeep

Maintaining a green roof typically involves several key expenses such as:

  • Initial assessment: A professional evaluation of the roof’s condition.
  • Regular maintenance: Tasks like weeding, fertilising, and irrigation.
  • Repair costs: Addressing any damage or issues that may arise over time.

How often should the I maintain the green roof?

To keep your green roof flourishing, you should:

  • Perform visual inspections quarterly.
  • Schedule in-depth maintenance twice a year.
  • Ensure immediate action is taken if any urgent problems are detected.

What are the common Green Roof issues and how to fix them?

Some common problems with green roofs and their solutions include:

  • Drainage issues: Ensure regular cleaning of drainage outlets.
  • Plant failure: Replace dead or dying plants to maintain coverage.
  • Weed infestation: Implement periodic weeding to control unwanted growth.

How to extent the lifespan of a green roof?

Regular maintenance can significantly extend your green roof’s life:

  • Protects waterproofing membranes.
  • Prevents root penetration and structural damage.
  • Encourages healthy plant growth, which provides better roof protection.

Looking For A Qualified Roofing Company?

SPS Roofing Ltd is a highly rated roofing company based in Exeter operating across Devon and South West England including Somerset, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Dorset.