Living walls are most commonly installed indoors (but exterior application is also possible). Benefits include improvements to air quality, a reduction in summer heat, and the ability to somewhat muffle sound (install one on that wall between you and your Rock Band-addicted neighbour!). And, of course, they look pretty too!
A living roof is a rooftop green space. If you have a terrace or balcony, it’s as simple as container gardening it yourself with perennials, shrubs and even a tree or three. For unfinished roofs, you can choose from an array of low-maintenance plants that don’t require your getting up onto the roof for greenthumb duties.
Green roofs are a boon to the environment: they release oxygen, reduce smog and pollution, and reduce heat transfer both into the house and back into the atmosphere (thus reducing the Urban Heat Island effect).
Want in? We got answers to the most common questions from wannabe green roofies and wallers from Horace Lee, project coordinator of Toronto’s Green Space Roofing.
styleathome.com: Can I create my own green roof?
Horace Lee, Green Space Roofing: Like any home building project, anyone determined enough can do anything themselves… It just takes time, elbow grease and patience to understand how everything fits together.
However, I’d recommend people engage a specialist not only for efficiency, but also for safety. Professional green roof installers have the know-how to protect your roof and themselves. And they’d have personal safety equipment like a harness, which is not a usual household item, I would assume!
S@H: If the roof isn’t an actual outdoor living space (like a terrace), how do you water the plants?
HL: Popular options are via irrigation lines hidden into the green roof system, via hose if accessible, or by allowing nature to take its course.
S@H: What kinds of plants do well on rooftops?
HL: Just about any plant. But it really depends on how much maintenance you’re willing to put in. Sedums are popular as they’re drought resistant and generally require less maintenance. On more complex green roofs, the mix can range from herbs, wild flowers, trees, bushes, wild grasses and more.
S@H: What kind of maintenance do green roofs require?
HL: In general, monitoring of the plants to ensure they’re adapting well to the environment and removal of foreign plants like weeds. Some clients like their green roofs manicured, which involves trimming the plants. If an irrigation system is set up, we also have to ensure the water content is reasonable.
S@H: How much does a green roof structure weigh?
HL: They generally start from 10 to 15 pounds per square foot and go up.
S@H: And what about pricing?
HL: It depends on the size, type of green roof, type of plants, and complexity of the installation (for example, how easily accessible the roof is, the number of corner features on the roof, whether the roof is flat or sloped). A simple flat green roof installation will start at about $15 per square foot.