Go Green with a Green Roof in Philly

Looking for more ways to go green in Philadelphia? If you live in a rowhouse with a relatively flat roof, one option might be to install a green roof. A green roof offers several benefits, including reducing stormwater runoff and improving air quality.

In the middle of a rainstorm in Philadelphia, water tends to pour off the flat roofs of rowhouses, filling stormwater drains to capacity and putting a strain on the city’s system. There is a solution to this problem, though, and it’s a solution that solves a few other problems, too: Adding a green roof to the top of a rowhouse in Philadelphia cuts down on the amount of rainwater that pours off roofs during storms. The greenery also helps cool the air in the heat of summer and can extend the life of the roof, by reducing its exposure to sunlight and to temperature fluctuations. Whether you are in the process of looking for a home in Philly or already own your property, consider adding a green roof to make your home a bit more eco-friendly.

Evaluate Your Roof

Although green roofs might weigh less than you think, they aren’t weightless and can put stress on your roof. Before you begin the project, it’s a good idea to make sure your roof is in good enough condition to handle the weight of the green roof. The Philadelphia Water Department recommends hiring a structural engineer to evaluate your roof’s condition and to give you the go-ahead to install the greenery. If your roof isn’t in a good condition, the project might require replacing or strengthening it before you add the green system.

Choose a Style

There are typically two styles of green roof. An extensive system is generally lower maintenance than an intensive system (which can often include trees or shrubs and is designed to handle foot traffic). According to Green Roof Works, a green roofing installation company in Philadelphia, intensive roof systems can be up to 12 inches thick and can weigh up to 120 pounds per square foot.

Extensive systems are what people tend to think about when they think about green roofs and they are the more popular option, according to Green Roof Works. An extensive system usually weighs between 10 and 50 pounds per square foot and can be as shallow as two inches deep. The system isn’t designed to be walked on or used for recreation.

Pick the Plants

It’s important to choose the right plants for the roof. The conditions up there can be a little rough, from harsh winds to extreme temperatures. The medium used to grow the plants might not be particularly fertile. Most roof systems use sedums or succulents, which can handle low water conditions, strong winds, and temperature extremes. Certain herbs, such as chives, might also be a good pick for a roof.

Although you can’t ignore the plants entirely, those that demand little attention will perform best on the roof. Look for shallow-rooted plants, too, as you don’t want the roots of the plant breaking through the barrier and damaging your actual roof.

Keeping Up the Roof

Once the roof is installed, you’ll have to provide some care to it, especially in the first year. If it hasn’t rained in a few weeks, it’s a good idea to water the plants, so that they can get established in the soil medium. Keep an eye out for any weeds or plants that have migrated from their original position. You may have to pull a few weeds to avoid damaging the actual roof of your home.

While it’s not the same as planting a garden, adding greenery to your roof can help you save money and enjoy a cooler, more comfortable home and a more comfortable city.

Image Source: Flickr


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1 Comment

  1. Go Green with a Green Roof in Philly | Donna Dagley's Blog
    December 2, 2014

    […] Once the roof is installed, you’ll have to provide some care to it, especially in the first year. If it hasn’t rained in a few …read more […]


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