While green roofs are low maintenance, they do require some maintenance in the first two years, though considerably less in the out years.
Many people ask, how do you cut the grass on green roofs? Despite the humorous goat picture, you don't have to, rather maintenance is centered around getting the green roof plants established.
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Generally speaking, there are two types of green roofs, intensive and extensive. Intensive roofs have very large shrubs or trees, while extensive roofs generally have grasses and succulents. Since trees and other larger shrubs have deeper root systems and weigh more, they are subject to more maintenance, while extensive roofs (succulents and grasses) require less.
Urban Design Tools discusses the maintenance topic thoroughly and is a significant source for this post, minus the goats. The establishment period requires watering, fertilizing, weeding, checking for proper drainage, and checking for leaks. Once a roof is established, watering is only required in extreme drought conditions.
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Proper drainage is critical. If the drainage is insufficient, the plants can drown or rot, and the roof could possibly leak. Inspecting for leaks is also critical, especially around the following areas, from UDT:
Areas where occasional inspection for leaks is advisable include possible such as abutting vertical walls, roof vent pipes, outlets, air conditioning units, perimeter areas, etc.
Eventually, the supporting roof will have to be replaced, though, with proper design, installation, and maintenance, should last at least as long as a traditional roof. Considering the energy savings green roofs bring, a green roof is comparably as expensive as a traditional roof.
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Green roofs do require maintenance. Make sure during the establishment phase, that they are properly watered, weeded, and fertilized. Also make sure to inspect drainage and for leaks. While goats aren't necessary, they do make a pleasant aesthetic addition!