Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Brown Roof; a Green Roof Update

Apparently brown is the new green.  This isn't really surprising though, and the golden grasses look appropriately colored for this time of the year.  After a wet and unseasonably cool spring and early summer, it's been hot and dry for weeks and it looks like the same is in store for weeks to come.

Everything is dormant now, in the hills and prairies around Missoula, and in our native plant garden, too, save for some goldenrod (Solidago rigida, and S. canadensis), blanketflower (Gaillardia arristata),  fleabane (Erigeron spp.) and hairy golden aster (Heterotheca villosa)

In my last update about the green roof on July 5, I said I'd water it once a week to get it established.  I didn't.  I guess that is one of the downsides of planting things on a roof is that they are easily overlooked. It is a little startling to look back to the first week of July and see how much the roof has changed- I'd forgotten it was so lush (see photo below).  And that happens every year.

I think the plants are fine, though.  If you look closely through the brown of the roof, a little life is showing itself.

Despite the temperatures in the mid 90's, the days are shorter, the nights longer, and and soon rubber rabbit brush (Ericameria nauseosa) will flower, and that takes us into fall.


  1. Hi David,
    Are you expecting a fall resurgence with the grasses coming out of dormancy, that would be great giving you 2 seasons of interest. I like that you didn't water, I've heard of green roofs requiring much more inputs than originally designed for. It will be interesting to see how your roof plant composition evolves from year to year.

  2. My rooftop on my chicken coop also started looking a little stressed with the heat and drought of the summer... I think I watered it twice, but now it's showing signs of reviving also :)

  3. I've heard of green roofs requiring much more inputs than originally designed for. It will be interesting to see how your roof plant composition evolves from year to year.

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  5. Oh, dried plants really look depressing. You'll really feel pity for the plants. When it comes to green roofs, you should always find time to water the plants. But sometimes, it's really hard to find time, especially when you're busy.

  6. I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award!

  7. For an anecdotal historical perspective on green roofs... We once renovated a log cabin built in the late 1890's on my husband's family ranch. We are in central Wyoming and it is common to have little to no rain in July and August- the hottest months.

    Well, the 1890's cabin had a 'green roof' although I don't think the original builders were trying to be 'green.' The roof was rough sawn planks covered with native soil and native grasses and a few forbs. I never knew if the plants were intentional or just came with the dirt.

    I can assure you the roof was never watered by anything but snow and rain. The natives were surviving, and given the age of the roof, I would assume they had reproduced successfully. They went dormant when it was dry and hot, and revived when cooler, wetter fall temps arrived, and apparently they had been doing so for around 100 years.

  8. The quick change of weather can shorten the life of roofs and plants alike. Planting on roofs is a great idea. Doing that can help reduce the amount of heat the roof absorbs, thus preventing corrosion.

  9. Since it is still winter, do you have any plants suited for this season? If those brown plants were able to survive, then you’re lucky for having an effectively-built green roof. During fall, stored water must have been adequate for their survival. And just like other plants, they would bloom once spring comes. That would surely be a sight to see!

    Corbin Linder

  10. I think this is also great idea of changing some outer look of house by changing its roof color. I like it trick and also try do that similar thing to my house roof also. Thanks for sharing some pics of brown roofs it helps me a lot to get some ideas!!