DIY Green Roofs

So after much research and consideration, I have decided that I want to make my own modules for the project. This will probably save money, but there are other reasons for wanting to do this.

  1. I can use expanded clay in the soil mixture or Gaia Soil in the trays as opposed to the not great for the planet or weight of the modules slate that is used in the commercial mixtures.
  2. I can try a few different seedum mixtures as well as try mixing in some different plant types – like native flowers or herbs that don’t require a lot of depth.
  3. I can share the “how-to” so that people can make their own!
“Green” Roof_5-29-08, originally uploaded by jimbrickett.

This is very exciting to me! I have to thank Hans Hesselein for getting me started on researching the DIY green roof options. I found a great resource of information on the Reclaimed Home blog.

Now I have to find a garden apartment (or one with roof/terrace) to move into so that I can get to work on planting the modules – anyone?


  1. My daughter, a 2yr old, has been insisting that we hang out on the roof, so I joked with my wife that it would be a great gardening spot. She is not amused. I would love to do something like this.

  2. Hey Frank – I have to agree with you & your 2yr old – I think roofs are great gardening spots! They certainly present some specific challenges in regards to heat, sun, weight & water – but you are increasing your growing surface, protecting your roof (if done right) and having some ecological benefits too.

    I think your 2yr old is on to something here!

  3. My 2yr old is smarter than she lets on. She does enjoy hanging out in the garden. Now if I could only get her to stop picking vegetables before they are ready.

    The one thing about this roof system that we need to remember is that we have to look at the framing in the attic. The support structure has to be able to handle the additional weight.

  4. I am planning to grow a 6 square foot yard on a roof terrace at my apartment in Brooklyn. It is a newer asphalt roof with low parapet walls and a domed roof drain. I will put grass up to three of the walls with one edge of grass exposed. I plan on putting down a thin layer of gravel then a couple of inches of seeding dirt then rolls of sod. The home depot is right behind my building, I can bring it all home in a shopping cart. I will keep a watering can out there ready to go and water often. Do you have any tips for me?

  5. Hey Brian-

    Very excited that you are doing your own green roof! I would definitely check out this site: to learn more about that diy roof. I think my concern with your plans are a) you need a waterproof/root barrier to protect the roof and b) weight – most new nyc roofs are graded at 35 lbs psf dead weight (I think that is the right number). You will also want to check your roof for any existing leaks as this could exacerbate the situation.

    I am not at all an expert – not even terribly well versed – on green roofing, I am working with professionals who know a lot more than me 🙂 I would highly encourage more research on the subject before you get started!

    Good luck and send pictures!

  6. Green roofs are this year’s little black dress! (the gals will get that joke!) All kidding aside, green roof’s are making a nice in road into society. Let’s hope they just keep coming!

  7. Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner

  8. when what leaks? the modules do have holes in them, but there is a waterproof barrier between them & the roof. green roofs actually reduce roof leaks and wear and tear on roofs from general weather. they extend the life of a roof!

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