Book Review: Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls

Planting Green Roofs and Living WallsI received Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls in the mail to review and I was surprised to discover that I had actually already read it. Well, kind of… I read the 1st edition, which is kind of like the difference between King Kong (1933) and King Kong (2005). Both are great in their own right, but the second edition was updated, with additional bells and whistles.

I first read this book after I had the fantastic idea that I would put a green roof on my house. I went to the library, got every book that I could find on the subject and read them all voraciously. I enthusiastically showed the pictures in the books to my husband who then poured a huge bucket of cold reality on my green roof. I didn’t quite understand everything he said, but there were terms like lode bearing and roof angle and hauling A LOT of dirt. I stopped listening at that point. Construction terms are just not my forte. While I rule the roost on many things, my husband has the final say on building projects. He did promise that if we put a shed in the back, I could green roof it to my heart’s content.

Aerial view of ClevelandMy failed fantasy projects aside, green roofs are an awesome idea. Take a look at this aerial view of Cleveland. Notice something missing? Like the color green?

These buildings cover the surface of the land with metal and man made rock. They absorb heat like a sponge and deflect precipitation like a Scotch Guard. But, many times they have roofs that are flat and serve no other purpose than… than… absorbing heat and deflecting rain. They are not so much bad as a fact of modern life.

The idea of green roofs is that we can have our cake and eat it too. You cover that flat unused building tops with a meadow (or other kind of garden) and return the square footages of green space in a given area to what it once was. Even if the new green space is a few dozen stories up.

Really any building, short or tall, can take advantage of green roofs and Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls is a good place to start to learn more about it if you are thinking about converting a building or building a new structure with a green roof.

I will warn you that this is a heavy book, in terms of knowledge and verbiage. It is no really a guide for the casual interest, but a book that you would probably read, feel confused for half of it but more confident in the idea when you handed it over to your architect and sat down to talk about it.

What you will not find in this book is a step by step guide on how you can convert your roof to a green roof. That’s because a green roof is not a weekend project (unless you intend to put it on a shed in your back yard). The average green roof requires the input of an architect, who can assess the needs of that style of roof and recommend the appropriate changes to the building, which will probably need to be implemented by a professional contractor.

The book does provide a handy plant guide to help you select vegetation for a green roof.

I still want to build a green roof on some kind of structure, though it will probably end up being a shed that I will someday get built in the backyard. But, if you are building a new home and you are looking to incorporate some green ideas, give green roofs and Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls some consideration.

P.S. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There is info in the book about living walls too. I didn’t have any walls I wanted to cover with plants, so I kinda skimmed over that info.

P.P.S. Stop back tomorrow and I will have an interview with Noel Kingsbury, one of the authors of this book.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls
  1. I have always been fond of the vine-covered roofs I seen in photos of cottages in the English countryside. But I don’t think it would play so well on my house, but maybe I could find something to cover up the heinously ugly aluminum siding. Thanks for the review. :)

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  2. I’ve always liked the idea of a green roof and it’s definitely something that I plan to create when I finally have my own place.

    I don’t think my upstairs neighbours would be too happy if I climbed up on theirs and stripped it all off!

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  3. You will be happy to know that the plans for the new building for the Cleveland Institute of Art include a green roof.

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