How to build a living roof from recycled material

When building my latest cottage that I live in I was quoted $7,000 for the roof by a supplier (which is incidentally what it eventually cost me for the entire cottage – see my article on my $7,000 home).

So I decided to do it myself. The idea was to create a “living roof” which is comprised of a layer of dirt and either grass or sod. A grass roof offers excellent temperature control, low maintenance, and has a long life compared to other options.

The farm has plenty of alien trees around me (Australian black wattle) that choke the water supply and flow of the river. Since these need to be cleared anyway, I took the initiative and spent 2 weeks clearing saplings, stripping them of the bark and then using them for rafters. They make sturdy and reliable building material and dry into a lovely reddish colour. The centre beam was made from a poplar tree I felled in preparation for the cottage’s foundation.

Coffee bags from a local brewery provided ceiling decor. And to cover the roof I used second-hand lumber for sheeting, covered by old carpet squares for insulation and a layer of heavy duty plastic and landscaping fabric which provide a watertight seal to plant the grass on top of.

I used planks to create a raised border around the perimeter and then filled the roof with roughly 4-6 inches of soil. After that I took sod that I had cut from the workspace prior to laying the foundation and laid the final layer. 

All I need to do is water occasionally and trim if it becomes too overgrown. 

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