Living Roof in Turkey — THE MUD

Living Roof in Turkey - THE MUD

Make an Earth Roof !

Come on, don’t be a stick in the mud. y ou know you want to .

When you tell most builders you’re about to embark on an earth — or living — roof, you can expect a narrowing of eyes and some ferocious quizzing on the size of your rafters. Not without good reason. Living roofs are incredibly heavy. Add a good slosh of rainwater to the mix and you’re suddenly looking at the equivalent of an elephant sitting on your roof.

But apart from the weight issue there are so many advantages to a living roof. They offer;

  • Fantastic, non-toxic insulation against heat and cold.
  • Protection of your roof membrane from frost or sunlight.
  • A beautiful green roof top which blends into the environment.
  • Value for money. Living roofs are very cheap to make.
  • Protection from all sorts of bad stuff: Sound, fire, hurricanes, radiation and military spy planes.

There are many different kinds of living roof. Even if you have a wide span roof (like mine) there are a few ways to get around the weight problem. It all rests on good drainage, and where exactly you put that earth.

Intensive and Extensive

An intensive earth roof, Turkey.

The 2 main types of earth roof are Intensive and Extensive .

Intensive roofs are heavy, fat devils with soil more than 4 inches thick. You can grow pretty much anything on there, from grass to bushes and even small trees.They are easy to maintain once constructed.

Obviously, for this kind of roof you need to be damn sure of your rafters.

Extensive roofs are thinner and easier to make, but need more maintenance (ie. watering). They can be anywhere from 1-4 inches thick and support only certain types of plant.

More details on earth roofs in this in this great article from the Huffington Post.

Sold on the idea? Ok, here’s how to make one.

Mine is an extensive living roof on a house with a wide (7m) span

1. Make sure your roof can handle the weight. In my case because the span is wide and the walls of my house (earthbag) incredibly strong, I chose to leave a space in the centre of the roof. This way the load is mostly carried by the walls.

2. Lay roofing felt (membrane) first as your main waterproofing element.

3. Add a couple of layers of plastic to prevent roots and seeds burrowing into the membrane (We found pine seeds buried into the membrane after only 2 months!).

4. Depending on the slope of your roof you need a drainage layer. Small stones, pumice or shingle would do the job here. As mine has quite a tilt and only 5 cm earth on the edges, we ditched the drainage layer. I would note here that I paid for this error a couple of days later.

5. We put down kilims (thin Turkish woven carpets) but you could also use blankets. This is for the roots to take hold in, to retain some water for the soil, and prevent stones from ripping the plastic.

6. Next shovel on the earth. We had a three-step system.

  • Digger (Celal)
  • Lifter (Kieran)
  • Depositer (me)
  • We worked out that between us we had lifted 2 tons of earth onto the roof in a day:) As Kieran neatly put it, "That’s the equivalent of an elephant flattened like a pancake."

    7. Now you need to squash the earth down with something heavy. We found a strange marble cylinder of unknown purpose at our neighbour’s house and used that.

    8. As soon as it rains, check the water is draining off the roof. If it’s not you’ve got an elephant plus a lake on your roof. This is exactly what happened to me, thus I was to be found shoveling off earth in the pouring rain to make a temporary outflow channel. In my case the drainage was only necessary at the back of the roof.

    9. Plant. I put in some succulents, crawlers, cactus and other plants with small or no root systems.

    The earth roof team in action.

    Make an Earth Roof !

    Come on, don’t be a stick in the mud. y ou know you want to .

    Living Roof in Turkey - THE MUD

    When you tell most builders you’re about to embark on an earth — or living — roof, you can expect a narrowing of eyes and some ferocious quizzing on the size of your rafters. Not without good reason. Living roofs are incredibly heavy. Add a good slosh of rainwater to the mix and you’re suddenly looking at the equivalent of an elephant sitting on your roof.

    But apart from the weight issue there are so many advantages to a living roof. They offer;

    • Fantastic, non-toxic insulation against heat and cold.
    • Protection of your roof membrane from frost or sunlight.
    • A beautiful green roof top which blends into the environment.
    • Value for money. Living roofs are very cheap to make.
    • Protection from all sorts of bad stuff: Sound, fire, hurricanes, radiation and military spy planes.

    There are many different kinds of living roof. Even if you have a wide span roof (like mine) there are a few ways to get around the weight problem. It all rests on good drainage, and where exactly you put that earth.

    Intensive and Extensive

    An intensive earth roof, Turkey.

    The 2 main types of earth roof are Intensive and Extensive .

    Intensive roofs are heavy, fat devils with soil more than 4 inches thick. You can grow pretty much anything on there, from grass to bushes and even small trees.They are easy to maintain once constructed.

    Obviously, for this kind of roof you need to be damn sure of your rafters.

    Extensive roofs are thinner and easier to make, but need more maintenance (ie. watering). They can be anywhere from 1-4 inches thick and support only certain types of plant.

    More details on earth roofs in this in this great article from the Huffington Post.

    Sold on the idea? Ok, here’s how to make one.

    Mine is an extensive living roof on a house with a wide (7m) span

    1. Make sure your roof can handle the weight. In my case because the span is wide and the walls of my house (earthbag) incredibly strong, I chose to leave a space in the centre of the roof. This way the load is mostly carried by the walls.

    2. Lay roofing felt (membrane) first as your main waterproofing element.

    3. Add a couple of layers of plastic to prevent roots and seeds burrowing into the membrane (We found pine seeds buried into the membrane after only 2 months!).

    4. Depending on the slope of your roof you need a drainage layer. Small stones, pumice or shingle would do the job here. As mine has quite a tilt and only 5 cm earth on the edges, we ditched the drainage layer. I would note here that I paid for this error a couple of days later.

    5. We put down kilims (thin Turkish woven carpets) but you could also use blankets. This is for the roots to take hold in, to retain some water for the soil, and prevent stones from ripping the plastic.

    6. Next shovel on the earth. We had a three-step system.

    • Digger (Celal)
  • Lifter (Kieran)
  • Depositer (me)
  • We worked out that between us we had lifted 2 tons of earth onto the roof in a day:) As Kieran neatly put it, "That’s the equivalent of an elephant flattened like a pancake."

    7. Now you need to squash the earth down with something heavy. We found a strange marble cylinder of unknown purpose at our neighbour’s house and used that.

    8. As soon as it rains, check the water is draining off the roof. If it’s not you’ve got an elephant plus a lake on your roof. This is exactly what happened to me, thus I was to be found shoveling off earth in the pouring rain to make a temporary outflow channel. In my case the drainage was only necessary at the back of the roof.

    9. Plant. I put in some succulents, crawlers, cactus and other plants with small or no root systems.

    The earth roof team in action.


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