I had actually never heard of or seen a grass roof until I stumbled upon this image:
A man, up on his roof… mowing it with a mower. This has to have been a case of photoshop, or a rogue, eccentric homeowner attempting to break the mold of what a lawn/roof can be. Then I did some research, and I was proven so, so wrong.
Grass roofs are actually an ancient building technique. They got their start in Scandinavia, where they were common in rural areas from before the Viking times up until the 19th Century. They were seen as an efficient way to compress the home’s logs, making them more draft-resistant. They also insulated the home from the feet of snow that pile on the tops of the roofs in the winter months, while keeping heat in the home.
Even today, grass roofs exist, and can provide a range of benefits to modern structures!
Grass Roof Benefits
1. Long Life Span
While green roofs seem like they’d be more difficult to maintain and would ultimately not last as long as shingled roofs, they are surprisingly durable. In part, this is because grasses absorb rain water for growth, and any extra water is sorted out through a special irrigation system. Also, shingles possess a limited lifespan, about 25 years or so depending on where you live. Grass, as long as it is maintained properly, can last for decades longer.
2. Earth Saving Capabilities
Heard of the “heat island effect”? It sounds like this past summer on Oahu, but it actually is what happens as cities’ roofs and pavement reflect the sun’s rays and raise the overall temperature of the city, causing a slew of environmental problems. Green roofs take this heat and use it for growing the grass, rather than reflecting it away. One green roof will only do so much, but it’s a step in the right direction.
3. Keep Your Home Cool
The Vikings turned out to be as smart as they were vicious – grass roofs to do help keep a home significantly cooler. Grass is able to maintain about the same temperature as the air around it, whereas traditional roofs can soar to up to 90 degrees F higher than the normal air temperature. There’s no more waiting for hours after the sun sets for your home to cool, or running the A/C like mad in the summer.
4. Make Your Home Beautiful
There’s something so relaxing about looking at pictures of these homes, they can make even the most austere, modern structure look like something out of The Shire from Lord of the Rings. Maybe it’s because most houses “dominate” or are made to look like they tower over the lawns, by having grass on top of the houses, it pacifies them, turning any house into a cozy home.
Read our piece on setting up the perfect lanai here.
On Oahu? TLM Hawaii wants to make your dream landscaping ideas come true! Call us at (808) 779-6133!