A Green Roof for our Chicken Coop

After many months of pondering, I finally planted up the empty void atop our family chicken coop and turned it into a beautiful green roof. Even though the roof is fairly small, I see it everyday from our second story home, so it is very important to me. I considered wanting a green roof with a natural meadow look that would just turn golden in the summer months or a collection of California native wildflowers interspersed amongst creeping sedum. In the end, I chose a mix of succulents and fescues, all very hardy and requiring hardly any maintenance. I am happy with the end result because it is extremely easy to care for, requires very little water, and looks good throughout the seasons.

I chose the succulents because I needed something that could withstand the shallow four inch depth of the roof. I know the groundcover sedums are very popular for green roofs for the very fact that they spread wide without a lot of water and have considerably short root structures. But since I would be looking at the green roof everyday, I wanted something with bolder leaves and more texture. I chose seven different varieties for the green roof including: Echeveria, that has rosettes ranging from one to five inches in diameter. They are different hues of grey-blue, mauve, and burgundy. Interspersed are some Sedum ‘Cape Blanco’ and Festuca ‘Elijah Blue’ to set off the bold leaves of the Echeveria. Along the edges I put in a few draping purple flowering plants, Convolvulus mauritanicus. to soften the edges.

I chose all of these plants for their durability and low water requirement, important aspects to consider when planting a green roof. I will use the spray hose to water them a few times a week, until they get established since I did not set up an irrigation system. I think the succulents will flourish with the temperate San Francisco climate and ability to survive with little water.

One thing I did not anticipate was the chickens eating the succulents when left to freely roam the garden. I went a little overboard at the nursery and bought some succulents to plant at ground level, only to discover the chicks, and my daughter, love to pluck the fleshy leaves off! For now, I am keeping my favorite varieties on the roof to divide and live on so I can root them in the garden beds later on and not care if they get plucked.

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