What Are the Best Plants for Green Roofing Systems?

Modern apartment blocks with green roofing systems.

If you are looking to upgrade or change your roofing system, there are many different options available to you on the market. In recent years, green roofing systems have become a much more viable option for roofs. In this blog, we will be talking about some of the best plants you should consider using if you’re planning to create your own green roof.

The Different Types of Green Roofs

There are different types of green roofing systems, each more suitable for a variety of different properties:

  • Extensive green roofs – These types of green roof are designed more for environmental solutions than anything else. These roofs have much more shallow soil than the others, usually 3-6”. This means that they are more suitable for ground cover plants, making them ideal for larger flat structures. They do not require as much maintenance and after the first year they no longer need to be watered.
  • Intensive green roofs – Also known as rooftop gardens, these green roofs are suitable for larger trees and shrubs. They usually have much deeper soil, which means they need much more frequent maintenance, but also means they are suitable for having people and paths on them.
  • Semi-intensive – These roofs are a mix between the two, meaning they are heavier and require more maintenance. They have a larger substrate layer than an extensive system, meaning larger plants can be used. 

Sedum on green roofing systems.

What Makes the Perfect Plant?

There are many different types of plants suitable for use on the different types green roofs, however we will be sticking with the best plants for extensive roofing systems:

  • Shallow roots – Extensive green roofs have thin substrate layers, so choose plants and shrubs which have shallow roots. Plants with deeper roots where there isn’t much soil will cause damage to the shrubs and could compromise your green roof.
  • Drought resistant – Drought is pretty unlikely here in Norfolk. Nevertheless, plants which can survive in more extreme weather conditions will require less maintenance.
  • Disease resilient plants – Choosing plants that are disease resilient and are not likely to be ravaged by insects is essential to the health of your green roof.

Which Plants Make the Best Green Roof?

 Here are some of the best plants you should consider using on your green roof:

  • Sedums – Also known as stonecrop, Sedums are among the most commonly-used roofing plants. They are drought-resistant, have shallow roots and are highly resistant to disease. There are over 600 different species in the sedum family, but here are some of the best.
  • Wild grasses – Wild grasses are extremely hardy plants and can grow pretty much anywhere. They also require very little maintenance making them perfect for green roofs.
  • Creeping thyme – Creeping thyme or Thymus Serpyllum is rich in nectar, encouraging bees and other pollinating insects. They also thrive in thin soil, making them ideal for green roofs where they will be able to create a dense covering.

Thinking of going green and want your very own green roofing system installed? We can help, call us on 01603 418818 or email us on

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