Green Roof Maintenance

Green Roof maintenance is crucial for a green roof’s longevity and cost-effectiveness, but it can be challenging, especially for first-time owners and/or managers. 

Green Roofs (also known as “Living Roofs”) are becoming increasingly popular in urban areas for many good reasons. They offer a range of benefits, including increased energy efficiency, improved air quality, reduced urban heat islanding, and drastically improved stormwater management.

Often, hiring professionals is the most effective way to keep your green roof costs down. When properly looked after, they also offer a highly competitive ROI (“Return on Investment”).

When in doubt – call a professional. Contact Us.

Here are the key things you need to know about green roof maintenance

A well maintained Green roof overlooking city of Toronto skyline

1. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

A well maintained green roof in the city

Regular inspections are the absolute best and cheapest way to keep your living roof in tip-top shape and prevent costly damage from occurring. Inspecting your green roof at least twice a year (once in the spring and once in the fall) ensures that problems are caught before they become expensive to manage. 

Look for signs of damage, such as cracked or broken tiles, evidence of water pooling or leaks, and damage to plants. While it may not be obvious, damaged plant matter can make your green roof less effective at lowering your energy bills! 

2. Good Drainage Keeps Costs Down

Water can build up on (and in) any roof without adequate drainage. This can lead to leaks, mold/fungus growth, and other unhealthy (and expensive) problems.

Ensure your green roof’s drainage system functions correctly and any blockages are cleared immediately. Keeping the drainage system in good repair (by inspecting and replacing parts that aren’t working well) is crucial for preventing water damage and prolonging the life of your living roof.

3. Weeds aren’t your friends (most of the time)

A Green Roof with significant weeds that requires maintenance

Weeds can quickly take over a green roof, killing off the varieties of plants designed to keep your roof performing at its peak. Unruly weeds and saplings can also threaten your roof’s waterproofing membrane if left unmaintained. Regular weeding keeps these concerns in check. 

Always use appropriate weeding methods – some chemicals can damage the plants on your green roof, making things far worse! 

In rare cases, some varieties of weeds can be beneficial to a roof system. This can happen when a plant species isn’t performing as well as intended, and the weed taking root won’t damage the living roof. This is highly situational and takes a lot of experience to diagnose, and a green roof specialist should run the decision to leave any species; when in doubt, call an expert!

4. Don’t Play Whack-a-Mole!

Pest management can’t be overlooked. Invasive pests can invade your roof if the helpful plant species don’t provide adequate coverage. Properly maintaining the vegetation on a green roof is the easiest way to prevent insects and other pests from making a home on your roof, which could cause expensive damage. 

Once pests have started to invade a roof, it can be difficult to remove them properly. 

This is where expert help is often most useful. 

Professional teams have the experience to assess the extent of the problem and handle it right the first time, keeping costs down (both in terms of time and money).

Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to use pesticides or other volatile chemicals to control pests. Always read and strictly follow the posted instructions when using any chemical – they can be extremely harmful if handled incorrectly!

We also hope you’ll choose environmentally friendly options to avoid harming the green roof’s helpful plants and animals in the area.

5. Proper Irrigation is Key

A manicured green roof drain for maintenancePlants require water to survive, so proper irrigation of a green roof is essential.

The amount of water needed depends on various factors, including the type of green roof (and the plants on it), the amount of sunlight the roof receives daily, and the climate in your area. 

Remember, while watering your green roof regularly is important, too much water can lead to problems like mold and fungus growth – two problems that are easy to prevent but expensive to fix.

6. When in Doubt, Call The Pros

Hiring professional green roof maintenance may seem expensive, but it’s usually the cheapest option and will lower the overall green roof cost.

The best professional green roof maintainers have years of training, knowledge, and experience. They can quickly (and safely) identify and address issues less practiced roofers will find difficult to find.

In turn, keeping labour costs to a minimum. They’ve also invested in all the equipment and materials necessary to keep green roofs in top condition. As a result, you avoid costly equipment rental, transportation, and insurance!

“Green roof maintenance is a big responsibility….”

Green roofs can quickly become ugly, inefficient, and expensive if left unattended for too long. Don’t let your green roof go to waste! Maintaining it properly will allow you to enjoy its many benefits for decades to come. 

Ginkgo Sustainability is one of the most trusted names in the Canadian Living Green Roof Industry. We have built and maintained more roofs than any other company in the country for over a decade!

If you have a green roof (living roof) that needs care and you need help figuring out where to start – Contact us! 


Additional Resources:

Li, W.C., and K.K.A. Yeung. “A Comprehensive Study of Green Roof Performance from Environmental Perspective.” International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment, vol. 3, no. 1, 2014, pp. 127–134.,

Nagase, Ayako, et al. “Investigation of Weed Phenology in an Establishing Semi-Extensive Green Roof.” Ecological Engineering, vol. 58, 2013, pp. 156–164.,

Shafique, Muhammad, et al. “Green Roof Benefits, Opportunities and Challenges – A Review.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 90, 2018, pp. 757–773.,