Spring Maintenance for Green Roofs

by Dr. Anna Zakrisson on Friday, April 3, 2020

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Spring is here! This is what you need to do for your green roof.

An extensive roof requires very little maintenance, but a green roof is still a living thing in need of some tender loving care, especially after the long and cold winter.
The living roof is waking up, and in order to give it the best circumstances to grow into a lush green carpet with excellent functionality, we need to ensure that its basic needs are met.

Here are the most important things to think about during green roof spring maintenance:

Spring-cleaning of the green roof!

The first thing to do is some spring cleaning. Plants need sunlight to grow, and if the green roof is covered by a thick layer of winter debris such as rotting leaves and stems, they are not happy. In the worst-case scenario, the plants might even die off. Hence, keep that roof cleared of rubbish and old plant material.

This is also a great time to get rid of spent vegetation from wildflower roofs, but make sure to shake off the plants before removal so that beneficial insects stay on the roof!
It is also critical that you ensure that the drainage outlets are clear to safeguard the stormwater functionality of the roof as well as achieving a proper water balance for optimal plant health. Without drains, the roof becomes saturated over unhealthy lengths of time which drowns the plants.


It is essential to know that a red sedum roof does not mean that it is dead. Sedum green roofs tend to turn red in winter and if you look closely, you will probably find many healthy and beautiful buds. The red sedum green roof will turn lush and green in no time!

If you are uncertain on what to look for, check out the video below:

Clear away weeds and unwanted plants

It is rather easy to spot weeds and other unwanted plants during springtime, especially tree seedlings that have the potential to damage waterproofing if left unchecked.

Be very careful when carrying out this type of green roof maintenance as garden tools can severely damage the thin green roof profiles. Best is to leave the maintenance to a certified green roof maintenance company. Also, ensure to check if your warranty is affected if you maintain your live roof by yourself.

Apply nutrients if needed

We do not recommend the uncareful use of fertilizers. Mainly from an ecological perspective, but also from an economic perspective. A well-designed green roof that has been optimized for your climate doesn’t require a lot of added nutrients. However, in some cases, this is needed, but aim for the lowest doses possible.

Repair areas that look bare

Inspect your green roof and repair areas that look bare, i.e., where the plant coverage appears to have been lost. Take a look at the first video in this article to ensure that you are not mistaking healthy areas with dead ones.

Minor bare areas are often quickly colonialized by shallow-rooted, opportunistic & fast-growing sedum species, but larger areas should be covered. It is easy to cover these areas with sedum mats as mats immediately cover the soil and protect the green roof soil from being flushed away by rain or distributed by wind.

CONTACT us if you have any questions!

These articles might also interest you:

How to Select Plants for a Sedum Green Roof

Can you Install a Sedum Green Roof in Winter?

The Purple-Roof Concept is a non-proprietary specification for your optimal green roof. Developed with data from Green Roof Diagnostics.

Green roof maintenance in the US