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Homeowner shares details of incredible 'green roof' renovation as solution to rainwater runoff problem: 'It is an upfront investment for longer-term, greener benefits'

"Managing that rain runoff and basement flooding was a constant issue."

"Managing that rain runoff and basement flooding was a constant issue."

Photo Credit: iStock

One man got creative in tackling persistent rainwater runoff issues at his home by installing a native plant garden on his garage roof to soak up water. The plants also provide much-needed shade above the garage, which is a huge benefit as summer temperatures continue to spike because of the changing climate.

The homeowner, Jonah Goodman, wrote about installing the plants on Petworth News, sharing his initial reasons for considering the project. He explained that because the house had a three-car garage, rainwater would run off the large covered area into his backyard, where it would then flood the basement. 

"Managing that rain runoff and basement flooding was a constant issue," he wrote. 

In addition, the garage roof began leaking, rotting some of the joists. Knowing he'd have to make repairs soon, Goodman started considering his options and was drawn to the idea of green roofs. 

After finding a landscape designer through a woman named Annette who'd had a porch green roof installed and was featured by Petworth, the next step was to buy the plants. He settled on a mix of low-maintenance native perennial plants such as sedum and leafy greenery, all of which came from a local farm. They were grown in 3-4 inches of soil in plastic trays, which were then fitted into a metal frame attached to the garage roof to hold them in place. 

While the actual plant and framing installation only took two days, the whole project took several weeks to complete since Goodman had structural work done to the garage and a roof replacement. In total, he said the metal framing and plant installation cost him about $30 per square foot.

Even though it was an expensive project, he explained it was well worth it since the basement flooding issues are now a distant memory. The garage temperature is about 5-10 degrees cooler, making it much more tolerable in the summertime. Not to mention, the added biodiversity was welcomed by plenty of wildlife in the area. 

"After a few days the plants have perked up and they have already started flowering. This is attracting a lot of pollinators and curious birds. Hopefully, more insects and wildlife will start enjoying it," Goodman wrote on Petworth News

"If you have a large garage like us or a front porch like Annette's that you could transform into a green roof, I definitely recommend it. It is an upfront investment for longer-term, greener benefits," he added. 

Green roofs have plenty of benefits for homeowners, neighborhoods, and society. According to Washington, D.C.'s Department of Energy and Environment, they improve stormwater drainage, reduce the urban heat island effect, and lower pollution in cities because plants absorb carbon dioxide. 

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In addition, they make homes more energy-efficient — the American Society of Landscape Architects reported that homeowners could save between 15% and 25% in summertime energy costs. 

Green roofs and native plant gardens are becoming increasingly popular as homeowners seek better ways to coexist with nature, reduce their pollution footprint, and keep more money in their pockets with savings on maintenance and water bills. 

Living roofs have existed for thousands of years, but they seem to be finally making a comeback, just in time to help us cool the planet.

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