Living roof of new chicken coop planted

Here’s what Lesley planted, all local:

Fescue grasses

2 types of sedums

3 types of Dudleya (succulents)

Coyote mint


Beach strawberries


Coast lotus

California rock cress

Lizard’s tail

Rosy buckwheat

Soap root

It’s all experimental. We’ll do updates as the months go by.

On a living roof, the critical place is the bottom: how to keep things waterproof, yet allow drainage. Most roofs I’ve seen look a bit sketchy in this area. Stuff that’ll work for a while, but will need replacing. Anyone got details of long-lasting designs?

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

7 Responses to Living roof of new chicken coop planted

  1. Hi Lloyd

    I bought a pdf book from Dusty Gedge & John Little from Dusty's website
    It is intended for self builders or small scale buildings and has some sturdy details around the eaves that are neat & do not involve overly complicated fabricated components (the sort of thing that would cost a fortune to get made up for a small roof) and would be easy for a DIY enthusiast to put together. While the guide cost something like £10 or so to buy I was happy with it. It covers new roofs and strengthening existing shed roofs plus advice and links on where to buy aspects the waterproofing and protection membranes. The pdf book seems to be intended more for the uk rather than the warmer area of the USA, however I am sure you could adapt it to suit your climate.

  2. Hi Lloyd,

    Coop looks great! We have a living roof on our straw bale house here in VT. For the waterproofing we used bituthene and a product called Enkadrain for the drainage. The Enkadrain is super lightweight and has worked well thus far. (two years) I followed Rob Roy's, of Earthwood Building School, design for living roofs. They are not the most sustainable materials but I think they are outweighed by all the energy saved, etc. I plan on fooling around with some clay as an underlayment for a living roof that will be on a small structure, not something I'll be sleeping under! I'm sure there are reasons it won't work but it'll be fun to experiment! Dams and ponds use clay sometimes to keep water in so why won't it keep it out?

  3. ==========
    At work we use white, single-membrane EPDM for our commercial roofs. Even with full exposure, it is warrantied for 20 years. Protected from the sun, it should last forever. We can't get consistently smooth and round rocks for our ballast roofs (where the weight of the rocks holds the membrane down against the wind) around here so a black fabric layer (about 1/8" thick) is put down = over the EPDM and under the gravel. Watching the water flow down the roof drains, it's amazing how clean it looks. A layer of quality (DuPont's 15 or 20 year) landscape fabric would keep the dirt from settling down into the gravel — keeping the gravel layer clean for enhanced drainage. A gutter can be built into the downhill edge — carrying the water to both downhill corners — with gutter extensions and a chain to gently bring the water down to grade (or to a water collection barrel) without splashing.

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