Living roofs are a bit of an anomaly. Roofs are rough terrain, withstanding intense heat, cold, rain, and whatever weather is thrown their way. Plants that grow naturally in inhospitable environments (like deserts, cliffs, and mountains) are the necessary choice in order to create a living roof that will continue to live.

Generally, these plants fall into four categories:

1. Aromatic Herbs:

    • Great candidate for your living roof "carpet"
    • Low-growing and wide-spreading
    • Many herbs naturally grow in dry rocky places
    • Examples: garden variety of thyme and common oregano

2. Grass-like Plants:

    • Few grasses can withstand living roofs without constant watering
    • Good for covering large portions of a living roof
    • Example: sea thrift
      • naturally grows in ocean cliffs and dunes
      • good choice for homes near the water
      • not related to lawn grass, sprouts pink/purple flowers in summer

3. Succulents:

    • Should be the staple of a living roof, the bulk of planting
    • Can thrive with very little water or soil
    • Broad palette of colors to choose from

4. Wildflowers: 

    • Grow better in deeper soil than necessary for the other categories
    • Provide strong design accents because of the different heights, colors, and butterfly-attracting options of plants to choose from

Do you have a living roof of your own? Which plants have worked best for you?

If you're interested in bringing your roof to life, Inhabitat's Brian Barth has compiled a gallery of the top 10 plant species you should start with here >>