When Kathy Sloan moved into a home in the foothills of Mount Tamalpais, she had just one vision for the steep, bare 2 acres before her: Restore nature so she could live in nature.
And that meant a green roof.
Planted roofs are not only a decorative arrangement of dirt and plants. They provide insulation, improve air quality, soak up water runoff and restore wildlife habitats.
While green roofs may seem a recent trend, the concept of embellishing shelter with dirt and plants goes as far back as the sixth century.
As legend has it, King Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his wife, Amytis, who longed for the terrain of her childhood home — a verdant, mountainous region of Persia.
Though modern-day archaeology has never unearthed any evidence of these gardens (the only documentation of them is from ancient texts dated several hundred years later), there are plenty of modern-day interpretations of that mythical Eden.
In San Francisco, there is the Living Roof at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, which has seven hills rooted with 1.7 million plants; and the Beaux Arts building at
In Big Sur, the cabins at Post Ranch Inn are topped with a shaggy native landscape of wild grasses and flowers.
For Sloan’s hillside home, Mill Valley landscape architect Jori Hook designed a native garden that included a green roof atop a yoga studio designed by San Francisco architect Jonathan Feldman.
“From higher up on the hill, I wanted to see nothing but nature down below,” says Sloan, a former television executive who moved from London to the Bay Area in 1999.
With redwoods and pines anchoring the property, Hook set her sights on filling in the barren spaces under the tree canopy.
“I always start with creating a sense of place,” Hook says. “In this case, we had Mount Tam in the background, so I used it as my inspiration.”
Of the sprouting redwoods, Sloan says with a laugh: “They’re adorable, but something tells me they need more than 6 inches of soil.”
Jori Hook Landscape Architecture: (415) 819-1156. www.jorihook.com
Leilani Labong is a San Francisco freelance writer. E-mail: [email protected]
Green Roof 101
Tips from landscape architect Jori Hook and homeowner Kathy Sloan:
- Green roofs sprout up on buses
- Eco Heroes: A green roof on Black Rock
- Woodford Green care home invite lonely elderly to community Christmas
- Go Green At Home
- EPA creates new resource for green-tech home retrofits
- Government kills off flagship green deal for home insulation
- Green deal scheme did not deliver energy savings, audit finds
- How to cultivate watercress at home
- £24m Green Deal fund exhausted in a day
- Green Deal relaunch marred by IT problems
- Going Green: Electric Car Charging Stations in Brookhaven
- DIY Fall Decor for your Home