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Green Roofs: An Introduction with Pretty Pictures

It's not just for hobbits anymore. The logic of green roofs is becoming more apparent. We can minimize our bills while maximizing the beauty of the urban landscape. And every day it's becoming a little easier to live in a house that just happens to have plants growing on it.

Vegetated roofs, or green roofs have a layer of living plants on top of the structure and only now viagra tablets for sale the waterproofing elements. There are really two types of green roofs, intensive and extensive.

Intensive green roofs often have a soil depth of a foot or more, and require substantial structural elements to support the weight of the whole roof. Intensive roofs can sustain a wide range of plant species and typically require a fair amount of regular maintenance. Because of the additional demands they impose, intensive
roofs are much less common than extensive roofs.

Extensive roofs are much shallower, typically only 2 to 4 inches deep, and are planted with particularly hardy plants. Over the last 50 years or so, this kind of roof has been developed, especially in Europe,. But now they are becoming increasingly common in the buy canada in cialis United States.

Why are green roofs such a great idea?

First, they help to reduce roof stormwater runoff. In some cases, this can help reduce the size of stormwater pipes, and the amount of stormwater that needs to be treated by municipal water treatment. In a light rainfall, a building with a vegetated roof can have no stormwater runoff at all.

Green roofs also protect the roof membrane from sunlight, which breaks down the roofing material. Having even a couple inches of soil helps to greatly extend the life of the roof, and a longer lifespan means less material ends up in landfills from re-roofing buildings after the membranes have failed.

Green roofs keep the roof cooler, which helps to reduce the heat-island effect, which contributes to cities being hotter than the surrounding countryside. This can be beneficial to the buy viagra online canadian phamacy building in reducing its summertime cooling load.

A green roof is also a source of oxygen and provides a habitat for some birds. Birds and insects can find homes much more readily in the living environment of a green roof, where an ordinary roof is nearly barren. And yes, it's even possible to graze goats.

What is a green roof made of?

Starting from the top, an extensive green roof has a layer of plants, which are typically sedums. These are low-growing, shallow rooting, drought tolerant plants. There are many different varieties of sedum, with different different coloration and different flowerings, so that a roof can have a varied appearance, rather than looking like an entire crop of a single variety. The plants are in a growth medium, an engineered mixture of lightweight soils, vermiculite, and other materials that provides a good environment for the sedum.

The shallow depth of the soil aids in keeping weeds from establishing themselves on the roof, since most weeds cannot survive in the arid and shallow soil conditions on a vegetated roof. Local plants that can survive in that environment may establish themselves on the roof, as well. Underneath the soil are several membrane layers, rather than just a single membrane roof. There is also a drainage layer (to allow excess water to move freely, rather than lifting the soil and having it flow off the roof in a mudslide, and a root barrier layer, which keeps the roots from penetrating the only for you buy levitra us roof. The roof membrane sits on the roof deck, insulation, or structure of the building much like a conventional roof.

Can I put a green roof on my house?
Green roofs make sense for residential use as much as for commercial buildings. However, retrofitting a green roof onto an existing house is not a simple matter because of the extra weight a vegetated roof adds. Most roofs are not structurally strong enough to support a vegetated roof without some reinforcement. Green roofs also work best on lower slopes. They can be installed on steeper pitched roofs, but the design and installation is more difficult and usefull link effect of levitra on women requires additional care.

The added cost of a vegetated roof versus a conventional shingle roof, and the relatively small number of contractors familiar with installing them are probably the biggest limiting factors. A house with a suitably pitched roof would still likely need structural evaluation from an architect or engineer before going ahead with a retrofit, and some structural reinforcement is likely to be needed.

Does a green roof have to be mowed?

A sedum covered roof is naturally self limiting in size. Most sedums grow only a few inches tall. As mentioned above, it is also fairly self weeding, due to the inhospitable environment it offers to most weed species. An extensive roof planted with prairie grasses on the Ducks Unlimited National Headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba uses a controlled burn of its upper roof every three years to repropogate the prairie plants. The 16 inches of soil protects the building from any damage while the grass fire helps remove weed species and assists prairie species which need periodic fires as part of their life cycle.

What Does the Future Hold?
We were excited a while back to announce Toyota's green roofing tile. These modular, interlockable grass tiles make green roofing an absolute cinch.They're a lot lighter than other methods, and installation is a breeze. At about $34 per tile, they're still expensive, but prices would of course drop if demand were to increase.

And, second, I and many others would like to see Friedenreich Hundertwasser's vision of every horizontal surface being returned to nature:

The true proportions in this world are the pharmacy cialis views to the stars and the views down to the surface of the earth. Grass and vegetation in the city should grow on all horizontal spaces - that is to say, wherever rain and snow falls vegetation should grow, on the roads and on the roofs. The horizontal is the domain of nature and wherever vegetation grows on the horizontal level man is off limits; he should not interfere. I mean taking away territories from nature, which human beings have always done.

Green Roof Resources:
The EPA on Green Roofs
Green Roofs on Wikipedia
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

Image Key:

1. Hundertwasser's Waldspirale, Austria...From WikiMedia Commons
2. Green Rooftops from Swishphotos on Flickr from the Faroe Islands
3. Grass Roof in Oswego Illinois, USA, from Greg Robbins on Flickr
4. Solaire Green Roof in Battery Park City, NY from Birdw0rks on Flickr
5. Goats on a Roof in Wisconsin, from Driftless Media on Flickr
6. Grass Roofs in Iceland from Pietroizzo on Flickr
7. Green Roof in Tokyo from Dissonanc3 on Flickr
8. Toyota Roof Tiles from Toyota Roof Garden
9. Hunderwasser's village model, on display at Kunsthaus in Vienna.
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Comments (92)Add Comment
written by Strange-but-True, August 21, 2007
The Waldspirale is brilliant, unfortunately I just don't see planners having the imagination to put through applications of that sort, especially in the UK where they run a mile from anything that's not a two up-two down redbrick draught factory. Still, I shall keep my fingers crossed that they have a change of heart.
written by EV, August 21, 2007
In Fairfax County, VA, there is an elementary school with something a bit more intensive than an intensive roof. The school is literally buried under dirt, except for the entrances. You can walk up the side of the lawn and onto the roof quite easily. It's covered in grass and mowed periodically. I think they built it in hte 1980's. I think it's called Terra Centre.
written by Joe, August 21, 2007
Now if we could just combine the ideas of greenroofing with local food production...we could have urban farms which would help reduce habitat destruction, as well as food transportation costs.
written by Marilyn Terrell, August 22, 2007
@Joe: I read in Popular Science about a microbiologist at Columbia U. who envisions urban farms in skyscrapers in 5 to 10 years-- they look pretty cool too:
written by vtforlife, August 22, 2007
I work for a company that puts up new buildings all over the country. These green roofs are becoming more and more popular all over VA.
written by Alex, August 22, 2007
It's a good concept, but I'd much rather see solar panels on a rooftop.

However, at least aesthetically, this is nicer.
written by Mary, August 22, 2007
I love the hundertwasserhaus! It's in the third district in Vienna and is actually public-housing (although apparently you have to bribe some pretty high-up people to get on the list to live there). His roofs are also rather super-intensive. As I recall, there are actual trees involved.
written by Maria, August 22, 2007

Interestingly enough, my brother, an architect in Minneapolis, just today sent me this link to a YouTube video which he's in.

His colleague is demonstrating how to do a green roof in 7 minutes while he lists all the advantages. For your readers in Minneapolis who are interested in green roofs, go to to get more information or help in starting your own.

written by AC, August 22, 2007
Why don't you caption the pictures you've posted?
green roof
written by Egbert, August 22, 2007
Is the green roof idea ok for tropical countries- watering the roof during summer would be a major problem. What about snakes and other creepy reptiles crawling all over.
I thought we'd need silver or white painted roofs down here in India
Psst . . .
written by Leonardo C., August 22, 2007
The Boiler Green Initiative is a club trying to get green roofs at Purdue's main campus.

That is all.
written by Daniel, August 22, 2007
Cooling of the house? Would the plants not attract more heat from the Sun and thus heat up the roof? Perhaps cause a slight greenhouse effect?

I would also be concerned with the weight of the water sitting on the roof after absorption.

Lastly, it would be difficult to implement this here in Israel for many reasons. There is absolutely no rainfall (nor clouds to block direct sun) during the summer months and the plants in the article would quickly shrivel up and die. Any aesthetics would be nonexistent. This would limit the houseowner to only certain plant species. :-(
written by David B, August 22, 2007
Green roofs are a tried and tested building technology, as demonstrated in photo #6, which is from a well-known cluster of Viking settlements in Iceland. Those buildings have survived for more than 1000 years. The technology is not new. If done correctly, there are no concerns to speak of - the roofs work great and have many aesthetic, environmental, and economic benefits.
written by Craig, August 23, 2007
That roof with the goats may be from a restaurant in Door County, Wisconsin. I thought that was very cool as a kid and I still do as an adult.
great post
written by luis, August 25, 2007
Great post!

If the economics don't work, recycling efforts won't either.
As our little contribution to make this economics of recycling more appealing, blogs about people and companies that make money selling recycled or reused items, provide green services or help us reduce our dependency on non renewable resources.

written by it2051229, August 26, 2007
wow it must be hot inside
written by jungle, August 27, 2007
That top picture (the Waldspirale) is a work of genius.

I seriously doubt that it's really environmentally friendly in the slightest (it took two years to build!), but the fact that someone had the guts to build a twelve storey building that wildly insane in an unremarkable German town is just hilarious... smilies/grin.gif
written by Noadi, August 27, 2007
I think Daniel may have a point about it's practicality in a hot dry environment. There may just not be enough plants hardy enough to completely cover a roof in that circumstance.

However everywhere else, if it's easy to have plant cover on the ground then it'll be no problem to grow it on a roof. As for weight an intensive roof may require a house to be reinforced for the weight, however I can't imagine 3-4 inches of soil and grass being much heavier than a slate or tile roof even when soaked with water.

As for heat, it's a basic principle of building that insulation doesn't just keep you warm in cold weather but also keeps you cool in hot weather and soil is a natural insulator.
written by marye, August 27, 2007
that is amazing. I hadn't seen that before. thanks for posting!
written by Jeff, August 29, 2007
EV - Terra Centre may be the same way, but I went to Terraset, which is an elementary school in Reston, VA (Fairfax County, as well). It also has a green roof and, at one point, had solar panels. Neat place to go to school for a kid -- it was great to be able to run up the side of the school and play on top.
Plant roofs
written by Dorothy Stahlnecker, August 29, 2007
Very interesting concept. It'll be great to follow the popularity and best prices on brand viagra issues related over time.

Regards, Dorothy from grammology
I Will Read 10 Pages
written by Jennifer, August 29, 2007
Housing and building practices should be tailored to local conditions. Green roofs work in temperate conditions - other buildings would work better for arid conditions. There is no one-size-fits all solution to any problem.

I imagine that as more green roofs are installed, more knowledge will be gained. I believe that human beings are nurtured by beautiful surroundings and that anything that introduces more "green" to urban environments is a good thing.
written by Danni, August 29, 2007
I think it's a fabulous idea and has all the right reasons to work, however the cost factor is tremendous and very dibilitating, the government should come up with some sort of rebate or cut on taxes for people living in these houses so that it is more practical for the everyday working man and not just another star-trend due to the big bucks involved.
Nice, but
written by Raul, August 30, 2007
Nice but tell us how they water proof the roof. As it is I have to seal the roof at least once every two years. Plus roots have a way to go through everything, even the buy cheap viagra online now tiniest cracks.

Tell us.... smilies/shocked.gif
written by kmu77, September 01, 2007
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grassy roofs
written by STDs, September 02, 2007
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written by ogawa ryan, September 04, 2007
i've got a fun-time while designing for my studio's assignment because i use greenroof and my model was soo... green... love it... thanks for the info i got here! ^o^
written by Brett S McCluskey, September 04, 2007
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written by cUzIdO, September 05, 2007
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written by Matthew Nichols, September 06, 2007
My Dad and cost of cialis I did a few small projects with the same idea in mind. I think it will be part of the future.
written by Grace, September 08, 2007
Lovely collection of green roofs and good information. Thank you for this beautiful page. Gorgeous and inspiring.
written by Sky, September 09, 2007
Why wouldn't you just make the house in the ground? That would provide even more insulation. Considering the average temp would be about 70 year round it would cut down on energy costs by allot. Oh well at least this is a small step in the right direction.
why not to make a house in the ground
written by tilly, September 11, 2007
i imagine if everyone built their houses underground it would mess with the water table?
Saving the Planet One Household at a Tim
written by Brian, October 01, 2007 is the first site to offer ROI rankings for home improvement projects that not only save you money but also help save the levitra uk environment
I Wish..
written by James Conway Jr, October 06, 2007
I hate to admit to not knowing about this idea before. I really enjoyed learning through this piece.
However, I can't see myself ever being able to afford a retrofit. But if by some chance I build a new home you can be assured that I'll try to fit one into the building costs...
I'd love to BBQ on my roof.
written by Brian, October 09, 2007
plants don't "attract more heat." Nothing attracts any more heat than anything else, its all a matter of absorption. Plants absorb energy from the sun, but not nearly enough to heat the area around it... so it would cool the building in the summer as an insulator from the heat.
Roofing Contractor
written by Troy Wagner, October 28, 2007
Most green roofs I see weight to much and have to large a carbon foot print. My green roof has no roofing (not needed), wieghts only 10 Lbs. per Sq ft. which can be put on anyones roof without engineering and so simple anybody can install it. I will try to send pictures
written by katie, November 09, 2007
hii bbz i like grass i have it grown on my roofs alot
i fink sheep is a good idea livin onto of ur home cuz u can get free milk and im going to go to homebase to get sum grass and sheep
written by katie, November 09, 2007
can i cum to ur house baby
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It is a dream! I love it...
written by Aulida Valery, November 14, 2007
I don't know who have this opportunity to leave in a nice area like that.
I really appreciate the project.

Thanks for the team.
written by Diana, November 21, 2007
It is such a great concept for energy efficiency!!
written by Giorgos, December 14, 2007
We are developing a web portal for promoting greenroofs in Greece at
There is a complemetary facebook group at
written by car rent Israel, December 26, 2007
A green roof can only be implemented in certain areas. I don't see people in Alaska using it. But still, half the world could go for hat
written by 6th Grade Teacher, December 28, 2007
I dig green roofs for their energy-saving properties. Perhaps a green roof fit with solar panels that stand above the green would be good? who knows. Too bad it's still expensive. But my main concern is roots, pests, and vermin.
written by anna, January 11, 2008

written by ma, January 29, 2008
hey what up
Just asking
written by suboxone detox, March 13, 2008
What about groundhogs? Or ants and spiders? Ok, the groundhog part was a joke, but the ants... I'm not sure I'd like them crawling around my kitchen table or finding them in my bed.
written by leroy, April 01, 2008
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written by Drug Rehab Clinic, April 25, 2008
Do you worry about ants? What about the we choice canadian pharmacy online humidity that will probably give you a kidney problem? Yes, humidity affects your kidneys and your lungs too. It is beautiful to watch but the truth is that green roof isn't a viable option.
written by nate, June 06, 2008
to "Drug rehab clinic": not to be suspicious of your comment but who made you an expert?
written by Aaron, July 03, 2008
really cool stuff smilies/sad.gif
Green Roofs are Awesome!
written by willg, July 11, 2008
What a great collection of pictures and details about green roofs!

I have found a lot of information on

Keep writing about this topic, as it is fascinating!
Green Rooofs as an eco-friendly alternat
written by Permanent Roof, August 13, 2008
These are some nice pictures of garden roofs. my company also installs these and other green and eco friendly type roofs. Glad to see that other places are implementing this wonderful technology. Thanks for posting this.
written by Pam, September 15, 2008
smilies/cheesy.gif Before human beings came to the land with their hacking saws and generic cialis professional pollution we didnt have a green house effect because the world WAS all green. It's the man-made pollutants that is causing the change in the climate...not nature itself. I think green roofs are a splendid idea. Furthermore I believe that if we have the ability to destroy it, we also have the ability to repair it.
written by tistocky, October 26, 2008
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Great source of info!
written by Will Engel, December 12, 2008
We are planning to build a new structure in the new year, a artists studio/ retail space/ cold storage room. I've been looking into a green roof, and stumbled upon your site, great links and lots of info thanks!

come see us
thanks for the article!
written by greengirl, December 27, 2008
Thanks for this article. I am on a team at my school that is trying to build a green roof for our school. I found this article (and people's comments) to be very inspiring. Thanks!! smilies/grin.gif smilies/smiley.gif
written by hyrinen, January 12, 2009
Me and my friends were researching on green roofs but we couldn't find any nice info. But this article helped a bunch! Thanks for the article, though I'm no green geek, I just have to do this for school.
written by Ashley Farquharson, February 02, 2009
The web site is great and lots of good info.

We also install Green Roofs and Build structures. If you would like any more info please contact Kray Roofing Ltd
01234 712 512 or 07738 976675
written by jack, February 08, 2009
such a good article thnk u
written by pest control az, April 21, 2009
Great article, but I wonder if this creates a habitat for unwanted pests.
written by Mike S, April 30, 2009
@ Pam
Before humans started releasing pollutants into the atmosphere the earth was not greenhouse gas free, carbon dioxide in particular has been released by naturally for quite some time via volcanoes and the ocean. Carbon dioxide dissolves deep in the oceans due to hydrothermal vents, after a certain amount of carbon dioxide has been dissolved in the water the density of water becomes less dense than the surface water, and begins to rise. As the water rises the solubility of carbon dioxide decreases and it is released, in huge quantities. There has been at least one major "belch" of carbon dioxide in the past and had released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than humans have to this point.
written by Rob, June 21, 2009
Just to note the Hundertwasser's Waldspirale is in Darmstadt Germany, and the bar at the top is one of the best in town.....
Greek Treasury Green Roof saves 5,630 euros in energy bills in one year.
written by Andrew Michael Clements, September 12, 2009
Greek Treasury Green Roof saves 5,630 euros in energy bills in one year.

The "green roof" created on the roof the economy and inexpensive levitra finance ministry building in Syntagma Square has resulted in savings of 5,630 euros a year, the ministry announced on Tuesday. The savings arise from a reduction in power used for cooling, amounting to 3,600 euros a year, and a reduction in fuel used for heating by 2,030 euros a year.

The green roof was created in July 2008 and covers about 650 square metres, or roughly half the surface at the top of the building.

Measurements carried out by the applied thermodynamics laboratory at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) mechanical engineering department have shown that the difference in temperature between the areas of the roof with plants and those without are 18C, with the former reaching 37C and the latter 55C, respectively.

The measurements also confirmed that the energy savings from the planting amount to 9.6 percent for cooling and 4.4 percent for heating. For the top floor of the building, especially, the energy costs for cooling can be more than halved.

The finance ministry noted that the project was initiated to help improve the environment in central Athens, save energy and reduce the buildings operating costs, as well as acting as a model that might encourage initiatives by other private and public organisations.
Cooler temps
written by solar panels for sale, December 12, 2009
They say that if roofs in major cities had grass growing on them that the temperature would drop in the summer by several degrees. That alone seems like it would be worth it
written by John Smallberris, May 03, 2010
Why doesn't anybody talk about the possibility of wood rot under the roof sod? What is used to prevent that, moisture problems from water retention in the soil, etc? Seems very important.
written by Jackson, May 31, 2010
I think this is a good idea for commerical building where there are lesser plants in their surrounding.
written by Robert, August 05, 2010
I think this is a great idea. A green roof can be very helpful to all creatures' lives. Green roofs serve as good insulation and the oxygen they give off can help clean the bad air made from CFCs and carbon dioxide.
An answer...
written by ^o^CORVUS^o^, August 15, 2010
To John Smallberris...

Why doesn't anyone talk about it? Because its a short article that only touches on this subject. The people who specialize in these techniques have taken that into account, just like they take the weight of the soil, vegetation, AND water saturation into account when they design and build these roofs.

"Green Roofs" are NOT a new technology. In fact, its a very old one. I would suggest that you do some research on it and only today cialis no doctor you should find the technical answers to your questions.
Load Shedding Saves Money
written by load shedding, August 30, 2010
Interesting possible alternative to turning all of our vegitation into concrete and asphalt. It just might be a viable alternative which will allow for continued plant growth in urban areas to stimulate oxygen production. Thanks for posting.
Great Images
written by Mark Cooper, January 20, 2011

Great images. I wondered if you would consider letting me use them on my green roofing website. Thank you for your time
Very Interesting
written by Waukesha Roofing, July 04, 2011
As a local roofer I've heard about green roofing and imagined the goats eating off of the roof as illustrated above, but I found very interesting the fact that a sedum covered roof is naturally self limiting in its growth.
Excellent information. Thank you!
Green Roof Conference Nov 2011
written by Green and Sunny , August 17, 2011
If you want to find out the latest come to the Green Roof Conference in Australia, see website
written by josh, August 18, 2011
These are some really cool pictures. Love the green grass roofs very cool. Also lots of good content on here, overall just good!
Love the idea of going green!
written by Capital Junk, November 08, 2011
I live in the Capital city of Ottawa, Canada, and our local college just built an addition to their campus and it too has a green roof! It is now a part of the agirculture department of the college and a forward thinking statement for this city...thanks for the great information!
Goats on the roof?
written by Sustainable Earth, January 02, 2012
Love the idea, not sure I would like goats using the restroom on my roof.
Green Roofs taking hold in North Carolina
written by Charlotte Roofing Contractor, February 09, 2012
I live in the Charlotte NC metro area and I am a local charlotte roofing contractor that supports Green Roofing. The only worry on retrofitting an existing residential home with a living roof would be insects such as carpenter ants and termites that would be in close proximity to all of the wood on the home's exterior such as soffit, fascia and cialis generic canadian windows.
written by gavrielatos theofrastos, March 01, 2012
Lovely collection of green roofs and good information.
written by φυτεμενα δωματα, April 27, 2012
wonderful photos!!!
Small Green Roofs
written by Alan, July 17, 2012
Check out SHELTER ( for DIY architectural drawings to build a backyard green roof shed.

I am from Living Roofs Inc. (, and we design and install green roofs in the southeastern US. We have lots of projects with photos on our website as well. Thanks a bunch!
written by UnRe4l_Sci3nc3, September 14, 2012
When i lived in Iceland i used to have one of those houses i was to young to really know why we had it like that but now i now why my parents actually bought that house, to save money. (cheap)
written by Samael, November 15, 2012
I really like the roof on the second picture down, I wonder what, roofing company they used.
Healthcare IT Systems
written by Don, February 11, 2013
Very interesting. I've seen 'green roofs' before, but up in Canada where I live it's not as popular. We need to utilize more greenhouses for obvious reasons. Great use of space though
Reasearch and analysis
written by Guires Research, February 18, 2013
Wonderful pictures i love it all are green looking nice
written by Robin Oakey, March 20, 2013
Good to see your introduction in green roofs I have done many green roofs over the years and at the start I fell in to the trap of thinking you had to use the over priced plastic trays mats etc companys say you have to use.Technology in plastic trays is not the way forward .As I think studying plants that grow on roofs and other harsh environments to understand why .I have developed a way of light green roofs that to water proof and green cost no more than to tile or slate or replace old flat roofing so it will last many years .I hope to see many more green roofs to give a bit back to nature that we have taken away.
written by c_crowley, April 23, 2014
You answer the question about mowing the roof by saying that sedums don't need to be mowed(personally I would love a roof covered with various sedums and sempervivum!), but almost all your photos show roofs that are very clearly covered in grass.
written by mrboilers, June 23, 2014
These green roofs have been around for a while now and whilst conceptually it's a very eco-friendly idea, I just don't really see it taking off and being popular among homeowners. As mentioned, there are other ways to utilise the roof for environmentally friendly benefits, such as solar panels.
written by jon clark, June 26, 2014
Great ideas I live in the negev desert region of Israel so insulation is very important, any ideas of plants hardy enough for the desert?
steps of doing it myself
written by ismail, July 06, 2014
I liked this idea but there is no company to make it for me in egypt. could u show me how to do it myself and what kind of plants to be grown as green vegetables. wailting for ur kind rely

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