In recent years, architects have incorporated turf into buildings in beautiful and creative ways. There’s a growing movement around construction using grass (we’re saving that for another blog), but today we’re focusing on turf roofs. These have become more popular in recent times. But turf roofs aren’t a new idea.

Scandi style

Sod roofing is an ancient version of turf roofing used in Norway, Sweden and Iceland for centuries. Scandinavian roofs have probably been covered with birch bark and sod since prehistory. Sod roofs were used in Viking settlements and throughout the middle ages right up until the 18th century. Eventually other roofing materials became popular, but with preservation movements and growing ecological concerns, architects have been incorporating Green Roofs into their building designs. These have grown in popularity around the world, and you’ll find turf in many forms which has been cultivated to allow a variety of different plants to grow in a relatively small (and often isolated) area.

Green roofs have many benefits, particularly in cities and towns. They help to regulate temperatures, manage water, provide habitats for urban wildlife, and they store carbon. But you find turf roofs being used in other ways too.

The Biesbosch Museum is built in a Dutch wetland reserve. The firm who designed the museum covered the building in turf, partly for environmental reasons, and partly to help the building merge into its surrounding environment.

Did you hear the one about the sheep on the roof? Paynes Turf

The Biesbosch Museum

But how do you maintain a turf roof?

This may take some ingenuity. Temple Works in Leeds was a flax mill built in 1836. It was a grand building designed in an Egyptian style, but it had another unusual feature: grass was grown on the roof to keep the atmosphere in the mill more humid. The humidity prevented the linen thread becoming dry and unmanageable. So keep the grass in good condition, the mill owners brought in a flock of sheep to graze (and fertilise) the grass. This inadvertently led to the invention of the hydraulic lift. Because the sheep couldn’t use the stairs, the hydraulic lift was designed so the sheep could access the roof.

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As a turf supplier for traders, landscapers, and private customers, we’re passionate about growing healthy robust grass to create our different turfs. That means carefully selecting seeds that give your lawn the best chance of looking healthy throughout the year. If you’re a landscaper, or an architect trying out something new, our turf will show off your hard work.