Green Roof Bird Feeders

Living roof or green roof bird feeders are a wonderful way to combine your love for hosting birds in your yard and your love for gardening into a rewarding project and creating a focal point in your garden.

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If you plan on building your own green roof bird feeders then you should use long lasting cedar or any rot resistant wood such as white pine, redwood, etc. or even rot resistant plastic lumber. With the addition of a border, the roof becomes a shallow planter. Or you could even just add a planter tray to the top of an existing bird feeder. If the wood is not rot resistant then add a waterproof membrane, roof flashing or piece of a pond liner to prevent the roof from rotting.

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Living roof bird feeder by Paul Hathaway, Woodward Gardens.

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Succulents are a good choice of plants because of their size, drought tolerance, sun loving and adaptability to soil conditions. Once the roots are established, you don’t have to worry about watering them often. The occasional natural rainfall should be adequate but during dry periods you should water them once a week. Although succulents don’t need much watering they still need good drainage or their roots may rot. Provide drainage by drilling holes along the edges of the planter tray.

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Living roof bird feeder from Momma Fargo Blogspot.

Fill with moist potting mix. To help hold the soil in place add a thick layer of water-soaked sphagnum moss. This moss also helps retain a large amount of moisture (up to 10 times its weight). To help secure the soil, moss and plants in place you can use mesh or chicken wire pulled tightly and stapled to the frame of the planter tray. Trim off the excess wire, and tuck more moss around the edges or anywhere that the wire is still visible. Cut out spaces for planting a selection of Hens & Chicks, sedums and hardy succulents or you could also sow quick growing grass seed. Mosses grow well in shady locations.

Chicks and hens will continue to produce "pups" and give a crowded over grown look to the roof spilling over the edges. Sedums will continue to grow well below the feeder, when they appear overgrown or stressed, trim the excess. As leaves naturally dry at base, remove by plucking out with fingers or tweezers for a more finished look. Feel free to harvest "chicks" to re-populate green roof bird houses or use to start a new planter. Many of the varieties of sedums will die back for a period of time after they bloom. After a few weeks, new growth will appear.

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Ecoroof bird feeder by Kirsti Wakelin

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Living green roof bird feeders by Rebecca’s Bird Gardens. Living roofs are made with a variety of drought tolerant- winter hardy sedums and succulents. Place in a sunny location, usually requires no watering other than the rain.

How to Make Green Roof Bird Feeders

Learn how easy it is to make your own living roof or green roof bird feeders. The following are links to various projects and tutorials on the net.

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Project: Learn how to make a green roof for your bird table.

By Gardener’s World.

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Tutorial: Learn how to make a shed-roof model of a living roof bird feeder. From

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Project: How to build a bird feeder with a green, growing roof by the Joyful Gardener, Jeanne Cope

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Tutorial: Learn how to make a folded-roof model flowering bird feeder. From

Video: Invite the birds into your landscape for added color, motion and interest while creating a focal point in one of your gardens. Melinda Myers explains how easy it is to make a living roof bird feeder.

In the winter, store your birdhouse in the garage. The succulents and sedums will be dormant and only require occasional watering. If you prefer to feed your feathered friends during the cold winter months then build your green roof bird feeders with a removable roof plant tray that you can easily lift off the base and move it into an unheated garage or other protected location during cold (below freezing) weather.

Choosing Your Plants

Choosing which plant to use in your green roof bird feeders is a personal preference and it depends on the purpose or function of your living roof. Succulents and sedums, require little maintenance and once established they are very drought tolerant. After planting a lot of rooftops, Rebecca Nickols of Rebecca’s Bird Gardens has come up with her top 10 list of favorite plants. They're all super tough, reliable and winter hardy (zone 3-4; -30 degrees).

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