How to Make a Living-Roof Birdhouse | Midwest Living

How to Make a Living-Roof Birdhouse

Here's a bird-friendly DIY project just in time for spring.
  • home tweet home

    Home tweet home

    Missouri-based gardener Rebecca Nickols creates living-roof birdhouses for her business in Springfield. Follow her steps to design the perfect nest for the a backyard bird. 

  • Step 1: Gather materials

    Step 1: Gather materials

    Before you start on your bird haven, you'll need: 

    • A birdhouse
    • Moisture barrier (roofing paper or plastic)
    • Potting soil
    • Sphagnum moss
    • Poultry wire
    • Dandelion weeder
    • Sedum plants
    • Pole or pipe for mounting
    • Stapler, scissors, screwdriver

  • Step 2: Create a barrier

    Step 2: Create a barrier

    Cut the moisture barrier to fit the roof; set it in place.

  • Step 3: Top coat

    Step 3: Top coat

    Cover most of the roof with moistened potting soil. 

  • Step 4: Moisten and pack

    Step 4: Moisten and pack

    Soak sphagnum moss in water for 30 minutes to moisten it thoroughly. Wring it out with your hands, and then pack it thickly onto the soil in the roof. 

  • Step 5: Staple

    Step 5: Staple

    Staple poultry wire on top to hold the sphagnum moss in place. 

  • Step 6: Trim

    Step 6: Trim

    Trim the poultry wire back to the edges of the roof. 

  • Step 7: Bring on the moss

    Step 7: Bring on the moss

    With a screwdriver or an asparagus-cutting tool, poke even more sphagnum moss through the mesh in the poultry wire to fill any gaps or thin spots. You should not be able to see the potting soil underneath.

  • Step 8: Sow sedums

    Step 8: Sow sedums

    Plant sedums. Poke the asparagus-cutting tool into the moss to make room for the sedum roots and tuck the plants in, firming them with your fingers as you go. Rebecca uses hardy sedums in her living-roof birdhouses. 

  • Step 9: Knob needs

    Step 9: Knob needs

    Attach the knob with a screw on the side, so you can open the birdhouse to clean it out. The perch under the entry hole is optional. Birds don’t need it. 

  • The business behind the birdhouse

    The business behind the birdhouse

    Rebecca Nickols was looking for a creative outlet from her job, and so was born the living-roof birdhouse. She and her husband, Jeff, launched a hobby business together called Rebecca's Bird Gardens

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