Green roofs are finally enjoying some well-deserved popularity on modern buildings in the US, but in Scandinavia they have been part of traditional architecture for centuries. Today it is possible to see an astonishing variety of green roofs in Norway, all paying homage to the nation’s love of these eco-friendly architectural features.

Some green roofs are planted with – if you’ll forgive the pun – garden-variety grass. Others display a more complex vegetation pattern, often including flowers, trees and low shrubs. Even trees make an occasional appearance, although in the picture above the trees seem to be overgrown and sitting atop a structurally damaged home.

Green roofs are not only lovely; they help to insulate a home and keep its heating and cooling costs low. The weight of the roof and its necessary structural supports help to stabilize the home, and grass roofs tend to be very long-lived.

One of the first questions typically asked about green roofs is “But how do you mow it?” The answer is simple: in most cases, you don’t. Think of grass roofs as a wild prairie environment where the plants are left to grow as they please. Their beautiful natural state adds a great deal of character to the homes on which they sit.

Norwegians homes trended toward more modern roofs for a while, but a traditionalist movement is bringing these ultra-effective and lovely roofs back. Scandinavians are so serious about their green roofs, in fact, that every year there is a competition to determine the cream of the crop by the Scandinavian Green Roof Association.