Categories
Ecology Ecoretrofit Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs

Thriving green roof in Welwyn Garden City

This green roof on an extension in Welwyn Garden City is nearly 10 years old and has been thriving. This was the first green roof I made so I was a little cautious about the loading, the middle are is sedum on a foam drainage mat with very little soil. The edges have more soil and substrate so they are able to support wildflowers, grasses and self seeded local plants. Nowadays I would add a lot more substrate but it is still going strong and the recent rain and sunshine combination has got it growing beautifully.

The sedums are quite persistent and even managed to self seed and create a little patch of growth on the gravel driveway which looks great and offsets the potted plants.

This one was retrofitted which encourages caution, you don’t want the roof to fall down but you can find a combination of plants and sedums that will work on almost any flat or gently sloping roof. Even better if you are building a new extension you can specify the roof to take any depth of soil you want for a really fabulous roof with the plants of your dreams. Drop me a line if you want to know more alex@ecoalex.com

Categories
Design Ecology Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs

Bike shed green roof in Dulwich

I like making green roofs but one problem with them is that I nearly always build on extensions and garden buildings at the back of houses so no one but the home owner gets to see it. Bike sheds are usually at the front of the house so they are on show to the world.

This one I built in Dulwich, London is for a client I built a sedum roof for last year. I persuaded them that this one would look nicer with a wider range of plants. I put in a selection of sedums including Sempervivum for long term coverage and then added herbs: creeping thyme, chamomile and rosemary. Then I added some saxifraga and a selection of plants that are flowering now for cover.

I think you will agree it looks fantastic now. If you want one for your bike shed get in touch. alex@ecoalex.com

Categories
Ecology Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs Projects sustainability

‘Spectacular’ green roof in Dulwich

I built this one last week on a garden office in Dulwich. I don’t do so many sedum roofs but this did come up looking really nice and is instantly green.

The roof build up was using the Optigreen lightweight roof system. A protection fleece over the waterproofing, drainage layer, lightweight substrate and pregrown sedum on top. This was ideal for this garden office and really helped it blend in to the trees and plants at the bottom of the garden. The roof will drain into a gutter when complete (not that there will be a lot of runoff). I used aluminium edge trim all the way round to give it a nice defined edge.

The substrate was incredibly dry when it arrived, I initially thought it was just sand! This made it really easy to get up on to the roof, the bags weighed even less than usual. Luckily it has had a good soaking with the rain since to get it nice and wet.

Getting the sedum up on the roof was a little trickier, we left it out overnight and the client enthuisiastically watered it making it very heavy. After struggling with a couple of rolls I realised it was better to cut the mats in half to make them easier to handle.

Once it was all up it looked really good. I spoke to the client again the week after to check on it and he said ‘It looks absolutely stunning. The wife and my nearest neighbours really like it – so a big thankyou. I have been diligently watering it and it is looking good. Many thanks‘ very pleased with the feedback.

Categories
Ecology Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs Projects Shabbihaus retrofit

Lockdown green roof

This is one that’s growing right now. I built it with the kids using leftover materials from other jobs and an old pallet to stand in for the roof. The rocks in gabion cages look great and it is super green but lacking in the wildflowers that we seeded it with.

Categories
Ecology Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs

Muswell hill roof

Another one on a new extension this one was specified with a sedum mat. Ever keen to increase biodiversity I also sowed it with wildflower seeds. I quite like it as a way to put the roof together, very simple and also quick, if a bit heavy getting the mat up to the roof. The sedum roofs often die out quickly but this one has a good layer of substrate underneath for it to grow into which should retain water and increase resilience.

Categories
Construction Ecology Ecoretrofit Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs Uncategorized

SYdenham hill green roof

This is a small green roof on a modern house in Sydenham Hill. It uses white painted railway sleepers for a frame to match the fascia boards on the house and I think fits in very well.

Categories
Ecology Ecoretrofit Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs Using less water

Highgate green roof

A 2 section green roof installed in Highgate as part of an Eco retrofit being carried out at the property. We incorporated reclaimed york stone paving slabs to create a path which was lined with lemon thyme that should grow over it and release a fragrance when trodden on. Some of the existing planters were retained and we used lots of grasses and some saffron crocuses.

Categories
Construction Design Ecology Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs sustainability

Green roof on a bike shed

This is a project I completed back in October, secure cycle storage and a green roof. The client wanted secure storage in the front garden without having a big ugly box taking up all the space for planting and we came up with this elegant solution.

Still flowering in March

As the shed is on the way into the house we planted a number of different herbs which can be easily picked when you are on the way home and also release a scent if you brush past. These were combined with some flowering plants (it was October so not much available) and sedums. The whole roof was also sown with wildflower seeds so should be quite productive in the spring. There are saffron crocus bulbs underneath which may start to appear in late summer.

Freshly planted

The bike shed itself has capacity for 2 bikes but there is a larger 4 bike version or these can be put side by side for multiples. To order.

This type of roof can be more easily accessed by the householder so we can try and create a slightly more formal garden than I would on a normal green roof as you can change the plants around and water and feed them if it is necessary.

The green roof itself has a fleece at the bottom then a drainage layer of aerated clay pebbles before the soil, here to about 125mm depth but the sheds are pretty tough so this could be bigger if required. The sleepers look really good but an alternative would be cobbles in gabion cages depending on what would fit with your front garden. Order page.

Categories
Construction Encouraging wildlife and nature Shabbihaus retrofit Ventilation & fresh air

My Shabbihaus eco retrofit project part 4 living wall insulation

Dry air in the house is a good achievement but I have also been worrying about the pollution levels. Two of the three air intakes are located above the back garden and the front one has some good tree coverage between it and the road but it is still a busy traffic area. This made me look at some alternative ways of cleaning the air, I did some googling and came across the NASA research project on houseplants and their impact on air quality. Now before I go any further I do realise that these were controlled tests and we would also need a very large number of plants to get a big impact but I figure it can’t hurt and what I made looks great.

I have been keen to do something with reclaimed wood and also to add some extra insulation to the flank wall in the kids bedroom so I got a bit carried away here and produced this wall made from old pallets with 50mm of woodfibre insulation behind it. I was a bit nervous about this project as it has a bit more of a design impact than some of the other projects, it’s been in a while now though and I am so pleased with the outcome visually. 

The first thing we did was tour the streets collecting abandoned pallets. I found that ones that were slightly broken already were better as they are easier to dismantle than really well built ones. The kids really enjoyed the collection process and I also got them to stain some of the planks we extracted to add some variety to the wall.

Next step was to get hold of some wood fibre insulation, not so easy for small quantities but thanks to https://phstore.co.uk/ for arranging it for me, delivery costs almost the same as the insulation in small quantities but cheaper than elsewhere and charming service too. I then fixed some 50mm battens to the wall at 600mm and push fitted the insulation between. 

The next bit involved a nail gun so was great fun managed to charm the lady at Travis Perkins into giving me a discount and I was off. I fixed them in an offset pattern and tried to group similar widths of board together so it wasn’t too bumpy. 

Then we had to make shelves for the plants to grow on. I used the ‘dice’ from the pallets (technical term for the square bits that go in between the pallets) screwed into the wall to support shelves made from more pallet boards. These dice are pretty tough and tricky to drill through, one of them still has half a drill bit in it where it snapped. 

Once it was all up we put in the plants, I used Chinese evergreen, peace lily, some snake plants and a cutting from an old spider plant. I also put in a watering system! Well, I bought some globes that you fill up and they drip out over a couple of weeks, they are a bit inconsistent but a lot cheaper than some automated system. I top them up with waste water from kids water bottles and they are still growing nearly a year later.

Categories
Ecology Ecoretrofit Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs Projects

Gabions and cyclamen, a new green roof in Herne Hill

It’s taken a little while to share this new green roof I built in Herne Hill recently.

There were a number of challenges here particularly the height of the roof with no edge protection, we used a harness to install the edges.

The edges were built using gabion cages filled with cobbles. This created a more natural edge and ensured the stones didn’t roll off the edge of the roof and shatter the tiles below, I think they look pretty cool.

I used aerated clay pebbles for the drainage layer again, really like these rather than the plastic sheets and carrying a bag makes you feel really strong as they are so lightweight. We then put in a protective membrane and covered with ultra lightweight green roof substrate from Shire Substrates.

The roof has been seeded with a mixture of wildflowers and grasses with more to be added in the spring. In the meantime I put in some grasses, sedums and also Cyclamen. I wasn’t really sure about the cyclamen but not much else is flowering this time of year a month later and they seem to have settled in well.

I will add further updates in the spring. There are lots of bulbs in there which should appear soon.