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Ecology Ecoretrofit Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs Retrofit sustainability

Building a green roof in South London

I spent a few days building a new roof in South London. We used gabion cages filled with a mixture of large stones and logs to create habitat.

I also used a time lapse camera for the first time to try and capture building the roof. I have divided it into 3 sections, first the set up, including adding some insulation. We used gabion cages from Devoran metals for the edges https://devoran-metals.co.uk/

Edges and protective fleece in place

After this we added a drainage layer of aerated clay pebbles, these also add to the insulation and help to reduce overheating.

Drainage layer is added

I struggled a bit with the speeds and lapse times for the videos but slowly getting better. The next step for the roof was to top up the gabion cages and add the soil, we were using Shire substrates who supply an excellent green roof mix.

Soil goes on

Finally planting and seeding. I worked with Rotherview nurseries to get an excellent selection of plants that are growing well at this time of year, including several sedums, campanula and Armeria. We also added lots of wildflower seeds that will start to show their heads in spring or before.

Planting

Overall, we were pretty pleased with the roof as was the client. Looking forward to seeing it develop over the next few years.

Categories
Construction Design Ecology Encouraging wildlife and nature Green roofs

New green roof in Dulwich

Alex standing in front of the finished roof, looking smug.

I put together another roof in Dulwich recently and thought I would share a few pictures and details.

This one started out with a visit to the clients to have a look at the roof. They had initially asked about a sedum roof and possibly even a cartridge system so I hadn’t been that keen. However when we met they were open to a more interesting type of green roof with a wider range of plants and a roof that develops over time.

We also looked at the skylights in the roof and decided that it would be better to build the roof with something more adaptable than the tray system. We settled on an expanded clay pebble drainage layer that flowed around the obstacles with some gravel borders and the usual Shire Green Roof Substrate for the plants.

I got an excellent selection of plants from Rotherview Nursery near the south coast.

They have a wide range of green roof plants and have been really quick to deliver, the plants including sedum reflexum gold, campanula pusilla, Erigeron, saxifraga scenic red, sedum schoebusser blut, sempervivums, thymus minimus, stops pony tails, armeria splendens, chaenorrhinum, erosion flore pleno, frankaenia thymifolia, and sedum pachyclados. I also added in a selection of alium and armeria bulbs, the client will be putting in crocus bulbs come the autumn. Finally we topped it off with a selection of wild flower seeds including Field Poppy, Red Campion, Black Meddick, Common Knapweed, Ox-eye daisy, Ribwort Plantain, Yarrow, Lady’s Bedstraw, Bulbous Buttercup, Cowslip, Salad Burnet Grasses: Browntop Bent, Strong Creeping Red Fescue, Crested Dogstail, Meadow Fescue, Sheeps Fescue. Hopefully most if not all of them will find a space that suits them on the roof. I expect all the plants to develop and grow over the next few years finding their place on the roof. Not all of them will find that and not all of them will thrive every year but we should get a great selection finding their place.

Tania planting the roof
bench made from pallets

Finally I made a bench from the pallets left behind by the delivery of the substrates and soils.

After we built the roof I was left with a couple of pallets and some wood I used to create straight lines on the gravel. After a bit of online research I found a design for this bench and we need some garden furniture so I spent last weekend putting this together. A bit cold to sit outside at the moment but I think it will come in useful later in the year.

For more details and to get a quote for your roof send me a message.

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

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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.

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Ecoretrofit Green roofs Projects sustainability

East dulwich green roof

This was a green roof on a new extension built from reclaimed bricks. The roof had a slope on it meaning we used a different drainage system that also helped retain the soil in place. It also had a watering system added at the top of the slope for the dryer months.

Categories
Construction Ecology Ecoretrofit Green roofs sustainability Using less energy

Hackney retrofit green roof

This was a really cool extension using reclaimed materials in Hackney. The green roof was a bit tricky to photograph but you can see the effect of the plants blowing in the wind above the skylight.

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Green roofs

Stoke Newington roof

This was a tiny green roof built as part of a refurb a friend was doing in Stoke Newington. Some nice plants from New Covent Garden and great to have some builders on site to carry all the soil upstairs.

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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 https://www.asgardsss.co.uk/twin-bike-locker.

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

Marlow green roof update

Not all my green roofs are in London, you can see one of my early ones in Welwyn Garden City and this magnificent roof on a garage in Spring Gardens in Marlow

Shows edge detail and flowers
Lots of wildflowers growing here

The roof was installed early this year using Shire substrates and materials from Optigreen. I used expanded clay for the drainage layer and large cobbles to create a more natural looking border.

Wildflowers and sedum

The roof had loads of really nice seeds in it and was also planted with some sedums, aliums and stipa grasses and it has really blossomed tremendously.

the long edge of the roof
Categories
Ecology Ecoretrofit Green roofs

Green roof in Wood Green

This is one I did last year that has been growing really well. The roof was on a new extension so the clients were able to design in extra big joists so we could support a good depth of soil on the green roof.

They managed to get a 5m extension so we had a good size to work with even with the skylights. It was waterproofed by the contractor ready for installation.

Roof before adding the greenery
Roof cleaned and prepared for installation

The team and myself laid out a protection fleece made from recycled material on the roof, then we added a drainage layer and put a filter fleece on the top to stop roots growing into it. Then we added the substrate, a special mixture of soil, lightweight aggregates, brick chippings etc, this is designed to keep the weight down, drain easily and also stop the plants growing too tall and need maintenance.

The team lay out the substrate

We put a gravel barrier round the edge of the roof and the skylights to assist drainage and add a firebreak. We also put extra gravel under the downpipe from the main roof of the house so the roof can absorb all the water from the roof rather than have it fill up the drains.

Moving materials is always a problem in London and we had to carry all the green roof substrate through the house and up on to the roof. Luckily Ecoalex has some good strong assistants so I didn’t have to do too much lifting. Once we had put out all the green roof substrate at varying depths we were ready to plant.

Planting, workers grass
Roof ready to be planted

For this roof I had a mixture of mature plants and seeds. I included some Stipa tenuissima¬†(the grassy stuff in the foreground) for the first time to see how it would grow and although it browns a bit in the dry periods it seems to be thriving. We also put in a few varieties of sedum to get some ground coverage including house leeks. Other plants included sea burnet and Sempervivum. I picked up all these plants at New Covent Garden Flower market in the morning a great place to pick up plants in London. But these are just to start the roof, the main coverage will develop over the next three years with all the green roof seeds we have planted I used a couple of mixes of native wildflowers including this one from Scotland that has 20 wildflowers and 3 grass species in the mix . Not all these will thrive initially but over time they should each find their own niche on the roof and grow nicely. Gary Grant likes to describe these seed mixes as an orchestra with all the instruments waiting for the conductor to call them in at the appropriate time in the green roof’s own symphony. Below are some pictures of the roof planted and how it has developed this year. More will be added over time.