Green roofs

Curiously, I’ve never really written about green roofs, yet they are an important part of the urban greening scene and definitely a part of my “building biomembrane” concept.  Perhaps it’s because the subject is so well covered by the commercial sector and various organisations; far better than green walls but then, they have a twenty year head start.

And twenty years ago, I was putting green roofs into some of the landscapes I designed and built.  Here’s one in my own garden, on a wood store:  the one at the back is an 18 year old turf roof, with soil and grasses, such as was common in those days.  There’s a lot of Sedums, Sempervivum, bulbs etc that have been added over the years, or found their own way there.  The roof to the front is about two weeks old, consisting mostly of Sedum album, which was growing prolifically in a graveled part of my garden where I didn’t want it.  I put a layer of soil and compost under it and slapped the darn stuff down!


I also have another Sedum/succulent roof over my porch, which is much more akin to a modern extensive green roof, with a mix of compost and expanded clay pellets (ie lightweight aggregate). It is much less prolific and to my mind, less successful therefore.  I used to be quite adept at building hobbit-like turf-roofed garden structures from chestnut and reclaimed timber, such as this one, built for a show:

Turf Hut 2

These days I like to do rustic with a contemporary feel, such as my current summerhouse, which I built last year. It doesn’t have a green roof, simply because it faces away from us so we’d never see it. It’s insulated and timber-lined inside, so stays fairly warm with a little help. The windows all came from a house up the road, so fitting my desire for recycling. Double-glazed too…


Of course, the best kind of green roofs are the ones you can use as garden or green space. I’m designing one right now which overlooks the Thames; an early concept modeled below. I’ll put more up on this as things progress…

June 28th, 2013 by