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The 19th century stable yard

The 19th century stable yard
NTPL Zoƫ Colbeck

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Green roof ready for bikes and bees

The living green roof on our new cycle shed is finally in place and looking beautiful!

As well as the turbine excitement last week, we also spent two days installing the green roof. John Little, who ran the workshop here in May, came back to do it, with Rob and Dave who help him as part of the Grass Roof Company (

First of all Gareth, from Stennett Landscapes, finished building the shed, as John was starting work on the roof - it was quite a busy site:

Gareth and John both work on the shed (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

John, Dave and Rob then got to work properly on the roof, adding three waterproof and protective layers to make sure that it doesn't leak:

John carries the waterproofing on to the shed (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

John, Rob and Dave lay out the waterproofing (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

They added a gabion edge and then cut the waterproofing to size:

John adds the gabion edge (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The layers are cut to size (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Dave fixes it all in place with strips of recycled plastic (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Drainage was then added, to take away excess water from the roof:

Rob and Dave measure up for the drainpipe (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Rob cuts the drainpipe (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

They added little logs from John's garden, to make the edge look nice:

Dave with the gabion edge (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

They then added lots of substrate - we designed the shed so that we could have deep soil and therefore a variety of plants - we allowed for 250kg per square metre. That means lots of buckets of soil being heaved up on to the roof.
 Rob and John pass each other buckets of soil to cover the roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

A 'leaky pipe' was then fixed to the top of the shed and buried underneath the soil in big loops. This means that when we need to water the roof in very dry weather, we just need to attach a hose to the end of the porous pipe, and water will leak out underneath the plants.
 The leaky pipe is attached to the corner of the roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Dave, John and Rob all hold the pipe down and bury it under the soil (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Next it was time for the most exciting part - the planting. I joined in, as did Justin and Annie, our two garden volunteers who came to our green roof workshop recently.

First of all we planted some plug plants, all chosen for their suitability on green roofs. They included flowers which attract bees, such as ox-eye daisy and red valerian, and edible and aromatic herbs such as chives, thyme, rosemary and oregano.

Justin and Annie plant the plug plants (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We then went to the garden centre in Morden Hall Park to buy some more established plants, such as hyssop, delosperma, drosanthemum and various types of sedum.

We enjoy filling a trolley at the garden centre (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The plants were passed up to John on the roof, then we climbed up and planted them (cunningly taking photos of them with their labels, so we know what we're looking at later):

 The plants are lifted up and photos taken (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

A hard day's planting was almost complete and we could admire our handiwork:

Justin, Annie and John pose on the new roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We just needed to add a bit more to encourage wildlife - a pile of stones at one end of the roof and two 'insect hotels' for solitary bees on the sunny end:

Caroline with the wildlife habitat pile of stones (NTPL/John Little)

The insect hotels made from recycled drain pipe and local wood (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We then watered the roof, using a hose attached to the leaky pipe:

Justin and Annie water the roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

 The cycle shed is then complete, and ready to welcome the park's bikes and bees:

The finished cycle shed (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

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