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Developing 3 new spaces – Part 2 – the new roof garden

The final new garden we developed early in 2017 was our second roof garden here at Avocet. To find out about our first green roof refer to my post called “Growing up! Making a green roof.” published back in April 2013.

This, our second roof garden, was created when we got rid of one of our garden sheds and moved a smaller one into its place. (see the post entitled “Three Sheds into Two will Go”)

We constructed a strong framework around the shed in timber so that the roof garden itself was putting no extra stress on the shed roof itself. We then added a new floor to the roof garden from strong floorboards which we waterproofed with two layers of roofing felt. In order to make it ready for the planting media we added a layer of weed membrane to allow for drainage and to retain the compost. We created a drainage channel filled with gravel. The final stage of preparation was adding a layer of light weight compost which was carefully leveled.

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Time to plant! It always seems strange planting when up a ladder!

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The green roof is the exciting finishing point in our shed project. The first phase of planting really made us feel as if we had completed our work with the three sheds, which had now been turned into two! The plants were a selection of grasses, Incinia rubra, a selection of Carex and Stipa tenuissima but more will follow soon. Flowering plants included a selection of small Sedums, Sedum tricolor, S. telephinium ss riprechtii “Hab Gray”, S. ewersii and S. cauticola Coca Cola plus two scented Violas, V. odorata sulphurea and V. odorata Konigin Charlotte, a low growing Sedum-like plant Chiastophyllum opositifolium and a variegated Trifolium, T. pratense “Susan Smith”.

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Job done!

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Growing up! Making a green roof.

We have created a new feature on our allotment this week – a green roof. We thought we would try to make up for the area of ground taken up by the footprint of our shed by making a garden on its roof. We have spent months at the planning stage, working out how to strengthen the roof, how to make sure we  could still collect rain water run-off to fill our butts and choosing plants that would look good and support wildlife. We would like the roof to entice more beneficial insects , pollinators and natural pest controllers to visit our plot. Spiders, beetles, hoverflies will also be welcomed as our little garden helpers and of course we want to attract butterflies too just to delight in watching them.

After strengthening the structure of the shed by building an internal framework of 2 x 2 inch lengths of wood, we added a second layer of roofing felt. Next we fitted the outside frame out of 6 inch deep feather edge and inside this stapled down a double layer of geo-textile membrane. We hope the membrane will allow rainwater to pass through it after permeating through the compost. The rainwater will then be caught in the guttering and can run into the butts.

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A structure of 2 x 2 inch lengths of wood was used to divide up the surface.

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We next added the first layer of special compost to a depth of about an inch. This is a lightweight compost to which we added perlite to a ratio of 1 to 3 perlite to compost. Chicken wire was then laid over this first layer of compost and then a second one inch layer of our compost/perlite mixture was added. The wire should help hold the compost in place in times of heavy rain and we hope it will also give something for the roots to grow through and grip onto.

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Finally the planting. Delicate alpines in some sections and mixed sedum and sempervivum in others. We added a driftwood feature for interest.

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What we hope we have created is a little meadow in the air, a miniature garden that takes up no growing space that could otherwise be used for crop production. We will have the added benefit of an increase in insulation, giving us a cooler shed in the summer and a warmer space in the winter.

So now we are keeping our fingers crossed, hoping that we do not have any heavy downpours before the plants get their roots down, and hoping that Blackbirds do not find a way in. They have a habit of uprooting young plants in the hope of finding a tasty morsel.


I shall keep you informed of progress.