Green Rooftops

Pick-your-own bugs: the patchwork roof

Boningale Greensky has a new rooftop idea. The concept is simple. Instead of creating a green rooftop on location, i.e. the roof, it is grown elsewhere and transported as ‘vegetated tiles’. These are then slotted together in a neat patchwork on site.

‘Basically these are big plant pots that are grown somewhere else and dropped on top of the roof,’ says Jeff Sorrill, Green Roof Centre Manager at the University of Sheffield.

The little parcels of plants and substrates are roughly 60cm x 80cm and 10cm deep.

This is a new alternative to the traditional rolling out of matted green rooftops. As the ‘plug’ plants are grown in substrate before being placed on the roof, they are then hardier when relocated. This means quicker establishment and fewer losses.

‘There is not a lot out there apart from matting,’ says Kayleigh Pountney, Sales and Technical Support Officer from Boningale Greensky. ‘We want to let people know what else is the market.’

Personalising your roof

Using this novel approach, a green rooftop can be customised. Boningale Greensky has created a ‘wildlife catalogue’ where you can pick the certain plants you want to attract specific insects or bugs.

For instance, Foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea, will attract moths, butterflies, true bugs, beetles and flies. Stinking Iris, Iris foetidissima, will entice weevil beetles. Garden Lavender, Lavandula ang., will interest goldfinches, honey bees and red mason bees.

‘It’s all about tailoring to a specific outcome. – for example, I’m in the middle of Sheffield. I could create a rooftop perfect to attract a Golden Eagle but it’s never going to happen. The rooftop must be suitable to the local environment,’ says Sorrill.

It is a working progress, based on a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Boningale Greensky nursery. Known as a ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’, academic research is combined with the growing experience of a plant nursery to find better, practical products in the real world.

‘We want people to think more carefully about why they want that roof on there in the first place,’ says Sorrill. ‘The aim is to create a class leading green rooftop.’

By Becky


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