Gardens in the sky


Lots of people love the idea of installing a green roof but don’t know where to start. An event at this year’s Wanstead Fringe aims to change all that. Susie Knox from Wild Wanstead reports

There’s a revolution going on in London. But if you want to see it, you’ll need to look up… Green roofs are appearing on buildings around the capital, creating a patchwork of vegetation across the skyline.

According to a report from the Mayor of London, there are now 1.5 million square metres of green roof in Greater London. It might be new to the UK, but green roof technology is well established in countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland. That means there’s now a substantial body of evidence quantifying the enormous benefits of making gardens in the sky.

A green (or living) roof is one where vegetation or a habitat for wildlife is deliberately established. They can be on an impressive scale – creating parkland, areas to grow food or even bespoke habitats for wildlife. But for residential developments, they are usually what’s called an ‘extensive’ green roof, which means they are low maintenance and once established, largely look after themselves. They are vegetated with low-growing, drought-tolerant plants like stonecrop (sedum) or dry meadow grasses and wildflowers.

Whatever the type, green roofs bring a whole load of benefits – some visual, some environmental and some even financial. These include providing insulation in winter and a cooling effect in summer (which can help reduce energy bills), extending the life of the roof, supporting biodiversity, improving air quality, capturing carbon, reducing noise and creating the green aspect known to enhance health and wellbeing (as well as looking a lot more attractive than roofing felt!).

So, are people in Redbridge benefitting from the perks of green roofs? Well, at the moment, not so much, at least not compared to our neighbours in Waltham Forest and Newham. But there’s no reason why that shouldn’t change.

Green roofs make a fantastic option for residential extensions – probably one of the most frequent developments here in Wanstead. They can be installed on existing roofs or at the time an extension is being built.

If you want to find out more, an event is being held as part of this year’s Wanstead Fringe, which aims to provide a practical guide focusing on how to install a living green roof on your extension. The speaker is Chris Bridgman from green roof specialists Bridgman & Bridgman, who will provide practical demonstrations, case studies and a step-by-step guide to turn your roof from grey to green.

The talk will take place at The Larder, 39 High Street, Wanstead on 10 September  from 7.30pm to 8.30pm (free). For more information on Wanstead Fringe events, visit wnstd.com/fringe19