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Green Turf Roof on The Isle of Skye

Grassclippings - Channel 4 - Grand Designs - Skye Project

The Managing Editor of Grassclippings is an avid follower of Kevin McCloud's Grand Designs on Channel 4 and interactive conversation on the sofa increases every time there is a green roof installed on one of the homes featured in the show!

The episode last night involved two ladies who build a concept house on the beautiful Isle of Skye.  Ever since she was a teenager, artist Indi Waterstone has dreamed of building a house inspired by nature. Now, along with partner Rebecca, she's going to do just that, in one of the most remote and beautiful landscapes in Britain - the Isle of Skye.

The plan was to build something totally different from the traditional white-washed stone buildings that dot the island. Their new home will be an architect-designed miniature jewel.  The owners were inspired by the Findhorn Foundation.  The Findhorn Foundation is a spiritual community, ecovillage and an international centre for holistic learning, helping to unfold a new human consciousness and create a positive and sustainable future.

The Findhorn Ecovillage is a tangible demonstration of the links between the spiritual, social, ecological and economic aspects of life and is a synthesis of the very best of current thinking on human habitats. It is a constantly evolving model used as a teaching resource by a number of university and school groups as well as by professional organisations and municipalities worldwide.

They are a founder member of the Global Ecovillage Network(GEN) a non-profit organisation that links together a highly diverse worldwide movement of autonomous ecovillages and related projects, and they work with intergovernmental agencies both educationally and in the creation of policy guidance for sustainable development and delivery of village-scale sustainability programmes.

The ladies featured in Grand Designs have scrimped and saved for years to raise every penny for the build - but making it happen will mean taking on the savage weather, as well as the sceptical locals.

The end product was pretty spectacular but a few things annoyed our Managing Editor when it came to installing the roof turf supplied by R M Welch & Sonsin Dundee.  Firstly, there was no need to import lots of what appeared to be a really heavy textured soil onto the roof.  This adds unnecessary weight to the roof structure which increases when the soil is also full of water when there are other lighter soil options available.  Secondly, the turf was really diseased and covered in leaf spots, chlorosis and rust.  We would have thought that a pure Fescue seed mixture would have been best suited for the weather the roof would  experience rather than the seed mixture the turf actually contained.  It looked like meadow turf!  The grasses would need to have rhizomes and stolons to bind it together with minimal water loss from the rolled leaves of the Fescues and not be too fast growing or nutrient dependant.  It would also go a great colour in the non growing season and could be allowed to grow long like a golf course rough and mown down just once a year.  A bit more thought could have gone into the green roof we felt.

The mowing of the green roofs at The Findhorn EcoVillage was a bit interesting too and they obviously don't do many risk assessments of using lawn mowers on roofs....

Need a green roof - why not install Enviromat

Content & Image - Copyright acknowledged - Channel 4 and The Findhorn Foundation

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