Tuesday, 29 January 2008

recycled chipped rubber tyre mulch - good or bad?

In the continuing quest for a greener garden, all sorts of products are being 'recycled' into garden mulches, dressings and surfaces. But are they any good? Should we be using them in sutainable and green garden designs?

Granulated or chipped rubber mulch is one of the new wonder products on the garden design market - but as with most things, it should be used with caution


* Rubber play surfaces are unaffected by the environment.
* The rubber will not absorb water and so will not freeze in winter
* Rubber does not attract animals or insects.
* It prohibits the growth of moulds and fungi

This makes rubber perfect for childrens play surfaces or public landscape architecture projects such as the garden at Fort Dunlop in Birmingham, UK


* Ground up rubber tyres have been discovered to kill ornamental plants because of their zinc content.
* Can smell very strongly (of rubber!) which is off putting in a garden
* Rubber does have a slight nitrogen value - however the toxicity of the zinc, cadmium and other heavy metals more than diminishes the chance of any benefit

So the conclusion seems to be that for residential gardens, rubber chippings are not the greenest solution - but for larger public projects such as parks, hotels and offices - this is a good option.

Offices, hotels and shopping centres may well benefit from this innovation - especially where gardens are designed more to be looked at than sat in. And whilst the metal content of rubber chippings can kill shrubs and perennials, where it is used as a mulch for an avenue or park of established trees (over a geotextile membrane) it can prove to be a very green, low maintenance and cost effective solution so don't write it off entirely!

Monday, 28 January 2008

Recycled cd's make new eco garden gravel!

With recycled aggregates for paths and mulches all the range, there are some fantastically random products coming on the market

This mulch is made from granulated CD’s!

It can be bought from the wonderful Specialist Aggregates

I can't wait to see what they think of next.....

Friday, 25 January 2008

Recycled garden materials - for a greener garden

Reclaimed materials can give your garden a unique edge you won't find anywhere else.

Great Reclamation yards

For up to date information its best to look at websites as they contain recently arrived stock and can save you a wasted visit. We use some of these to find unique pieces.

Salvo.co.uk The umbrella site for UK salvage companies.
Drummonds.co.uk Guildford
Architectural-heritage.co.uk Cheltenham
Jardinique.co.uk Hampshire
Lassco.co.uk City, London
Westland.co.uk London

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Green roof, grass roof

Green roofs, like the grass roof pictured above, are becoming an increasingly important requirement for builders, planners and homeowners. Recent costings indicate that over the entire lifetime of a roof, green roofs cost the same or less than conventional roofing and so perhaps we need to stop thinking of them as an expensive, hippy, alternative and start taking them seriously.

Even if green roofs, sedum roofs and grass roofs are only cost neutral with conventional roofing methods - the other benefits they provide are make them far and away the best option overall.

High water retention
water is released from the roof more slowly helping to prevent damage by flash flooding and high rainfall

Improves biodiversity
provides a habitat for animals and plants. Especially important in urban areas with little green space.

Improves environment
• Absorbs greenhouse gases.
• Absorbs air pollution and dust.
• Cools and humidifies the surrounding air.

Recycled materials
• Many of the materials used in green roof construction are manufactured from recycled building materials, plastics and rubber which helps to reduce landfill disposal.

• Extra insulation helps to retain heat and therefore reduces heating bills
• Insulating effect also reduces noise levels - which is especially important in urban areas

Interestingly green roofs are not a new idea. In fact, like many of the best 'new ideas' they have been standard construction practice in some countries for hundreds (maybe thousands!) of years. In the cold climates of Iceland and Scandinavia sod roofs helped to retain a building 's heat, while in warm countries such as Tanzania, they keep buildings cool.

Until the mid-20th century green roofs were viewed mainly as a vernacular building practice. However in the 1960 's, rising concerns about environment and the lack of green space in urban areas renewed interest in green roofs as a "green solution". The renaissance began in Germany and Switzerland where new technical research began into plant suitability, membranes etc.

Today, green roofs are a serious proposition for homeowners, planners and builders. If you want to find out more, click on the links below:


The Green Roof Centre

Living Roofs



Thursday, 17 January 2008

New Plant Introduction - Echinacea 'Green Envy'

Echinacea 'Green Envy' has exceptionally long lasting green flowers and will happily bloom from July to October. Although I usually prefer the more elegant long thin reflexed petals of echinaceas like 'pallida', this new plant introduction has stolen my heart.

I am a big fan of green flowers, and this echinacea is a welcome addition to my planting design palette.

The broad-petalled blooms have a suprise in store. Although they open green - they turn magenta from their centres outwards as the flowers age through the season.

Drought tolerant and great for cutting, this plant will reach a height of about 80cm

Worth a place in every garden. You can buy them from:

UK Suppliers:
Cotswold Garden Flowers
Thompson and Morgan

US Suppliers:
White Flower Farm
Springhill Nursery

Monday, 14 January 2008

Wrap up warm - birds and bugs and all

When you are wrapped up warm in front of a fire this month, complaining about the weather - spare a thought for the wildlife in your garden who are also struggling to keep warm

We all remember the birds - who feast on fat balls and sunflower seedheads before retiring to their bird boxes and nests but don't forget to provide a home for some of the other really useful garden bugs...

Even just leaving the dead seadheads and foliage on the plants in your herbaceous border can make the difference. Alternatively, you can make a small airy pile of logs and garden prunings for them to colonise.

If you don't have the time or the space to create a bespoke home, there are some great habitats around that provide perfect hibernation conditions for butterflies, ladybirds and other beneficial insects.

Check out these cute ladybird towers from Garden Boutique

........or if you have a small urban garden I love these beneficial insect boxes which can be wall mounted