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Landscape Architecture




Constructing Excellence have a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for use by industry players to judge their own performance against their competitors or even their own offices or projects against each other.

The have introduced Environmental Performance Indicators (EPI) and have been recording industry scores against them all, but whilst Impact on Biodiversity and Area of Habitat Created/Retained is included they still lacked data from industry on Habitat.

This must be due to lack of interest, low priority, knowledge or action in this area.





Bat and bird boxes, owl roots and insect holes, creating natural/wild ponds in the garden and compost making and wormaries are all familiar to me.

BCT & RIBA Publishing Book


Michael Littlewood a landscape architect and author of Landscape detailing books also promotes and designs natural swimming ponds where humans, frogs and other pond life share the same water.  Delightful.


At Farnborough Day Nursery (not built) Walters and Cohen designed Gabion fences using logs cut from trees on the site,

The interstices between the logs could become havens for insects and birds.


Countryside plc produce a leaflet for home purchases, covering making wild gardens including making bird, bat and hedgehog nest boxes, natural water features for frogs and other pond life, wild flower gardens for insects, butterflies and moths.

PowerPoint file of Countryside leaflet


Project: Castle Henllys education centre

Architects: Smith Roberts Architects

At Castle Henllys iron age fort of round houses education centre near Cardigan Wales a green roof was planned and a meadow which was about to be destroyed was taken up as turf and transplanted onto the roof, very successfully.

Green roofs:




Project: Castle Henllys education centre

Architects: Smith Roberts Architects

Car park and site walls were planned using locally sourced rounded stone boulders and wild turf as mortar, a local traditional technique reused.

In each case, the turf was local, so not too many risks of importing non-indigenous species.

Watering the turf helps consolidation of the wall and within days the wild turf recovers, the roof and walls turn green in a matter of weeks and the insects get active again.

Project: Oriel y Parc St David’s Visitors Centre, Pembrokeshire, Wales visitors car park and picnic areas



Dusty Gedge an ornithologist caring for the Black Redstart in Deptford Creek London, encourages the use of brown roofs.

Brown roofs are usually gravel, of all sizes, ideally extracted from the site, can be crushed masonry, crushed of mixed sizes down fine dust.

These will laid on the flat roofs (with perimeter upstands) designed to be similar to a green roof only relatively dry and free of soil and grass or other planting, nature delivers its own.

Certain birds used to pebbly beaches see these brown roofs as potential nest sites and move in, bird droppings often containing seeds will establish themselves and soon birds, grasses and insects take over the roof.

Insects live in the interstices of the gravel along with the droppings and other wind blow detritus.

The illustrations on the Websites show mixing other materials, like natural beach debris added into the roof-scape, and including mounds of earth with grasses and sedum.

They discourage mono-cultures, encourage mixing species if plants are added and use of multi species sedum, but most important is use of indigenous species to support indigenous insects and birds.

London Wildlife Trust.


London Biodiversity Partnership c/o London Wildlife Trust, Harling House, 47-51 Gt Suffolk St, London SE1 0BS


Mr Dusty Gedge




Section through Brown roof (To see this in detail visit the Website above.)



Conservation work on the Barn will be the subject on a separate paper.


I realised whilst preparing the specification that where the grass on the site has been neglected for some time, it is full of wild flowers and meadow grasses.

Architects: Borgos Dance & Partners

Plan to take up 200 m of grass drive and re-route 50 m replacing it all with gravel drive, the re-routing offers an opportunity to take up turf, topsoil and subsoil relaying it in a new location.

There will be other opportunities with recycling parts of the masonry as hardcore in foundation trenches and under floors. 


BRE Digest


Avoidance of rainwater gutters on the barn and no sewers required the use of filtre drains piped to soakaways in the site and in this case a cesspit for sewage.


BRE Digest


Phase 2 of the project is to build an extension to the barn to include a flat green roof which could be wild turf from the site.


I have previously addressed construction waste management on the Greenwich Millennium Village Phase 2a and 2b, this lead to the publication of A38 Construction Waste Management and Minimisation.


Reduction, Reuse and Recycling of Construction Waste A Project Management Guide Greenwich Millenium Village

Reduction of Site Construction Waste, Recycling and Reuse of Materials A Site Guide Greenwich Millenium Village 

Project: Kew’s Wakehurst Place Visitor’s Centre


Architects: Walters & Cohen

I started to address the issue of salvaging demolition waste on site and excavated materials from pathways to be re-routed.

A number of trees had to be cut down to accommodate the building. I asked that consideration was given to reuse of the trees in the project.

In this case the Employer was proactive in the use of all green waste throughout the estate in landscape activities and as carved logs for sale to the public.

I was also trying to minimise transport fuel costs for carting off materials to landfill at great expense, plus the landfill tax itself and then bringing other materials onto site to replace it having paid aggregates levy for virgin aggregates.


I had the opportunity to consider landscape waste management when asked by Groundwork to run a workshop at the LASEER annual conference and will have a second opportunity later in 2003.

Sustainability Checklist.


I have only recently be given an opportunity to address the idea of trying to improve or enhance but not diminish biodiversity and habitat on sites when building operations are underway and to manage and minimise waste generated on site.

An opportunity is arising which may allow me to address how this can be applied to housing site of a larger scale.

The following is an introduction to what could be done and is based on the barn Conversion. 


So the following is based on what was added to the barn conversion specification:

This may become a model specification for other projects so will inevitable be modified on each site depending upon when in the year the work is happening.


Plan the site to allow for:

a composting area

stock piling of topsoil, subsoil and rubble for hardcore,

all to be outside of the building activity areas,

away from heavy vehicle movement

DEFRA publication addresses soil stockpiling.



© DEFRA included in article above. (example of stock piling soils in quarry reclamation.

Do not compost or stock pile any materials under tree canopies and within 4000 mm. of trunks.

Comply with BS 5837 in respect of tree protection, protect with fencing at the line of the canopy or 4000 mm. from trunk, whichever is greatest.

Ensure each different compost area and stock pile can be accessed independently and none blocks access to another.

Do not stockpile against buildings, boundary walls and fences.

Do not stockpile any material over services, drains or inspection covers.


Predict how much of the following will be generated from the site: (allow for bulking up)

            Turf (from all areas of building operations)

topsoil, (from area of all building operations)

subsoil (from foundations, drain and services runs, paths and road bases),

rubble (from alterations, demolition etc)

Predict how much might have a potential reuse on the site,

            Topsoil (all of it, spread over the garden areas)

Avoiding below tree canopies which will harm them,

            Subsoil (all of it:

to create formations in the landscape,

to disguise the pre-existence of paths or drives to be removed or relocated

any spare to be spread over the site before relaying topsoil,

Avoiding below tree canopies which will harm them,

Rubble: as hardcore below the building in foundation trenches, under slabs, under paths and roads

Predict any surplus that may need to be removed from site.

            Turf: if there is loss of grass area on the site to building, path or road,

            Topsoil: really this should not be necessary

            Subsoil: unless lots of excavation is happening this should be possible to loose on site

            Rubble: if contaminated by non-inert materials may not be usable

(BRE have some published papers on limits of contamination)


Composting can be established early in the site activities.

Lifting turf and relaying turf needs to happen within a short window so planning the work to prepare the new location before the old location will need to be considered. 


Promote the surpluses, if any, as materials for reuse by others on Material Information Exchanges Websites.

Any surplus wild turf to be considered for resale, and information to be posted on appropriate Website.

I have enquired with Groundwork if they know of appropriate Websites and I am waiting for a response, but the local waste exchange will be very appropriate.

See GreenSpec Specification Appendix APP A38 LINKS.

MIE        Materials Information Exchange:


Pre-demolition sites, Demolitions sites, Recycled materials, Salvage yards, Sites with recycled product needs
Before you skip it, click it!

BRE Centre for Resource Management, Building Research Establishment, Garston, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD25 9XX.
T            01923 664462           F          01923 664103.


The following activities will best be carried out by landscape contractors rather than builders.

Before the site topsoil strip:

Establish a composting area remote from building operations, with easy access.

This will require a firm/impervious base or it will become a Wormery as worms in the soil work their way up into the compost.

Wormaries are great but if you need to turn or mix the composting materials then the risk of damaging the worms is high, and it won’t take long for many to procreate into hundreds.

Wormaries are best created off the ground in self contained stacking sieve trays.



This may require more than one subdivision, for grass, plants and shrubs, leaves (slow to compost), twigs and wood from hedges, bushes and trees, etc.


There are many ways of constructing compost areas but here is one ways using scrap from the last project.

Use salvaged pallets as sides and backs supported by scraps of reinforcing rod driven into ground or fix pallets to each other.

Fill voids in pallets with straw to provide insulation, provide insulated lids and fronts to ensure heat can be generated in the compost.


Collect seeds from any wild plants and meadow grasses as a precaution, separate different seed/pod types, store in suitable containers and allow to dry.

Record what wild plants and meadow grasses are included to allow promotion of grass turf on exchange Websites

Cut down strong weeds and collect into black plastic bags, seal bags with twine (rubber bands will deteriorate in the sun) and leave in the compost area out in the sun to help break down the seeds to prevent regrowth.

Rake up leaves and add to leaves compartment of composting area.

Cut grass and add grass and flower cuttings to composting area.

Cut turf from the areas to be stripped and roll turf for storage.

Any damaged or small scraps of turf to be added to compost area. 


Strip the topsoil back but do not site strip under tree canopies, for both trees on and off the site, nor within 4000 mm. of trunks.

Do not excavate or compact ground under tree canopies.

Comply with BS 5837 in respect of tree protection.

Create topsoil stockpiles ensuring the usual rules are complied with to ensure the topsoil stockpiles can breathe and do not die off.


To discourage weeds apparently it is beneficial to plant the topsoil stock piles with wild flowers and meadow grasses to deprive the weeds of opportunities.

Choose indigenous plant mixes which support local insects, bees, butterflies, etc.



In this case the wild turf can be laid over the stockpiles in place of the seeding.

(more checking needed to see if stockpiles should be reduced if covering with turf).

If there is a surplus of wild turf for the needs of the project then these should be promoted on exchange Websites.

Allow for access to remove any turf for resale.

Take care for the turf to ensure it does not dry out, maintain in good condition for reuse. 


Subsoil comes from foundations, basements, drains, inspection and other chambers and service runs, paving areas and site modelling.

Subsoil constitutes a high percentage of the 90 m tonnes the industry throws away each year,

23.7 m tonnes (33%) soil including stones and rock and classed as ‘inert’

15.0 m tonnes (21%) mixed C&D waste and soil likely to include non-inert waste

Subsoil is inert and should not be mixed with other waste, inert material is also permitted to go to special landfill sites, it is relatively cheap on landfill tax.

However subsoil is heavy and requires heavy haulage vehicles using considerable fuel and it take up a lot of space in landfill, so it needs to be stockpiled and reused on site.


All green waste from other activities on the site to be added to the compost area.

Any work modifying line or bulk of bushes and hedges, any tree limb trimming, removal of ivy or buddleia from masonry. To be cut and crushed before adding to compost,

Any compostable waste and packaging may be added to compost.

Cardboard paint containers and some natural paints may be included where composting is recommended by manufacturer.

Site canteen compostable food scraps may be included: uncooked fruit, fungi and vegetable waste, eggshell, nut husk,

Do not include cooked food, plate scrapings, meat, fish, foul, bone, dairy produce, etc.

The compost may have composting liquids added and should be turned and/or mixed as recommended by liquid manufacturer.

By the time the site is ready for topsoil, the composts will be very well developed and ready for use on site.

Any excess to be made available to the Employer.

When the time comes to lay topsoil, sieve the compost and sieve the topsoil and mix the fine materials together to make an appropriate mix.

Large and course material should be crushed and returned to the compost.


Where hard pavement materials are to be taken up and replaced with grass

Excavate pavement and stockpile for reuse

Make sure no alien materials are included in the stockpiles

Once pavement materials have been removed lay subsoil and topsoil recovered from the site, as required to make up levels and contours,

Lay turf recovered from the site.


Crush salvaged hard pavement materials for reuse as hardcore

The usual rule is to pass through a 100 mm. ring.

Again make sure no alien materials get into the mix.

Hardcore can be used in strip foundation backfill and below floor slabs.

Path construction may also be a suitable location but drive or road construction is controlled more rigorously and may not be suitable without standards being met.



Fill gaps and extend with indigenous hedging plants,

Repair and enhance as hedging.

Consider transplanting from bushes to hedgerow if individual plants are suitable shapes and species.

Determine the existing species and add more of the same,

Whereever possible indigenous species should be used as they support the indigenous insects, birds and animals.

Example Species: Hawthorne, Blackthorn, FieldMaple, Dogrose,

Surplus or unsuitable materials to be ground and cut and added to the site composting area.




Stockpiled clean subsoil to be used instead of importing new.

Reuse in filling service and drain trenches above bedding/surround,

Where paths and drives are being taken up and replaced with grass the void created can be filled with subsoil,

Where the site may need re-contouring to smooth out lines and angles subsoil can be used.

Spread surplus subsoil over the site before relaying topsoil.

Do not spread any subsoil under tree canopies and within 4000 mm. of trunks.

Comply with BS 5837 in respect of tree protection.


Stock piled topsoil on site to be reused instead of importing new.

If wild flower and meadow grass seeds or turf has been laid over the topsoil stockpiles, follow the guidance in GRASS PREPARATION & CUTTING TURF above.

Relay salvaged topsoil over all subsoil on site before relaying turf.

Do not spread any topsoil under tree canopies and within 4000 mm. of trunks.

Comply with BS 5837 in respect of tree protection


Cover all topsoil not intended for other purposes with salvaged wild turf.

Any surplus can be offered for sale on those material exchange websites.


Don’t forget to save some of the subsoil, topsoil and turf to patch the location of the stockpiles.

Barn Conversion Phase 2 may have similar issues where the topsoil and turf on the site of the extension could be lifted and relayed on the roof following the procedures included here.

© NGS GreenSpec BrianSpecMan 2003-2013
Updated 08/01/2013 06:12
Website links updated 08/01/2013