Bridging the Ecological and Engineering Gap

Wetland next to the River Thames at Reading's new bridge

Wetland next to the River Thames a month after installation

Creating ecological opportunities whilst preventing erosion.

We are very pleased to have been involved with Reading Council’s new bridge over the River Thames, where we have been able to bridge the gap between engineering and ecological landscape design.

Rock Roll pyramid Reading bridge

Rock Roll pyramid in design

This new bridge for the town required many of our bioengineering techniques and we worked with the engineering consultants Peter Brett Associates and the landscape architects Influence Environmental Ltd, giving design advice on creating a wetland on the north side of the river and also a robust reed margin along the river’s south bank.

Salix supplied the landscape contractors Ground Control the bioengineering products and provided the onsite installation assistance.

The wetland and river’s edge planting used Salix’s pre-established Coir Pallets and Coir Rolls to create a stunning effect rapidly naturalising the areas around the site. Photos a month after planting show how quickly these products establish giving immediate impact.

Pre-established coir rolls and pallets

Pre-established Coir Rolls and Pallets a month after installation

The Coir Pallets were used in the wetland area for muddy marginal plants such as marsh marigold, purple loosestrife, flag iris and water mint which will ensure a long and wildlife rich season in view of this amenity.

The Coir Rolls were used for fronting the river as they had tougher river edge plants such as Sweet reed grass, reed canary grass, soft rush and lesser pond sedge .

The river’s south bank path’s amenity value was improved by installing a new reed margin whilst being right next to the powerful river.

A pyramid of Salix Rock Rolls was installed first to protect the pre-established reeds in Coir Rolls that were secured in behind. This made planting possible in these higher energy situations.

Rock Rolls were used along the river bank in order to protect the area from the full river flow. The Rock Rolls will naturally and rapidly be colonised with the reeds from the Coir Rolls as they are designed to provide a natural but tough bioengineering solution, protecting the area from erosion.

The new soil ramp to the bridge required a green slope which could withstand the significant flood forces of the Thames. Salix’s VMax Shear Stress Turf was chosen and installed by the main contractor Balfour Beatty. This immediately provided a tough, yet green river bank which has a performance proven to withstand significant and protracted flooding. This turf been externally tested and verified and has a measured performance.

Wildflower turf was used around the wetland areas to create a natural progression. The wonderful mix of plants will ensure that both people and wildlife will benefit from using the bridge.

Salix value working with Peter Brett Associates, Influence Environmental Ltd, Balfour Beatty and Ground Control to help deliver this high quality and beautiful project.