Urban Nature-Based Solutions

The Green Estate CIC and Pictorial Meadows have been creating adaptive and resilient urban green spaces for over twenty years. Our mission has always been to create more sustainable, resilient and liveable cities by integrating nature into urban planning and design.

In recent years, there has been growing interest from designers, planners and policymakers for urban nature-based solutions. These approaches improve and create green spaces in urban environments which deliver multiple benefits for people and nature. Examples could include creating sustainable urban drainage projects such as bioswales, which use vegetation to capture and clean surface water run-off, whilst introducing beautiful, biodiverse vegetation to our cities. Another would be changing the management of roadside verges to reduce costs, maximise plant diversity and provide resources for pollinators. Such solutions have become an integral part of policy-making in the UK and around the world in the last ten years – from the UK’s Environmental Land Management scheme to China’s nationwide ‘Sponge Cities’ policy.

Products and Services

The Green Estate and Pictorial Meadows have always been in the business of developing and delivering urban nature-based solutions. Throughout a twenty-year collaboration with the University of Sheffield’s Landscape Architecture Department, we have been developing the technical understanding required to deliver urban nature-based solutions alongside a range of products and services to support their widespread implementation.

Flowering Meadows and Local Regeneration

The Pictorial Meadows company was first incorporated to create high-impact meadow seed mixes for use on large areas of cleared housing land in Sheffield. These spectacular, colourful, annual meadows transformed areas associated with dereliction and abandonment into flower-filled fields, changing the way that residents felt about their environment. This nature-based transformation of urban landscapes supported a narrative shift in what had been some of the most deprived areas in Sheffield. Today, Pictorial Meadows’ range of seed and turf mixes are hugely popular with local authorities and landowners looking for ways to enhance roadsides, amenity grass and brownfield sites for people and pollinators.

Meadows Consultancy: Managing urban grasslands for people and nature

Around two-thirds of green infrastructure in the UK is mown amenity grass, which often provides relatively little benefit to people or nature. By developing alternative meadow management approaches for these areas, we can deliver a wide range of well-researched benefits, including increased plant and animal diversity, a potential reduction in costs and carbon emissions from mowing, and – provided that an appropriate solution is specified – proven wellbeing benefits for people. For the last ten years, we have offered a meadows consultancy service which helps landowners and managers develop strategies and specifications to create beautiful and biodiverse meadows in parks, gardens, agricultural landscapes and new developments.

A Complete Solution for SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems)

SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) are becoming critical elements of our urban environments, managing huge volumes of surface water to prevent flooding and create space for nature. The Green Estate and Pictorial Meadows developed and supplied the specialist substrates used in the Grey to Green project in Sheffield – probably the UK’s most prominent and celebrated SuDS scheme. These substrates are engineered to govern water infiltration and retention to meet civil engineering specifications, whilst providing the perfect conditions for a wide range of ornamental plants. The Green Estate and Pictorial Meadows are now working on SuDS for Severn Trent Water across Mansfield, supplying substrate, plants, meadow turf and labour as an integrated solution.

Green Roofs: Biodiversity in (and on) the built environment

Green roofs have been a widely adopted nature-based solution for many years. They slow and reduce the volume of water entering drains, create attractive and biodiverse habitats in the built environment, and insulate and cool buildings. The Green Estate and Pictorial Meadows have been developing, producing and installing green roof products, such as the industry-leading ‘Botanical Skyline’ meadow turf, for over twenty years. Our products and services were developed in collaboration with the University of Sheffield’s Green Roof Centre, which is where the Green Roof Code was developed.

The Green Estate and Pictorial Meadows are proud to be at the forefront of creating the resilient, nature-rich, happy and healthy cities of the future. We work with landscape architects, planners, developers, local authorities, the Royal Parks, highways and many other agencies. If you think we could support the delivery of urban nature-based solutions in your area, please get in touch here or call 0114 267 7635.