We asked readers to show off their projects. Here's an update. Thanks to all contributors
This Toronto-area residence boasts multiple green roofs on the non-sloped portions of the house, writes Leslie Doyle of Restoration Gardens Inc. ‘The top roof is planted with drought tolerant species of sedums in four different planting styles which allow both the client and ourselves to monitor the growth rates, maintenance requirements and survivability of the varying products.’ The roofs not only provide additional insulation to the house, they provide aesthetically pleasing views at a higher elevation.
The middle and lower roofs of the same house are planted in a more traditional garden style with a combination of flowering plants, both native and non-native as well as some edibles, Ms. Doyle writes. Planted in the spring of 2011, this middle roof provides the client with fragrant blooms and edible plants such as chives, strawberries, thyme and lavender.
Another Toronto residence has two green roofs on the non-sloped portions. The top roof contains taller grasses while the lower roof features a combination of drought tolerant sedums and shade tolerant native perennials. Restoration Gardens, which has been installing roofs in southern Ontario for four years, says the key to a successful green roof is a strong maintenance plan. ‘In our experience this is where green roofs falter.’
On the lower roof, planted in the spring of 2011, the home owners enjoy year-round views of nature outside their bedroom window, quietly observing birds and insects. 'We have been called out to several sites where green roofs have been improperly designed, installed or maintained and I believe this is where the larger public’s hesitation for these types of roof systems originate.’ Ms. Doyle writes, adding that the industry now has tools to create stronger roofs which can stand the test of time.
From Ottawa, environmental planner Christopher Straka writes that he wants to grow food within 10 metres of where it will be consumed. With limited growing area available at ground level on a dense urban lot, Vert Design, looked up. After constructing the building in 2010, test plants were started on the green roof in 2011. This year the rooftop vegetable garden was planted with more than 200 plants - including tomatoes, peppers, beans, asparagus, raspberries, onions, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini and squash.
Trent University celebrated its 45th convocation ceremonies this spring, seen here from one of many rooftop gardens on campus in Peterborough, Ont. Students produce food that they store in a root cellar and then serve year-round in their Seasoned Spoon Café.unknown
Students from the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program prepare beds for planting. Trent University boasts about 3,500 square metres of green roof space. Some gardens are extensive and high-maintenance, while others feature low-growing, low-maintenance, and drought-resistant ground cover
Sunflowers bloom at a Trent University rooftop garden on the Environmental Sciences Building, with Peter Gzowski College (yellow building) in the background.
In Ottawa, Ashbury College students tend their green roof, started in September of 2011. The 525-square-metre roof above the school’s theatre features four garden sections (native grasses, native herbs, native flowers and vegetables) and an outdoor classroom. ‘The school benefits from energy savings and the tasty homegrown food that makes its way to the dining hall,’ writes Natasha Wilson, communications and marketing manager for the school.
Harbour Square, a residential highrise on the Toronto waterfront, has two gardens on seventh-floor roofs, one facing the city and the other facing the lake. Both are too large to be contained in a single photograph.
Now 30 years old, the Harbour Square green roofs have mature trees, flowers, patios, barbecues, lounge chairs, dining areas and a terrace facing the bay, writes resident Ulla Colgrass.
‘A city planner who loves civic green spaces visited recently and his jaw dropped. He said these gardens are unique in Toronto,’ Ms. Colgrass adds.
‘People who live and work here think so, too. They may inspire the creators of new green roofs to see what is possible,’ Ms. Colgrass says.
Our reader call-out for green roof pictures brought responses from as far away as North Carolina. This 3,800-square-foot roof on a residence on Lake Toxaway, N.C., features a custom sedum mix. Because of its slope, it needed special measures to eliminate the potential for sliding, water loss and soil erosion, writes Alan Myers-Davis, senior project manager at Living Roofs Inc., based in Asheville, N.C.
On North Carolina’s windy Atlantic coast, Duke University’s Ocean Conservation Center boasts a 2,440-square-foot green roof. Completed in April of 2010, the roof was put to the test against wind during hurricanes Irene and Earl. It came out of those storms without soil erosion or damage, Mr. Myers-Davis writes.
The North Carolina city of Asheville installed a green roof on a new public recreation centre in the spring of 2011. This 3,800-square-foot roof is planted with a variety of drought-tolerant sedums and other hardy perennials, Mr. Myers-Davis writes.
In Calgary, the Hyatt Regency brought greenery into the heart of the city by planting a sustainable herb and vegetable garden in raised beds on the third floor in 2011. ‘Executive chef David Flegel believes that great food starts with fresh, local ingredients,’ Robyn MacLean of Brookline Public Relations writes.
The Hyatt grows tomatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard and a variety of herbs for use in the hotel’s restaurants and bars. It is one of the first hotels in Calgary to join the movement of urban rooftop gardens sprouting up in major cities, Ms. MacLean adds.
In Toronto, early morning sun lights up the Esri Canada rooftop garden designed by landscape architect Scott Torrance.Margaret Mulligan
The award-winning model roof opened three years ago, giving Esri workers a view over 53 types of trees, grasses, sedums, shrubs, herbs and flowers – and the CN tower in the distance.Margaret Mulligan
Contrasting Esri garden plots shown from above, with the patio in the midday sun.Margaret Mulligan
In Montreal, the Queen Elizabeth Hotel’s rooftop garden on the 22nd floor produced 275 pounds of fresh produce in its first year. Expanded this year, it boasts 20 types of tomatoes, melons, strawberries, eggplants, edible flowers and 18 varieties of herbs, writes Joanne Papineau, public relations director for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
The hotel grows its produce in containers used by professional organic greenhouses. The kitchen brigade then uses the crop to prepare sustainable dishes and cocktails in the hotel’s bars and restaurants. Four beehives have been added to the roof with the first harvest of non-pasteurized urban honey to take place on July 31, Ms. Papineau adds.
From Gibsons, B.C., Gail Hunt writes: ‘We are building a green home, our last home. To pursue a sustainable lifestyle, even if our mobility is impaired in our senior years, our all-in-one-main-floor-level living space includes our organic vegetable garden, engineered for the roof of my art studio. . . . Our drip irrigation system draws from a 2,000-gallon rainwater cistern. Recycled-tire tiles make a lightweight pathway between the boxes. . . The ever-present deer do not jump the reclaimed wrought-iron fence, and weeds and slugs are few up on the roof.’
In Picton, Ont., a green roof was added to this home in 2007. Les MacDonald and Gwen Hoover write: ‘It has taken about three years for the sedums to cover the full roof area of 2,000 square feet. . . . As this house is powered largely by renewable energy and is off-grid, the living roof helps keep the house cool in the summer without powered air conditioning. It also tends to retain snow in winter, providing an additional layer of insulation.’
Working on a smaller scale in Toronto’s Cabbagetown, Tim Fry put a green roof atop a two-storey backyard shed in 2011. The top floor is a kids’ playhouse, and the bottom floor is for garden tools. The roof is about 90 square feet, and is planted with various types of sedums, all of which seem to be thriving, Mr. Fry writes.
This spring, Mr. Fry added a green roof on his bike shelter. ‘The benefit of both roofs is that they absorb a lot of rainwater, provide a nice habitat for all manner of small creatures, look far more interesting than a plain shingle roof, and are just pretty cool!’
When in Toronto, ‘this is my favourite lunch spot,’ writes Kees Govers of LiveRoof Ontario Inc. Located above Nathan Phillips Square at City Hall, the 120,000-square-foot roof has 36,000 square feet devoted to plants - succulents, perennials and grasses laid out in a geometric pattern. Officially opened in May of 2010, it is publicly accessible, above the crowds and quite tranquil, Mr. Govers says. Of all the green roofs that LiveRoof has supplied, this is the highlight, he adds.