green roof refresh

urban green roof refresh

Jeff built our green roof garden shed a few years back. We’ve experimented with a few different things on the roof. Some fared better than others. The strawberries did well, but I was too afraid to climb up every time I got a craving. (I think that might have been Jeff’s plan all along.)

This year we decided to try a bee / pollinator garden.

I spread a fresh layer of soil and some compost, scattered a mix of bee blend and a drought-tollerant wild-flower blend, covered it with a little more soil, tamped it lightly and gave it a water.

Other than the odd soaking, we haven’t had to do much else.

As you can see above, after only a few weeks, there was significant signs of life.

poppies growing on urban green roof

Now a couple of months in, it is practically exploding. The first blooms to show their faces have been the cheerful California Poppy and always determined Camomile. The plants are a mix of perennials and self-sowing annuals. The roof will continue to bloom with little, if any, effort on my part year after year.

Benefits of a green roof:

Rain water storage

Soil is the best place to store water in the landscape. Green roof gardens divert huge amounts of rain from storm systems, reducing flooding and stress on the system while keeping the fresh water in the ecosystem.


Green roofs can be especially helpful in cities in combatting the heat island effect. Instead of black roofing storing solar energy, you have a lush planting putting that sunshine to use.

Bee Forage

Bees can have a tough time in the urban environment. A green roof planted with bee-friendly flowers can go a long way in supporting these important pollinators. Our roof is always busy with bees working away.


We often kept poultry in our shed. Having a nice thick layer of soil, moisture and vegetation on the roof kept it remarkably cool on even the hottest of summer days, without the expense of installing traditional insulation in the ceiling.

Garden Space

In the city we often have very limited space to grow food. Rooftops are an often overlooked spot to grow food. As I mentioned, we had our strawberry green roof one year.

Here in Vancouver we have a number of rooftop food gardens, including the downtown YWCA. I volunteered there one summer and loved being out picking raspberries while across from and above me I could see poor schmucks heads down at their desks. (Aren’t I awful!?)

green roof in bloom

Here are some other green roofs from around Vancouver.

Vancouver Library Green Roof

Green Roof at the Vancouver Public Library


Vancouver YWCA Green Rooftop Food Garden

Vancouver YWCA Green Rooftop Food Garden


Vancouver Convention Centre Green Roof

The Vancouver Convention Centre Green Roof is the largest in Canada


5 thoughts on “green roof refresh

  1. The Soulicious Life

    How totally awesome! Loved the pics of the roof gardens across Vancouver; wish the concept would catch on faster in Denver. And of course, kudos for your own small rooftop bee garden!

    1. The Slow Foods Mama Post author

      We’re very lucky Vancouver is quite progressive when it comes to somewhat odd-ball environmental initiatives. Our city council even funded a project called Lawn to Loaves where residents grew wheat instead of front lawns!

      I’m lucky to be married to a contractor . . . We’re excited to try some new methods on a bigger roof in the (hopefully) near future!

      1. The Soulicious Life

        Lawn to Loaves – that’s wild! I’m all about the odd-ball environmental initiatives. Gotta think outside the norm to fix today’s environmental and food problems.

      2. The Slow Foods Mama Post author

        Lawns to Loaves has caught a lot of flack here, and so have the politicians who supported it.

        It’s not the most practical use of land in terms of productivity, but it is a great program from an educational point of view.

        If nothing else, it got people talking!

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