Broadcast Audubon

Go green in your backyard with a living-roof garden shed.

Working with W2 Architects of Asheville, Kate and Emilio developed two sets of plans they say the average do-it-yourselfer can handle. Each plan book contains complete foundation and construction specs, elevations and a complete list of materials, all of which are available at local building supply centers.

Garden Shed Green RoofNow, homeowners can go green in their own backyards with a living-roof garden shed that easy and affordable to build.

Kate and Emilio Ancaya are proven specialists in creating and installing green roofs, which are covered with living vegetation instead of shingles and other materials. It’s an environmentally sound approach the couple utilizes on large-scale commercial and residential projects across the Southeast through their Asheville, North Carolina-based company, Living Roofs, Inc. But they also created their own green-roofed garden shed behind their own home, which led to numerous calls for “how-to” information.

“We found ourselves on the telephone helping someone who wanted to try their hand at a green roof,” Kate says. “After awhile, we realized the best thing we could do for ourselves and others was to put together a set of plans.”

Working with W2 Architects of Asheville, Kate and Emilio developed two sets of plans they say the average do-it-yourselfer can handle. Each plan book contains complete foundation and construction specs, elevations and a complete list of materials, all of which are available at local building supply centers. Also included are suggested suppliers for green roof materials, as well as detailed instructions on creating and maintaining a living roof. Construction is relatively simple, and the plans are easy for even a novice builder to follow.

There currently are two options available: The “Garden Shed” has a time-honored gabled roof with lap siding, while the “Mono” is a contemporary take-off on the traditional garden shed with a sloping roof that’s ideally suited for plantings. The original “Garden Shed” designed and built by Kate and Emilio is featured on the cover of the recent book, Small Green Roofs: Low-Tech Options for Greener Living (Timber Press, 2011). According to Emilio, custom plans also can be developed upon request to blend individual architectural styles and accommodate specific site requirements. 

“We want to put the tools and knowledge in the hands of anyone who wants to undertake a small-scale green roof project,” the couple explains. “To keep costs low, we’ve taken out the green roof middle man.”

The result is an affordable, well-designed, environmentally sound garden shed or playhouse or man-cave where, according to Kate, you can “garden, think, relax, laugh, create, work, play or just hide.”

For more information, contact:
Gary Carter, 704/231-0279 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Emilio Ancaya, 828/252-4449 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or visit


SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Edible Landscaping?

edible landscapesEdible landscaping offers an alternative to conventional residential landscapes that are designed solely for ornamental purposes. Edible landscapes can be just as attractive, yet produce fruits and vegetables for home use. One can install an entirely edible landscape, or incorporate simple elements into existing yards and gardens.

Edible landscaping is the use of food-producing plants in the constructed landscape, principally the residential landscape. Edible landscapes combine fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and ornamental plants into aesthetically pleasing designs. These designs can incorporate any garden style and can include anywhere from 1-100% edible species.

Why landscape with edibles?

There are many reasons to incorporate edible plants into the residential landscape. These include:

  • To enjoy the freshness and flavor of home-grown, fully ripened fruits and vegetables
  • To control the quantity and kind of pesticides and herbicides used on the foods you consume
  • To increase the food security of your household
  • To save on grocery bills
  • To grow unusual varieties not available in stores
  • To get outside, interact with the natural world, and have fun

History of edible landscaping
Edible landscaping is as old as gardening itself and has undergone a recent revival. Ancient Persian gardens combined both edible and ornamental plants. Medieval monastic gardens included fruits, vegetables, flowers, and medicinal herbs. Plans for 19th century English suburban yards, which modeled themselves after country estates, often included edible fruits and berries. The edible components of residential landscapes were largely lost in this country to the now familiar shade trees, lawns, and foundation plantings. In the past two decades, however, there has been a revival of interest in edible landscaping, thanks to the work of early pioneers such as Rosalind Creasy.

How to landscape with edibles
Like all plants used in the landscape, edible plants grow best in certain conditions. Many (but not all!) fruits and vegetables do best where they receive at least 6 hours of full sunlight a day. Most also like well-drained soil. Parts of your yard that satisfy these conditions are good places to start an edible landscape. To perform a complete makeover on these areas, consult the books recommended below for a full design process. To start simply, consider a one-for-one substitution. Where you might have planted a shade tree, plant a fruit tree. Where you need a deciduous shrub, plant a currant or hazelnut. Where you have always had chrysanthemums, plant bachelor's buttons—you can eat them. Edible plants come in nearly all shapes and sizes and can perform the same landscape functions as ornamental plants. Figure 2 shows how a small area, about 25 by 25 feet, can be planted almost entirely with edibles that have ornamental value and appear to be a decorative garden. The list can be changed to suit individual taste or local garden conditions.

Here are some more ideas for edible landscapes:

  • Put pots of herbs on the patio
  • Include cherry tomatoes in a window box or hanging basket
  • Build a grape arbor
  • Grow nasturtium, violas, borage, or calendula and include flowers in salads
  • Eat your daylilies
  • Plant a fruit tree in the corner of your yard
  • Grow Red-jewel Cabbage
  • Plant colorful pepper varieties (e.g., Lipstick, Habanero) alongside flowers
  • Tuck lettuce, radishes, or other short-lived greens into a flower bed
  • Replace a barberry hedge with gooseberries
  • Put basil together with coleus in a planter
  • Try yellow or "rainbow" chard
  • Grow chives around the mailbox
  • Train raspberries up your fence

Won't it take a lot of work?
Many common ornamental plants can survive with minimal care. Most edible plants, however, require a certain amount of attention to produce well. They may require a little extra watering, pruning, fertilizing, or pest management. The time required, however, need not be exorbitant. To care for a fruit tree, for instance, may take only a few hours a year, while the yield could be enormous. It is best to treat edible landscaping as a hobby and not a chore. You may find yourself checking on your plants more than they strictly require, just because you want to see how they're doing. If you are concerned about being overwhelmed, just start small.

The possibilities for edible landscaping are endless. By incorporating just one—or many—edible plants into a home landscape, you can develop a new relationship with your yard and the food you eat.





References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 

Sustainable Demonstration Project Blog

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games

Scotland Yards Golf Club

Audubon Outdoors

Love and Dodson

Green World Parth

Turf Feeding Systems

The Dodson Group      

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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