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The Evolution of LiveRoof: Dave MacKenzie

on March 17, 2023 at 1:28 pm under , , , , ,
Photo: LiveRoof

LiveRoof, LLC is a West Michigan Company that developed the LiveRoof® Hybrid Green Roof System: the only green roof solution installed with fully mature plants thriving in a healthy, connected ecosystem from day one of installation. LiveRoof’s natural function and natural beauty offer exceptional performance, require very low maintenance and have a predictable cost. LiveRoof projects often become signature elements on commercial, public, university and school buildings all over the US and Canada.

I am Doni Burton, Business Development Specialist for LiveRoof Global, LLC. It is my privilege to interview amazing people from our LiveRoof Network this year. My main responsibility as business development specialist is working with LiveRoof Global Growers and their customers. Previously, I completed my doctor of education in 2019 and most of my career was in educational administration. I have also taught for many years as a university professor, but working at LiveRoof has taught me about the incredible benefits provided by green roofs. My hope is that this series of interviews will nurture the environmental and horticultural interests of each reader.

This year LiveRoof celebrates its 16th year and we are doing so with a year-long theme: The Evolution of the Green Roof. Specifically, we will focus on LiveRoof Growers, Products, Processes and Plants. Please enjoy this first interview in the series. Additional interviews to follow include: Sedums as Green Roof Plants (April), Forbs as Green Roof Plants, Grasses as Green Roof Plants, and The Evolution of Biodiversity in Green Roofs.

To start off our theme, Doni Burton went straight to the source of it all, Dave Mackenzie – founder and owner of LiveRoof. She wanted to find out more about what makes LiveRoof stand head and shoulders above the rest, and to hear LiveRoof’s origin story. Here is what he had to say…

“LiveRoof evolved from Hortech, our parent company, which is a grower of perennial plants, that has specialized in ground cover plants for most of our 39-year history. Somewhere around 2005, we began to see some of our Sedum ground cover plants being used on rooftops, mostly small green roof projects, but also Ford Motor Company’s 10-acre green roof (for which we did some of the growing). As things progressed, landscape contractors and designers turned to us for advice on green roof plant selection and to address this, we put together a line of plants called “LiveRoof Plants”, specific to green roof applications (plants that resist wind, cold, heat and drought).”

“With calls coming in from all over, and realizing that we couldn’t service all of North America from Michigan, I turned to some of my horticultural colleagues, owners of other nurseries, and invited them to come on board as LiveRoof growers in their regions of the U.S. and Canada. We formed a team, all dedicated to common goals and committed to high standards of growing, service and quality.
Dave MacKenzie
founder of LiveRoof Global, LLC.

Portrait photo of Dave MacKenzie, LiveRoof founder

“That was our beginning, and soon the phone rang with Walsh Landscaping, from Chicago asking for a meeting. They were seeking a “better mousetrap” and explained that they were installing three types of green roofs; carpet systems, modular systems, and plant-in-place systems… but had frustrations with each. They asked for a “better mousetrap,” one which had all the benefits and none of the drawbacks. They were seeking a “hybrid solution.” So, based on their list, and with a review of how modular soccer fields were constructed (fostered by one of the managers at Walsh Landscaping), I had the “ah-ha” moment where it became clear how to create the better mousetrap. Within a day I made a prototype and within 3 days we had a manufacturable concept and a committed manufacturer. Soon, the word got out and we began fielding calls from all over North America.”

This is the first in the series The Evolution of LiveRoof: Its People, Products, Processes and Plants. We hope you enjoy the series throughout this year. The next interview will focus on Sedums and will publish the end of April. I’m Doni Burton, Business Development Specialist for LiveRoof Global. I can be reached via email at

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Based in Spring Lake, Michigan, LiveRoof® Global, LLC ( is the top horticultural science company in the green roof industry. Exceptional in design and function, the LiveRoof® Hybrid Green Roof System is the proven green roof system. LiveRoof establishes a healthy, sustainable ecosystem covering rooftops with seamless vegetation. Licensed regional growers customize plant selection for every LiveRoof project. They deliver the system's modules abundantly vegetated with locally cultivated, full-grown plants for an instant green roof and trouble-free ownership.

Visit LiveRoof Global, LLC in the Directory

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