May 28, 2017

Mid Toronto new front garden installation

Another Toronto Front Garden Makeover



Once in a while I'm asked to revamp/makeover/redo a Toronto garden that is located on a rental property. The landlord/s usually want to invest as little as possible (upfront and future maintenance dollars) in order to maximize their return on investment. If I can get them (the homeowner) away from the "low maintenance" conventional wisdom of laying down sheets of black landscape fabric and then dumping a tonne of pea gravel or river rock (which over time, by the way, does not work in keeping weeds from popping up, through or on top of the gravel), we may ideally consider transplanting a mixture of perennials, shrubs and trees to make the site look better than an enlarged municipal drainage swale.


This rental property's front area in midtown Toronto is ignored by the tenants except when the weeds invade every spring and summer. The mulch certainly helps by reducing the amount of weeds sprouting up but since the garden receives full sun until afternoon and gets rainwater from two downspouts, well, weeds aren't going to ignore such inviting conditions! 

Alex, one of the homeowners and my client here, usually gets a call (or several) from a tenant or two complaining of the pasture-like conditions come June. The landscaping company he hires to prune the boxwood and privet hedges, of course, ignores weeding anything that can't be accomplished with a string trimmer or hedge clipper. (The idea of hand pulling weeds is naturally ridiculous for most landscape maintenance crews, I believe, almost to the point of insulting. But I digress as usual...)



Midtown Toronto before new full sun perennial garden by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Midtown Toronto before new full sun perennial garden 


As you might see above in the "before" picture, large clumps of weeds are establishing themselves happily by late May. The main culprits are creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) which is an absolute nightmare in a garden bed and a few lesser burdock (Arctium minus) trying to establish a beach-head against a hapless gardener in the future. And things will only get wilder as summer progresses...


In my discussions with Alex, he was open to the idea of creating a space that required very little maintenance with some colourful flowers. We came up with a list of perennials which preferred full sun (the garden faces east and gets full sun until afternoon) and some winter interest so, of course, I suggested ornamental grasses. In fact, half of the new plants is comprised of three types of ornamental grasses in keeping with the "low maintenance" directive and taking advantage of the open and windy area.


After weeding, transplanting and watering, here's the result:


Midtown Toronto after new full sun perennial garden by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Midtown Toronto after new full sun perennial garden


Showing the "after" pictures is a little underwhelming as the new perennials are usually one gallon container sized so the garden owner has to take a leap of faith to imagine how the plants will establish and fill in over the next few years.



Midtown Toronto gardening services new low maintenance perennial garden before by Paul Jung
Midtown Toronto new low maintenance 
perennial garden before


Above is the "before" view from the sidewalk. We have a few stones, a boxwood hedge at the front of the house and two boxwood balls "guarding" said hedge. The small tree is a dying Rose of Sharon standard that likely will need to be removed soon. And the weeds...




Midtown Toronto gardening services new low maintenance perennial garden after by Paul Jung
Midtown Toronto new low 
maintenance perennial garden after 




Midtown Toronto new low maintenance perennial garden before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Midtown Toronto new low maintenance 
perennial garden before 



Midtown Toronto new low maintenance perennial garden after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Midtown Toronto new low maintenance 
perennial garden after 


Midtown Toronto new full sun perennial garden before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Midtown Toronto new full sun perennial garden before 


Above is a "before" view from the front door landing before the stairs leading down to the interlocking brick path, Yes, it's uninspiring!




Midtown Toronto new full sun perennial garden after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Midtown Toronto new full sun perennial garden after 


And here's the "after" view. I think some tenants will be a little more interested with the front garden instead of covering their eyes going to and from work.

(The hose is connected to a timer programmed to irrigate the area every morning for 30 minutes).