July 22, 2017

Maintenance is Gardening

Post-Planting Commitment


All gardens require a degree of upkeep and that dreaded "M" word: maintenance. You can do the work ( and it is work whether you love or hate doing it as weeding and pruning and the myriad of other gardening tasks require physical and mental effort) or pay someone to do it, but it's got to be done. Or else, why bother having a green space you can call your own?

An effective garden design that's sympathetic to the user's (owner's) needs and wants goes a long way to reduce these maintenance requirements. A bit ( or sometimes, a lot ) of mulch does help with reducing weeding and watering but with the right combination of light and moisture conditions, weeds will still grow and, even, thrive. Soaker hoses, while ugly, do work in getting water down to where it counts: the roots.

This post looks at a garden I designed and planted just a few months ago as profiled in my post titled A Mid Toronto new front garden installation: Another Toronto Front Garden Makeover and shows how weeds, like all other life forms, are opportunistic and that leaving a new garden alone even for a short time is generally not a good idea as it leads to more...well, work!


Here's a picture of the garden I planted on May 27, 2017:



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





And here's what it looked like on July 22, a little less than two months later:




Avenue Road Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Toronto Gardening Services
Avenue Road Front Garden Cleanup Before



Will things look better from another angle?





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

Nah....




Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup Before 



The silver lining is that all the newly transplanted perennials are establishing themselves very nicely but then again, so have the weeds.


Here are some other "before" pictures showing you what greeted me as I walked up to the house. I was astounded by the sheer quantity and variety of wind-borne weeds which germinated and are thriving since the new perennials were planted merely two months previously.




Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Clean up Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Clean up Before 


Paul Jung Gardening Services Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup Before
Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup Before




Toronto Paul Jung Gardening Services Avenue Road Front Garden Cleanup Before
 Avenue Road Front Garden Cleanup Before


After the cleanup....



Avenue Road Front Garden Cleanup after by Paul Jung Toronto Gardening Services
Avenue Road Front Garden Cleanup after



Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup After 



Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Clean up After by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Clean up After 



Paul Jung Gardening Services Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup After
 Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup After


Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup After Paul Jung Gardening Services
Avenue Road Toronto Front Garden Cleanup After 




Just to give you some context, the owner rents this house and lives off-site so only occasionally drops by. The tenants, naturally, aren't involved with any maintenance aspect so the garden fends for itself. I strongly suggested to the owner that another layer of mulch be applied soon. In time, the perennials should be large and wide enough to shade out most weeds from germinating but until then, the garden is rather defenseless in such an exposed site.

I get the feeling I'll be getting another call in a few months...

July 13, 2017

Bad Weeds? You Bet Your Grass!

A Garden Rescue in Toronto's Little Italy-Palmerston Neighbourhood


What's the worst weed to deal with?  As with most things in life, "it depends" on where you garden, what you are growing, whether or not you can or want to spray herbicides, and your health and mobility,  among many factors. I've come across a cute definition of a weed as a flower that hasn't been appreciated yet but you could also say weed is a plant that's in the wrong place.

What comes to your mind as a "bad weed"? Dandelions? Crabgrass? Japanese Knotweed (!) Again, it all depends on the context. If you're the type that loves a pristine carpet of turf, you'd likely find a single dandelion that has the audacity to emerge particularly egregious. And if you've been trying to eradicate creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) from your garden bed over the decades, I commiserate, since that's what I've been doing for clients it seems for years.

But would you consider lawn grass a weed? From my experience, you bet your grass it is.

I was reminded of this when Terry, the client, asked me to clean up (i.e., weed) the front of his rental property in Toronto's trendy (read: ridiculously expensive, but the city's in a real estate bubble so what's not expensive?) Little Italy-Palmerston neighbourhood.

He calls me once a year (maybe twice at most) to deal with the front garden. Since it's a rental property, the tenants naturally have nothing to do with area's upkeep so things tend to go wild until someone (me) gets hired to deal with the situation.

Before arriving, I always wonder how "bad" things will be and in this case, they were bad indeed!


Palmerston Front Garden Clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
 Above is a "before" picture of the north slope which has more than a few maple saplings.



Palmerston Front Garden Cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
 Here's the south slope. The property line runs about half way so the left side is part of the work. The groundcover is periwinkle but you'll easily notice the many grass clumps which have emerged. Removing grass from periwinkle on a slope equals pain for this gardener.


Palmerston Toronto Front Garden Cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Here's the view from the sidewalk looking one way...


Palmerston Toronto Front Garden Clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
And the other way....


Little Italy Front Garden Clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Coming up the steps.... 


Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
A view of the garden looking left towards the front door



Little Italy Toronto Front Garden Clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
and backwards 


Little Italy Toronto Front Garden Cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Here's the view looking down from the front porch or landing



Palmerston Toronto Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Nothing ornamental about this grass, just plain turf growing up and through the periwinkle (Vinca minor) groundcover. This view is from the front porch or landing looking the other way.


A Few Hours Later....


Palmerston Front Garden Clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
We've tried growing more periwinkle on the left side of this slope but the transplants never get established since the variegated goutweed is almost impossible to remove completely without a herbicide 



Palmerston Front Garden Cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
 A lot less "meadowy" with the grass clumps pulled out. 


Palmerston Toronto Front Garden Cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Palmerston Toronto Front Garden Cleanup after 




Palmerston Toronto Front Garden Clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Palmerston Toronto Front Garden Clean up after 



Little Italy Front Garden Clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
The walk to and from the house is now safe without the fear of some critter running across your feet 



Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
A fresh layer of mulch to keep the weeds at bay




Little Italy Toronto Front Garden Clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
There are actually some perennials here! 



Little Italy Toronto Front Garden Cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Not a bad view from the porch now




Palmerston Toronto Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Bye bye grass, until next year...