October 01, 2019

Big Time Weeding in Little Italy

Or "There's A Front Yard in There, Somewhere!"


At the end of every work season, I reflect back on some of nicer gardens I've worked in and some of the, well, not so nice. You may know some yards or gardens of the latter variety on your street; heck, you may even own one. That's o.k., I'm not here to judge but some cleanup jobs for me are simply more onerous than others due to the garden's size and amount of weeds, debris, etc. Occasionally, I'll just advise the prospective client that the scope of work is beyond what I can do and to hire someone else. There may be an awkward pause but it's better for me to walk away from this kind of project than take it on, find I'm overwhelmed and do a less than perfect job.


This post covers a recent cleanup I didn't walk away from (although when I first saw  the garden, I was tempted to!)


The owners of this property in Toronto's trendy Little Italy area didn't do much maintenance for their front yard this season, it's safe to say. The somewhat rectangular area is about 20 feet wide by 60 feet long and, more or less, covered with clumps of mature goldenrod, Yellow Avens, sow thistle, aster, burdock and lemon balm (all perennial weeds). Whatever remaining grass is overgrown and patchy.

They hired me to "tidy up" things so here are some pictures showing how the front yard looked like before and after my efforts:



Toronto Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup Before


Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before


Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
The view from the sidewalk



Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before



Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before 


From the sidewalk, you may see the overgrown clumps of grass, sucker shoots from the base of the small maple tree, four mock orange shrubs and impressive stands of goldenrod and asters. What's not visible are several very-much-alive stumps of Siberian Elm (weed trees which were cut down in the past) and lots of thistles.


Little Italy Toronto Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Mockorange shrubs in the forefront, 
goldenrods and asters behind them 



Toronto Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before



Toronto Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Above is the view leading 
towards the front door



Toronto Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Services Company
And the view looking from the 
front door towards the street 
(Photo credit: picture taken by the clients) 


7 Hours Later....



How do you eat an elephant? Take one bite at a time, as the saying goes. In a severe clean up situation like this one, I start cutting down the stalks and leave the roots alone temporarily. Once all the vegetation above ground has been cut and carried away, I'll go in with my long handled shovel and start digging out entire root balls. All the mature weeds are perennials so just leaving them with their tops pruned looks nice but, of course, ineffective with dealing with them on a long term basis.

Fortunately, the weather was nice, dry and cool. Tackling this in the middle of July would not be fun!



Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After 


Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After



Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After 



Little Italy Toronto Fall Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Little Italy Toronto Fall Front Garden Cleanup After 



Toronto Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After 


Toronto Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Little Italy Fall Front Garden Cleanup After


Toronto Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup After 



Toronto Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Services Company
Toronto Little Italy Front Garden Cleanup After


September 28, 2019

A Roncesvalles/High Park Fall Cleanup

Let the Fall Cleanups Begin...


October is around the corner which means, dear reader, you'll be subjected to more posts about fall cleanups. I realize showing you pictures of weeds, leaves and garbage around my clients' properties isn't too interesting but at least you'll see the types of gardens I work in around the city ranging from the the good, bad and ugly.

The label "fall cleanup" is used by many landscape companies at this time of the year to describe "raking" up leaves (almost always with a leaf blower, if this makes sense), cutting down soon-to-be-dormant perennials and wrapping up evergreens in burlap shrouds. In other words, a completely unnecessary exercise. 

Yes, I realize I earn a good chunk of my income performing these types of exercises and don't intend to be hypocritical. But more often than not, I suggest to new clients that fall cleanups (and, worse, the term "winterizing") are not "required" and in more naturalistic gardens, even to be avoided.

All this to tell you that this post isn't covering a typical fall cleanup but about a cleanup that just happened to occur in autumn. I'll explain below....



High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before 


I met the client, Doug, through a referral (thanks Nicole!) and his situation is common with many of my other clients: he travels a lot and has no time or interest in maintaining his gardens. When I get requests from new clients this time of the year though, it usually means that no weeding or pruning has been performed all season and, yet again, this was the case here.


High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup After


Over the course of a good six hours (and a little more), I tackled the front and back gardens of Doug's property in his Toronto's west end neighbourhood near High Park/Roncesvalles. Not many leaves were raked up (yes, I actually use a rake) since the huge Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigratree in the back isn't showing its beautiful yellow foliage yet but, more alarming, the heavy fruit were dropping periodically around me! I collected these green-husked fruits and tossed them out along with the other debris.



High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before 


High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup After 


High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before


High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
High Park Toronto Back Yard Fall Cleanup After 


Roncesvalles Toronto Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Roncesvalles Toronto Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before


Roncesvalles Toronto Front Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Roncesvalles Toronto Front Yard Fall Cleanup After 

In weeding and tidying up the two front raised beds, I left most of the blooming asters alone as bees and other pollinators were feeding. These asters self-seeded themselves and while I do consider them "weedy", I didn't remove them since they're beneficial now.



Roncesvalles Toronto Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Roncesvalles Toronto Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before


Roncesvalles Toronto Front Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Roncesvalles Toronto Front Yard Fall Cleanup After 


Toronto High Park Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto High Park Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before 


Toronto High Park Back Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto High Park Back Yard Fall Cleanup After 


Toronto High Park Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto High Park Back Yard Fall Cleanup Before


Toronto High Park Back Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto High Park Back Yard Fall Cleanup After 



Toronto Roncesvalles Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Roncesvalles Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before


Toronto Roncesvalles Front Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Roncesvalles Front Yard Fall Cleanup After 


Toronto Roncesvalles Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Roncesvalles Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before


Toronto Roncesvalles Front Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Roncesvalles Front Yard Fall Cleanup After 



After tidying up things, Doug should be good to go for another year!




September 07, 2019

Front Garden Cleanup in Koreatown

Labouring on Labour Day


Like a flick of switch, temperatures last week dropped. Fall is definitely in the air and while leaves haven't begun to change colour, it definitely doesn't feel like summer any more. I can't complain too much as conditions working outside are so much better for me: very little humidity and lower temperatures mean I can weed and prune without gulping water every few minutes or having the fear of passing out due to heat exhaustion.

September is also a great time to plant new perennials, shrubs and trees but it's uncommon for me to put in new gardens now as most homeowners don't associate autumn with new plants. The weeding, however, still continues, as this post will show.



Koreatown Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Koreatown Toronto Summer
Garden Cleanup Before


The client, Cynthia, contacted me to deal with her front garden (located in central Toronto's Koreatown neighbourhood) which is on a slope as shown above. (The picture was taken across the street, to give you a sense of perspective and scale.)  It's a little, ahem, "overgrown"! I can only conclude than no weeding occurred at all in 2019 and who knows prior. I think you can make out the boxwood balls in the forefront but most of the rest of the vegetation are weeds.


Koreatown Toronto Summer Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Koreatown Toronto Summer
Front Garden Cleanup Before 

Here are some views from the upper tier, looking down towards the street. While the slope wasn't too severe, working while standing on an angle is never easy on the ankles, legs and back. To be honest, I did most of the weeding sitting (and sliding) down.


Koreatown Toronto Summer Front Yard Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Koreatown Toronto Summer
Front Yard Cleanup Before


Koreatown Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Koreatown Toronto Summer
Garden Cleanup Before 


Toronto Front Garden Cleanup in Koreatown Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Front Garden
Cleanup in Koreatown Before 


Toronto Summer Front Yard Cleanup in Koreatown Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Summer Front Yard
Cleanup in Koreatown Before 


This picture shows the path (somewhere hidden) connecting the neighbours, which the mail delivery person must use all down this street.


Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup in Koreatown Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Summer Garden
Cleanup in Koreatown Before 


These next two pictures were taken from the sidewalk, looking up the slope. The Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) saplings, Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis),  Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriolaand Goosefoot (Chenopodium album) are all doing well!



Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup in Koreatown Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Summer Garden
Cleanup in Koreatown Before



And afterwards....



I kept about half of goldenrod that's flowering now for pollinators but dug out everything else. Those poor hostas below the goldenrods were smothered previously. I can almost hear them now sigh in relief!



Koreatown Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Koreatown Toronto Summer
Garden Cleanup After 



I'm guessing the change in elevation from the upper tier to the top of bottom retaining wall is about 15 feet. Erosion control will have to be considered. Laying down mulch, while suppressing weeds, will likely result in having it run down after heavy rains and snow melt. Mass planting of a groundcover like periwinkle (Vinca minor) could work to reduce erosion but it will take time before a thick mat takes hold.



Koreatown Toronto Summer Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Koreatown Toronto Summer
Front Garden Cleanup After 


Koreatown Toronto Summer Front Yard Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Koreatown Toronto Summer
 Front Yard Cleanup After 



Koreatown Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Koreatown Toronto Summer
Garden Cleanup After 


I'd certainly mulch the level upper tier area at the base of the tree. The grass is also failing as it's in shade for most of the day and never fertilized. I also suggested that it be dug out and the entire upper tier be mulched.



Toronto Front Garden Cleanup in Koreatown After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Front Garden
Cleanup in Koreatown After 


Toronto Summer Front Yard Cleanup in Koreatown After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Summer Front Yard
Cleanup in Koreatown After


Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup in Koreatown After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Summer Garden
Cleanup in Koreatown After 


Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup in Koreatown Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Summer Garden
Cleanup in Koreatown Before


Onwards and upwards to the fall cleanups, dear reader! 

August 06, 2019

Leslieville Front Garden Makeover

Garden Makeover or "Resurrection"? You Decide...


Everyone's busy, that's just a fact of modern life. For many homeowners, looking after the garden is low on the list of priorities. Very low. I'd say, for some, visiting the dentist is likely more enjoyable than getting out there on your knees weeding in the summer heat. In my case, it's easier for them to pay me to have my rear up pulling at unwanted pieces of vegetation.

So I'm guessing that someone would probably be very busy and/or uninterested with garden maintenance or neighbour's opinions to let the front garden to look like this:




Leslieville Toronto Front Garden Summer Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Front
Garden Summer Cleanup Before 


(Please note: I'm not criticizing or judging anyone specifically as my own front garden is horrible.)

It's not an uncommon scenario: you'll walk by well-kept (or at least minimally-kept) gardens, one after another, down the street and then stop and notice a front yard that's "gotten away." Based on the "before" pictures in this post, you could say that the weeds have gotten away and out of hand:




Leslieville Toronto Front Garden Weeding and Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Leslieville Toronto Front Garden
Weeding and Makeover Before 



Leslieville Toronto Front Garden Weeding and Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Front Garden
Weeding and Makeover Before 



Leslieville Toronto Front Yard Summer Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Front Yard
Summer Cleanup Before


Here's the view from the front porch:



Toronto Leslieville Front Garden Weeding and Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Leslieville Front Garden
Weeding and Makeover Before 


And from the sidewalk towards the house:


Toronto Leslieville Front Garden Weeding and Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Leslieville Front Garden
Weeding and Makeover Before 


I was contacted by "Jane", the homeowner's sibling (I'll call the owner "Jack" and his sister "Jane") who has done the weeding for her brother in the past (now that's a good sister!) but had reached a point this summer of no return. I don't blame her, I'd feel a little tired pulling out very mature and deep-rooted weeds like Canada Thistle, Prickly Lettuce and Goosefoot (to name a few) year after year.

Jane wanted the front garden weeded, mulched and planted with new low maintenance perennials. So that's what I did....

A Garden "Resurrected"


Firstly, I wanted to credit my sister-in-law Angela (not a pseudonym) for coming up with her phrase of a "garden resurrection." She has seen many of my garden cleanup and makeover projects over the years through social media and on one occasion after I weeded and "renovated" a garden that needed a little TLC (sarcasm), she remarked "that wasn't a garden cleanup, that was a garden resurrection!"  I don't know if gardens can be brought back from the dead or not and this Leslieville (a trendy east Toronto neighbourhood) front garden is anything but dead given the lush growth of the weeds; therefore, I'll stick with the more commercial and less-religious idea of a garden makeover.

I dug out all the weeds by hand with my trusty and slightly rusty long handled shovel, transplanted many "lower maintenance" perennials like Threadleaf Coreopsis, Purple Coneflower, and "Autumn Joy" Sedum and spread many bags of mulch.

Here are the "after" results:



Leslieville Toronto Front Garden Summer Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Front Garden Summer Cleanup After


Toronto Leslieville Front Garden Weeding and Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Leslieville Front Garden
Weeding and Makeover After 


Toronto Leslieville Front Garden Weeding and Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Leslieville Front Garden
Weeding and Makeover After 


Leslieville Toronto Front Garden Weeding and Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Leslieville Toronto Front Garden
Weeding and Makeover After 


Leslieville Toronto Front Garden Weeding and Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Front Garden
 Weeding and Makeover After 


Leslieville Toronto Front Yard Summer Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Front
Yard Summer Cleanup After 


Yes, it does look like a sea of black dyed mulch (it is) but given Jack's (remember, the homeowner) inability to weed (he's very busy at work), the mulch should reduce but not eliminate the amount of weeds germinating. Lastly, I asked him to water occasionally with the hose since I didn't design an xeriscape.

I fully anticipate that whatever new weeds which manage to emerge will grow unimpeded as Jack will not do anything about them. The silver lining would be that pollinators love thistle flowers so it's not all downside about nature trying to reclaim things again! Like all makeovers in life, the work is never truly over.