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.

August 03, 2019

A New Toronto Pollinator Garden near Wychwood Barns

Giving Plenty of Reasons for Bees and Butterflies to Come Over


I wouldn't say removing front lawns and replacing turf with wildlife-friendly plants is my raison d'etre but when the opportunity arises, it's exciting to plan and execute such a sustainable idea. In the right situation, lawns are great to play on, easy on the feet, capture rainwater, etc. but let's face it, having a nice looking patch of grass takes energy, time and money to maintain. (For most lawn owners, especially it seems male ones, "nice looking" means a weed-free carpet of Kentucky Bluegrass mowed to 2.5 inches worthy of garden parties and weddings.)

What happens, though, when your small front lawn (say an area of 12 feet by 12 feet as in this post) goes to sh*t and you don't want to deal with re-sodding or re-seeding and get into the endless cycle of fertilizing, watering, and mowing your very expensive 144 square feet of Toronto property? What if, on the other hand, you (the homeowner) prefers to have plants which invite birds, bees, butterflies as opposed to raccoons and skunks ripping up your turf looking for grubs? 

There are options....


I've worked for Laura and Greg, the homeowners, for many years and seen the front lawn (aforementioned 144 square foot area) deteriorate from pests and weeds to the point that they pulled out whatever remaining patches of grass last year. Laura wanted to plant some hydrangeas but I suggested another strategy. She has three young children so perhaps she would be interested in teaching them about ecology, life cycles of plants and insects, etc. Maybe transplanting a range of native plants (perennials here) could be more informative and educational (best case scenario for the kids) while involving less work, aside from occasional watering and seasonal pruning (best case scenario for Laura and Greg.)

They were very open to the idea of ditching their rotary mower so asked me to come up with a list of native plants to Southern Ontario and "make over" the front. They got the plants right away (I love committed clients)  but I had to weed the front garden first in preparation.

Below are some pictures of the front garden before the renovation from various views. The site is in full sun, facing south, with no automatic irrigation system in place. The assortment of vigorously-growing weeds shows that growing nicer stuff was promising.



Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Garden Installation Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Garden Installation Before 




Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Garden Installation Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Garden Installation Before 




Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Garden Installation Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Garden Installation Before 




Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Installation Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Installation Before 




Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Installation Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Installation Before




Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Makeover Before




Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Garden Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Garden Makeover Before 




Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Garden Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Garden Makeover Before




Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Garden Installation Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Garden Installation Before 



Stage One: Let's Get Rid of Those Weeds!




Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Installation Mid Way by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front
Garden Installation Mid Way 


Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Installation Mid Way by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front
Garden Installation Mid Way 



Stage Two: Transplanting Perennials


Now that I had a clean "blank slate", planting the new native perennials was straight-forward. (What did I plant? Some of the usual pollinator-friendly stalwarts like Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Asclepias, and Monarda.)

I placed them in groups and formed a mulched pathway around the massed plantings. This allows for easier access to maintain the perennials (yes, I know "maintain" is a dirty word but "no maintenance" is an even dirtier phrase). Laura's kids can walk around easily to view the butterflies and bees in closeup while I can weed in the future without constantly worrying about stepping on things. 

Walking in this garden is greatly encouraged!



Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Front Garden Installation After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Front
Garden Installation After 


Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Garden Installation After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Wychwood Pollinator
 Garden Installation After 



Toronto Wychwood Pollinator Garden Installation After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Toronto Wychwood Pollinator
 Garden Installation After



Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Installation After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator
Front Garden Installation After 


Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator
Front Garden Makeover After 



Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Garden Installation After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator
Garden Installation After


Wychwood Toronto Pollinator Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Wychwood Toronto Pollinator
Garden Makeover After


And a Few Weeks Later...


I returned to clip the "L" shaped boxwood hedge, weed and add some more mulch. All the perennials are growing happily, I'm glad to report. (The Anise-Hyssop (Agastache) seemed to have doubled in size.) I saw many types of butterflies and bees visiting this small garden. 

It's gratifying to add beauty and food (for the insects and perhaps birds) to Toronto, one garden at a time. I don't miss planting hydrangeas at all and I'm sure Laura would agree.



Wychwood Barns Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Wychwood Barns Toronto Pollinator
Front Garden Makeover After 


Wychwood Barns Toronto Pollinator Front Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Wychwood Barns Toronto Pollinator
Front Garden Makeover After