19.10.14

A new Leslieville, Toronto garden design and installation: a case study

No grass? No problem!


What happens to a small patch of lawn (about 60 square feet) when the homeowner is often away and can't water and mow the area regularly? Well, see below!

Leslieville garden renovation design before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville garden renovation design before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto

This patch of sod/turf was put in, I'm sure, as a cheap solution by the previous homeowners for this awkward area that leads to the back gate on the left towards the fence (so think of the space as a "L"). Why would anyone plant such a small area of grass and then worry about mowing it? Buying a mower or weed trimmer just for this area seems silly. They left it to the new owner/s' to deal with this problem.

On the right is a raised interlocking patio about 2 feet above and in the foreground the interlocking pavers lead to the garage.




New garden renovation Leslieville before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
New garden renovation Leslieville before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto

New Leslieville garden renovation design before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
New Leslieville garden renovation design before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto


Yes, the very healthy tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) saplings in front of equally vigorous Virginia Creeper vines (which were on their way to engulfing the garage) spelled major maintenance issues in the future.


The client hired me to do something (anything?) that was (get ready...) "no maintenance." I assured her that this was impossible with living objects like plants so, if she didn't want to pour concrete and make this into a pad, some watering and weeding was required on her part.

The site receives full sun for at least 6 hours per day. Functionally, the area leads to a gate to the laneway. The dimensions are roughly 10' in length by 6' across.

The client does not want any flowers (flower scent and attraction to pollinators was not desired.)

I came up with this very rough sketch:

Two rectangular garden beds would be created. One to hold some sort of vine growing up the garage wall and the other for low-maintenance plants with no scented flowers.

The path would either be completely pea gravel or have "stepping stone" pavers if the client didn't want to be kicking gravel walking in this area.

Leslieville new garden plan by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville new garden plan by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto


Leslieville garden renovation design after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville garden renovation design after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto

Above is the new garden area about a year after the initial installation;

I planted two Jackmanii clematis growing up the garage wall trellises to replace the Virginia creeper. The clematis are better behaved, have wonderful non-scented flowers and, most importantly, can/should be pruned every spring.

In the roughly 3' x 10' rectangular bed, I planted a "Bloodgood" Japanese maple
(Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood') and six "Ice Dance" variegated carex/sedge (Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance')

A 2-3" layer of mulch was added to reduce watering and weeding.

Both beds are "boxed" in by pressure-treated 6" x 10" boards and amended with bags of triple mix (loam, compost and peat).

Rectangles dominated this backyard so creating a curved path with curved garden beds seemed incongruous. The only "irregularity" found was in the pre-cast stepping stones but even this is an illusion since all the stones are identical.


New garden renovation Leslieville after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
New garden renovation Leslieville before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto

The client and I discussed the materials to be used for the path. I preferred to use random flagstone, dry-laid, for the "L" shaped path but she wanted something less expensive. She decided on using these pre-cast concrete pavers bought from a big box home improvement store. They are set on top of a 4" compacted limestone screening base topped with a thin 2" layer of pea gravel.

I don't love the look of the pavers as they are not random looking (because, well, they're not.)  But the truth of the matter is it's the client's budget so my opinion doesn't really matter.



New Leslieville garden renovation design after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
New Leslieville garden renovation design after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto

This "lower-maintenance" garden involves simply pruning the Carex sedge and clematis every spring. I anticipate the Japanese maple to grow at a medium rate to eventually frame this view as a small tree for the client and her guests entertaining outside.

Something tells me the former tree of heaven saplings would not give the same effect!

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