Garden Suggestions


I live at Keele and Eglinton. More of a clay surface soil.  The garden looks a hell of a lot better than when I moved here 12 years ago. Both gardens I am trying to beautify are located in full sun. I want to have all perennials with as little work and water as possible. I planted all hostas in the largest area but discovered it’s too much sun for them to flourish, I will leave them in, but planning to include lots of sunflower type perennials this year. My main concern is grass weeds. I am so tired of digging, I am about to give up. I planted lots of ground runners to help me control this problem, it has worked to a certain degree but not enough to ease my frustration. Do you have any suggestions? Also, I really want to stop mowing the lawn, so, I started putting in fruit trees. I have 4 fruit trees and have been looking for a peach and nectarine for a couple of years at the usual home depot, can tire, lowes etc. but no luck. Do you have any suggestions? What’s the best way to eliminate a lawn without wrecking the front lawn. I have a big end/corner curb lawn. Whoever invented this nonsense, I bought the house with an established lawn but will do anything to see it die. Please help.


There certainly is a lot going on in your garden.  Perhaps we should tackle your concerns one at a time: 1) clay soil, 2) full sun, 3) desire for low maintenance perennials, 4) weeds and the inability of landscape fabric to control them, 5) locating a place to purchase a fruit tree, 6) lawn alternatives.

The best thing you can do for your garden is to start with a good foundation.  Amending your clay soil with organic matter will improve your success rate.  The top 8-10″ of soil is where plants’ roots live.  Plants need oxygen. Clay soil is too compact to allow roots to “breathe.” Adding organic soil amendments to the soil lightens soil texture, discourages compaction, adds nutrients, improves drainage and aeration, moderates soil temperature, and provides pore space, which is essential to plant growth.

While amending your soil I suggest you remove the landscape fabric (ground runners).  The landscape fabric may add to the soil compaction that clay naturally has.  It may prevent some weeds, but many weeds have tiny seeds that can get through the fabric and intertwine with its mesh.  Thus, weeding becomes a nightmare.  A better alternative is to use a mulch .

Mulch will prevent sunlight from reaching weed seeds and prevents them from touching the soil.  Thus, these seeds cannot germinate.  Mulch is also positive for wanted plants, in that it helps to retain moisture and gradually breaks down to add organic matter to the soil.  Even with mulch you will get some weeds. Ensure that you pull them up early in their growth cycle.  Pull as much of the root as possible.  Don’t let them go long enough that they produce seeds that will disperse throughout your garden.

With an improved foundation soil you can now consider some full sun, drought tolerant perennials.  Toronto Master Gardeners has an extensive guide to the plants that suit this condition and outlines selection, maintenance and care tips:

Toronto Master Gardeners suggest that if you need to be directed to a nursery that can provide fruit trees, contact  After purchasing a fruit tree, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has an excellent site to help home gardeners with growing fruit trees.  Lots of information that will answer any question:

When considering a lawn alternative, remember the basics of a good foundation soil, the light parameters, and water requirements.  Landscape Ontario lists some good perennials for lawn cover and you might consider a type that is non-invasive.  Via the following link you can download a brochure (Grow Me Instead) that outlines non-invasive groundcovers in Southern Ontario:

Hoping this information is helpful on your quest for a beautified property.