Condo Courtyard Garden



I am Director at a Condo in Yorkville and am writing because we have had a very difficult time getting anything to grow in our front courtyard garden to grow. The Garden is west facing but is set back from the street and surrounded on 3 sides by the building therefore it does not get a lot of direct sunlight. We have paid quite a bit of money to properly build up the bed, with irrigation, and what we thought was properly selected plant material but so far have had not luck. Over the last two years most of the shrubs planted consisting of yew’s and boxwoods have all died and been replaced at least once. We also had hosta which did not do well. I am hoping someone from your organization could help us select the right plant material and provide proper maintain instructions because we are obviously doing something wrong.


Hi there,

I understand that city gardens can be very difficult to establish initially as city conditions often means pollution & salt contamination and perhaps theft.

Are these raised beds? If so you may be having a freeze/ thaw issue over the winter months that will kill your plants. Anything grown above ground needs to have insulation built into beds.

You certainly tried good foundation plants. Yews, boxwood and hostas are all plants I would recommend as low maintenance, tough plants. Did you examine your plants for pests or disease while they were declining in health ?

You say you have built up beds. I’m assuming your soil is fertile and not contaminated. If not you may want to have it tested.

You have irrigation in the bed.  Is this working correctly to water thoroughly and deeply? Overhead irrigation can lead to shallow rooted growth and ill health.

Conditions last winter effected a great deal of evergreens throughout Toronto. You only have to drive around the city to see all the browning on our conifers.

As you say you have already spent a great deal of money I am apprehensive to recommend other plants to you. I would speak to the contractor first who put the beds, irrigation in for you.  Ask about warranty on work and plants.

The Toronto Master Gardeners have a number of Garden Guides available on our site when you are ready to choose new plants.

Let us know what you find out.