Plants not growing


My small front and sloped garden produces zero growth to plants in general. There is a huge ugly pine tree planted that cannot be removed. None of the plants seem to grow at all and many have died. Petunias and others look as if they have just been planted. The soil is terrible despite my using many bags of fertilizer. This year I used black cedar chips on top. The water does not appear to penetrate. I am willing to install a barrier or anything else advised.
Attached are photos recently taken.
Thank you for your assistance.


Thanks for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.  It’s frustrating when your plants don’t flourish.  It seems that there are three issues that make it challenging to plant on this site:

  • Pine trees make the soil acid and perhaps the plants you have chosen don’t do well in acid soil.
  • The plants are competing with the pine tree for water and nutrients.
  • It looks like the garden is on a bit of a slope so the water runs down rather than penetrating the soil. This may cause some soil erosion.

Some of the things you might do to improve the situation include the following:

  • Use soaker hoses as opposed to sprinklers to allow the water to penetrate slowly into the earth.
  • Place some garden rocks around the perimeter and in between them plant ground covers such as sweet woodruff, pachysandra, bunchberry or barren strawberry. This is will help stop any erosion.
  • Closer to the tree plant other perennial plants that will tolerate a dry acidic soil such as hostas, liotrope (lilyturf), Christmas ferns, epimediums, wild ginger, wild geraniums, tiarella (foam flower), bergenia and coral bells.
  • Start with small plants and water them regularly until they are established.
  • Regularly amend the soil with organic matter.