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Deborah Dale owns Verdigrow Ltd and operates Green Evolution Site and Grow Up! to promote lawnlessness. Linking landscapes together to grow a more ecological world.


Site No.: 007  Type:  Residential Garden  Size:  4500sqft  Goal:  Native Plant Site  Status: N3
Zone:  Carolinian Canada
City/County:  Toronto    State/Province/District:  Ontario     Country:  Canada

Assistance Request:   The owner is fighting lawsuit with Toronto concerning the illegal cutting of this garden, including the killing of several endangered species.  Financial donations or legal assistance gratefully accepted.

Late Spring                                            Summer                                           October 24, 2012

This garden began as a weedy patch of lawn which, beginning in 1995, was transformed gradually  into a front yard meadow.  The rear of the house was already heavily treed and is being transformed into a more natural woodland setting.  In 1996, a rain garden was added to capture precipitation from the rooftop and to provide a spot for moisture-loving species in an otherwise dry, generally sandy yard.
By 2007, there were over 200 species of native plants, many from locally collected seed or plants salvaged from development sites, along with a scattering of non-native species.  That summer, the longest drought in over 50 years placed the garden under heavy stress.  City of Toronto forces stepped in 3 days before the rain finally returned, and without prior notice cut the meadow to the ground, including endangered species, shrubs and young treesA great many plants were not able to recover from the trampling and sudden exposure.  Five years on, it is still in recovery having lost much biodiversity and losing ground to aggressive and mower-introduced invasives.  My yards have once again been cited (October 26, 2012) under Toronto’s “long grass and weeds” bylaw 489 and when that proved false, the boulevard portion was charged under bylaw 743 on December 19, 2012 with the non-existent crime of not being lawn.  

Is my garden perfect?  Of course not…no garden is, even if it hasn’t been brutalized.  Do I love it still? Of course.  Is it illegal?  No!

Top 10 Species: (links to USDA plants database)
Butterfly Milkweed  Asclepias tuberosa
Pussytoes  Antennaria howellii  (one of at least 3 different species in the garden)
Canada Goldenrod  Solidago altissima
Blue-stemmed Goldenrod Solidage caesia
Big Bluestem        Andropogon gerardii                                      
Sweetgrass   Hierochloe odorata
Prairie Dock  Silphium terebinthinaceum
New Jersey Tea  Ceanothus americanus
Smooth Rose  Rosa blanda
Fragrant Sumac  Rhus aromatica

What’s new
It’s been a very long winter, most of it spent fighting Toronto Transporation and bylaw enforcement staff who argued that the few stems and seed heads remaining on boulevard in front of my house, purposely left to feed and shelter overwintering wildlife,

Blinded by stems!

Blinded by stems!

were a sight line hazard.  On March 28, 2013, those arguments were rendered moot when Toronto used its Forestry service staff to sweep away those stems in the guise of removing the dying Ash tree on the boulevard (Emerald Ash borer has infested my neighbourhood for several years)…at least they can’t invoice me for this service.

Signs of spring are finally starting to emerge, sprigs of wild strawberry, swelling leaf buds, and unfortunately, greening turf grass.  Its still a bit early to begin taking down hollow plant stems from last years garden.  When I do, I’ll incorporate some of the hollow stems into bee-bundles to act as nesting sites for a variety of native bees.


These pages offer a brief glimpse into the registered projects as presented by their creators.

To view a specific site, click on the site number in the right hand column.
To view sites within a specific region, click on that region (right now, that’s limited to “Ontario”, but we’d love to add yours!)

VOTE for your favourite Green Evolution Site by leaving a message with the text “VOTE”.  Please indicate whether you’ve actually visited the site in person and if so, how it compares to the story told here.

Very few project sites are considered “finished”.  Many go through periods where they might not be considered traditionally attractive, but they all share a purpose…to improve their piece of the planet.  Gardens and natural sites are alive – they move, grow, and change daily.  Tree saplings should not be considered to be “heavy undergrowth” as some municipalities have characterized them…but as future green giants joining with other lungs of the earth.  Unlike the static, plasticized, versions of yards popularized by the lawn care industry, Green Evolution Sites have a real potential to improve our physical environment, our personal well being, and our communities.

Oftentimes urban green evolution landscape extend  onto the boulevard or road verge.  It is perfectly legal to garden on this area if the municipality has ceded care of it to the adjacent homeowner.  The only proviso is that public health and safety be respected, usually in the form of height restriction related to traffic sight lines.  Check with your local municipality for details.  Please note, some cities have asked for permits or fees to be paid for the privilege of taking care of their property.  Be prepared to challenge that unlawful tax if you choose to replace turf with something more environmentally friendly.  In much of North America, resource-depleting turf is still habitually used to waste this space.

Open your eyes, your mind, and your landscape to more sustainable and productive use.  Ask questions about things you don’t understand.  Offer  suggestions to help improve Green Evolution Sites.  Talk with each other…together we can make a greener more sustainable community.


General Q & A

Want to know more about how to green up your space?  What that strange critter eating your plant is?  How to get started on revolutionizing your yard?  Spend some time looking at what others have done in the Green Evolution Site Gallery, or ask your question here.   We can’t promise to have all the answers, but together, Gree Evolutionists, can offer some alternatives to help you to restore your piece of the planet.

Post your questions below and check back later to see if someone has an answer for you.