Use pollinator.org’s plants for pollinators guide to learn more about our ecoregion (Manitoulin–Lake Simcoe) and the local native plants you can add to your landscape to help save our pollinators.
If you’re designing with native plants, you can use Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower CenterMt. Cuba Center plant finders to search for native trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses and vines based on plant type, foliage characteristics, sun preferences, flower colour and moisture preferences.
The City of Toronto’s drought tolerant landscaping guide includes plant lists for specific garden designs including oak savanna, tall grass prairie and meadow, butterfly landscape, rock garden, hedgerow, and even a pre-confederation pioneer landscape.
Recommended Urban Trees from Cornell University will help you assess your site and choose the right tree for the right place. It has nice visuals of the mature shape for each tree and its soil moisture needs. There are a few trees to avoid that are marginal in our planting zone and watch for the invasives they list (Amur maple).
Struggling to keep the deer from eating your plants? Try some of the varities suggested in this Michigan State University Extension Bulletin on deer-resistant plants. Or plant a hedgerow bordering your property to distract them.
“Wander, ponder; and prune.” PlantAmnesty’s guide to pruning is a short, useful summary of the do’s, don’ts and how’s of pruning.
Instead of invasive plants, consider choosing native alternatives. This list of native alternatives, ranked by contribution to biodiversity, gives you lots to choose from.
Interested in growing a living fence full of fruits and berries for yourself and wildlife? This list of hedgerow plants has some excellent suggestions of trees, shrubs and vines to consider.
Interested in learning more about what you can do to increase biodiversity and preserve our native flora and fauna? The City of Toronto’s biodiversity series offers guides on bees, butterflies, spiders, fishes and mammals. Each guide has a bit of history, a list of species and the threats they’re facing and suggests ways you can help. Not listed but also in the series are Trees, Shrubs & Vines of Toronto, Mushrooms of Toronto and Birds of Toronto.
Start by sourcing regionally adapted, healthy plants from reputable sources.
Take the lazy approach in fall and leave your leaves and other garden debris where they fall. They’ll feed your soil, insulate your plants, provide habitat for beneficial insects and provide nesting material for birds in the spring.
Mother nature abors bare soil – mulch it. Mulch feeds the soil microbes, which in turn help improve the nutrient and water holding capacity of the soil – leading to healthy plants. Wood chips (not bark chips), leaves, and compost are all good mulch choices. Or better yet, plant densely enough to create a living mulch.
Manage your garden as an ecosystem. That means avoiding chemicals as they harm the beneficial insects that are your allies in keeping bad bugs from harming your plants. Instead, create the right habitat to lure beneficials to your garden.