Homes - Gardens

Wild about wildflower gardens

Pesticide-free, eco-friendly gardens are the hottest trend in yards today.

A gorgeous, low-maintenance garden? Make that a gorgeous, low-maintenance, pesticide-free, low-watering, eco-friendly garden and lawn? No, you're not dreaming. The secret is wildflower gardening, one of the hottest trends in yards today. In a nutshell, wildflower gardening involves planting flora native to your region rather than exotics that require extra TLC to flourish. Eco-lawns utilize dense, low-growing, grub-resistant and similarly low-maintenance fescue grasses.

"By utilizing native plants chosen specifically for the conditions the plants would naturally grow in, a wildflower garden requires no soil amendments, no fertilizers and very little watering after installation, says Paul Jenkins, of Warminster, Ont.-based Wildflower Farms, a wildflower and eco-lawn retailer and landscaping firm.

Besides being hardier than conventional gardens, wildflower gardens provide much-needed food and sanctuary for wildlife like butterflies, songbirds, toads and other creatures -- which is crucial as Canadian species face habitat loss. Plus, you'll benefit from a summer's worth of winged and feathered visitors, even in an urban or industrial setting.

Interested? Here are some tips from Paul Jenkins for getting started:

Consider hiring a pro
Beginner gardeners should definitely talk to a pro. Planning a garden involves designing around plant heights, bloom and foliage colours, bloom times and other factors, so sometimes hiring a pro is the easy way to go. Even if you're an experienced gardener, you may want to get a professional with wildflower gardening to get brought up to speed. Remember: You can hire a landscaper to either design and install your garden, or simply help you get started with advice and a backyard plan with planting suggestions. You can still get your own hands as dirty as you want!

Don't fertilize
Put down that measuring cap. A native flower garden will get everything it needs from your soil, so give your fertilizer to a friend or relative -- you won't be needing it anymore.

This article is featured on Gardening tips and techniques

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