Gardening for Life!

Beauty In Community Gardens

Beauty in Community gardens consists of:

  • the presence of happy gardeners who add life, movement & a welcoming atmosphere
  • an organized group of garden beds that are well maintained, in good repair, uncrowded & weed free
  • garden structures that defines the areas of the garden, are elements that can be used for artwork & create a framework for planning year-round visual appeal
  • artwork that enhances the plants & garden's design, adds colour & texture
  • the presence of children who inspire us to see the beauty in small things as they become a new generation of gardeners
  • a powerful aid in preventing vandalism

 2013CBMAug 8 (2)

Specific Actions  to take:

  • Include flowers, both ornamental and edible, in garden beds throughout the garden and along the garden perimeter.  Choose flowers have aromas, a variety of colours & interesting textures


  • Develop garden structures such as perimeter berm gardens, gathering areas with tables & seating, garden beds of differing sizes, shapes, heights, kids play areas, scuptures, murals, signage about the garden and artifacts such as an arbour or pergola


  • Install welcoming signs, wide & level accessible pathways with defined edges, bench seating, artwork that enhances the garden layout design


  •  Inspire child friendly gardens with rocks painted like ladybugs placed by children to play with while they are within the garden, Fairy gardens, Puppet shows, spring egg hunts in the garden, Scarecrow building, Pumpkin patch picking


 2013ECMJune 18 (29)

Enhance the visual appeal  of garden with

  • Birdhouses that can be painted and set at different heights throughout the garden
  • Fasten colourful plant containers securely to a fence or trellis
  • Use very heavy large colourful pots as garden focal point
  • Attach solar lights out of arm's reach
  • Add fruit shrubs around the garden
  • Firmly fix wind chimes to add colour and sound but at a distances from residences close to the garden
  • Install a freestanding trellis that will not move in the wind
  • Add plant  signs to garden beds & art boards

2013Silver Spr Edible Sept (1)

 Create consistent garden maintenance:

  • Schedule routine maintenance of garden bed frames and other structures every 5 years to ensure these elements are not deteriorating
  • Ensure that the water supply is turned on early in the spring & stays on as long as possible as out falls are getting longer


Control urban wildlife by:

  • Raising beds & enclosing them attractively to control rabbits
  • Plant tasting beds for 4 & 2 legged wildlife to munch
  • Install motion detectors connected to lights
  • Plant barriers of prickly roses, sea buckthorn, gooseberries, barberry & raspberries


Find long term practical solutions to quack grass in pathways & garden beds

  • Don't compost weed seeds and those plants with rhizome roots
  • Take out grass and replace with mulch
  • If keeping grass pathways, mow it very short
  • Remove weed roots by sections


Making the Garden Beautiful Discussion March 18, 2015 
The goal is ensuring that gardens look attractive no matter the season. Soil that is being actively worked and improved looks attractive at almost any time of the year and conveys the perception of an active garden being cared for year round.

To keep them looking interesting no matter the season:

  • Consider plants that add structure and/or green past the usual growing season.  For example, sow cover crops in the autumn such as fall rye.  These cover crops then germinate really early in spring.  The growth of the cover crop improves the soil until planting season.  Then you till them under to provide nitrogen and other nutrients and improve soil texture. Post signs to tell everyone why the cover crop is being grown.


  • Sow an early spring cover crop such as field peas, alfalfa, buckwheat, or crimson clover that will germinate quickly, and with the same result of improving the soil.


  • Ensure that the garden is well put to bed in fall with beds cleared of all plant material, other than those chosen for winter interest or plant material that is feeding the wildlife such as sunflower heads and upright seed heads.


  • After adding compost to the beds in fall leave the soil in beds either left as clumps for winter freeze/thaw action or smoothed out for a early seed sowing surface.Alternatively, mulch beds with leaves, straw, compost and cover with a row cover to prevent winter erosion of soil.  Post signs to inform the community. Not having enough compost is a perennial problem for community gardens, but there is a new player in town.  Hop Compost is producing organic compost from the waste from local food restaurants.

  • Establish and label perennial plantings that green up early and provide earlier harvests such as rhubarb, perennial onions, horseradish, stinging nettle, comfrey, and hardneck garlic. 


  • Consider planting a perennial cover crop in pathways such as Dutch White Clover.  It will green up earlier, choke out weeds, provide blooms and nectar for pollinators and stand up to foot traffic.


  • Include colour in the form of annual flowers that serve to attract pollinators as well, and may be used as edible flowers.  Examples are nasturtiums, marigolds, pansies


  • Install sturdy, useful and attractive supports for  plants such as painted trellises and tipis that also serve as garden art.
  • Establish  attractive, safe pathways including stepping stones

Mid-season bare spots in garden beds once the crop has been grown and harvested look unplanned, uncared for, degrade soil and attract weeds.

Specific actions to take:

  • Plan succession crops to transplant in once the first crop is harvested. For example, grow lettuce early and then transplant in cabbages. By the time the cabbage needs the space the lettuce will be done.


  • Learn to harvest early, thoroughly and when produce is at its peak and before it can become diseased or less attractive .


  • Plant disposable plants that either come into their prime before or after the main harvest is done; such as spring flowering bulbs, annual flowers, and cover crops,


For potatoes that need to have their foliage yellow and fall over before harvesting:

  •  Instead of devoting a whole bed to potatoes, either grow them communally in a shared garden bed because they need a lot of space or use potato grow towers. These towers add structure and interest to a garden bed and also contain the sprawl of the potato plants.


Diseased plants infected by pathogens or infested with insects or weeds are unsightly and spread problems to other parts of the garden / neighbourhood.

Specific actions to take:

  • Learn what a weed looks like in various stages of growth for early removal, before they become well established.


  • Learn what common pathogens are part of our environment,so they can be recognized early and treated promptly.


  • Learn to recognize signs and symptoms of insect damage, and how to tell which insects are beneficial.


  • Often pathogen or insect damage comes after environmental damage from storms.  Learn to use techniques to minimize damage from our weather.

Top issues that cause gardens to look unattractive:

  • Weeds in beds,pathways, growing through mulch and in surrounding areas outside of the community garden.
  • Not enough variety of plant species being grown.
  • Produce aging in the garden beyond its prime ripeness without being harvested.
  • Lack of welcome signs / murals on hard surfaces or signage throughout the garden.


Top suggestions to improve our gardens appearance and health:

  • Plant more varieties of plants for all the gardening seasons within beds and in communal shared garden areas.
  • Add more colour.  Paint hard surfaces, provide plaques, signs, decorative rocks and plants.
  • Vary heights of plants garden beds and structures in the garden.
  • Decorate garden beds and the garden for the changing seasons including Halloween and winter.
  • Create a winter decorating scheme and  incorporate winter activities in the garden.
  • Make sure you have a design to plan and enhance the garden from year to year.
  • Use plants that are not necessarily edible but add visual interest and beauty.
  • Organize community garden tours for gardeners to visit and get ideas.