Could I Create Victoria’s Garden?


Victoria Day and the long weekend that goes with it is marked annually as Canada’s unofficial launch of the summer season. This holiday goes all the way back to 1845, when Queen Victoria actually sat on the British throne and celebrated her birthday on May 24, and Canadians have embraced it for over 150 years.

Canadians celebrate this long weekend in various ways: they open the summer cottage, enjoy fireworks, catch up on some overdue spring cleaning and spruce up the garden and lawn.

I love to garden, or to put it another way, I love the idea of gardening. I do not naturally have a green thumb, and I worked hard to create a simple garden with greenery, a nice lawn and a punch of colour in our first home, one we lived in and enjoyed for almost 12 years.

We have lived in our current home for three years and it’s been a struggle to create a functioning front lawn. We are lucky to have a large, spacious, flat lot in the heart of the city, but with that comes tremendous maintenance.

Our biggest challenge is the front lawn, the first impression zone of any property. When we moved in in June 2014 the front yard was in bad shape. We inherited a balding lawn covered in weeds sitting in front of an overgrown garden with half dead bushes.

What a patch of the front yard looked like when we moved in three years ago

Over the last couple of years I have cleaned up the garden beds, removed years of dead leaves and brought the small bushes back to life. However, I didn’t do much with the grass patch, thinking always that maybe some miracle would happen and that each spring a thick healthy patch of grass would grow.

Boy was I wrong. Last year weeds and clover took over, and this spring an army of grubs moved in. An alert went out to the neighbourhood raccoons who heard there was a buffet of grubs at our house, and they attacked what was left of our front lawn.

Neighbours and dog walkers would shake their heads and remark how pathetic our small front lawn looked. I had to do something. After calling a few lawn and garden businesses I chose one that had a great name (Gardenzilla), they were friendly, had good reviews and quoted a fair price to aerate the soil, get rid of the grubs and put nemotodes in to keep the raccoons away and put down fresh grass seed.

We have been watering diligently, and green is starting to return as the grass begins to grow. But the daily alert to the neighbourhood raccoons still goes out. Most mornings I can still see a piece of the new lawn scratched at and turned over. Maybe we need more nemotodes. Or we need to install a scarecrow. Maybe these intelligent raccoons will learn to read and I will put a big sign up on my lawn that says “keep out.”

What a patch of the front yard looks like today

I dream of a soft, thick green front lawn, and I will keep seeding, treating and watering the grass until one day that miracle will happen. If you have any ideas or simple suggestions about how to help my lawn go green post a comment here or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.