Another Yard for the Don

Complementing our efforts to clean-up, plant, and protect the natural areas within Toronto's "Green Ravines", FODE's Another Yard for the Don encourages improved landscaping practices on private property.

A naturalized front yard.

The four most-immediate impacts that private lands have on the local eco-system, other than the impacts of greenhouse gases and other air-borne pollutants, and current agency initiatives to counter-act these impacts, are:

The overall reduction of the urban canopy, reducing local benefits and increasing the urban heat-island effect Current efforts include massive tree-plantings by both the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, at a cost of millions of dollars per year. Also see Trees Count.
Increased storm flows to local creeks, causing excessive erosion and the silting of fish habitat The development of the City's Wet Weather Flow Master Plan, including the Downspout Disconnection program, to cost $1 Billion dollars between 2005 and 2030.
Automotive, industrial, landscaping, and other chemicals carried by stormwater into local receiving waters Development of the City's Sewer Use Bylaw, the Pesticide Bylaw, and the promise of increased enforcement as the Wet Weather Flow plan goes into effect will help, but we have to stop putting poisons into our drinking water
The movement of non-native species from private lands onto public lands, altering local eco-systems Extensive volunteer efforts and Parks department budget allocations to rid our ravines of Norway Maples, European Alders, Japanese knot-wood, etc.

By participating in FODE's Another Yard for the Don, owners of private lands can play a key role in reducing the four negative impacts described above, as well as help to reduce tax expenditures on them.

Three actions you can take will help:

1. Practice Sound Yards Management by:
  • Disconnecting downspouts that discharge directly into storm sewers
  • Ensuring that nothing but rain and meltwater enters our storm drains, including pet waste, spills, and run-off from refuse bins
  • Installing a rain barrel or creating a pond or swale for downspout wate
  • Reducing areas that need to be watered and/or mowed by considering groundcovers, wildflower meadows, and other plants
  • Reducing watering, watering only in the morning, using rain barrels rather than municipal water for watering, and/or installing drip irrigation or other low-volume methods of watering
  • For lawns: we will mow high, less often, aerate, and plant drought-tolerant seed
  • Practice organic gardening, avoiding the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other chemicals for cosmetic purposes
  • Planting native varieties of trees, shrubs, and plants
  • Increasing, where possible, the use of evergreens and shade trees in a manner to help conserve winter heating and summer air-conditioning
  • Recycling household waste into valuable compost
  • Creating or providing bird, butterfly, amphibian, and other animal habitat with trees, berry-bearing bushes, bird feeders, and bird-baths
  • Establishing natural buffers near streams and ravines
  • Minimizing the use of harmful de-icing products and inappropriate snow plowing practices
  • Adopting a hierarchy of hand tools, electric tools, and then gas-powered tools
  • Using landscaping or lawn care services only if they adhere to professional Integrated Pest Management certification protocols, and
  • Installing porous pavement where possible

    Click here for access to More Information, and

2. Sign the Natural Yards Pledge and let us know how many people support the expansion of Natural Yards across the Don watershed. Click here for the Natural Yards Pledge. (PDF file). Please print it out and fax or mail it to us. Alternatively, you may view and submit the pledge on-line here.

3. Contact the North Toronto Green Community in you would like to arrange for a Green Garden Visit.

FODE is a membership-based non-profit organization working to protect and enhance the Don River and to encourage the establishment of healthy and sustainable communities within the central and eastern portions of the Don watershed, Toronto, Ontario. © 2004