Your Garden Can Help Native Species Thrive

The Carolinian Zone in southern Ontario is a hotspot for biodiversity, with more species of rare plants and animals than anywhere else in Canada, including the Blanding’s turtle, southern flying squirrel, rusty-patched bumblebee and monarch butterfly.

Not only is the Carolinian Zone home to one-third of Canada’s at risk plants and animals, it’s also home to a quarter of our human population. With the region’s population projected to grow significantly, so will our impact on nature and the health of wildlife.

If you live in the Carolinian Zone, your garden is a critical piece for restoring lost habitat and creating a healthy future for the region and the wildlife that call it home. Please join us in making your garden part of the solution – together we can grow life-sustaining habitats and resilient landscapes, one yard at a time.

Growing gardens that help native species thrive.

In the Zone provides gardeners in Canada’s Carolinian Zone with the tools to gradually transform backyards into woodland, water and wildflower gardens for native wildlife.

Free gardening resources: Receive advice from wildlife and gardening experts to cultivate habitat for warblers, frogs, owls, butterflies, bees and more.

Track your impact: Using the In the Zone Tracker, gardeners can measure the progress we’re making together to restore lost habitats in this fragile ecoregion. Citizen monitoring makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of biodiversity and can reveal insights into the health of species in the Carolinian Zone.

Connect: When you join In the Zone, you can connect with a community of gardeners to share tips, exchange native plants and celebrate successes knowing you are making a difference where you live.

Get started today!

By planting a single native oak, a patch of milkweed or growing an entire native plant garden, you’ll be taking the first step to creating an ecosystem in your yard that offers food and shelter to a diversity of bees, caterpillars, butterflies and birds. Explore strategies for transforming your garden for native wildlife.

The Four Seasons Guide of Wildlife Gardening, a step-by-step guide, allows you to start gardening at any point in the year. Just pick your starting season on the wheel and continue clockwise through your first year. You’ll find everything you need to know on how to get your wildlife garden started.

What do you Want to Grow?

Help cultivate resilient, climate-smart, connected neighbourhoods. Each In the Zone Garden Guide offers tips to help transform your garden into flourishing habitat for native wildlife in the Carolinian Zone.

Grow a bouquet of native flowering plants for birds, butterflies, bugs and other pollinators.

Grow an abundance of flowering plants for birds, butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

Wildflower A healthy pollinator population supports food production.

Choose native trees and plants to create a woodland home for owls, chipmunks, and woodpeckers.

Choose native trees and plants to create a woodland home for owls, chipmunks and woodpeckers.

Woodland Shade trees will help moderate the temperature in your yard and provide cooling for your home.

Add a pond or enhance a wetland for frogs, toads, turtles and salamanders.

Keep your yard wet for frogs, toads, turtles and salamanders.

Wetland Healthy ponds and wetlands can buffer your yard from floods and droughts.

How it works

Whether you’re a gardening guru or have a brown thumb, it’s simple to garden In the Zone.


Sign up Receive information and updates from In the Zone.


Tell us about your garden Register any garden or planting project anywhere, whether it’s in a yard, pot, rooftop, in the water or a community plot. Fill out the In the Zone Tracker baseline survey.


Choose your Garden Guide and get growing Begin growing a healthy woodland, wetland or wildflower garden designed to help Carolinian wildlife thrive. You might be eligible for one-on-one advice from our experts, a site consultation, free native plants, and more.


Track your impact As your garden flourishes and wildlife move in, record your garden transformation and measure your impact using the In the Zone Tracker. You can contribute your observations to valuable citizen science databases.


Connect and celebrate Connect with like-minded gardeners to share stories and successes. Enjoy invitations to special events, gardening workshops and community celebrations.

Your Garden Stories

When Bronwyn and her husband, Oliver, moved into their northwest Toronto home last year, they wanted to create a lively urban oasis in their yard that met multiple needs: a play space for their young family, a food garden, and habitat for pollinators and other wildlife; plus, it had to be beautiful! Their front yard had traditional landscaping, including boxwood hedges with irises, grass and a Japanese maple; the back yard, on the other hand, was just a pit with gravel and other refuse.

To get started, Bronwyn and Oliver planted a variety of shade-loving species including Mayapple, Virgin’s Bower, Trillium, Nodding Onion and Wild Geranium, but the larger landscaping and planting project took place this year. Transforming the gravel pit was the biggest challenge and required professional help to level the ground and lay sod.  A new fence and planter boxes completed the picture, along with over 10 different species of native plants and 15 kinds of fruits and vegetables.

The results have been well worth it: from the sheer number of butterflies (at least five different species) and native bees with sacs full of colourful pollen, to hearing crickets at night in the middle of the city, the diversity of pollinators has been amazing and rewarding to see. Their community’s response has also been positive — neighbours marvel at all the life in the garden.

Bronwyn’s advice to other homeowners? Just do what’s possible — small steps are still impactful! Look for ways to get seeds, plants or cuttings from neighbours or seasonal plant sales. It is more economical and will ensure that the plants you add to your garden are well adapted to local conditions.

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