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.

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.

1

Sign up

Receive information and updates from In the Zone.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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

Meet Dawn Bazely.

Eighteen years ago, Dawn Bazely had a vision for her west-end Toronto backyard: to create a place for her children to play and wildlife and native plants to flourish.

One square metre at a time her lawn has given way to native plants such as Virginia creeper, jack-in-the-pulpit, Michigan lilies and vegetable beds. Garlic, kale, coriander and okra feed her family; perennials ensure a plentiful supply of nectar for bumble bees, wasps and butterflies; the naturalized understory of her back garden attracts American goldfinch, hermit thrushes and white-throated sparrows looking for a veritable buffet of bugs; and at night bats stop by for moths and beetles.

With careful planning and tending, Dawn’s urban garden is an important link to a wider ecosystem, providing valuable services for people and native wildlife.

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