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Gardens and Urban Forests

Gardens and urban forests improve quality of life in many ways by creating beautiful outdoor spaces for community and options to address food security. 

Gardens & horticulture 

Our dedicated horticultural team takes pride in nurturing thousands of plant varieties in Kingston's public areas each year. They strive for vibrant, low-maintenance displays, keeping native species and pollinators in mind. Every season brings fresh growth and new species to enhance our shared spaces. 

City greenhouse

Experience the greenhouse from home! Watch the video to see spring bulbs, tropical plants, and learn about its history and our horticulturalists' work. 

Wildflower pilot 

We are testing roadside wildflowers on Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard (Princess Street to Glengarry Road). We have planted salt-tolerant native wildflowers and grasses. These areas will not be mowed to help them grow. We expect wildflowers to bloom in the second and third years, benefiting native plants, pollinators, and wildlife while beautifying the roadside. 

Natural lawn & pest control

The Province of Ontario’s Pesticide Act regulates the use of cosmetic and chemical pesticides across the province. 

Review our tips to help keep your pesticide-free lawns and gardens natural. 

Pesticide-free lawn and garden care is on the rise, with plenty of approved products available. 

In most cases, healthy lawns and gardens don't need pesticides or herbicides. Here are some natural lawn tips: 

  • Improve soil with compost
  • Seed grass in spring and fall
  • Maintain a healthy grass height 
  • Water deeply, but less often
  • Use mulches and garden compost
  • Plant diverse flowers to attract natural pest controllers like birds

Choose organic care for truly healthy lawns and gardens, benefiting you, your family, pets, neighbours, and the environment. 

Here are some effective tips for natural lawn and garden care: 

  • Solarization: Clear weeds and pests by covering the area with clear plastic in early spring, letting the sun's heat work in July and August. 
  • Aeration: Poke holes in your lawn with a pitchfork or use a core aerator to improve soil health. 
  • Fertilize organically: Choose organic fertilizers like compost, manure, or corn meal based on your garden's soil pH. Seek advice from experts or organic gardening resources. 
  • Compost: Turn yard waste and kitchen scraps into free fertilizer. You can compost coffee filters, eggshells, and vegetable peels. 
  • Endophytic grass seed: Plant this type of grass seed for a low-maintenance lawn resistant to bugs and various stresses. 
  • Clover: Consider planting clovers alongside grass. It's pest-resistant and reduces the need for manual weeding. 
  • Grasscycle: Leave grass clippings on your lawn to release nutrients into the soil naturally. 
  • Liquid kelp: Use liquid kelp as a natural growth supplement for your plants and garden. 

Here are simple, pesticide-free solutions for common garden issues: 

  • Grubs: Repair damaged areas with compost and seed. Try nematodes, a natural pest control, for grubs and other pests. 
  • Chinch bugs: Use a can with water to check for chinch bugs. Vacuum and water if there is an infestation. 
  • Aphids: Attract ladybugs by planting flowers. Use special soaps, allowed by the law, with fatty acids to control aphids. 
  • Dandelions and weeds: Maintain a healthy lawn with aeration, fertilization and overseeding. Raise mower height and hand-weed. Prevent weed seeds with corn gluten meal. Use horticultural vinegar or special soaps for weeds in pathways. 

You can use these products on your lawn and garden. Look for them at your garden center and check the label to ensure they match your needs. They can be used individually or in combination to address your specific needs. These products contain only the following active ingredients: 

  • Acetic acid: Spot-treatment for weeds like dandelions on patios. 
  • Biological pesticides (e.g., Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki, nematodes): Control grubs, caterpillars, mosquitos, and black flies. 
  • Copper barriers (copper strips): Control slugs and snails. 
  • Copper (as elemental, tribasic copper sulphate): Control diseases like black spot, powdery mildew, rust, and more. 
  • Corn gluten meal: Prevent germination of dandelion and crabgrass seeds. 
  • Fatty acids: Control insects like aphids, mealybugs, and slugs. Some formulations control weeds.  
  • Ferric sodium or ferrous phosphate: Control slugs and snails. 
  • Mineral oil (horticultural oil): Control insects like red spiders, mealybugs, aphids, and scales. 
  • Soap: Control insects like aphids, earwigs, slugs, and more. Some formulas kill moss. 
  • Silicon dioxide (diatomaceous earth): Control insects like caterpillars, earwigs, beetles, and more. 
  • Sulphur (lime sulphur and other sulphur compounds): Control insects like mites and whitefly, and plant diseases

Here's a seasonal guide for your garden and lawn care.

April/Early May

  • Remove dead plants and rake the lawn
  • Add compost, peat, and manure to garden beds
  • Weed and compost dead leaves
  • Consider soil solarization for July/August
  • Sharpen mower blades and set to 7.5 cm (about 2.95 in)
  • Check trees for insects, remove tent caterpillar nests


  • Plant new plants by the end of May and mulch them
  • Aerate the lawn
  • Fertilize with organic options or top-dress with quality soil
  • Pull weeds and mow before they seed
  • Check for grubs in brown patches


  • Water the lawn every 2-3 weeks during dry spells, and follow municipal watering restrictions
  • Don't mow a dry, brown lawn; it is dormant
  • Prune as needed
  • Pull weeds and replenish mulch
  • Consider liquid kelp as a growth supplement
  • Start soil solarization for weedy areas
  • Check for cinch bug damage in sunken grass areas
  • Water trees during dry spells

Late August/September

  • Aerate, overseed, and top-dress the lawn
  • Consider endophytic grass seed for insect resistance
  • Watch for insect damage after fall rains and repair grub damage
  • Clear, seed, and water previously solarized area

Late September to November

  • Fertilize
  • Mulch
  • Winterize lawn equipment
  • Grasscycle by leaving clippings on the lawn for soil nutrients
  • Allow leaves to gather around tree bases for root protection

Urban forest management

Our Urban Forest Management Plan guides how urban trees are maintained and cared for in the City of Kingston. 

These trees are important as they provide so much for our community including shade, environment and economy. They clean up pollutants from water, help manage storm water, capture harmful gases and air pollutants, and serve as memorials of significant people and events. 

Our urban forest includes all the trees growing naturally or planted on City-owned land within the Kingston boundary. This includes trees in parks, along streets, in natural areas and around homes, schools and businesses.

The Urban Forest Management Plan follows the rules in Kingston's Official Plan and the Tree Bylaw, which aims to protect and improve trees. It also matches Kingston's vision of becoming "Canada's Most Sustainable City" and the principles in the draft plan called Sustainable Kingston. These principles focus on community well-being, community involvement, transparency, and resilience for our future.

The City’s Public Works Department is responsible for implementing the plan by building upon the current tree inventory, using good forest management practices and through annual planting programs with the goal of achieving council’s strategic priority of 30% urban canopy cover. 

The City of Kingston acknowledges that we are on the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat, and thanks these nations for their care and stewardship over this shared land.

Today, the City is committed to working with Indigenous peoples and all residents to pursue a united path of reconciliation.

Learn more about the City's reconciliation initiatives.

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