Project Description


Mouse on and off the image above to shift between BEFORE and AFTER images


The Townell family had recently relocated from Red Deer to this home in Edmonton. They envisioned a total revamp of the aging landscaping that they inherited. Part of this vision included creating a front-garden with an oasis feel, centred around the functional replacement of a crumbling front entry walk and raised bed.


Before the garden was developed, runoff from the total area of the larger portion of the roof was routed through a single downspout directly into the sewer. As part of the new plan, the downspout was redirected over the main entry sidewalk with an arbour. From there flows were directed a few metres through a buried pipe to navigate an existing mounded planting bed before emerging into a planting bed. The planting bed absorbs flows with newly installed deep soil (30 cm) and dense plantings.

The downspout is now equipped with a winter bypass to send flows back to the sewer in the winter, as is required by the municipality.


The area next to the driveway has the most sun in the whole yard and the owners decided to put raised beds there to be able to grow a few vegetables, which is working well. The lawn was removed and seeded with a drought-tolerant, slow-growing Sheep’s Fescue blend by Scott’s, which has taken very well. When the weather is wet, this particular grass blend needs weekly mowing like its more conventional counterparts.

The absorbent garden bed is laid out so that similar plants are laid out somewhat symmetrically, perpendicular to the line of sight from the street. This makes the long view particularly appealing, with a bold rhythm of tall perennials and even some shrubs.


The area where the downspout discharges is planted with moisture-loving Ligularia and the very tall Gateway Joe Pye (Eutrochium maculatum ‘Gateway’). The Ligularia would prefer more moisture still, which could be accomplished by lowering the soil level a few centimetres into a slightly deeper basin of its own which will retain more moisture.

At the other end of the height spectrum, Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) provides a delightful low, cheerful groundcover mat at the street, especially when it is covered with its yellow flowers.

This garden filled in very quickly because of the deep topsoil. The soil is never seen, but it is an investment that pays dividends. The garden is spectacular in person, especially when the Bee Balm (Monarda) are in bloom!


1 | With a few berms to create basins, this garden could hold back runoff even more impressively, especially in larger rainstorms. The plants are all excellent rain garden selections and would thrive. Berms could be made out of loam and planted, or some rocks could be added that would hold back flows.

2 | The Ninebarks will eventually create some additional screening from the street for the outdoor seating area.

3 | Spruce trees have shallow, long-reaching roots. The garden was pushed over close to the driveway to avoid disturbing these roots.

4 | Creeping Jenny will eventually fill in blank spots throughout the garden.


“We are thinking about adding a berm midway down the garden in the future. The Purple Coneflowers haven’t put on much of a show and we may replace them. The Coral Bells would prefer less sun. The Bee Balm is amazing though!”

Planting Plan

planting plan