Sample garden design: shade boulevard garden

Avoid expensive or elaborate plantings as they may be easily damaged on the boulevard.

The City of Guelph’s Encroachment By-law specifies that plants cannot be higher than 0.8 metres (2.5 feet). This ensures visibility for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Rocks and paving stones must be laid below the grade of the sidewalk and curb so as not to interfere with road or sidewalk maintenance. Consider using salt–tolerant plants on boulevards which may be exposed to winter road treatments.

Please note: boulevard sizes in Guelph vary. Before purchasing plants you should evaluate the space you have and plan accordingly. Remember to leave room for your garbage bins. Two 60 x 75 centimetre patio slabs work well.

 Plants used in this design

Spring interest

  • Polygonatum species, Solomon’s seal
  • Lysimachia species, creeping Jenny
  • Pulmonaria species, lungwort
  • Tiarella cordifolia, foam flower

Summer interest

  • Lamium maculatum, spotted deadnettle
  • Aruncus aethusifolius, dwarf goat’s beard
  • Hosta species, plantain lilies
  • Heuchera species, coral bells

Fall interest

  • Epimedium species, barrenwort
  • Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, sedge grass
  • Pachysandra species, Japanese spurge
  • Dryopteris erythrosora, autumn fern


Receives less than three hours of direct sunlight each day, with filtered sunlight during the rest of the day.


Rich, well-drained, soil is ideal for this type of garden. The addition of 5 centimetres (2 inches) of organic material (e.g. manure, compost, leaf mold) every couple of years will help to maintain these conditions. Soil erosion caused by mounded boulevard gardens can be a problem. Keep the final mulched surface 3.5 centimetres (1 inch) below the curb or sidewalk. This will prevent water and soil intended for your garden from escaping onto surrounding hard surfaces. Create a shallow depression in the centre of the garden to help catch rainwater and prevent soil and mulch erosion.


New plants may need extra watering until the roots are well established (one to two seasons).
Otherwise, these plants should thrive with average rainfall.

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