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Front Garden Project


Some of the varieties in the garden

How we did it? 

This year, Trinity Grace decided to rehabilitate a plot of church lawn, planting it with wildflowers and pollinator beds, to attract beneficial insects and birds in the neighbourhood. In addition, repurposing the lawn would contribute to plant biodiversity, support the soil food web, enrich the soil, and improve water use and retention over time, by increasing organic matter and promoting aeration.


As our garden has grown through its various phases, our neighbours have noticed and many have stopped by to comment on or chat about our process and our progress. Because of that response, we are sharing our journey of transformation and renewal. Here’s part one, how we planned, installed and seeded our new garden space. 

Planning the Installation

Given our resources, we went with a sheet mulch installation technique, which in our case involved layering cardboard on top of the lawn, and then placing soil or compost on top of the cardboard. The cardboard deprives the grass of light and so smothers it, but eventually biodegrades so that water and plant roots can penetrate and soil microbes and worms can emerge.


Where we planned to plant was bordered by a walkway, sidewalk, established flower border, and more lawn. For the installation, we wanted to feather out the edges so they would meet the existing grade; we also understood that with sheet mulching, the edges are most vulnerable to grass reestablishing. With all that in mind, we cut and flipped the sod in a six-inch strip around the perimeter of the target area.


Since part of that area is sloped, we also were concerned about losing material to washout, so we chose to use some discarded, non-corrugated cardboard with a slightly rough surface, hoping it would conform better to the slight slope and contour of the area, break down quicker, and decrease the likelihood of material slippage or washout. Setting the stage in March, we were well aware that our site could be exposed to heavy Vancouver rain before the plants were established enough to hold the soil in place. 

Installing the Cardboard and soil

On installation day, our first step was to water the lawn with a hose. Then, before placing the cardboard, we moistened it using water from one of our rain barrels. Working from the back corner, we placed the cardboard sheets a few at a time, making sure that they overlapped by a good six inches. Then, we walked in wheelbarrows of soil, a good quality vegetable bed mix, and graded it to a depth of four to five inches. We repeated those steps until the entire area was covered.


Having installed thinner cardboard, we were careful when placing the soil, to ensure we didn’t tear or dislodge it. In addition, to avoid soil compaction, we avoided walking or wheeling over areas that were placed and graded. It’s worth it go slowly and carefully, working out from the starting point, covering a bit at a time. 

After completing the installation, we created a few pathways through the area using some pavers we had on site. Then, we erected some temporary fencing, to ensure that the soil and seeds would not be disturbed while the area was being established. 

Seeding the prepared area

The day after the installation, just before it rained, we seeded the area. We selected seed for plants or blends that would fix nitrogen, attract beneficial insect, catch the eye and interest of our neighbours, and withstand some traffic, in case the fencing around the area came down.


Our plan included three basic zones. In Zone 1, closest to the sidewalk, we wanted lower growing plants that can stand up to some traffic, so we planted Dutch white clover with some alyssum mixed in. If necessary, that mix can be mowed a couple of times a season. For Zone 2, we chose Bee Turf, which grows a bit taller but also can be mowed occasionally. Our tallest plants were reserved for Zone 3, where we planted Pacific Northwest Blend along with a few clusters of purple tansy.


We got all of our initial seed fro West Coast Seeds. Prior to sowing, as recommended in their seed catalogue, we mixed the seed with sand. To ensure good coverage, we sowed some overlap at the edges of the different zones. We also held back some seed, so that we could fill in any spots where germination failed or where seed washed out. To avoid soil compaction while seeding, we only walked on the paver pathways.


However, it is important when planting that seed and soil have good contact, so we used a couple of heavy duty cardboard boxes to tamp down the soil. Standing in the boxes and then moving them in a ‘leap frog’ fashion, we were ensured good soil contact but avoided ruts that would have been cause by walking on the freshly placed soil. 

Caring for the planted seed

Since so many of the seeds we planted were small and close to the surface, we needed to keep things moist while we waited for the seeds to germinate and the young plants to get established. Given the time of year and our location, Mother Nature took care of much of that, sending expected amounts of rain. But we also used a hose and sprayer to hand water the entire area from time to time. The edges, especially along the sidewalk, dried out quicker and more often and so needed the added care.


As temperatures warmed up slowly, other seeds and root stock were planted in the garden. We dotted some of the area with sunflower seeds, sea holly and dahlias. . 

Upcoming Garden Related Events

Ash Wednesday Service
Ash Wednesday Service
Feb 14, 2024, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
803 E 16th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5T 2V7, Canada

Our Community Garden Beds

We have several garden beds where we plant seasonal plants. 


Some beds are used by the larger community


We are exploring different vegetation from different regions


Every year, we top up the beds to ensure healthy soil



We try to compost fallen leaves, coffee grounds from our programs and shredder office paper.


Book a tour and one of our team members will gladly show you around


Check out our upcoming Garden events!

Community bed currently not available for rent. If you want to be placed in a waiting list, please send an email to

Book a Garden Tour

We would love to show you and share more about our  our garden. Book a tour and one of our team members will be happy to follow up with you.

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