Gardens - Shade Gardens

A fuss-free yard with shade-loving plants

Christy Wright
Photography by
Donna Griffith

An overgrown yard becomes a relaxing yard that's made for entertaining

When speaking with retail marketing executive Jackie Charest and carpenter/contractor Barry Maruk, it’s clear why this busy Toronto couple wanted a fuss-free outdoor space. “We both have hectic lifestyles and work long hours,” says Barry, “so the backyard had to be an easy-maintenance escape.” However, when they bought the house in 2007, both admit the yard was more like a place to escape from. “It was a mess!” says Jackie. “It had a tiny deck that was falling apart, overgrown weeds everywhere and a disused pond that raccoons had repurposed as a bathtub. We wanted a new design—modern, but comfortable in feel, and virtually carefree.”

They spent their first summer as homeowners removing the pond, ripping out the weeds and building a new, larger deck off the back of the house before tackling the garden design the following spring. “It was key we created three separate zones in the small yard: a deck for lounging and entertaining, a central space for dining and a hidden nook at the back where you can curl up with a book or nap,” says Jackie.


In addition to keeping an original rose arbour (pictured above), the couple decided to leave the Manitoba maple, which provides a natural canopy, as well as the shrub underneath it, which acts as a divider between the barbecue on the deck and the dining portion of the yard—an open courtyard-like space covered in pea gravel. “There’s no grass,” says Jackie, “so other than having to rake the gravel occasionally, there’s not much upkeep.”


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