RAINscapeTO is a social enterprise based in Toronto that offers eco-landscaping services with a focus on the installation of rain gardens and other beautiful sustainable landscapes.
Book a 45 min consultation to learn about the best options for your property and get a no-obligation quote. The cost of the consultation is $85 (HST inc),
which will be fully reimbursed if you hire us for any services (design, implementation, maintenance).
If this fee represents a barrier for you, let us know and we will decrease or waive it.
Since its inception in 2016, RAINscapeTO has worked in over 100 gardens across the city of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area.
Our services include:
- Garden consultation and design services.
- Implementation of rain gardens, pollinator gardens and other sustainable landscapes.
- Front yard and backyard clean-ups & ongoing garden maintenance. Planting and maintenance of green infrastructure such as bio-swales and infiltration trenches.
- Water management, including rainwater harvesting (rain barrels), infiltration trenches and soak-away pits.
community & businesses
We work in the public and private sectors with neighbourhood associations, Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) and faith-based groups to provide customized eco-landscaping services that improve communities and foster land stewardship. Connect with us for:
- Public space and streetscape transformation with raingardens, pollinator plantings and more.
- Streetscape planting makeover and maintenance of tree pits, parkettes and planter boxes.
- Planting and maintenance of green infrastructure such as bio-swales and infiltration trenches.
- Community vegetable gardens and planting events.
- Team building workshops and hands-on training.
Since 2021, the City of Toronto has partnered with RAINscapeTO and Building Up in a new project to hire and train individuals experiencing barriers to employment for the maintenance of bio-swales, pollinator gardens and other green spaces that are critical to improve neighbourhoods’ climate resiliency and biodiversity. The pilot, called GreenForceTO, creates local green jobs in landscaping and property maintenance, builds employment skills, and aims to develop career pathways for community members. Visit www.toronto.ca/greenforceto for more information.
RAINscapeTO delivers eco-landscaping solutions that contribute to the local ecosystem by:
- Capturing, retaining and managing rain on your property.
- Planting native species that support pollinators.
- Avoiding the use of power tools and chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
We specialize in rain gardens, a small bowl-shaped area in the garden that catches water from your roof and driveway, and allows it to soak into the ground instead of flowing over the road into the sewers and rivers and lakes. This reduces flooding, nurtures your garden and keeps pollutants out of rivers and lakes.
RAINscapeTO is an employment social enterprise that operates as a fully-insured landscaping company while providing meaningful and culturally-sensitive employment to urban Indigenous peoples. As original stewards of the land and waters, Indigenous peoples play a key role in the regeneration of soils, gardens, water cycle and especially our relationship with urban ecosystems.
Wages to trainees
Square Meters of Gardens
We focus on beautiful native plants that attract butterflies, pollinators and birds. Your garden will have four season interest and will contribute to biodiversity.
Focused on You
We listen carefully to your preferences, needs and garden dreams. We then work with nature to provide a tailored solution for your lifestyle.
Inspired by Your Local Ecosystem
We bring our deep knowledge of regional ecosystems to develop a solution specifically adapted to your soil type, current plants and sun exposure.
Protect Your Property & Reduce Neighbourhood Flooding
Rain gardens help alleviate basement flooding, erosion, and local flooding issues.
Less Maintenance & Need to Water the Garden
Native plants are adapted to the climate and rain gardens keep the moisture in your garden.
Indigenous Knowledge & Perspective
We value Indigenous knowledge and perspective towards our land and waters. Our Indigenous team fosters the relationship between urban ecosystems and landscaping practices.
Increase Property Value & Curb Appeal
A beautiful and sustainable garden can add to the value of your house and enhance the neighbourhood.
Encouraging rainwater infiltration allows for the rejuvenation of our groundwater sources; an important supply of fresh and clean water.
Protect Rivers & Lakes
With a rain garden, storm water soaks into the ground instead of flowing over roads to pick up oil, gas, salt and heavy metals that end up in the rivers and lakes.
Our small but capable team at work, or a sneak peak at some of the projects that are already being enjoyed by the property owners.
We are a team of experienced landscapers, landscape architects and engineers who work alongside trainees in an inclusive environment that nurtures sharing of ideas, knowledge, and different worldviews. Through hands-on training and mentorship, we have established a strong foundation on which to continue building a social enterprise that increasingly incorporates traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge and practices as more Indigenous staff join our team. The long-term goal for RAINscapeTO is to become an Indigenous-led and run social enterprise.
RAINscapeTO is a program of Toronto Green Community, a non-profit organization that has inspired, and supported diverse communities in developing an environmentally sustainable city through education, engagement and joint neighbourhood initiatives since 1995.
In accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, we are making efforts to advance reconciliation with Indigenous people through Call to Action #92: Business and Reconciliation, which reads in part:
“ii. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”
Jose Torcal, Manager
Jose holds a Master in Civil Engineering and has over 8 years of experience working in urban sustainability and public space across 6 different countries. Jose is focused on supporting the global movement towards sustainable communities and has a strong commitment to collaborate across sectors and organizations to address climate change and improve our cities, starting from the community.
Prior to joining RAINscapeTO, Jose was a Program Manager in the Sustainable Neighbourhoods team at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).
René Fan, Project Manager
René is a landscape architect with a background in geography, environmental studies, and historic preservation. Originally from Calgary, she studied in Montreal and worked in New York before Toronto. She has experience with the assessment and repair of historic buildings, and the design and construction of landscapes and civic spaces.
She is very excited to be doing environmental work with RAINscapeTO and Building Up in partnership with the City of Toronto for the GreenForceTO pilot project. René is involved with the community garden at Eglinton Park managed by the TGC, as well as Lost Rivers, a program of the TGC exploring the waterways of Toronto, above ground and buried, and reviving connections to land, water, and settlement patterns.
Mary Jenkins, Project Coordinator
Mary is Nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) two-spirit from Treaty 6 territory who uses they/she pronouns. Mary has an environmental sciences background in ecosystem management focusing on Indigenous perspective, practices, and lived experiences. Mary is passionate about bringing forth Indigenous social and environmental rights within predominantly colonial settler communities. They are deeply dedicated to assisting with harmonizing the relationship between ourselves and our environment, especially in an urbanized setting such as Tkaronto (Toronto/GTA).
Mary has worked in various capacities in workshop and project development in educational and recreational settings. They have assisted multiple project teams with developing environmental restoration plans with aspects of soil erosion mitigation, native flora species reintroduction, and SAR reintroduction among other environmental needs.
Robin Jacko, Team Lead
Robin Jacko is a proud Anishinaabe woman of the Three Fires Confederacy from Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation. Her Spirit Name is Strong Thunderbird, and she is of the Mukwa dodem. Robin has loved being in the outdoors since she was a child. She first got acquainted with the earth and the plant beings when she first explored her grandfather’s vegetable garden as a young child. Her interest really piqued when she threw a sunflower seed in front of her home one spring day and witnessed it grow throughout the summer. She was impressed with the power, beauty, and resiliency the sunflower presented. The next season, she grew her first vegetable garden with great success and found her passion for gardening.
The following season Robin quit her office job to pursue her passion for plants. Since, she has worked in community gardens, designed and curated a Medicine Wheel Garden in Eglinton Park, facilitated on-the-land programming for Indigenous families through co-founded grassroots group Maamwizdaa, and is now in her third year of working with RAINscapeTO as Lead Hand working with native plants. She is currently working on the Growing Our Roots Project in partnership with Toronto Green Community to Indigenize Eglinton Park Community Garden through Indigenous-arts-based programming and placemaking.
Eco - Landscaping Crew
The landscaping crew is comprised of diverse Indigenous peoples of northern Turtle Island (currently known as Canada). Our crew is of varying age, gender representation, status/ non-status Indigenous peoples. We welcome rural and urban life experienced individuals. Each work season, we strive to offer cultural accommodations and resources.
As part of the Eco – Landscaping crew, we deepen our sense of community by integrating Indigenous protocol, teachings, and perspectives into our work. This is culturally significant and meaningful work to be able to tend to the urbanized land and ecosystems. We get to nurture the land and waters, as well as our relationship with them, here on T:karonto territory to Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinabek, the Mississaugas of the Credit and home to many other Indigenous peoples. Eco – Landscaping allows us as Indigenous peoples a chance to connect with Mother Earth in an urbanized setting and help decolonize the lack of biodiversity in urban ecosystems.
If you are interested in joining our Eco – Landscaping Crew, please send your cover letter and resume here.
Paula Messina, Human Resources Advisor
During her 30 years of working and volunteering in various roles with non-profit agencies, Paula has always endeavoured to highlight the intersections between various issues, sectors, and communities to help create meaningful connections and a common understanding that nurtures positive outcomes.
Paula was introduced to the environmental movement during her 10 years at Greenpeace. Since 2008, Paula has brought a Diversity & Inclusion lens to her grassroots, environmental work with the Toronto Green Community (TGC), adapting programs and approaches to better engage newcomers and racialized people. Paula expanded this lens to build a foundation of partnerships and employment opportunities for the Indigenous community, lending to the Indigenisation of TGC’s programs including Rivers Rising, Eglinton Park Community Garden programming, and the development of the social enterprise, RAINscapeTO.
Amongst her varying volunteer roles, Paula served on the Board of Directors of a Settlement Services Agency for 11 years and is currently involved in Circles for Reconciliation. Her passion for the environment, human rights, social justice, and Indigenous Rights keeps her engaged in the community.
Helen Mills, Program Advisor
Helen has been involved with TGC since its inception, most specifically as a former board member, co-
developer of the Green Garden Visit, founding partner of Green Gardeners Community Collaborative sometimes referred to as GGCC.
With GGCC, a key player in the establishment of Eglinton Park Heritage Community Garden, and founder of Lost
Rivers, a project that connects people with the lost watersheds and water infrastructure of the city through walking tours, storytelling, eco-interventions, and online maps and information.
Helen is an independent landscape design consultant and garden educator who has been researching and building residential rain gardens since 2008. Helen has been and will continue to consult on the ongoing development of RAINscapeTO which was launched as a pilot program by TGC in 2016.
As an employment social enterprise, we focus on creating career pathways in the landscaping industry that represent an opportunity for culturally meaningful employment for Indigenous peoples in an urban setting.
Are you interested in joining RAINscapeTO? We regularly post our openings on Instagram, goodwork.ca and via Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training. You can also send us an email if you want to be informed of future opportunities.
Let US Start Planting
Get in touch!
If you have any questions about our services or for community involvement opportunities send us an email to [email protected] .
To book a consultation please fill in a form by clicking on the button below.
Are you a fully operating company?
Yes, we have all the necessary permits and qualifications to operate. We are a fully-insured through WSIB, commercial liability and vehicle insurance.
Do you provide design services?
Yes, for larger or more complex properties we do provide design services led by a Landscape Architect. The process normally includes an initial consultation, a first round of sketches for client’s feedback and a final sketch. For smaller or less complicated yards we provide a planting list and description of the work as the cost of the design would be comparable to the cost of the actual implementation. Contact us if you have questions.
Do you provide lawn care services?
No, we do not do traditional lawn care but would be happy to transform your lawn into a vibrant biodiverse ecosystem. We replace lawns, which are often a non-native monoculture that provides little benefits to water retention and local ecosystems, with raingardens and pollinator gardens full of native plants.
I have a front lawn, would you help me remove it and replace it with native plants?
Definitely, this is one of our favourite projects. We do not dig the grass out because it is expensive (transporting soil and paying for disposal at a private dump) and unsustainable (removing nutrients from your property and bringing soil from somewhere else). Instead, we replace the lawn by using sheet mulching (aka lasagna gardening) which consists of adding three layers of materials on top of the grass. First, we add a layer of cardboard, then a layer of organic compost, and finally a layer of undyed mulch. We water the three layers to kick-start the process, in which the carbon from the cardboard reacts with the nitrogen from the grass and, after a few months, you have rich soil with no grass. We plant directly into the sheet mulching layers. That way both processes happen simultaneously: the grass is being composted and the new plants have a moist and rich soil in which to get established.
You just finished the garden and it looks a bit empty, why is that?
Gardens are natural systems that take time to grow and evolve. We often use young (small) plants and place them according to their potential growth size so gardens may look a bit sparse at the beginning. Plants will self-propagate through their seeds and root systems over time. The garden just needs time to grow and fill in! It’s important to be patient and enjoy how your property is working with nature!
You use native plants and build raingardens, does it mean I do not need to water my yard?
We select native plants that work well in your ecosystem and under your local conditions (sunlight, soil type) and that means plants are more resilient and need less watering. However we do recommend regular watering during the first 2 years as the plants are young and need time and care to get established. After that, your garden should thrive without watering except for extended periods of drought or heat waves.
Do you build or maintain patios, fences, irrigation systems, green roofs or water ponds?
No, we do not provide hardscaping services (fences, decks, patios, fountains, roofing) except for the use of flagstone in some of our pathways. We also disconnect and redirect downspouts but only at the ground level (we do not do eavestroughs). Green roofs, ponds and irrigation systems are also out of our scope. However we have relationships with hardscaping contractors and can put you in touch so they can give you a quote.
My garden renovation includes hardscaping (eg. a patio and a new fence) – should I wait until it is complete before contacting you?
Gardening (softscaping) is the last part of any yard renovation project because hardscaping contractors might need space to store materials onsite or move machinery. They could compact the soil and potentially damage plants in your new garden. We recommend waiting until all the hardscaping has been done in order to start with the softscaping.
However, we also suggest that you contact us as early as possible in the process so we can provide input on the hardscaping design (e.g. making sure downspouts drain towards the right area or slopes are planned properly) and have enough time to work on the garden design. That way we are ready and can move into implementation as soon as the hardscaping is done.
Made Possible THROUGH THE SUPPORT OF
We wish to acknowledge Toronto as a sacred gathering place for many people of Turtle Island. We recognize the long history of First Nations people in Ontario and show respect to the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinabek, and the Mississaugas of the Credit.The territory was the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and the Ojibwe and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. This territory is also covered by the Upper Canada Treaties.Today, Toronto is a home and meeting place for Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. We are grateful to be here.– Chi Miigwetch, Kinanaskomitin, Nia:wen, Maarsi, Yaw^ko, Tiawenhk.