We Design, plant, and care for

BEAUTIFUL
EARTH-FRIENDLY
GARDENS

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 Earth-friendly landscapes.

Book a 45 min consultation to learn about the best options for your property and get a no-obligation quote.

Residential

Services offered:

  • Landscape Consultations
  • Garden design & installation
  • Rain harvesting (rain barrels)
  • Garden Maintenance

community & businesses

We work with Neighbourhood Groups, BIAs and Faith Groups to provide customized services to help the membership base. Connect with us for:

  • Streetscape and public space transformation with raingardens, pollinator plantings and more
  • Maintenance and makeover of parkettes and planter boxes
  • Community gardens and planting events
  • Raingarden and Eco Garden Workshops
  • Community Events and Walking Tours

GreenForceTO

GreenForceTO is a green workforce development project initiated in 2021. The project, led by Transportation Services’ Green Streets program, in partnership with the Energy and Environment Division, looks to bridge the gap of maintenance of green infrastructure and horticulture in the right-of-way and build a landscape-skilled workforce. City of Toronto Transportation Services’ (TS) Green Streets, Operations and Management (O&M), Neighbourhood Projects, and Live Green Toronto collaborated with RAINscapeTO and Building Up and comprised the project management team (PMT).

INITIATIVES

Rainwater Harvesting

A new pilot program started in fall 2023, with a vision to create a network of rain cisterns in the community near horticulture sites.

Lawn Alternative

This initiative launched in spring 2023, is to test the feasibility of seeding a ground cover that would be mowed less, be more resilient during droughts, and provide more ecological benefits.

Community Ambassadors

The ambition of this program is for ambassadors to steward or advocate for green infrastructures within their neighborhoods, involving community members.

Thorncliffe Pollinator Garden

For more information about the GreenForceTO program and the progress of our new initiatives, please refer to our annual report

RAINSCAPING – WHAT IT IS And its benefits

Rainscaping is a NEW earth friendly way of gardening with wonderful benefits for you, your community and nature. Rainscapes are specially designed to capture, retain, and manage rain on your property and also enhance your life on many other levels.

Rainscaping includes strategies such as rain water harvesting, composting and care for the soil, organic garden management, permeable paving, rain gardens, bioswales, woodland restoration and pocket forests, and stream bank restoration if you have a creek in your garden.  

A rain garden is a small bowl shaped area in the garden that catches water from roof and driveway and allows it to soak into the ground instead of flowing over the road into the sewers and the lake.  This reduces flooding and keeps pollutants out of the lake.

Beautiful 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 learn your preferences needs and garden dreams, then work with nature to provide a great solution for your lifestyle and the needs of your family.

Inspired by Your Local Historic Ecosystem

We bring our deep knowledge of local historic ecosystems to develop a solution specifically adapted to your soil system.

Protect Your Property & Reduce Neighbourhood Flooding

Rainscaping helps solve basement flooding issues, erosion, and local flooding issues.

Less Maintenance & Need to Water the Garden

Less noise and air pollution from gas mowers and leaf blowers.

Indigenous Knowledge & Modern Techniques

We work with members of Canada’s First Nations communities, alongside with experienced Landscapers to design a garden like no other.

Increase Property Value & Curb Appeal

A beautiful garden that is on trend can add to the resale value of your house and enhance the neighbourhood.

Recharge Groundwater

Encouraging infiltration of rainwater allows for the rejuvenation of our groundwater sources; an important supply of fresh and clean drinking water.

Protect Rivers & Lakes

With a rain garden water soaks into the ground instead of flowing over dirty roads to pick up oil gas salt and heavy metals that end up in the lake and rivers.  Organic garden care prevents pollution from chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

ABOUT US – OUR TEAM

Our staff consists of young adults from Indigenous and equity deserving communities who share their knowledge and perspective on sustainable living while working with our experienced landscaping leadership. Working along side experienced landscapers, these young adults develop industry experience, apply their unique techniques to your property, and build a brighter future for all. RAINscapeTO is a program of Toronto Green Community (TGC), a non-profit engaging neighbourhoods, promoting diversity, and building sustainable communities across Toronto since 1995.

Plants, shrubs & trees

Pollinator and rain gardens

Clients

Squared Meters of public green spaces maintained

*Numbers are based off the 2023 work season

Jose Torcal, Manager

Jose holds a Master in Civil Engineering and has over 6 years of experience working in urban sustainability and public space across 4 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).

Paula Messina, Human Resources Advisor

Paula joined TGC in 2008 as a Volunteer Manager, and is currently the Executive Director. She brings over 25 years of non-profit experience in various sectors including environment, newcomer settlement, health, social justice and human rights issues with a focus on Indigenous issues, and skills in project management, community outreach and development, human resources, marketing and communications, event coordination, fundraising, administration, and strategic planning. Paula has provided training, supervision and peer support to a wide range of staff and volunteers from diverse and vulnerable communities. Paula is well-positioned to lead the social outcomes of this enterprise.

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 (GGCC), 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.

Mahnaz G. Salam, RTO Project Manager

Mahnaz brings a wealth of experience and a passionate commitment to her role as Project Manager at RainscapeTO. She oversees projects aimed at transforming urban areas into resilient, water-wise landscapes. Her leadership is characterized by a collaborative approach, uniting stakeholders from various disciplines to achieve shared goals.
Mahnaz is a strong advocate for community engagement in environmental initiatives. Outside of her professional pursuits, Mahnaz is an avid hiker and nature photographer, passions that deepen her connection to the environment and fuel her commitment to preserving it for future generations. Her vision for RainscapeTO embodies a future where urban development and environmental stewardship go hand in hand, creating resilient, thriving communities for all.

Sarah Jackson, GreenForceTO Crew Lead

Sarah has dedicated the majority of their career to the horticulture industry, developing skills in various practices such as floristry, landscape design, and now green infrastructure maintenance. They hold a Horticulture Science Certificate from Humber College and a Horticulture Diploma from University of Guelph with specialties in Urban Agriculture and Landscape Design.

They are passionate about the enhancement of public green spaces and have continued to explore this passion through their employment with RainScapeTO, where they began as an Eco-Landscaper in 2023, and have since progressed to the role of GreenForceTO Crew Lead in 2024.

Pimpira Pettibone, GFTO Project Manager

Pimpira Pettibone grew up in Bangkok Thailand, closely knitting herself to ongoing climate issues in Southeast Asia. After moving to Canada and graduating with a Bachelor of Environmental Education at Quest University, British Columbia, she worked in the forestry industry in Alberta and Interior BC for several years as a crew lead. During this time she would come back to the city of Vancouver to work on community projects mostly engaging with Indigenous communities on social environmental issues. Following suit with her environmental and social stewardship she has a wide range of experiences managing projects such as Le Petit Carrot, an eco-farm in Bathurst New Brunswick and TWIG, tree workers industrial group. Seeking a career in Toronto that would be a good fit with her love of being outdoors yet working within her community, she led the RainscapeTo’s residential team in 2023. She moved on to be the Project Manager of GreenforceTo in 2024 to work more closely with the city, creating greener streets in an ongoing attempt to offset the climate crisis in small and beautiful ways.

Testimonials

Hear from our customers (home owners and organizations) and our partners about the impact we’ve had.

“We’ve been with Rainscape for two year to enhance and maintain our gardens. We plan on using the service next year and beyond. The team is always very communicative of what they are adding/taking away (for each spring & fall clean up) and I put my trust in them completely to do what works in different areas. Everyone has always been so friendly and willing to answer any questions I have. I find (because they come for regular maintenance) I rarely have to think about any of it, and it continues to look beautiful and well maintained. Thank you so much for the care you take and the work you do!”

Adjoa D.

Service: Garden Maintenance

“It was a pleasure working with the RAINscapeTO team, they did a wonderful job planning and installing the garden. We wanted to replace our grass lawn with plants that are more sustainable, lower maintenance, and more interesting to look at. The team did an amazing job making it happen. They also followed up a few months later to add some rocks to make sure mulch was not flowing through. All in all, very happy with their work!”

Billy V.

Service: Garden Installation

“Had a fantastic experience working with Jose and the rest of the team at RAINscapeTO! They’ve always been a pleasure to work with- they are quick to respond, very professional in their approach and execution, and are willing to go the extra mile to come up with creative solutions to complex problems. Jose and his team have a ton of knowledge and experience to share, and we would highly recommend them to anyone that is interested in landscaping services! Thank you guys for being so awesome, and we can’t wait to work together with you again soon!”

Selman N.

Service: Garden Installation and Maintenance

“Even with our most recent blast of cold and snow, Jose’s team were super flexible with the appointments, made it work according to the weather and did a tremendous job. They were very professional, worked extremely hard and I have an amazing front yard that is cleared, mulched, bulbs planted and now ready for winter. It will be a joy to watch develop in the spring HIGHLY RECOMMEND!”

Sylvia D.

Service: Garden Maintenance

Frequently Asked Questions

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 cut grass with electric lawn mowers but do not provide traditional lawn care. However we 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.

What kind of tools do you use?

Our gardens are implemented by hand using shovels, wheelbarrows and other manual tools. Our maintenance tools such as hedge trimmers and string trimmers are electric. We also have electric leaf blowers although we prefer to use rakes and brooms to collect leaves.

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 the form by clicking on the button below  

Made Possible THROUGH THE SUPPORT OF

Land Acknowledgement

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