“It’s much harder working on my own garden,” says landscape designer Meredyth Hilton of Toronto firm Artistic Gardens. Especially so when your vision is a colorful perennial garden designed to attract birds and bees. “Perennial gardens are high-maintenance, but they have big rewards,” she says. For city gardens, paying attention to scale and choosing slow-growing, dwarf varieties is key, as is adding shaded areas for hot summer days. Meredyth’s backyard oasis — which she shares with her husband, Brad, sons Cade and Dylan, and dog Princess — faces north, but it’s in full sun all day. Peonies, roses, hornbeam trees and boxwoods are just a few of the plants she chose. Here are her expert tips for doing it yourself.