Police in Canada have begun a series of searches after a gardener was charged with the murders of five people and dismembering their bodies.

Authorities in the city of Toronto have now started backyard excavations and searches to see if more body parts can be found, especially in planters and flowerbeds, after suspecting that Bruce McArthur may have killed more people than the five he has been charged with.

The Toronto Star reported that McArthur had already been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, while three additional charges had now been brought against him.

Toronto Detective Sgt. Hank Idsinga said that the alleged killer had worked on covering up the murders, which meant that additional searches were needed.

Idsinga said: "It's a serial killer. An alleged serial killer. He's taken some steps to cover his tracks and we have to uncover these victims and identify these victims."

McArthur, 66, ran a landscaping business, and police found the remains of several people inside planters inside a Toronto back garden.

Around 30 gardens are being searched to see if more bodies have been buried, including all residences where McArthur has carried out landscaping work.

Idsinga added "We do believe there are more. I have no idea how many more there might be ... we believe there are more remains."

The victims that police have managed to identify all disappeared between 2012 and March 2017.

Police revealed that all five of the known victims were of a Middle Eastern background with links to the area of Church and Wellesley, Toronto's gay village.

However, police have not ruled out the possibility of further victims from outside the Church district.