Planting a Fall Succulent Garden

succulent garden Succulents are extremely popular plants due to both their beauty and ease of care.  They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but are characteristically known for their plump, water rich leaves and stems.  This ability to retain water makes them resistant to drought and a favourite amongst gardeners who would rather not be watering their plants on a daily basis.  Planting a fall succulent garden can act as a great transition between the fall vegetable harvest and the cold weather plants that thrive in the winter.  For some tips on best practices, check out this article.

 

Advantages Of The Container

By planting succulents in containers you can protect them from extreme weather.  Because succulents are native to deserts, they typically don’t react well to too much moisture or the extreme cold.  They’ll act as a beautiful addition to your fall plantings, but they may need to be brought inside if the weather takes a turn for the worse.  Using containers will also allow you to create the perfect soil mix to allow for quick drainage around the moisture sensitive roots.  Pick some containers that match well with their surroundings and you’ll have a beautiful fall set up.

 

Location

Succulents can grow in a variety of lighting conditions, so if you have a partially shaded area where other plants have a tough time establishing themselves, a series of succulents can make a great space filler.  To make them last longer outdoors as the temperature drops, try placing them next to a south facing wall that will radiate heat and protect them from winds and colder weather.  That said, there are a few alpine varieties which can tolerate freezing conditions, so you might want to try to include some of these in the more exposed parts of your garden.

 

Soil

Succulents need fast draining soil as their roots are prone to rotting if allowed to be continually soaked.  It’s best to mix soil with an amendment to help with drainage.  You can use an artificial soil amendment such as perlite or add sand or gravel into the mix.  If planting in a container, ensure there are holes in the bottom to allow excess water to escape.

What is the Best Temperature to Lay Artificial Grass?

artificial grassWho knew that there was an optimal temperature to lay down a patch of artificial grass?  It is synthetic afterall, so one couldn’t be blamed for thinking that temperature would have little effect on its installation.  However, there are some guidelines when it comes to laying down artificial turf, and temperature is included.  So, what is the best temperature to lay artificial grass?  In this article, we’ll find out.

 

What is the Best Temperature to Lay Artificial Grass? 

It turns out, the ideal temperature for installing a patch of artificial turf is between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius.  Temperatures higher or lower than that can cause the turf to contract or expand.  This is especially prevalent in turf with a single backing.  Paying a little more for double backing can reduce the amount of shrinkage or expansion, but there will still be some inevitable changes in extreme temperatures.  

 

Artificial Lawn Creasing

Creasing in artificial turf occurs when it’s precisely cut and installed at a temperature lower than the recommended range.  As the temperatures rise, the floor covering expands and, with nowhere else to go, it begins to bubble up and fold over on itself.  

 

Artificial Lawn Shrinkage

When artificial turf is installed at higher than recommended temperatures, it has a tendency to shrink once the temperatures begin to fall.  This will cause the covering to pull back from the edges, and possibly any seams, leaving patches of uncovered ground.

 

Proper Installation Technique

The best way to install artificial turf is to begin on a morning where the temperature is within the 10 to 15 degree Celsius range.  Start by unrolling the turf and letting it sit on the properly prepared ground for several hours to acclimatize to the area.  This step is similar to the acclimatization required when installing hardwood or laminate floors.  In the afternoon, after the acclimatization period, the turf can be cut to size in crossways strips.  Doing this crossways is important as any shrinkage or expansion will occur lengthwise.  Join any separated pieces with adhesive or outdoor tape and weigh down the seam with something heavy to give the adhesive time to take hold.  The edges can now be trimmed and pinned down with landscaping pins or framing.

 

Four Landscaping Errors to Avoid

landscaping errors Whether it’s your first chance to try your hand at landscaping or you’re trying to learn from past mistakes, it’s always good to keep yourself informed about good landscaping practices. To help you along in your landscaping knowledge education, we’ve put together a list of four landscaping errors to avoid.

 

Know How Big Your Plants Will Grow

What might look small and cute in the gardening centre can grow into a behemoth in a decade or two.  Large growing plants and trees can cause structural problems with your house or other buildings, create a constant need for trimming and cutting back and affect future spacings.  Understand the ultimate height and width of any new plants to ensure they’ll fit on your property through to maturity.

 

Beware Of Aggressive Growers

Some fast growing plants can quickly overrun your property if left to grow unfettered.  And although you might be able to buy these plants at the gardening centre, they may grow more like a weed.  Some plants like English ivy, mint and bamboo can quickly grow out of control and may spread to your neighbour’s property as well.  Do your research when it comes to ground covering plants.

 

Consider Seasonal Changes

Because we do most of our planting in the spring or summer, it becomes easy to forget that winter will soon rear its head again.  Plantings around areas that need to be shoveled, such as driveways and sidewalks, may not survive if they’re constantly covered in mounds of snow or carelessly plowed over.  You might also want to rethink a chest high hedge if it means you’ll have to throw shoveled snow over the top of it to keep your sidewalks clean.

 

Consider Your Tolerance For Messy Trees

If you have allergies or are just averse to having staining fruits falling onto your patio or car you should pay close attention to what kinds of pollen, sap or berries a prospective tree might produce.  A messy tree that produces a lot of droppings can become a constant source of frustration and discomfort.  A bit of research can ensure that your trees remain your friends throughout your lives.

The Pros and Cons of Concrete Pavers

Concrete pavers are a popular modular building material used for driveways, sidewalks, patios and more.  Composed of cement, sand, gravel and possibly colouring pigments, concrete pavers can be molded into any number of sizes, shapes and colours.  To help you understand more about these building blocks, we’ve put together a list of the pros and cons of concrete pavers.

 

Strength And Stability

Concrete pavers are considered more than twice as strong, and possibly four times as strong, as regular poured concrete.  Part of this has to do with the manufacturing process of concrete pavers.  After the wet mix is poured into a mold, the mold is vibrated at high speed to cause extra compression before it dries.  And the fact that concrete pavers are distinct, individual units allows weight to be spread over several pieces to reduce the potential for any damage caused by a heavy load.  On the other hand, because of these discrete units, it’s possible for single pavers to be more easily displaced by frost heaves, tree roots and ground subsidence.

 

Installation And Repair

When it comes to concrete paver installation, a lot more precision and care needs to be used.  The base into which the pavers are placed needs to be properly prepared and each paver needs to be carefully set into place individually.  It’s a much more painstaking job than simply pouring a concrete pad.  On the other hand, if a concrete paver gets damaged, it’s a simple job to replace it with a new one.  If a concrete pad is cracked or damaged, the only way to truly repair it is to replace the entire surface.

 

Maintenance And Design

Although it’s said that concrete pavers require little maintenance, the fact that there are joints between the pavers means that they must be regularly monitored.  Weeds and other plants have a tendency to grow in the cracks which can begin to cause damage if left unattended.  Protective sealants might need to be applied on a regular basis to keep the pavers and the gaps in between clean and free of growth.  However, the same spaces that allow weed growth also makes it possible to create pleasing designs.  Concrete pavers can be arranged in incredibly artistic ways that can give your property a curb appeal that could never be replicated with a concrete or asphalt pad.

 

Three Tips for Starting a New Garden

fall shrubsMaybe you’ve always wanted to grow your own flowers and vegetables or maybe recent circumstances have made you realize the value of a backyard garden.  Whatever your reasons, starting a new garden from scratch requires more effort than throwing some seeds on the ground.  To help you get started we’ve come up with a list of three tips for starting a new garden.

Pick Your Plot

Deciding where your garden grows is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.  Ideally you want a plot that gets at least six hours of sunlight every day.  If that’s not an option you may need to be more discriminating when it comes to the types of plants you grow.  If you have the choice, morning sun is often more forgiving on your plants than the hotter midday or late afternoon sun.  And if you’re growing flowers, you should understand which way they’ll face when tracking the sun.  If you’re hoping for a field full of beautiful flowers facing your house when you get home from work, you might be in for a surprise if your house has a western exposure.

Clearing A Bed

Clearing the area you’re planning on gardening is a necessary job which often requires a good amount of time and some hard labour.  If the area is already overgrown with grass or weeds, you’ll need to remove them to get down to the bare soil.  This is usually best done in the autumn as the winter will aid smothering any growth until you’re ready to start fresh in the spring.  If you have a lot of available soil, you could consider laying the gardening bed directly over the grass.  Completely cover the grass with a layer of cardboard or several layers of newspaper and top it with six inches of soil.  The cardboard or newspaper will smother the grass, eventually decompose and allow you to begin gardening immediately.

Understand Your Soil

Knowing the limitations of your soil will allow you to amend it to allow for easier gardening.  Having your soil tested for pH and nutrients can save you several seasons of trial and error to figure out why your plants are growing so poorly.  The texture of your soil will also dictate which plants grow best.  If your soil doesn’t appear that it will support the plants you’re intending to grow you can amend it with compost, nutrients and fertilizers.

How to Grow a Lawn in Dry Conditions

planting treesAs we become more aware of our impact on the environment, a realization occurs that water conservation can play an important role in reducing our footprint.  Warmer weather and drier conditions are becoming more common which can result in local watering prohibitions.  One element of our properties that has come under criticism for its use of large amounts of water is our lawns.  They tend to cover a lot of ground and can seemingly require more water than any other part of the home.  But there is a way around overconsumption of water by the green grass that we’re so often proud of.   If you’re wondering how to grow a lawn in dry conditions, we provide this set of tips.

 

Training Your Lawn 

Quite often we overwater our lawns – and they quickly get used to it!  One result of overwatering is that the root systems become shallow and prone to drying out more quickly.  Daily watering leads to much of the water simply evaporating or percolating so far into the ground that the grass roots are unable to access it.  Although seemingly counterintuitive, watering your lawn less can cause it to flourish – even under dry conditions.  Less frequent watering leads to a deeper and stronger root system that becomes more efficient at extracting water from several levels in the soil.

 

Lawn Mowing And Maintenance

Although you may not feel like you fit the bill, most people are too keen when it comes to mowing the lawn.  Lawns are often mown too frequently and too short.  When grass blades are longer, they are able to store more moisture and are better able to withstand dry conditions.  Longer grass blades also shade the soil and reduce water evaporation.  You should consider leaving behind the grass clippings to add extra nutrients to the lawn while providing water retaining ground cover.  Lawn maintenance procedures such as fertilizing, dethatching or aerating should be done in the spring or fall to reduce stressors that require more water.

 

Lawn Alternatives

As a more radical means of conserving water, you might consider planting drought resistant varieties or replacing the grass altogether.  Kentucky bluegrass is the most common grass variety, but it also requires more water than other drought resistant cultivars.  Artificial turf, patios, decks and other lawn replacements will also reduce the size of your lawn and amount of water needed to keep your grass looking green.

To learn more about how you can have beautiful landscaping and grass, contact us today!

Top Patio Paver Designs

patio pavers Installing patio pavers is a great way to increase the functional space in your backyard.  A patio can help level out an uneven surface or transform a mud filled patch into a beautifully designed terrace.  Whether you use the pavers to create a complete patio or to build a pathway from one area to another, the possibility of design ideas is literally endless.  To help give you some ideas on how patio pavers can be used, we’ve created a list of some of the top patio paver designs.

 

Interlocking Pavers

Interlocking pavers are quite popular due to their durability, flexibility and environmental friendliness.  If any of the stones become damaged they are quite easy to remove and replace.  They provide an attractive looking, non slip surface while also being permeable enough to allow rainwater to soak into the ground.

 

Stepping Pads

Patio pavers can be used to create interesting stepping pads to connect one area to another.  Composed of a series of large pavers that are separated by stone, grass, wood or some other material, stepping pads lead the eye and the feet to a different part of the property.  Whether laid down in a curved, straight or alternating pattern, stepping pads are both functional and stylish.

 

Tightly Laid Pavers

Tightly laid pavers composed of concrete, flagstone or some other flat surfaced material can create an uninterrupted, smooth surface for easy movement of wheels and unsteady walkers alike.  If an even, uniform area is necessary, tightly laid pavers can do the job.

 

Paver Bands

By laying pavers in bands, you can create an interesting optical effect while still providing a level surface for seating and other functions.  The interstitial spaces can be filled in with pebbles or stones, wood, grass or other short growing plants for an even more decorative effect.  

 

Circular Patios

Circular patios are great for irregularly shaped areas, corners or as a central focal piece.  Circles tend towards natural centrepieces and can be used as an area of activity or to provide decoration in a little used part of the yard.  Circles can also be used to complement straight lines by providing contrast in form.

Five Shade Garden Ideas

Maintaining plants in shady areas can be a challenge.  Similarly, creating a shady garden space that offers respite from the sun comes with related challenges.  To these ends, arranging plants in such a way that allows them to flourish in what some might consider less than ideal conditions requires forethought, planning and design flexibility.  To help those looking to utilize a space exposed to too much shade or sun, we’ve come up with a list of five shade garden ideas.

 

Theme

Choosing an overarching theme is the first major decision that should be tackled.  This will give you a template to work from and a consistency that underlies every choice you make.  Whether you’re shooting for something tropical, modern, traditional, inspired by the Far East or the Mediterranean, the theme will give guidance in the types of elements you use and the way they are arranged.

 

Colour

Shady spots have a tendency towards becoming dark and gloomy.  One way to combat this is to incorporate colour when choosing the plants and other elements you’ll be working with.  This can be accomplished with shade loving flowers, plants with colourful leaves, different shades of greenery and colourful hardscaping and furniture.  Brighten up your space with one, a couple or all of these ideas.

 

Lighting

Lighting can also play an important role in lightening the ambience during the day and once the sun falls.  Beyond simple illumination, clever use of artificial lighting can create a mood, highlight specific areas and make the space more functional.

 

Hardscaping

Hardscaping can completely change the appearance and feeling of a plant dominated space.  With the use of pebbles, stones and rocks, texture can be given, pathways can be laid down and counterpoints to green patches can be created.  Other hardscape elements such as trellises and pergolas can be used to increase shade while extending your space vertically.  Statues and other ornamental pieces can be used to embellish and decorate.

 

Water

Water features can be used to reflect light, introduce movement, add contrasting texture and provide auditory embellishment.  Water features can also be used to create a focal point, provide a calming influence and attract or sustain wildlife.  Water features work as a great counterbalance to shade.

Four Easy Maintenance Plants for Your Landscaping

landscaping plantsMaybe you’re a beginner or maybe you’re just tired of spending so much time pruning, weeding and fertilizing to allow for a short, but underwhelming bloom of flowers in your garden.  Everyone loves the colour and scents of beautiful flowers, but not everyone is willing to put in the time and effort to grow some of the more finicky varieties.  But there’s a solution for that.  In this article we list four easy maintenance plants for your landscaping which will allow you to enjoy some beautiful flowers without having to do too much extra work.

Bluebells

Bluebells have great looking flowers and their bulbs are truly hardy and self-propagating.  They have a tendency to quickly spread and take over their immediate area, so they’re good for either very large or very small spaces.  If you have a field that needs some cover or a small border that’s looking lonely, bluebells are a good way to brighten them up.

Peonies

Peonies boast 3 foot tall stalks that will reliably produce large, colourful blooms every spring with very little maintenance.  The North American native varieties will grow in even some of the harshest climates, so there’s no worry about losing them to a late frost or a dry summer.  If you want reliable blossoms for years to come, invest in some peony plants.

Daffodils

Daffodils are a much loved plant because their bright yellow flowers are one of the first signs of spring.  They also deter destructive rodents such as mice and moles.  It may take some time to plant a garden bed full of daffodil bulbs, but once established they’ll come back year after year and proliferate on their own.  

Echinacea

Commonly known as coneflowers, echinacea is a herbaceous perennial that produces long lasting flowers of bright pinks and purples.  They’re very hardy, resistant to drought and native to North America which makes them quite easy to grow in Canada.  This is the plant that was long ago used by First Nations people as a folk medicine.  Modern herbal supplements using echinacea claim its use can help prevent colds and coughs, although the scientific literature on that is mixed.  Regardless of its medicinal uses, it’s a nice looking flower and great for landscaping.

What do Interlocking Pavers Do?

interlocking paversInterlocking pavers are a common substitute for poured concrete or asphalt when laying down driveways and sidewalks.  Composed of many separate stones that are laid down in uniform patterns and held in place by a binding medium such as sand, driveways and sidewalks made of interlocking pavers are much stronger than those made of poured concrete.  This is due to the composition of each individual paver as well as their intertwining connections to each other.  If you’re asking the question, “What do interlocking pavers do? or why you should consider them over poured concrete, check out this list.

Durability

As mentioned in the introduction, interlocking pavers have a much higher degree of durability when compared with poured concrete.  The spaces between each paver are key to the strength of the area overall.  Pavers are not set into a solid foundation such as mortar.  Instead they’re placed in sand or another fine material that allows for slight movements.  These minute movements allow the pavers to expand and contract in heat and cold without cracking.  It’s also these spaces between each paver that allows heavy weight to be distributed evenly across the surface without putting undue pressure on any one spot.

Repairs

If a poured concrete pad gets cracked, eventually you’ll have to replace the entire pad.  When a paver stone becomes cracked, it’s easy to replace the paver that’s cracked.  This negates the need to replace the entire surface.  It’s simply a matter of removing the damaged paver and replacing it with a new one.   

Aesthetics

Interlocking pavers can be laid out in any number of creative ways.  This allows the design of the sidewalk or driveway to be limited only by the imagination.  Interlocking pavers come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and colours, something that can’t be said for poured concrete or asphalt.

Permeability

Because of the spaces between interlocking pavers, they create a permeable surface that allows water to seep through and be absorbed into the ground.  This reduces the runoff associated with flat tops composed of poured concrete and asphalt.