Top Pool Landscaping Trends

pool landscapingIt may be the dead of winter and your swimming pool is probably the last thing on your mind, but this is actually the perfect time to start thinking about getting your pool ready for the new year.  Not only does the down time allow you to concentrate on how you can improve your pool, most swimming pool practitioners are in the midst of their slow season and will have plenty of time to help you achieve your goals.  To give you a jump start we’ve created an article about today’s top pool landscaping trends.

Fire Features

The combination of fire and water seems to instill a sense of wonder and awe.  Perhaps it’s some innate or instinctual attraction to primal fundamentals. Or maybe it’s just because it looks cool.  No matter the reason that these two so-called elements combine so well, you can use them to great effect around your pool.  A firepit, gas-powered outdoor heater or even a barbecue can make a great addition to your swimming pool area.

Phone Apps

Of course there’s an app for everything these days and the swimming pool is no exception.  There are several apps on the market that allow you to monitor your water temperature, the number of calories you’re burning when swimming laps or even your water chemistry.  Take a look through your app store to find out how the internet can help with your swimming pool maintenance and enjoyment.

LED Lighting

LED lights are now the industry standard.  These highly efficient, environmentally friendly light sources are easy to install and provide both functional and fashionable benefits.  LED lights also last a lot longer which means replacing the underwater fixtures isn’t the huge hassle it used to be. You don’t have to worry about them containing nasty chemicals such as mercury and they don’t attract insects like most conventional light sources.  Upgrade your pool lighting with a wide range of LED colours.

Unique Hardscaping

Most pools are surrounded by concrete.  This doesn’t have to be the case. You can upgrade your pool surround with attractive materials such as porcelain, tiling or cedar.  Really, the possibilities are endless. And most of them will look much better than regular old concrete.

 

Snow Removal – Protect Your Landscaping

sod replacement bramptonFor those of us Canadians who don’t live on the West Coast, snow is a fact of life during the winter months.  And with snow comes the effort needed to get it off our sidewalks and driveways. But indiscriminate snow removal can cause damage to your plant beds, trees and other softscaped areas.  In this article we’ll go over some tips on snow removal while protecting your landscaping.

Protect Your Landscaping

The main snow removal factors that can damage your landscaping are the weight of the snow, salts and other chemical de-icers and physical damage caused by snow removal equipment.

Snow Dispersal

Although it’s not always possible, you should try to avoid piling snow onto your lawn or other places where plants will be growing in the spring.  Large piles of snow can damage grass and plant beds and prevent them from getting an early start in the following year. If you can’t help but create large piles of snow, once the weather starts warming up or the sun starts shining in earnest, it’s best to try and spread the snow around to allow it to melt rather than leaving an iceberg in the middle of your lawn until summer.

Salt And Chemical De-Icers

Salt and other de-icers have been proven to be bad for the environment, but sometimes they’re the only way to make sidewalks and walkways safe for passage.  If you can avoid using salt and chemical de-icers your lawn and plant beds will thank you for it. Try using sand, gravel or kitty litter instead. If you remove the snow as soon as it falls you’ll also reduce the chances for ice to accumulate in the first place.  To prevent damage to your landscaping, avoid planting sensitive plants near sidewalks, roads and driveways. And if you’re shoveling areas that have been salted try to avoid throwing the snow onto areas where plants will be growing.

Equipment Damage

A lot of damage to lawns and plant beds happens when snow removal equipment runs over these areas.  You can avoid this by creating borders or setting up markers to denote where the pavement ends and the garden begins.  Place your gardening beds far enough back from the pavement to reduce risk of damage. And avoid piling snow up onto areas where you want your plants to be growing come spring.

Top Winter Landscaping Tips

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean your yard has to look boring and lifeless.  In fact, winter can be a season of great creativity when it comes to landscaping. To make the most of the colder months, we’ve come up with a list of top winter landscaping tips.

Consider Your Hardscaping

In a season when most of your plants have been trimmed down and cleared away, you’ll be able to get a good overview of what your space has to offer.  Sometimes some of the best landscaping ideas have nothing to do with plants at all. Hardscaping installations such as a trellis, a bench or a winter time sculpture might be all that your space needs to look great in the snow.

Take Advantage Of Evergreens

Although their name suggests they’ll give off colour all year round, evergreens aren’t necessarily green.  There are evergreens that are yellow, blue, red and a wide assortment of other colours as well. Take advantage of evergreens (even if they aren’t green) to give a sharp contrast to the white blankets of winter.

Rely On Berry Producing Plants

Plants and trees that produce berries during the winter can really make your space look attractive – even in the depths of winter.  Not only will the berries add some much appreciated colour, they can attract birds and other wildlife into your area. Look into holly, mountain ash and crabapple for some added colour during the winter.

Winterize Your Plant Containers

Plant containers such as window boxes, large pots and hanging baskets are a great way to display annuals throughout the summer.  But rather than let them go fallow once the snow flies, use them to display hardier plants during the winter. That said, you don’t even need living plants to maintain the image.  Simply adding some spruce bows, wreaths or branch arrangements can be quite effective in the winter.

Invest In Cold Weather Perennials

Adding some perennials that will continue growing throughout the winter will give your space the life it needs during the colder months.  There are many plants that will continue to produce foliage throughout the winter. Make sure to include some among your plant collection for year round charm.

Three Reasons to Hire a Snow Removal Company

snow removal Once the snow starts falling, one of the most important responsibilities for business and homeowners is to keep their sidewalks and driveways free of snow.  In many municipalities this is actually a legal requirement. That said, it’s not only polite to keep your sidewalks and drives clear, it can prevent injuries which could lead to legal action against you.  But keeping your walks clear of snow isn’t always easy. This could be because of the amount of snow that falls where you live, the size of the area you need to keep clear, time constraints or the physicality required by the job.  In this article we’ll go over three reasons to hire a snow removal company.

Prevent Injury

The incidences of heart attacks rise exponentially after large snowfalls.  Other injuries caused by slipping or overexertion are also very common among people who shovel snow.  If you’re getting older or your property is too large to easily clear of snow, hiring a snow removal company can be a very good investment.  You aren’t doing yourself any favours if you end up in the hospital because of trying to clear snow.

Use Your Time Better

Keeping your property free of snow can almost be a full time job in certain areas.  During heavy snow falls you might have to start shovelling again as soon as you thought you were finished.  And you know if you don’t keep on top of it, the job becomes exponentially harder. Life is busy enough as it is.  Why spend all your time shoveling snow when you can get someone else to do it for you? A professional snow removal company can free up your time and allow you to get on with living.

No Need For Fancy Equipment

After particularly heavy snowfalls, probably every Canadian has fantasized about having a snowblower do the job for them.  But the machines aren’t cheap and how often would they actually get used? If you hire a snow removal company you’ll have all the advantages of snow removal equipment without the downsides such as the upfront costs, maintenance and all the time they spend in storage not being used at all.

How to Prevent and Treat Common Landscaping Plant Diseases

We spend a lot of money and time to keep our yards looking good.  This is why it’s so disappointing when our plants succumb to discolouration and disease.  However, with a little bit of education you can learn how to prevent and treat common landscaping plant diseases.  In this article we’ll go over a few of these conditions and tell you how to take care of them.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is an affliction of a plant’s leaves, stems and other parts.  It’s caused by a fungus and appears as a white powder that covers the foliage and other parts of the plant.  It’s common among rose bushes, rhododendrons, blackcurrant bushes and many other types of plants. It can cause leaves to discolour and ultimately fall off.  To prevent powdery mildew from growing in the first place it’s best to promote air circulation around the plants and ensure proper drainage of the soil. A topical fungicide can be applied if you’re dealing with non-edible plants, although there are some fungicides that are non-toxic as well.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot can also caused by fungi, but also bacteria or plant viruses.  It causes brown spots or dead patches of varying sizes on the surface of the leaves and can result in the leaves falling off completely.  Non chemical treatments include avoiding watering the entire plant by sticking to the base and keeping the soil properly fertilized. Improving air circulation and reducing excess moisture will also lower the chances of leaf spot taking hold.  Try spraying the leaves with a solution of a half teaspoon of baking soda in four litres of water. If this doesn’t work you may need to use fungicides containing sulfur or copper octonate.

Root Rot

If your plants aren’t looking healthy above ground it may actually be what’s happening below the soil surface that’s causing the problems.  If your plants are grown in clay or other poorly draining soils root rot can definitely be a problem. Root rot is also caused by fungi that grows easily in moist conditions.  Ensuring the plants get proper drainage should clear up the problem. If this is easier said than done you might need to resort to a specifically chosen fungicide.

 

Can Artificial Grass be Damaged in the Winter?

artificial grass Artificial grass is a great substitute for real grass in a wide variety of situations.  It can work as a decorative accompaniment, a low maintenance alternative or a patch of deep green in a low water environment.  But how well does it work in the cold? Can artificial grass be damaged in the winter? The fact is that artificial grass is a strong and durable material that can withstand the cold weather as good as, or better, than a natural grass lawn.  In this article we’ll go over some of the scenarios you might experience in the winter and what you should do to keep your artificial grass in the best condition.

Frost

Frost won’t usually cause any damage to artificial turf.  It may become slippery and your pets might not like walking on it because the plastic blades will get stiff, but you won’t have to worry about it dying off.  That said, artificial grass isn’t indestructible. So if it becomes completely frozen, walking on it might cause some of the blades to break. If you can allow the frost or ice to melt and drain away before treading upon it, you’ll ensure no damage is done.

Snow

If your artificial turf gets covered with snow there shouldn’t be much of a problem.  Walking or playing on it shouldn’t have much of an impact. The fibres may get compressed, but they should also spring back to form once the snow melts.  If they don’t, brushing them with a stiff broom should get them back into shape. If you feel you need to shovel the snow off, it’s best to use a plastic snow shovel rather than a metal one.

Artificial Turf Protection

If you become worried about your artificial grass due to expected extreme weather, you can always cover it with a tarp until the weather passes.  Using salt to melt away snow isn’t recommended as it can plug up the permeable holes that allows water to drain away. Keeping a regular maintenance regime will ensure it lasts for decades without any problems.

 

Four Shrubs That Thrive in Fall Sun

fall shrubs When most people attribute a season to plants and shrubs, they normally think of spring or summer.  But autumn is also a very important season in the life cycle of plants. This is the season when rich, deep colours come to the forefront with the final blast of growing energy.  Planning your garden and backyard to make the most of this third season can lead to remarkable results. To help your backyard fill you with pleasure right up until winter arrives, we’ve come up with a list of four shrubs that thrive in fall sun.

Sumac

Sumac is known for being one of the first plants with leaves that change colours upon arrival of the fall.  As a matter of fact, the leaves will start to turn a bright red when it’s still considered summer. There are wild and poisonous varieties of sumac, but the Tiger Eyes varietal is easily grown in your backyard and also produces ornamental tufts of seed along with the bright red leaves.

Purple Beautyberry

Beautyberry is an aptly named and quite striking shrub mainly because of its brightly coloured purple berries.  The rest of the plant may not look all that exciting, but there’s no doubt that its berries more than make up for it.  These berries make their appearance once the weather starts changing and endure well into the winter. Their natural resistance to disease and pests also make them easy to grow.

Tatarian Dogwood

Tatarian dogwood is most well known for the deep red twigs and stems that are produced once the temperatures start dropping.  The brightly coloured bark lasts well into the winter and provides a great shot of contrasting colour once the snow falls. This shrub’s beauty isn’t confined to the colder months either.  It produces multitudes of small white flowers in spring, attractive white and green leaves throughout the summer and white with blue tinged berry clusters during the hottest part of the year.

Diablo Ninebark

Diablo ninebark loves the sun and will produce interesting foliage from spring all the way through autumn.  Spring and summer allows the leaves to produce a deep green that works well as a contrast to brightly coloured plants and flowers.  As fall approaches, the leaves become bright red to help usher in the changing of the seasons.

Planting Trees to Help Save the Planet

planting treesDid you know that each year, approximately 15 billion trees are cut down globally, often to make space for agriculture, urban development, and other uses? Today it is estimated that only half of the number of trees that were on earth before the rise of human civilization remain and that the lack of trees is contributing towards our planet’s growing climate concerns. 

Recently, a report released by the United Nations revealed that if we have even the smallest chance at combating our current climate crisis, fewer trees need to be cut down. It also determined that by planting more trees, especially in urban areas, we can help in a small way to offset major deforestation destruction. 

Deforestation across the planet is a significant source of greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions. Cutting down trees as well as what we farm and eat are the major culprits of our climate problem. If there are no changes in land management, such as improving soil’s carbon capture through native plants and crops as well as growing new forests, human-caused greenhouse gas emissions will rapidly continue to increase. 

How Trees Help 

During its lifespan, a typical tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide. For many North Americans, that is still just a fraction of what our annual carbon footprint is at around 5%. So while a single tree may only store just a small amount of carbon dioxide from your daily actions, strategically planting trees throughout communities can cause a ripple effect and in turn help with energy savings. 

The energy savings from planting the right trees in the right places around your home can even help you save up to 40%, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. To maximize your savings, the best spots to plant shade trees are the western and southern windows of your home to block sunlight as well as planting around air-conditioning units. Plus, having trees around your home has even been reported to increase the overall value of your home by up to 15%. 

Planting with Pyramid 

If helping your local environment and doing good for the planet is appealing to you, consider planting some trees and enjoy the benefits they provide like producing oxygen, removing contaminants from the air and helping with energy savings. To get started, contact us today. Pyramid Contracting can plant trees, shrubs, and plants to lighten your carbon footprint and contribute to ours and next generations in fighting to global warming. 

 

Four Ways to Incorporate Rocks into Your Landscaping

rock gardenThere are many different elements you can add to your yard for both function and form.  Often, when people think of landscaping, they think of plants, garden beds and lawns.. But another affordable, durable and easily adaptable feature you can add to your yard with great effect are stones and rocks.  In this article we’ve listed four ways to incorporate rocks into your landscaping.

Borders

Rocks and stones make excellent borders around your flower beds, pathways and garden.  The use of stones allows you to outline irregular shapes much easier than fencing or other border materials.  It’s also easy to add or remove stones if the vision for your yard changes. Use rocks and stones to physically separate sections of your yard where you’d rather people and animals not tread.

Drainage

Although absolutely necessary, drainage systems aren’t normally the most attractive part of your landscaping scheme.  By using stones to guide water runoff, or even hide the existing drainage components, you can end up with an attractive and durable solution to your excess water problems.  Their natural good looks and ability to resist the adverse effects of running water make them an ideal material for channeling runoff.

Ground Cover

As more people are affected by drought and become more aware of the amount of water that’s wasted on landscaping, alternatives to grass lawns have become very popular.  Some people simply pave over their lawns or cover them with concrete slabs. Although this might be an effective way to do away with water thirsty grasses, it doesn’t look very nice and causes water to runoff into the sewer system rather than soak into the ground.  Stones can make an excellent ground cover that’s both attractive and still allows water to be absorbed naturally by the soil.

Plant Aid

Rocks can actually help many of your plants grow better.  Placing rocks in your plants beds can help the soil retain moisture and aid in the distribution of rainwater.  As an added bonus, the addition of rocks to your plant beds can make the plants stand out even more.

Four Care Tips for Artificial Grass

artificial grass Those who have decided to install artificial grass will have freed themselves from the constant mowing, weeding and fertilizing that real grass demands.  But just because you have artificial grass doesn’t mean it’s completely maintenance free. Sure, you won’t have to deal with grass stains on your clothes, allergies and grass die-offs anymore, but artificial grass requires a different set of maintenance techniques.  To give you an idea of what you might be in for if you install it, we’ve come up with four care tips for artificial grass.

Keep It Free Of Debris

Although you won’t have to water your new turf to keep it growing, you’ll want to spray it down on a regular basis to keep it clean.  You might be spared this chore if you receive a lot of rain, but you’ll want to keep debris from settling on your artificial lawn for extended periods of time.  This can lead to staining and soiling of the turf. In the fall you’ll still want to rake up or blow off any leaves that fall to prevent them from becoming ground into the turf.  

Pick Up After Your Pets

It’s not recommended to let pet droppings accumulate on fresh grass and the same goes for artificial turf.  Allowing droppings to sit for too long will result in unsightly staining. Try and clean up after your pets as soon as possible.  If staining does occur, rinse with a garden hose and then apply a solution of water and dishwashing liquid. If the stains don’t rinse away you might want to try a weak ammonia solution.

Remove Sticky Substances

If sticky substances such as chewing gum or pine tar end up on your turf, you can get these out by freezing the offending particles and scraping them away.  Use ice, dry ice or an aerosol freezing spray.

Cross Brushing For Longevity

Artificial turf can become compacted in areas of heavy use, so giving these spots a good brushing can lengthen their lifespan.  Use a plastic rake (metal can cause damage) to brush the artificial turf bristles against the grain. This will prevent matting and compression.  Well tended artificial turf can last 20 to 25 years.