Category Archives: Cedar Trees

Protecting your garden from deer, rabbits, voles & small critters

One of the biggest challenges of gardening is how to protect our precious plants and trees from being eaten.  On Vancouver Island, (a temperate rainforest) it is one of our greatest challenges.  We do not get the cold snowy winters with inches of frozen ground and plants dying back until spring.  Rather, we have greenery all year and can garden year round most years.  This creates a greater challenge as the deer and other rodents too are active and seeking sustenance all year long.  The deer have a natural mechanism built into their DNA that allows them to remember where they found food and to pass this information on to their off spring, as do other creatures.  The deer population on Vancouver Island is at an all time high due to the increased human population pushing the boundaries of nature and with less predators lurking in their midst, the deer have thrived.  Our gardens represent a bounty of unlimited greens all year long!

There are many ways to minimize the damage done by deer and other plant eating critters.  I would strongly recommend using as many as possible to manage if not eliminate the problems or at the very least to successfully protect your garden gems.   Yes, the deer are beautiful and are protected so minimizing the appetite of these gracious creatures is a must to protect your gardens and create harmony for all.  Keeping deer at bay from the garden is important for many reasons, not only to protect your plants, but to minimize the risk of Lyme’s Disease from the dreaded ticks that deer can carry.  I have compiled a list of how to control deer and other rodents in the gardens to help keep you, your pets and your plants safe!

  1. Do your due diligence and choose as many plants as possible that deer and other rodents do not like to dine on.  Ask your local garden centre for advice or down load a list here.
  2.  Fence your garden area to keep deer out.  Although this can be costly and extreme,  it will solve the problem completely.  Remember, deer can jump a fence 6 feet high or more.  If you choose to put a fence up, try to fit it with your garden design to add to the landscape rather then making it unsightly.   If you do not want or cannot afford to fence in the entire garden area, then adding a fence around each fruit tree or rose bush is also an option…one that also works…although it too can be unsightly in your garden.
  3. Choose plants with strong scents that deer do not like and use them as companion plants with plants that deer do love to dine on…often the strong scented plants will deter the deer or confuse their sense of smell so they will miss dining on their favourites.  Remember though, they will return to your garden again and again will probably find and feast on the plants they love so much.
  4. Use a product call “Plant Skydd” to deter the deer and with continued use many garden owners have stated the deer no longer come to their garden.   The product is all natural, will not harm plants, pets or people and does not need to be applied after every rain fall.  This is great news for gardeners and it really works!
  5. Plant the perimeter of your entire garden space with plants that deer do not eat.  Choose different types of plants with strong scents to deter the deer from crossing the line into your garden.  Deer have very sensitive noses and will often decide not to cross the line into the garden if there is a wide perimeter of smelly plants that offends their sense of smell.

This summer we did a small pruning and clean up at a property and saw the full extent of the damage deer can do in a short span of time.  This cedar hedge is obviously to the deers liking.  Planting cedrus or true cedars will help minimize the damage done by deer.  Often deer will taste fresh new shoots on trees and plants…even the ones they are not supposed to eat but will not eat much more then a taste.

Good luck in your garden…see you in the garden or the garden centre!

 

Shaping a Cedar Hedge

We were hired to trim and shape this cedar hedge that surrounds the house.  The hedge has been taken care of and is healthy so the job was easy.

Island Garden Scapes-a family business!

To all of our clients…thank you for giving us the opportunity to show you what we can do for you!  Cheers!

Call us for all your lawn and landscape needs… thank you from Tim, Trevor, Mike, Miss Ryla, Kathleen and baby Ashlyn.

My Garden Labyrinth

I have now lived in this location for 3 months.  I have spent countless hours researching, sketching and incorporating the numerous benefits in the yard. As I said in an earlier post, privacy is my biggest concern.

The back yard gets full sun throughout the year.  I know that the back lawn stays green most of the year from the gray water that feeds it daily.  It was important for me to incorporate a plan that would utilize this gray water in my  garden effectively and efficiently.  I am on town water so it is not an option to water my gardens all year with town water, not only the cost, but with the hot dry summers on Vancouver Island the watering bans start earlier every year.  Incidentally, I am a renter and my landlord has given me the green light to landscape the entire lot as I wish, so that is a bonus.

Each year I grow more of my own food and this garden should suffice in growing all of my own food.  So the plan had to address the privacy issues, create beauty,  utilize the gray water and produce enough food for six of us.  I am including my sons and grandchildren as it is of utmost importance to me for each of us to eat as much organic food as possible, while saving money!  Last year I grew about 60% of my food.  I canned and froze much of what we couldn’t eat fresh and have been eating it all year long.

Privacy Issues – The fence enclosing the yard will provide a backdrop for me to plant shrubs and bushes to allow the privacy I want, but will take time to grow and cover the fence.  The immediate concern was how to create a garden area throughout the back yard with fruits, vegetables and flowers that would be high enough to enclose the area for privacy.

I have always loved the idea of a labyrinth and decided this would meet all of the garden challenges.  Creating a labyrinth from raised garden beds would give me the height for privacy, allow the soil in the containers to draw the gray water from the ground and filter it before it hits the plant roots, create beauty in the garden, incorporate a patio area in the middle while creating a play space for my grandchildren as they love to be in the garden with me.

And so here is my Labyrinth garden plan!  I do know that is a preliminary plan.  The garden plan will evolve and change as it comes to life!

 

 

 

 

My Back Yard

Last year I posted pictures of my back yard with a design that I had in mind.  Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to move a couple of months ago and my yard design was not completed.

So now, I have a new yard…which is…well the pictures speak for themselves.  There is nothing that motivates me more then landscaping…I love to create beauty through design with alot of help from mother nature.  This yard is like a blank slate just waiting to be designed.

Here are the challenges: Privacy, Privacy & Privacy

Privacy    Our home is in town and has a walking path along the back (east) of the lot and up along the south side of the property.  Our neighbour is the local dog park so you can imagine the traffic around our house.  I love dogs and humans…don’t get me wrong…but I love my privacy more.

Weeds/Overgrown Lot

The entire lot is fenced in and has great potential but has not had any type of landscaping or gardening done in many years.  The only neighbours on the north side had a beautiful cedar fence installed some years ago and it has stood up to the test of time.  The fence does give us some privacy.  However, our yard runs on a gradual slope downhill so there is next to no privacy in the entire back yard.  We live downstairs in a suite and there is also a suite above us.  Thankfully, (for now) my son rents the upstairs suite so privacy is a non-issue.

Backyard swampafter moving in November, we discovered the back yard was like a swamp.  The ground was so waterlogged that we could not walk through most of it without getting soaking wet feet.  To our surprise we found out that the former owner had pumped all of the gray water from the house into the back yard via an underground hose that she had buried.  So all of the water from the laundry room and all of the water from the kitchen sink travels to the back yard.  It is also obvious that there is poor drainage in the back yard.   We already use all natural “green” products…phosphate free, so this is one less thing to worry about.

Cedar Hedge – Many years have passed since the previous owner planted a cedar hedge at the back of the lot.  They are slow growing cedars so they are small and there are holes in the hedge.  Not sure if some died or if there were not enough planted.  In any case, it is going to be one of the biggest challenges landscaping and I am so looking forward to it.

Rocks Rock & More Rocks  The entire yard has rocks everywhere.  The neighbour told me the previous owner brought in truck loads of rocks of all shapes and sizes.  Oh my, I have never ever seen so many rocks on such a small property.  So  I will incorporate what rocks I can  and the rest I am taking to two different clients who are in need of rocks….oh my goodness I hope they want lots!!!!  As you can see from the picture, I already pulled some rocks from around the tree in the picture below.  I planted strawberries under the tree in November when I moved in, so its a very small start. 

Oh, I almost forgot, we inherited a fish pond, in the forefront of the bottom left picture.   It is beautiful and has great potential as a focal point in the gardens.  So here we go with a new project!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Children in the Garden

If we are to enjoy, protect and benefit from the earth and all that it creates, then it is necessary to engage children…the younger the better to teach them the joy of gardening, the sacredness of the earth and all that it offers.  For they will grow just as plants do and they will become caretakers of earth, for we are all part of something so much greater then our own individuality.

There is nothing more satisfying then growing your own flowers, trees, plants,  fruits and vegetables with a child and experience their joy, enthusiasm and wonder…so incredibly precious through the eyes of a child.  Gardening is magical, we have only to experience children in the garden with us to see and feel the magic of being part of the ecosystem of the earth.  These two little girls are my beautiful granddaughters.  They are almost 2 & 4 and are the perfect age to garden.  My oldest granddaughter has been gardening with mommy since she could walk so she is well versed with watering…it is her favourite activity besides making mud pies for daddy!

It is important to be safe in the garden.  So we purchased childrens’ garden gloves at the local store.  We put on our gum boots and we only have organic soils to use.  Which is important since my youngest granddaughter, Ashlyn decided she needed to taste the soil to see if it passed inspection.   And of course safety also means never leaving them unattended or unsupervised.

Gardening with them was an incredibly satisfying and fun adventure, watching them laugh and learn about all living things.

Each of the girls helped to plant a cedar tree in a pot to put on daddy’s deck.  Ryla who is almost four ask if the tree would grow today.  I explained to her that it grows like she does from the food and water we feed it and the sunshine it receives…slowly but surely getting bigger and bigger…just like her.

Then we watered the strawberries making a liquid organic fertilizer from the organic soil and water and added it to the strawberries which have not woken up for the season.

Being a Landscape Gardener!

work-play

Maintaining a Multi-Million Dollar Estate for sale

I was hired in May this year to maintain the gardens on a 10 acre wooded estate that is for sale.  This is where the great spotted owl lives that sometimes visits me while I work.  The property backs on to the ocean and has a private cove.  The gardens were all existing but needed to be trimmed,  pruned and cleaned up.  The lawn needed to be aerated, thatched and seeded.  I work there once per week to maintain everything. This includes cleaning out the garden beds, amending with soils and fertilizers, trimming a laurel hedge around the carriage house, trimming a cedar hedge along the driveway and cleaning the driveway each time I am there.  The garden owner is a great person to work for and has a fantastic sense of humor.  She is clear and concise on what she wants done and appreciates the work I do…and I am so very grateful to work for her.

The driveway runs through the entire property and opens up on the water with the main house and a carriage house overlooking the water.  So of course a fall clean up was required also.

 

 

jennifer-mccormickhouse-view

20161108_122452-562x100020161108_122501-562x100020161108_164823-562x1000

imag2488-625x353 imag2490-625x353

imag2529-625x353 imag2531-625x353

imag2532-625x290

Planting a Cedar Hedge

Recently we were hired to plant a privacy hedge in Ladysmith.  The weather is perfect for planting trees…for the trees…not so much for people who don’t like the rain.    The trees were purchased at Dinter’s and are very healthy and full.  The root balls were packed in clay and wrapped in burlap.  This ensures the roots stay moist.  The trees were 8 to 10 feet tall and weighed about 120 lbs each.

Preparation for planting.

  1. We measured the entire length of the planting area.
  2. We divided the number of trees by the length so we knew how far apart to space the trees.
  3. We set a couple of trees in place to see how they looked against the fence and to decide how far from the fence to plant them.
  4. We calculated how much soil we would require for the planting.  In order for the trees to thrive we mixed 1 part organic garden soil with the original garden soil.
  5. We knocked off half of the clay off of the roots of the trees to ready them for planting.  You can plant them with the clay and the burlap on them but we chose not to.  The roots must work that much harder to grow through the clay and burlap to get to the soil nutrients.  Since the clay and the burlap are designed to protect the root ball against dry conditions and we are in rainy season, we knew they would not be at risk.
  6. We picked up 1.5 yards of soil ( You can find a soil calculator on line or ask your local soil retailer to calculate how much soil you will need depending on the area you are planting.) and 2 bales of coconut peat along with 2 pails of bone meal and 2 pails of blood meal. This helps to minimize the transplant shock as the nutrients feed the tree a balance of what it requires.  The coconut peat is sustainable unlike regular peat moss that comes from bogs and is not sustainable.  Both lighten the soil, hold moisture and improve soil structure.
  7. We took all of the sod out and started digging holes.  We dug the hole 2 times bigger then the root ball and 2 times deeper.  This allows the roots an easier time spreading out and growing.  We placed the first tree in the hole and measured from the centre of the root ball to the centre of the next root ball to ensure they were equally spaced apart.
  8. We mixed our soils together and added 2 cups of bone meal and 2 cups of blood meal to each wheel barrow of soil.  Then we placed the soil in the bottom of the hole, placed the tree and packed soil around it until it was just above the ground level.  This ensures as it settles it will be flush with the ground.
  9. We picked up 1 1/2 yards of mulch and top dressed the trees after planting as it holds moisture during dry seasons, helps to control weeds and for its pleasing aesthetics.  Happy Planting!  See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂

preparing-to-plant-a-cedar-hedgehedge-planting

hedge-plantedplanting-in-progress

Video Link

Good Morning All!

Recently I was interviewed by the Take5 team in regards to my business.  Here is a link if you would like to check it out!  Thanks for watching!  🙂 See you in the garden or the garden centre!