Category Archives: Trimming

Trimming is reserved for correcting its appearance, either in terms of symmetry or to create a more prolific tree or shrub with denser foliage.

Winter Damage to Tree

The last week of weather on Vancouver Island has been brutal.  First snowstorms and literally inches and inches of snow accumulating with freezing temperatures and wind.  The snow here is always very very heavy when we do get snow…which is seldom.  Then we were graced with warmer temperatures and rain.  During this week of stormy weather mother nature provided us with beautiful silhouettes in nature.  With the storms comes many many trees, shrubs and plants that now have winter damage.  This beautiful tree in my yard which was stunning when the snow came, had several branches break under the weight of snow and ice.

After the storm when I realized the tree was damaged, I played a waiting game with mother nature as the branches were frozen in the snow.  Now, today, I have cut the branches off with a landscape saw, giving them a clean cut at the trunk.

I will not be using wound paint or any other kind of sealant on the tree as I know it is a myth that it requires it to heal.  Trees are incredibly resilient and will heal themselves if left alone.  Wound paints and dressings claim to prevent rot and help trees heal from pruning wounds, but research suggests that they actually do more harm than good. When you cut off a tree limb, or the bark gets damaged, the tree never actually “heals.” Instead, it compartmentalizes the wounded area with a special type of calloused wood – like a scar – that keeps out bacteria and helps the rest of the tree recover.  Wound paint can actually interfere with the trees recovery by preventing it from creating the calloused wood to compartmentalize it and can weaken the tree.  Tree wounds heal from the inside out so dressing it with wound paint can actually seal in moisture causing tree rot and allowing fungus or bacteria to survive and possibly thrive.  The last thing I want to do is interfere with the trees natural recovery processes…after all trees have been on this planet longer then humans and have evolved to heal themselves most of the time.

Complimentary Landscaping for a Country Wedding

Last year an unfortunate accident took place that I am sure many of you have experienced.  I dropped my phone in water and had to have it replaced.  Lost were many garden photos…563 to be exact.  I replaced my phone the next day and left the old one sitting in rice.  After a few days I put it in my desk drawer and forgot about it.  Moving in the fall, the old phone stayed in a box until yesterday.  I charged it and like magic it took the charge and I accessed all of the 563 pictures.

Each year I volunteer landscaping hours…sometimes I advertise free landscaping for seniors and other times the job just seems to appear.  I believe it is important to give something back.  In my lifetime so many many people have helped me on my journey; I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today without all of those helping hands and hearts that have reached out to me.  I believe one of the reasons we are on this earth is to help each other out along the way.  The intrinsic rewards are priceless for me.  For me no amount of money can replace the feeling of helping others.

A few years ago while gardening for one of my regular customers I was introduced to Les.  He was a very kind man as is his wife Lorraine.  He owned a small farm near Cedar BC where he grew garlic for the local health food store.  He offered me some work, helping him with his garlic crop.  Which I was happy to oblige, not only for the work, but the knowledge I would gain.

I was very blessed to meet him and his lovely wife Lorraine.  Wonderful people…so caring and so down to earth.  That first garden season after meeting them, they offered to let me grow a garden along side the garlic.  It was a God send to me as I was living in a suite with no garden area.  That season was so busy I had to rely on Les to let me know when my garden needed watering.  We watered my garden and the garlic regularly.  I grew many vegetables and herbs that year…eating and canning everything I could.  There is such a sense of accomplishment that comes with eating an entire meal from your own garden, which I did enjoy many times that summer!  Thank you Les & Lorraine 🙂

Tragedy struck 1 1/2 years ago when Les passed away from an unfortunate accident; leaving his wife and a daughter who was engaged to be married.  The bride, Heather had her heart set on a country wedding.

So we set to work.  The property is a beautiful farm over looking the Nanaimo River.  It is a place where time seems to stand still.  The farm is 10 acres,  complete with a large home, detached garage, detached shop and a barn overlooking a meadow.

I was so busy last summer that I did not even get to the farm to work until 3 weeks before the wedding so it was a stretch…one that I was not sure I could fulfill.  Lorraine had worked tirelessly year after year gardening and had beautiful gardens everywhere.  There were beautiful rhododendron gardens surrounding the house where she had incorporated peach trees, raspberries and other edibles into the garden space.  The gardens just needed some elbow grease to get things in order.

The driveway was a winding lane over a 1/4 mile long from the road to the house with fruit trees on one side and a fenced pasture lined with black berry brambles on the other.  Years previous had seen the addition of a rock garden along the driveway closer to the house.  It was beautiful but overgrown with weeds and grass.

The bride had her heart set on getting married on the lawn and then having her wedding photos taken near the barn and pasture.  There was a considerable amount of work to be done.  The area where the guests would park was overgrown with weeds and grass also.  And work we did.  There were dozens of volunteers that helped every step of the way.  The landscaping was my expertise and thankfully I met the challenge and finished two days before the wedding.

Driveway before

 

Driveway after

Lorraine seeded the lawn area where Heather wanted the ceremony and watered daily for the lawn to thrive.  I added my landscaping touches weeding and mulching everything in sight.

Even Sheeba, the family pet helped by chasing the rabbits away!

The pasture needed to be cut down around the barn and beyond for the wedding photos.  I used a weed eater to get it down to about 8 inches…cleaned the area of all rocks, trees and branches, then I took the lawnmower to it twice…the last time two days before the wedding.  I also trimmed and pruned all shrubs and trees giving each a hair cut to tidy things up.

The three weeks flew by…I cleared my calendar of other jobs to finish this one…at the exasperation of some of my customers…it wasn’t that their gardens weren’t important to me…it was that this was something I had to do…and the wedding turned out beautiful.  A gorgeous summer day for a beautiful bride & groom!  In total I put in 49.5 hours and am so very grateful that I could do something nice for this family!

Congratulations Heather & Ray!  Have a wonderful life!

 

 

 

 

A Country Garden Clean up

We have been working on this property for some time now.  Although the new snow fall has halted work, it will continue this week once the snow is gone.  It is a beautiful country property with stunning garden designs that really shine with effort and hard work. 

 

A Spring Garden clean up

Clean up in the gardens on Vancouver Island has begun.  The winter has been harsh here on the Island.  Snow, ice and frosty temperatures have kept the island in a deep freeze for more then two months.  Finally the snow and ice melted and the ground…frozen but dry has allowed clean up to start.

This is the first year that it has been this cold since I started my landscape business.  Normal weather patterns have always been rain and cool temperatures but never this cold.  After one day working in the garden I realized that I much prefer the ground frozen.  With the ground frozen, I stayed dry and the clean up was actually easier.  Raking the leaves, branches and twigs was a snap.  With the ground frozen I didn’t have to worry about taking the soil or the mulch with the garden waste.

This garden has been over grown for some years and needed a sprucing up…pruning, trimming and cleaning the Rhododendrons,  Hydrangeas and Azaleas was first in order.

Pruning & Trimming Rhododendrons

I always start from the base of the plant and work my way up.  I take off all the suckers that are growing straight up…cutting them right at the trunk (or collar) where it attaches to the plant.  I dead head any flowers from last year.   I also take out any branches that grow inward and of course any dead branches.  Thinning the perennials this way helps to keep the plant healthy, allowing air flow through the plant, and allows the buds that have set to flower.  The only branches I trim that have buds on them are the ones that are long and leggy sticking out much farther then the rest of the plant.  I like to give it a nice balanced look and am very careful not to trim too much off.  It is best to trim them right after they flower as they  set next years flowers on the prior years wood.  So pruning out of season, I always start from the bottom and work my way up.

Pruning & Trimming Hydrangea

The Hydrangea in this garden are mopheads.  They flower in summer and should be trimmed and pruned right after flowering as next years flowers set on old wood.  However, because they were so over grown and had much dead wood, they had to be trimmed.  I started at the base and took out all the dead, damaged and diseased wood.  I then took out the unhealthy and spindly growth as they will not produce healthy flowers.  I trimmed the dead flowers off being careful to make angle cuts above the new growth.  Trimming and pruning out of season will probably affect the flowers this season but there wasn’t another choice.  In order for the plants to be healthy they needed to be trimmed and pruned.  It will stimulate growth this season and what flowers will be there this summer will be more robust then if I had not trimmed.  The plants themselves are healthy and will recover but might take till next year to have the showy display they are capable of.

If you have fall flowering Hydrangea then they should be trimmed now, during the winter months while their roots are in hybernation.

Pruning & Trimming Azaleas

There were five Azaleas in this garden.  Two of them had to be taken out as they were so unhealthy they would not have recovered.  There were several branches on top that had growth but none at the base of the plant.  The bottom two thirds of the plant was dead with no growth at all.  Think of a bouquet of flowers how long it will live in water.  The top branches are similar to that.  They get just enough nutrients to stay alive longer then the rest.  However, they too will die just as the rest of the shrub has.  It is uncertain why they died…every plant has a life span just like humans, they could have been damaged in the winter cold, they could have gotten an insect infection or a disease or fungus.  Both of the Azaleas that died were the same kind and I suspect they were both planted at the same time, years before.  I was careful to get all of the root out in case it was diseased or infested with insects.  Ideally Azaleas should be trimmed right after flowering in early summer as the plant sets its new buds right after flowering.  However, I was left no choice as the plant required a heavy pruning to get it healthy again.  Although the heavy pruning might affect the flowering this season, it will recover and be more robust and have its showy flowers return by next year.  These Azaleas are a type of  Satsuki Hybrids such as ‘Gumpo’ grow only about 3 feet tall, while Southern Indica Hybrids such as ‘George Lindley Taber’ and ‘Mrs. G.G. Gerbing’ can grow 10 feet tall.

The final step in this garden after the clean up was to add fresh mulch.  This keeps the weeds down, helps to maintain moisture, adds nutrients as it slowly breaks down and of course for its aesthetic value is priceless to the eye.

 

Spring is on its way!

For many who do not live on Vancouver Island it is a shock for them to find out that although we live in Canada, we don’t (as a rule) get snow…or at least not the kind that hangs around for days…never mind months.  Well this year has been much different.  In December of 2016, the 3rd of December to be exact, was my last day working for the rest of the month.  Winter came and stayed and stayed and stayed.  We were in a deep freeze for over a month and the snow that came…STAYED!  So much for living in a rain forest!  When the snow finally melted (most of it) two weeks ago, it was only because we received so much rain.  It washed away the snow and melted the ice.  I have now been back to work for the last two weeks.

Since it was so cold and frozen, I had to lay the staff off and am now back to work, but working alone for the time being.  Springs clean up has already started in many gardens and I am hard at work.   Many shrubs and trees have winter damage from carrying the weight of the snow and ice for so long.  Many branches are broken or damaged which means a larger clean up then normal.  I have also started trimming and pruning, as well as weeding.  It is a perfect time to weed as the ground has so much moisture many of the weeds pull right out.  Which is great because saving time on weeding helps to off set the extra time required for the extra clean up and the extra pruning necessary to keep the gardens healthy and vibrant.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the palms that have been planted in so many gardens.  The research I have done says that the palms can withstand temperatures dipping to -10 C.  However, we had extended periods of days where it stayed that cold.  It is true that mother nature can be cruel and it will be sad if many of the palms do not survive.  They add a new texture and vibrancy to the landscape here on the island and I shall be sad if their survival is threatened.   As the temperatures warm up we will see what has been damaged.  Only time will tell.

For those gardeners who are unsure of when to prune or trim.  There are basic rules that I follow.

  1.  Any plant or tree that has damaged limbs…prune immediately.
  2. Pruning and trimming in the fall/winter will slow down growth as the plants are moving towards dormancy.
  3. Pruning and trimming in the spring stimulates growth as the plants are becoming active again.
  4. Never ever take more then 1/3 off of any plant or shrub as it could kill it.  The more you prune or trim the more likely it is that the plant will become stressed.  When a plant is stressed it can bring many problems.  It sends a message to insects, diseases, fungus, etc…”I am not well so come and eat me.”  Plants are similar to humans…stress can be a killer.

Being a Landscape Gardener!

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A diamond in the rough-clean up continues

Well we are now into several months of clean up and re-design on this diamond in the rough.  It is a big project and is turning out beautiful!  We work away part-time at it when the weather permits!  Fall rains arrived in October so it is a matter of working around the weather now.  We recently tackled the back path area and are very happy with the results.  The back garden area is planted with a cultivated broom and had been overgrown for years.  We did have to take out a few of the broom plants that were dead but the rest has shaped up very nicely!

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After

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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.

 

 

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The cost of a landscape gardener

Recently, someone ask me about a garden clean up.  She has been on my website and loved the work I do.    I explained to her, I charge an hourly rate which includes one person and one truck.  I do not charge for taking garden waste away and do not charge for truck time for picking up materials or supplies.  I only charge for the hourly labour.   I provide the tools, lawn mowers, fuel and anything else required for the job at no extra fee or cost.

She said her concern was the length of time it would take.  She had been on my website and saw that some gardens seem to take months.  Then I realized that she thought the garden jobs on my site had taken months to complete and she thought I had been working full-time at them.    I said yes, some of them have taken months..but it is only part-time I work at them.  Depending on the garden owner and their budget, the weather and my time constraints, some of them I work at part-time.  If the garden owner has a large job and wants it done immediately, then I do try and accommodate that but usually a very large job is part-time and does take months.

I have regular clients that have me set days in their garden and I also take on what I call “one off” jobs where I am hired to plant or prune a hedge or re-design a small garden or do a one day clean up.

That being said I thought I should clarify for everyone on my site how my business operates.

Cheers!  See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂

A Diamond in the rough!

I took on this garden clean up in Saltair BC in July 2016.  It is an ongoing job and is really shaping up nicely.  When first I walked through this garden I realized its potential.  I did not create this garden…it is 5 years old.  I am blessed to work in such a beautiful place with so much potential.  It is definitely a diamond in the rough!  Everything was overgrown and needed pruning and trimming.  Many of the ornamental grasses needed to be divided and moved.  I am so happy with the progress so far and so are the garden owners!

 

 

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