We have continued the work on the “Front Yard Oasis” this fall. The design is coming together and it is even more stunning then the computer generated design. We have continued excavation of the river bed. What we originally thought would be 3 to 4 more yards of waste has become 9 to 10 yards of excavation. Painstakingly done with shovels and wheel barrows. The yard is very rocky so we have sifted through much of the waste to keep the larger rocks to incorporate back into the dry river bed we will be creating.
The garden bed areas are now all installed and filled with organic soil, peat moss, bone meal and blood meal…and are ready to plant. A path way will be installed to run along the river bed to allow stepping access to the garden areas and to visually separate the patio from the river bed. The path will consist of 3 inches of rainbow rock that has been purchased at “Hillside Stone & Garden” near Duncan BC. We will be using low edging along the pathway that Beryl – our garden owner has purchased. It will help to define the edges of the river bed and the pathway as well as the patio and will keep the decorative rock from mixing with the river bed. We excavated the path down to approximately 3 1/2 inches to ensure the path will be slightly lower then the patio so the stone will not migrate onto the patio.
These are the original designs on paper. In a future post I will post the original designs with the actual designs to show the evolution of creating a garden space and how similar and also how different it becomes. There will be many areas that mirror the designs but also differences as there are always changes and challenges that come with such an undertaking.
Recently, I took a phone call from a garden owner wanting some advice on how to insure his fruit trees would have a good pollination which correlates to a higher yield of fruit. It is quite simple really. He explained to me that his fruit trees are in an area of his property completely separate from his flower beds and flowering shrubs. He has fenced in the area to keep deer and other plant eating rodents out and has struggled for two years with low fruit yields. The trees themselves are quite healthy and growing well. They just have not produced the amount of fruit he felt they should.
I explained to him, the past year of strange weather did not help. Here on Vancouver Island we had a very late spring, many of the flowering trees and shrubs were 6 weeks behind because we had such a cold winter and a late one at that. So when the pollinators (bees, ladybugs, butterflies,etc) have come to your garden and cannot find food, they move on.
Plants give off what is called “Pheromones” which are used for many things…one of which is communication among plants and with insects. When the plant starts to flower and needs to be pollinated for sustainability, it releases its pheromones into the air to attract pollinators. So to increase the pollination processes in your garden and off set things like cold winters, late bloomers, etc…choose companion plants to grow with or near your fruit trees that will increase your trees chances of getting a high pollination count. Choosing flowers that bloom for long periods of time to overlap with the fruit trees helps encourage pollination. Choose daffodils, garlic, lavender, rosemary, marigolds or heather. They will not only attract the right pollinators to your garden but also deter pests with their strong odors and help to keep your garden healthy for years to come.
Also…these choices are also deer resistant. I have never seen deer eat these plants so it just might help to keep your plants from being eaten.
Happy Gardening…see you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂
We are fast approaching the end of garlic planting on Vancouver Island. Ideally it is best planted during the month of October but can still be put in now. Garlic is easy to grow and can be planted in pots, raised beds or direct into the ground. Planting in a pot I would suggest using a pot with a depth of 8 to 10 inches to allow for plenty of root space. Just place the separated cloves and plant approximately 3 inches in depth and 4 inches apart for best results. Use only organically locally grown garlic as many of the grocery store varieties have been sprayed with chemicals. Plant in organic soil and harvest next year.
Ladysmith Health Food store has an abundance of garlic for sale and very reasonably priced. They are located on 1st Ave in downtown Ladysmith.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
We were hired by our garden owner Gail in the spring to re-do her front lawn. The lawn is approximately 1000 square feet of poor soil and very poor lawn. Gail had struggled with the lawn since she had moved there. After years of trying to get the grass to grow she decided she needed a low maintenance xeriscaped area. When I went to meet her, I agreed. My motto has always been, when you are trying to grow something, you want it to thrive not just survive. Her lawn was barely surviving…although the weeds were prolific, nothing else seemed to thrive. As a retired farmer Gail realizes the importance of water conservation and thought it best to get rid of the lawn and conserve the water for better uses.
Gail said as each year went by the lawn became more unhealthy then the previous year. The lawn is patchy at best and really required a new design. Gail had already decided she wanted all of the sod removed and disposed of. She wanted a rock wall across the front and a path to her side garden for her to be able to water with her garden hose. She also wanted as much of the front lawn mulched as possible. she wanted a design that would compliment her beautiful home and create curb appeal.
I suggested we frame the entire front yard with a perimeter of river rock. It would not only add a new layer to the design, but more importantly it would allow good drainage of rains and help to keep the mulch in its place. The last thing I wanted to happen was for a heavy rainfall to wash all of the mulch to the sidewalk and the road. Without the perimeter of rock it was a likely problem as the lawn is on a gradient towards the sidewalk and the road.
The work began on Monday taking out all of the sod and disposing of it. A sod cutter works great for such a big job. The perimeter of the lawn had to be cut out with an edger as the sod cutter cannot get close enough to cut it out.
Once we went over the lawn with the sod cutter we realized that although the grass was not growing above ground the roots were a solid mass with some as deep as 6 inches. We had to run the sod cutter over it twice to rid the area of roots and start with a clean slate. It was labour intensive but a necessary requirement to ensure a long lasting low maintenance design. We did need to take the lawn down by a minimum of 2 inches to make room for the mulch but it ended up coming down 5 to 6 inches which actually worked out better in the long run.
Once the lawn and roots were taken out and disposed of (7truck loads of waste), it was time to prep the entire bare area. We used a landscape rake to level the entire area. Then we built a stone wall across Gail’s front lawn to add depth and beauty as well as hold the mulch in place. We dug out the entire perimeter lower then the rest of the lawn and put garden edging in to keep the river rock separate from the mulch. We also added layers of wet newspaper and landscape fabric underneath the river rocks.
Then we used recycled newspapers….8 to 10 layers deep on the entire yard. We wet the newspaper first so it sticks to the ground. This creates a barrier so that weed seeds in the soil cannot sprout or grow. We were not willing to lay landscape fabric down on bare soil. The landscape fabric does what it is supposed to…it has tiny perforated holes to allow rain water to flow through it but cannot hold the weeds back. Many fabrics have a 5 year or 20 year guarantee on the package. That is not for the duration that it will keep weeds out…that is for the duration of its life before it completely breaks down. There is a big difference. For anyone who has ever used the fabric in their garden they know that is only a matter of time before a tiny weed seed sprouts and pokes through one of these perforated holes in the fabric and begins a weed trend that does not stop. Once the weeds begin to poke through the fabric, the only way to get them out is to pull all of the fabric up and weed it from underneath. It is not the current seeds that are sprouting but rather the old weed seeds trapped under the fabric and they do sprout and grow.
We purchased commercial landscape fabric and yes there is a big difference. It is a strong mesh material that allows the water to seep through rather then the cheaper fabric with perforated holes. Commercial fabric is 25% more but it is the only fabric to use when I am covering bare ground to impede weeds growing. We layered the fabric and overlapped to ensure there were no bare areas that weeds could sprout. Then we covered it with a medium dark mulch. The dark mulch is larger chunks and less likely to blow away or move around in a rain storm. We covered the entire remaining yard with 4 to 6 inches of mulch. We raked it all out and then we watered it down. We knew a storm was coming the next day and rather then take a chance on the mulch being so dry and light it would migrate, we watered it down to weigh it down. The re-design turned out beautiful and Gail is very happy with it and so are we!
In the fall of 2016 we worked with our garden owner Chrissy to transform her back yard. Chrissy wanted a back yard oasis and we transformed her yard into exactly what she wanted. She ask that we get in touch with her so we could do the same with her front yard in the spring. So I designed a front yard design that would go with her house decor and extend her garden area to allow her more room to create what she wanted. I went to work on the design as she required permission from the strata council. I sent her the design and she presented it and it was accepted. So here is what we did!
Before and design concept of area after.
Note: The existing garden in place is 12 feet in length and 40 inches from the front exterior of the garden to the foundation. The concept for the new garden is to keep the existing back perimeter of the garden 12 inches from the foundation wall and extend the front garden out to a maximum of 54 inches and extend along the sidewalk 24 inches as the garden design is circular and will extend out in the centre further then the existing garden. The front perimeter of the garden will be a rock wall defining it from the lawn area. The front perimeter will be prepped by removal of a small amount of sod. Landscape fabric will be placed under the stone to deter weed growth. The rock wall will be approximately 8 inches high and will be placed approximately 4 inches back in order to add mulch in front of stones for ease of lawn cutting. There is currently a hydrangea and several spring bulbs in the garden which will be left and some small shrubs and flowers added to the new garden.
*** The rock wall shown above is an example of what the design will look like. The wall will not be exactly as shown.
The front garden area is now transformed and here is the new look! I take my hat off to my son Tim who did a fantastic job…WOW what a transformation. Here is to you Tim…Cheers!
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.