Tag Archives: landscaping

Landscaping refers to any activity that modifies the visible features of an area of land, including:
living elements, such as flora or fauna; or what is commonly called gardening, the art and craft of growing plants with a goal of creating a beautiful environment within the landscape.
natural elements such as landforms, terrain shape and elevation, or bodies of water; and
abstract elements such as the weather and lighting conditions.
Landscaping requires expertise in horticulture and artistic design.

Transforming a Front Yard

We were hired by Beryl to transform her front yard in Ladysmith.  After several discussions we came up with an initial plan so I could design the area.  She wanted raised garden boxes in front of the house and smaller raised garden boxes on each side of her trellis.  There will be no grass in the front yard.  The grass is non-existent anyway, with only the weeds growing.  She wants a low maintenance design, with a large curving patio.  We incorporated a dry river bed to run along the perimeter of the patio.  This will add visual appeal as well as natural drainage from the yard.

The fence and arbor were installed last year.  The shrubs in front of the house had to come out and the garden boxes installed.

Then the yard had to be taken down in height.  In some areas it had to be taken down 14 inches so that it would be level.  This design is an ongoing project.  I will update with the design pics next.

Creation of my Garden Labyrinth

The work continues on my Garden Labyrinth in my own yard as discussed in a couple of previous posts.  We have now built another garden box and I have started planting the first one.  I have added ever-bearing strawberries to the first box.  The strawberries are later to come to fruitation.  The harvest will begin late in July, about a month after the regular strawberry harvest starts.  Ever-bearing strawberries will produce until late in the year.  I have eaten strawberries as late as December.   I planted two rows and will now plant sunflowers in the back half of the bed.  The sunflowers will create a privacy back drop and will be a beautiful addition as they mature.  They will be facing East so they will get plenty of morning sun.  The sunflowers will also attract many bees and insects that will serve to pollinate everything I have growing in my gardens.  The strawberries were a gift from one of my garden owners who wanted to divide and had lots to give away.  They have weathered the winter a little worse for the wear but are already perking up.  I have tested my soil and it is a well balanced soil and does not need any enrichment.  The first two garden boxes built are 11.5 inches high by 4 feet wide x 8 ft long.  The newest garden box is built from pine 2 x 4’s and is 16 inches high by 4 feet wide x 7 feet long.  Four feet is the widest we will build them as anything wider will be hard to weed.  We have reinforced each box with a brace to ensure they do not bulge from the weight of the soil inside.

I also have regular bearing strawberries that I planted underneath my Japanese ornamental cherry tree so my grandchildren will have strawberries to eat for many months.

 

 

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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Winter damage tree repair

In an earlier post I showed winter damage to a tree in my back yard.  Here is the update, after carefully cutting the branch off at the base, I will leave the tree to heal.  I will not treat it unless there is a problem with it healing.  In the weeks to come, I will check on it continually to ensure that it has become diseased or infested with insects.  Although the damage is considerable to the branch, it is actually a good time for it to heal, since there are few insects around at this time of year and the thaw has not happened so the sap has not started running.  I would be much more concerned if it was later in the season and the sap was running and the insects were out as it could easily draw insects to its wound.

And although this is quite a big wound, the tree will be none the worse for wear if I have to cut the entire branch off.  The most important thing to do is to keep checking the tree as it heals.  The branch actually has two other healthy branches forking off of it, so I really would like to give the branch a chance to heal.  The other branches that were broken were much smaller so it was just a matter of cutting them off.

Soil Testing

A thriving garden starts with knowing your soil type.  Plants require food (nutrients) to thrive just as we do, promoting healthy growth and giving us that colourful display or bumper crop of fruit or vegetables we desire.  For the better matched the plant is to the growing medium the healthier it will be, helping to avoid disease, insects or fungus.

It is never too soon or too late to test your soil composition and is so easy.  I purchased a soil kit from Buckerfields country store for under $30.  It comes complete with everything you need.  Everything is colour coded, including the comparator films and capsules for easy use.  Also included is a plant pH preference list for the gardener.

Soil should be tested periodically to ensure there is a balance of nutrients to support plant life.  It is especially important in the spring before you plant to see if you need to amend the soil for better growing results.  If your current garden is showing signs of stress then it is equally important to test it, after you have eliminated other problems that could correlate to plant stress.  eg…poor soil drainage, insufficient sunlight, insects or disease.  These issues will also cause leaf discolouration and stunted growth as well,  so rule them out first before you conclude it is the soil.  Most gardens do require amendments periodically as the nutrients are used up by plant consumption and nutrients leaching out from natural seasonal changes, such as seasonal rains.    A periodic soil test will let you catch nutrient deficiencies before they adversely affect your plants.  Besides indicating nutrient deficiencies, a soil test can also provide information on soil acidity, the percentage of organic matter in your soil, and your soil’s texture.

Proper testing = True Validity of Results

The results validity depends on your soil sample collection.  If you are testing your lawn area then only take samples from the lawn.  Do not take samples from the vegetable or flower garden areas as the soil could and probably is different.  To test your lawn, use a shovel and slice through the grass up to 6 inches deep.  Roots naturally grow 4 to 6 inches deep so digging this deep will give you a true picture of the nutrient base.  Make sure to take several samples throughout your lawn area and mix them in a clean container.  A typical soil sample requires 1 cup of soil so mix your samples together and add bottled, distilled or spring water.  Do not use treated tap water as it will skew your test results.

If you are testing your vegetable or flower garden area, then repeat the above instructions and yes, these samples can be added together to give you an accurate picture of your soil composition.   Making sure to discard stones, sticks, insects or other debris in your samples before you test.

At the very least, test your soil’s pH, which is a measure of how acidic your soil is. If the pH level isn’t in the correct range, plants cannot take up nutrients in the soil. You should also test for phosphorus and potassium because plants require both of these nutrients in relatively large amounts. A complete checkup would include tests for nutrients that are essential but needed only in minute quantities, such as iron, manganese, and zinc. If you regularly enrich your soil with an abundance of compost and other organic materials, micro nutrient problems are unlikely.

pH testing – to ensure an accurate test result do not touch the soil with bare hands.  Add soil to the pH compartment container to the fill line.  Then add the PH test powder capsule to the container and add water to the fill line.  Shake it and let it sit for a minimum of 30 minutes.  I try and leave it overnight for up to 24 hours to let it settle.

The other three test compartments are for testing Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash.  For these tests with the remaining soil test samples you have mixed together, add 5 cups of water.  Use the 1 part soil to 5 parts water as a basis for true test results.  Shake or stir well to ensure it is well mixed and then let it settle until the sediments have settled to the bottom.  I try and leave this mixture to settle overnight to give a true result.   Use the dropper provided and add the liquid only from the soil and water mix to each compartment matching it to the colour coded capsule.  Add the capsule to the test compartment and shake throughly…it will settle within 10 minutes and allow you to read the colour coded results of your soil.

The test kit comes complete with easy to follow instructions and easy colour coding to read the results.  Knowing your soil composition correlations to a happy growth for any lawn or garden area.  It takes the guess work out, saving you time and money and helping to ensure your plants have the nutrients they need.

pH – Plants need the correct pH level (which is a test of its acidity/alkalinity) which controls how well the plants will utilize the nutrients available in your soil.  All plants have a pH preference so it is important to know your ph reading in order to either amend the existing soil or match the correct plants to the pH soil level.

P – Phosphorus is required for growing plants…it is the major constituent of plant genetics and seed develop0ment.  A deficiency causes stunted growth and seed sterility.  It aids the plant in maturity, increase plant yield and maturity, increases vitamin content and aids in staving off pest, diseases and winter kill.

K – Potash strengthens the plant, it helps form carbohydrates and promotes plant synthesis…better tasting fruits and vegetables, more vivid flower colours, aids in early growth, aids in maturity, stem strength and cold hardiness.  Plants deficient in potash are usually stunted in size, growth, poor yields, have poor root systems and may have leaves that are spotted, curled and/or dried out.

N – Nitrogen is synonymous with plant nutrition.  It is directly responsible for producing leaf growth and green leaves.  A deficiency cause yellow leaves and stunted growth.  Too much nitrogen causes overabundant foliage with delayed flowering; the plant becomes subject to disease and its fruit is of poor quality.

Plants are very forgiving and will recover quickly from deficiencies if caught early.  The best way to ensure a healthy plant is to test before planting and/or test regularly.  Organic amendments regularly will help to ensure a natural balance in the soils.

See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

Blessings of the Season to All

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A very special thank you to each and every garden owner who has touched my life and my heart.  Thank you for hiring my company and thank you so very much for every moment I have spent in your gardens…it has truly been my pleasure!  May you be blessed now and all year long, with happiness, peace and joy!  A safe and happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year to all!

Thank you to:

Janet & Daryl, Mark & Cathy, Verna & Sharon, Stan & Doris, Chrissy, Jennifer, Lynn & Oskar, Connie, Pru & Rod, Janice, Christine & Angus, Rachel, Ed & Gena, Peter, Jim, Lorraine & Les, Sheila, Len, Carollyne, Dan, Frank, David, Henry, Irene, Marie, Eileen, Allan & Mavis, Howard & Francis, John & Sylvia, Garry, June, Suzanne, Sharron, Shirley & Stan, James, Jannine, Mike & Alyson, Jimmy, Debbie, …so very grateful to each of you.

A very special thank you to Mike, Tim and Trevor…thank you for believing in me and supporting me…I am forever grateful!

A heart felt thank you to the folks at Take5 who have been so wonderful…blessings of the season to all of you!

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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Before

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After

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Creating a Back Yard Oasis

We were hired in October this year to create a back yard oasis for a newly retired lady who has such a green thumb I was envious.  Her flowers in pots were so healthy and beautiful.  I first visited her in September when everything was in bloom.  Such lush healthy plants were a feast for the eyes.  She wanted everything in raised garden boxes to tidy up her small space.  We suggested cedar as it stands up to the test of time and is so beautiful.  The job took much longer then expected as the rains came and have stayed.  With 29 days of rain in October it hampered our effects but we persevered.  The largest garden box built is 15 feet 4 inches long.  It had to built at our house and then trucked to her place to put in place.  It took three of us to load it and had to ratchet strapped into the truck.  It took 1 yard of wood chips in the bottom and 1.5 yards of organic garden soil to fill it.  Each of the garden boxes were built to be portable.  The rules of the condominium complex are:  anything built must be moveable and it must be a minimum of six inches from the fence.

The greatest challenge of the job was to level everything for the boxes and the patio.  The sod was taken out first and then the soil taken out to level it.  We added 1/2  of a yard of sand behind the garden boxes so weeds would never be a problem.  The sand is about 6 inches deep.  It also allows good drainage during rainy season.  We considered adding mulch behind the boxes but knew it would hold moisture up against the boxes and encourage moss to grow.  So sand was the best choice.  Another 1/2 yard was used to level the patio area and poured between the stones to hold them in place.

So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.  Half of the garden boxes were built at our house and half were built on site.  We also added a patio in an area 5 x 10 with a beautiful garden potting table we built for her to complete the job.  It has completely transformed her back yard and we love how it looks and more importantly…So does she!

What a wonderful lady and a wonderful project…thanks Crissy!  We shall miss your great cups of coffee and your mmmm sticky buns for coffee breaks!

Happy Gardening…see you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂

 

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Patio area before and after

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Before and after corner garden

 

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Back yard before and in progress

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Largest garden box complete and planted

 

 

 

 

 

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! 🙂

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