Christmas Trees: Real vs Fake – What is better?

We hope that you enjoy this infographic on the ongoing debate of Christmas Trees: Real vs Fake. We had fun researching it and we hope you enjoy learning more about the issues.
We think that Christmas is more than just about Christmas trees and gifts (although we do appreciate gifts!), it is a wonderful reminder of the important things in life are such as family and friends.

Whatever you decide on, a real Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree, you need to make a choice that best fits your needs. However, we think the smell of evergreen in your home is priceless and irreplaceable.

From all of us at Toemar Garden Supplies and Firewood, we want to thank you for your support in 2013 and we look forward to serving you in 2014!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

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Free Firewood Sales – Is Burning Pallets OK?

You are tempted and it is hard to resist.

On your drive home, you see companies posting signs saying Free Firewood on their property. You decide to stop at one of them to check it out. You drive around back and you see a large stack of pallets and realize that you really could save money this winter. Someone comes out to meet you and tells it is fine to use as firewood and there have been no reported problems. When he says “reported problems”, it should be cause for you to stop and ask yourself why he would say that?

Here are some reasons why you should NOT burn pallets as firewood:

  • Low flashpoint – wooden pallets catch fire very easily
  • Extremely high temperature – this makes the potential for a fire spreading to nearby objects increase drastically
  • Explosive wood dust – under the right conditions, the accumulation of wood dust can ignite into a fireball which is extremely dangerous
  • Chemical use or exposure – many pallets are treated with toxic chemicals such as Methyl bromide (MB) or a fungicide to increase its life span. It is a pesticide used in the control of pest insects, nematodes, weeds, pathogens, and rodents
  • Releasing harmful toxins – as a pallet is burning, these toxins are released which is a serious health risk. In addition, you have no idea what type of chemicals or particulates have soaked into the wood which can significantly increase the temperature and/or create hot sparks which could lead to an explosion.

Simply put, wood pallets are known to be a major fire risk. Wood pallets need to be properly disposed of. Burning them as firewood is not a proper solution.

Here are some reasons why you should use “log or natural” firewood:

  • Cut to length – firewood is typically cut to length so that it can fit properly in your fireplace (12 inches) or woodstove (16 inches)
  • Free from toxins – the only processing that a “log” firewood goes through is the cutting and the removal of the branches. There are no pesticides and/or fungicides used
  • Eliminate waste – sometimes firewood is harvested strictly for burning. For the most part, firewood comes from felled trees that either do not meet specification for building materials (e.g. too thin) or is a byproduct of off cuts
  • Minimal smoke – properly aged or seasoned firewood will burn with very little to no smoke. This makes your firewood experience more enjoyable
  • Consistent temperature – log firewood has a high flashpoint and provides constant and even heat which makes it more comfortable in your home

Come and see how we age or season our firewood for two years to give you the perfect burning experience. We look forward to supplying you quality firewood this coming winter.

Winter is coming! Is Your Lawn Prepared?

Fall has arrived, which means winter can’t be far behind. Autumn is the best time to do last minute lawn preparation to ensure your lawn will be fuller and healthier in the spring. Here are some tips on fixing and preparing your yard for the winter time:

Remove leaves, rocks, and debris

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Remove dead leaves, rocks and debris. Doing this, you eliminate moss, fungus and disease which hamper strong root growth in your lawn. The autumn leaves you collect can be put to good use. Create mulch or break it down in your compost. Another good idea is to save them for spring, when brown leaves with their high carbon are hard to come across. Remember, one person’s trash can also be their treasure.

Give your lawn some breathing room

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Using a spading fork or a core aerator, poke holes into the ground. This, helps break down thatch and allows for better irrigation and deeper grass root growth, which protects them from the cold. If you don’t own one, many companies can help you for an affordable fee. Finally, fill the holes using fine horticultural grade sand, which lets a greater amount of water and air through.

Overseeding and fertilizing make for a greener lawn next year

Growing-Lawn-Preparing-in-FallA soil test is an exact way to find out what nutrients your lawn needs. Although when one isn’t available, you can use fertilizer with a high nitrogen level to control overgrowth and low-to-moderate potassium to promote root growth. Together with overseeding, these are two steps that will make sure you will have a thicker and stronger lawn next year. This will take care of dry patches and leave no space for new weeds to grow.

Mow and Water, but just enough

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It’s best to water lightly allowing the lawn to be moist, but never waterlogged. As for mowing, cut enough to leave the shoots with a two to three inch length. Your clippings are strong source of nitrogen and protection, but try to limit their use for composting. A good rule of thumb is mow until you notice the rate your grass is growing has slowed.

Where’s the grub?

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It’s recommended taking care of grubs in autumn since they are small and easier to get rid of. Deal with them easily with beneficial nematodes. What are they? Microscopic organisms that quickly spread through your lawn devouring larvae and other pests. Also remember that while some pruning is necessary for some plants, others don’t need it. Regardless, you must completely remove dead branches so that pests have nowhere to run and hide during winter.

Enjoy your lawn next year!

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It might seem like hard labor at first, but the truth is once you take these steps you’re saving yourself from a lot of work next year. Remember the thicker your grass, the less room for weeds, and the healthier your yard will grow.

For more information on landscape grading and other landscaping advice, you can contact us by email or by phone and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Polymeric Sand – A How to Install Video

Although we’ve written about Polymeric Paver Sand in the past, seeing how someone does it just makes the job a little less stressful. One of our vendors produced a video that will make it easier for you to install the polymeric sand successfully along with some great tips on getting the best results possible.

Here is a breakdown of the video just in case you don’t want to watch the whole thing.

0:30 – General explanation of the function of Polymeric Sand
0:50 – Choosing the right sand
1:10 – Tools required
1:34 – Installation of the sand
2:45 – Removing old sand
5:00 – Wetting the sand

Enjoy the instructional video!

If you have any other questions about the installation of polymeric sand, please feel free to contact us by email or by phone and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Image Source: Necessories-Kits

When It Rains It Pours: Landscape Grading

The saying “when it rains it pours” took on a whole new meaning for many people on July 8th, 2013 including a number of our customers who had their basements flooded. It was incredible to see the amount of destruction that water could do in such a short period of time. One of our customers took a picture of a ravine near their backyard that had transformed into a raging river of 80 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

So that got us thinking of how we can help our customers weather the next rainstorm. One of the most important things in landscaping is the grading of your yard. We’ve combed through the web to bring you three articles that we think you will find useful to help you do landscape grading.

Lawn Drainage Systems – Read about landscaping professionals advice on drainage and grading issues in and around your yard. There is definitely some great advice that you can take action now.

DIY Grading – If you are thinking about grading your landscape yourself, this article gives you some useful tips on what to do. However, the image on how to grade your yard makes it easy.

Tips for Taming the Slope – If you are looking to transform your graded yard, here are some great ideas that will make your yard stand out.

For more information on landscape grading and other landscaping advice, you can contact us by email or by phone and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Streetscape Mississsauga Judging Underway

If you haven’t seen him (“the Gnome”) yet, you will soon enough! The Gnome and Streetscape Mississauga’s expert judges have been visiting various residential gardens all over the city in search of that winning garden. Here is an inside scoop of what the gnome and judges consider to be a potential winning garden.

Judges tend to favour more complex gardens with a mix of evergreens, shrubs, perennials and annuals, but there are always exceptions to every rule. Judges also look for gardens that are unique in some way that make it stand out from the rest.

As the judges come and visit your garden, you can simply avoid losing points by taking a couple of simple steps such as:

  1. Using artificial plant materials in the garden or in planters.
  2. Lack of maintenance such as uncut grass, no weeding and deadheading, poor pruning techniques, clutter or garbage left in the garden.

You also have to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect garden because gardening is always changing. To manage pets, diesase, and better environmental friendly practices, chemical products used in the past are no longer considered to be an option. More gardeners today are incorporating environmental methods into their garden maintenance e.g. leaving grass clippings on the lawn; leaving seedheads on plants as a wildlife food source etc. In recognition of these issues, Streetscape judges will be more lenient when judging general maintenance, in the following ways:

  1. Gardens will not be penalised for spent flowers, fruit or leaves on the ground, unless they are diseased, as these are part of the natural garden cycle.
  2. So long as a lawn is generally healthy, some lawn weeds are acceptable. Weeds in flower beds are not.
  3. Spent flowers and seedheads may be left on plants if they have a decorative quality or if they provide a food source for wildlife. General deadheading will still be required.

What we are expecting is that you use judgement and common sense in maintaining your garden, without necessarily striving for a pristine appearance so Good luck and Good Gardening!!

For more information on Streetscape Mississauga, you can visi them here. For other advice on landscaping, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you out.

How to Pick/Hire a Contatctor

It’s summer time. Say hello to warm weather and the perfect time to start that garden or landscaping DIY you have been meaning to do. For those home owners who are not confident enough to attack the project themselves; do your research. There are many contractors who claim to be able to do the job but many of us have heard horror stories of contractors who have done terrible jobs or even worse, those who have taken your money and did not complete the job, so consider these points before hiring a qualified contractor.

1. Ask for recommendations and references from friends and family
Start with friends and family that would have similar work done. This will also give you a chance to find out firsthand from an actual client how well a particular contractor performed and the work that they’ve completed. If a contractor you are considering has a good track record of happy clients, he will have no shortage of past customers who will be willing to give favorable testimonials.

2. Research your contractor(s)
It’s nice to rely on friends to give you leads, but you should also do your own research. You can check out many rating and review sites out on the web to see if you can find them and see what others have been saying about them. Also check to see if they have a website that gives you more information that rating and review sites. Information such as their areas of knowledge, process, before/after photographs, and customer testimonies. By having a web presence it may mean that they are legitimate business (eg. business license, insurance, WSIB, etc.) and you as a consumer may have recourse if things don’t go right.

3. Get bids and different quotes
Get at least 3 estimates or quotes in writing. A detailed quote listing labour costs, materials costs and time will help you understand what you’re paying for and help you compare the various bids. Everyone likes a good deal but if a quote comes in much lower than the others, that contractor most likely will be cutting corners somewhere or may incur additional charges midway through the project.

4. Check credentials and qualifications
Once you have decided on several candidates, the next step is to inquire about their license, as well as the insurance (liability and worker’s compensation) they carry. This is a very important step. By making sure everything is in order, you will greatly reduce the risk of any liability on your part if things go wrong with the construction project.

5. Be involved with the process
Think beyond the price and choose a contractor that you can trust to work closely with you
towards the realization of the project’s goals. Make sure you ask questions, understand the
scope of the project and what the contractor is doing. Stay on top of the project. When
something isn’t right, bring it up immediately.
Stay away from contractors who are uncommunicative or unaccommodating. This could be a lengthy process, so it would be in your best interest to hire one that you get a long with.

6. Get it in writing & payment
Every project should have a contract, no matter the size of the estimated work. Every detail about the project should be included in the contract- labour costs, description of the work, materials and work timetable. Protect yourself should a dispute arise.
Reputable contractors also do not demand for all the payment up front. If a contractor insists that you pay a large deposit or the total bill before the work even starts, this may not be a good contractor. Make periodic payments as the contract completes certain portions of the projects and reserve a significant amount to be paid only when the job is completed to your satisfaction.

We can recommend a contractor called Interlocking Plus. Or if you are looking for more advice on selecting a interlocking contractor, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Vegetable Soil Mix – Get your garden growing

With all the rainy and cloudy days, it has been a challenge to grow vegetables and flowers into the luscious green foilage that we are used to. One of the things that we can do to prepare for sunnier days is to have the right type of soil and nutrients in the ground that our plants and vegetables to draw from.

Introducing Veggie Soil

Veggie Soil or vegetable soil mix from Toemar is a clay free mixture product containing peat loam, sandy loam, compost and manure. This premium soil blend is a fertile organic soil which is native to the Holland Marsh area. It is an excellent product if you are looking to apply it to a new or existing vegetable or flower garden bed or looking to repair your lawn with grass seeds.

About Holland Marsh

Holland Marsh is approximately located north of Toronto, Ontario and is commonly referred to as Ontario’s
vegetable patch’ because of its incredible variety and copious amounts of fresh produce.

The Holland Marsh is a community of approximately 100 farms on 7,000 acres of low-lying land that
contains some of the richest farmland in the province, with another 2,500 surrounding acres
also being recognized by growers as prime agricultural land. It is the largest and most productive
marsh because of the canal drainage system and exposed organic soil which products nearly 60% of Ontario’s
carrots and 55% of its onions, along with a number of traditional crops such as celery, lettuce,
potatoes, parsnips, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers and commercial
flowers to more diverse options like Chinese broccoli, Asian radish and water spinach.

Getting started

If you still have questions about the veggie soil, please feel free to contact us and/or visit our location and we will be more than happy to answer your questions about our veggie soil or any other soil that we carry such as topsoil, cattle manure, sheep manure, 3-way mix, and peat moss.

Backyard tranquility: Landscape with Waterfalls

Backyard water features are becoming more and more popular, year after year. Who wouldn’t like the soothing aquatic sounds and the sparking quality as the sun light reflects off the trickling water. Big or small, birdbath or a koi pond, there is something for everyone and making a splash in your garden this season can be both easy and inexpensive.

Consider these questions:

How big do I want this feature to be? What type of shape? Cost?

It would be difficult to install a waterfall feature that flows into a large pond if you do not have the adequate space. Be honest with your limitations and consider the space, shape and balance before committing to a design. Also, consider your wallet. Cost can be a big factor when considering the type of pond you want to build. There are many inexpensive options – ready-to-install kits found at your local home garden center, professional landscapers and DIY resources found online.

Pond vs. pondless?

A pond is a beautiful living thing. An established ecosystem works with Mother Nature to provide food, shelter and safety to the wildlife living in its waters or around it. A pump circulates the water to ensure adequate oxygen levels for healthy fish and plants. A filtration system is also needed to remove debris and organic matter, and to maintain a stable, biological balance in the pond. Once established, a pond is all-natural, low maintenance and will run year-round. However, the initial cost and operating costs could be far greater than the pondless option.

A pondless waterfall works very much like a regular pond except after the hole is dug; it is then lined with rock and gravel and filled with water. The water is then circulated from below the rocks by a pump and is cycled over and over. Similar to operating an outdoor swimming pool, the water feature will not be operational for parts of the year. Pondless water features allow you to have the benefits of a waterfall without the presence of pooling water which may be a safety concern for parents of young children and small pet owners.

Research online, visit gardening centers and home and garden shows for ideas. Weather you choose to make this a weekend project or hire a professional team, this will surely be a beautiful addition to any backyard.

Come in and check out our simple, no digging, pondless backyard waterfall called Colorfalls.

For more free landscaping advice, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Gearing for Streetscape Mississauga 2013

April showers bring May flowers. Yes, it is that time of year that gardens wake up seemingly overnight from their winter slumber and transform into lush green and colourful landscapes.

Do you have a garden that you always thought was worthy of a magazine cover? Well now you have the chance. Streetscape Mississauga is a city-wide, summer- long garden and beautification contest that features entries from both residential and small business. Established by the city together with Mississauga’s four horticultural societies to encourage beautification and conservation, to showcase and raise awareness of innovative garden styles, and to celebrate the creativity of the residents of Mississauga.

But what if I’m a beginner? How can I compete with experienced gardeners?

All are welcome to participate – from novice to seasoned gardeners. Many past winners have been beginners and the judges are looking all types of gardens from traditional to alternative. Entries will be judged on visual appeal, design, general maintenance and originality.

Not only are bragging rights on the line, but prizes including gift cards, one year’s membership to one of the city’s horticultural societies and a commemorative plaque!

Throughout the month of July, specially trained volunteers from the horticultural societies will make their rounds to judge every entry. So make sure your space is in tip-top shape!

Gardening is about experiencing the outdoors and turning your passion into something creative and beautiful.  Try your hand at it and see what comes up! And remember to have fun!

For more information on dates, judging classes, contest rules and tips – visit the Mississauga Streetscape website or call: 311