5 Things You Should Do To Choose The Perfect Christmas Tree

‘Tis the season for decorations and delights, just so long as you choose… right?

Okay, that was a little awkward: rhyming is not our forte. Trees, however, are definitely in  our wheelhouse! This year, if you’ve decided to eschew the plastic tree that you’ve had stuffed in the basement these last few seasons, we’ve got you covered on the whys and wherefores of a real Christmas tree.

Types Of Christmas Trees

There are a couple of species of tree that make the best holiday decor for any home or office, each with their own merits.

  • Fraser fir — Well watered, a Fraser fir can last up to eight weeks in your home and has that most distinctive of Christmas-sy scents. The silvery tint to their needles and less dense branches are the perfect complement to your ornaments.
  • Balsam fir — These very popular trees will typically last six to seven weeks and have good fullness, needle retention and that classic pine scent that screams: “Pass the eggnog!” Their more slender look with dark green needles make these the perfect tree for smaller spaces.
  • Scotch pine — With needles that vary from bright green to blue/green, these bushy trees have strong branches and excellent needle retention, which is important if you have heavy or simply many ornaments AND hate vacuuming the needles!
  • White spruce — The full, dark green branches are just part of the appeal. These trees are some of the most symmetrical, with very consistent shape all around. These are great trees if you are using them as a central decoration in a room, rather than placing it in a corner, as it will look beautiful from every angle. The downside? Their needles are VERY prickly, which can be unpleasant for wee ones, when decorating!

Before Buying A Tree

Measure your ceiling height, taking into account the tree stand AND any top of tree ornaments, like a star. You don’t want to end up with a National Lampoon Christmas tree, bending at the top!

Also, take a look at the area where you plan to place the tree: you need enough width, as well as height, and if you are getting a tall tree, you might want to consider whether you will be able to anchor it to the wall, for safety. In addition, you want to make sure to place it far from heat sources, which can be a fire hazard. If you are using lights, make sure there is an easily accessible plug or switch on a power bar so that you can be sure to turn off the lights when you aren’t home and before you go to bed. Again, this is in case of a short or overheating.

Don’t forget to dig out your tree stand and make sure all the parts are in good working order or your decorated tree could topple like Uncle Art after a couple of hot toddies!

What To Look For In Your Tree

Whether you are buying your tree at a garden centre, a tree lot or going to a farm to cut your own, there are a couple of things you should look for when selecting your tree:

  • Check for broken branches, bare spots and dead branches to assess the health of the tree and how well it survived transportation (if you’re not at the farm yourself).
  • Look for a fairly even colouring of the needles. Dull or brown / rusty needles may speak to the freshness of the tree.
  • Check for pests and insects: you don’t want to be bringing these into your home!
  • Run your hands over the needles by grasping a branch about six inches in and pulling forward gently: the needles should stay put and be flexible. A few may drop off but if a lot of the needles are dry and come off in your hand, the tree might not be fresh.
  • Check the branches to see that they are strong enough to hold up ornaments and lights and flexible, which is another sign of a fresh tree.

Setting Up Your Tree

First, cut about an 1-1.5” off the bottom of the stump: the fresh cut will allow your tree to soak up water more easily.

Second, place a plastic tree bag or garbage bag IN the water compartment of your stand and lay it open—don’t worry, you can cover it with a tree skirt so no one has to see the bag, but it will make disposal at the end of the holidays a little easier, with a lot less needle dropping on the carpet. It can also help to prevent water spills soaking up into your carpet or staining your hardwood, in case the stand gets overfilled a little.

Third, leave your tree in the tree stand a full 24 hours before decorating it. Some of the branches will fall naturally as the tree acclimates to the room temperature, so premature decorating can end up looking a whole lot different a day later! Don’t forget to water it! A tree will go through a lot of water, particularly in the first day it is in your home, so make sure you keep an eye on the water line in your stand.

Disposing Of Your Tree

Sadly, the holidays WILL come to an end and it will be time to dispose of your tree. Most areas across the GTA have curbside pick up service in January so check your local recycling schedule and see when yours is. Too often, we’ll see trees with sad bits of tinsel on them, stuck in a snow bank in February.

When it’s time to move the tree, make sure someone is holding by the trunk, towards the top, while someone else undoes the tree stand clamps or retention mechanism. Then pull up the bag that we mentioned earlier, up and around the tree, so you can move it out the front door with a minimum of needles dropping everywhere. Remove the bag and keep it for next year, as most recycling trucks will not pick up a tree that is in plastic.

If you miss the collection dates, you can hold onto your tree and put it out with the yard waste in the Spring, in lengths of about four feet.

Now that you’re ready to bring home your tree, armed with all the information you need, we at Toemar want to remind you that with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s important to take a step back, smell the Christmas tree, and enjoy the moment. Have safe and happy holidays!

 

 

4 Things You Should Know Before Using Your Fireplace

The first step is making sure you have the right wood

While most homes no longer use wood burning fires as their primary heat source, there’s nothing like an old wood stove or fireplace glowing bright and flickering through the cold winter weather. Just the smell of woodsmoke puts one in the frame of mind of hot cider and warm toes.

Whether you’re new to the world of wood fireplaces or an old hand at stacking logs, we’ve got a few good tips about firewood that are worth reviewing.

What Characteristics Of Wood Give The Best Results?

First off, aged wood—at least two years—is best. Even better if it has been cut, split and stacked outside, exposed to the elements of nature.

Like a fine champagne (drank in front of a glowing fireplace of course!), good wood has been rotated in the stack to ensure an even and consistent aging, with decent exposure to sunlight and air flow to help dry it out and lower the moisture level to less than 20%. Less seasoned wood has as much as 50% moisture, which will smoke when lit.

Why is aged wood better?

Aged wood burns hotter and more slowly, giving you a better result in the fireplace and requiring you to add wood less often. The slow burn gives a more consistent temperature and heat, rather than a fast flare up that dies out quickly. There is also little to no smoke with well-aged wood.

There are three characteristics you are looking for beyond aging:

  1. Density of the wood, which gives you more heat per cubic foot volume of wood.
  2. BTU (British Thermal Unit) of the wood, which gives you more heat per piece of wood.
  3. This refers to the ability of the wood to form coals after the initial burn, extending the fire life.

Overall, a well-aged quality hardwood will have more density, BTUs and coaling ability, giving you a better burn, with consistent and even heat.

Examples?

White birch, which is a hardwood, has a density of 42 lbs per cu. ft. , 20.8 million BTUs / cord and is good at coaling.

In contrast, pine, which is a softwood, has a density of 22 to 31 lbs per cu. Ft., 15 million BTUs / cord and is poor at coaling. In addition, it has a strong smell and can leave an oily residue in your chimney.

Pieces that are cut from 12” to 16” are ideal to fit in most fireplaces so be sure to ask your provider what you are getting before you take delivery.

What Types Of Wood Are Available?

Hardwoods—maple, oak, ash, birch, and fruit trees—burn hotter and longer but are more expensive and harder to split. However, with a longer burn, you’re using less of it so it probably comes down to an even split for the recreational fireplace user.

Softwoods—pine, balsam, spruce, alder, and poplar—these are much easier to split and light, but they burn out quickly and are prone to creating creosote buildup in the chimney, which can cause a chimney fire.

TIP: Avoid FREE firewood sales! Very often, ‘free firewood’ is made up of wood pallets that have been broken down. Pallet wood is a major fire risk. They catch fire very easily and burn at such a high temperature that the fire could easily spread to nearby objects. They break down into wood dust, which can combine and ignite into a fireball! In addition, most wood pallets are treated with harmful chemicals that act as pesticides, such as Methyl Bromide or fungicides: when burned, the toxins are released into the air and can pose a serious health risk.

How Should Wood Be Stored?

When you’re checking out a seller, beware of those who simply pile the wood out of doors. This means that there is little to no airflow for the pieces underneath, resulting in wet, even mouldy wood that won’t burn well. You’re looking for nicely stacked wood that has plenty of airflow and a seasoned appearance.

unstacked-firewood

It should go without saying but it’s best not to store your firewood in the house. Split logs should be stacked with the ends facing prevailing winds, off the ground with only the top covered and bark facing up. This helps to ensure that sunlight and air can still reach the split logs but the bark protects them from rain and snow.

It’s best to get this done within two weeks of delivery from your firewood provider, so best to plan your location before you order! The goal is to prevent moisture from building up in your wood pile, which will make the wood too wet to burn properly.

How can you tell if your wood is too wet? If you try burning it and it hisses or steam bubbles appear at the ends, your wood is too wet to burn.

Well seasoned, dry wood is darker towards the ends, with cracks and splits in it; it’s also relatively light weight.

Before you get your first roaring fire going this season, check out our Fireplace and Chimney Checklist! Toemar has been in the business of selling firewood for more than thirty-five years, so if you’re looking for a source of wood that you can trust, give us a call.

Protect Your Garden For Winter: 4 Things You Can Do Now

It’s time to protect your garden & yard ready for the winter freeze!

Do you know that old fable ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’? While the ant was busy preparing for winter, the grasshopper lazed about enjoying the last of the season’s delights.

Come the first snowfall, the ant was ready to hole up for the winter, while the grasshopper was suddenly scrambling to find food. He showed up at the ant’s door and the latter told him to hop away. It’s such a great allegory for life… and gardening!

If you get all the pre-winter tasks done now, your garden will sleep happily through the winter months and be easily restored come Spring. If you want to be a grasshopper? You will have that much more to do in the Spring before you can enjoy your outdoor space.

So what’s on the list?

 

Preparing Your Lawn

Rake and aerate—Keep raking up those leaves and any other clippings to keep your lawn exposed to light and air, which will help it stay moist and fed.

You can toss the leaves in your composter but before you do, check some for disease or pests that you might not have noticed over the summer! If you have fruit trees, make sure you gather up any fallen / rotting fruit.

Finally, if you can, aerate your lawn to increase the amount of nutrients that are flowing to the roots of your grass.

Fertilize—After you have raked and aerated, it’s a good time to fertilize your lawn. The aeration will allow the fertilizer to get down to the roots and make them stronger and better able to withstand the rigours of winter.

Pick one that is meant for Autumn use, as these contain a high amount of potassium, which makes the grass and roots more resistant to the effects of frost.

Cut—Give your lawn one last trim before the snow flies and pay special attention to corners around your home or hardscapes, or around trees. Tall grasses in these areas are prone to be areas for mice and other small rodents to build their winter homes!

Avoid cutting your lawn too short at this point—2.5 inches is ideal. The right height ensures that your grass strands stay strong and upright, allowing for airflow and moisture, two things your grass needs to avoid rot and disease building up.

Overseed—We talked about this in our August post, but it’s worth repeating: if you want a lawn come Spring that is the envy of all your neighbours, do a little overseeding in the early Autumn. Remember that you need enough time to cut the new shoots a few times before winter hits or they won’t be strong enough to survive the freeze.

Use a high quality overseed topsoil and your grass seeds will be able to build a strong root structure, giving you a strong, healthy lawn in the Spring.

 

Preparing Your Trees, Plants And Bushes

Dig—Now is the perfect time to dig up any bulbs that don’t fare well in cold, like dahlias or gladiola. You can wrap them in burlap or place them in sand and store them in a dark, dry place. Don’t forget to plant your onion and garlic bulbs, so you can start harvesting next June.

Water—Until the first freeze, keep watering your garden beds, trees and shrubs. Like with people, plants are stressed if they lack moisture. Extra water will help to nourish them well into the winter.

Cut / Remove—As the first frost approaches, it’s time to remove your dead annuals and cut back your perennials and hedges. You don’t want to leave any ‘holes’ in the latter, but they should look bare. Don’t forget to remove the clippings so that airflow isn’t blocked, which can lead to rot.

Mulch—Adding mulch to your garden beds helps to protect perennials and bulbs. The danger isn’t snow or even the cold; the danger for your garden beds is the freeze / thaw / freeze cycles.

Over winter, the mulch will decompose, adding nutrients to the soil. The key is to avoid putting too much mulch, so as to prevent plants from pushing their way out in the Spring. If you’re using leaves, for example, don’t put more than four inches of cover over your plant beds. Roses need special care: insulate them by mounding at least twenty centimetres of top soil at the base of each bush.

Protect—Tie up any young trees or shrubs with stakes and garden twine, to prevent their being damaged by high winds and wet snow or ice.

A couple of layers of burlap will do the trick with cedar trees, so they aren’t impacted by icy winds. Young trees that are less than ten centimetres in diametre, particularly fruit trees, are favoured by small rodents in the winter so protect the bark with plastic protectors, on the base of the trunk.

 

Preparing Your Water And Other Hardscape Features

Drain—It’s time to drain fountains and other water features to ensure that they don’t get damaged by fluctuating thaw / freeze temperatures. Terra cotta pots are particularly prone to cracking if they have any moisture in them during the thaw / freeze cycles, so be sure they are covered or otherwise untouched by snow and ice.

Sweep and Clean—While technically not a part of your garden, keeping your downspouts and gutters clean of leaves will prevent them from overflowing or backing up. That’s good for your house and your garden! Do you have cracks in between your paving stones? Fill them up so that they don’t fill with water, which then freezes and thaws, damaging the stones in the process. Clean up BBQs—unless you’re hardy enough to use it all winter long, it can be a happy munching space for mice and other small mammals. Clean and store outdoor furniture.

 

Preparing Your Tools

Sharpen—Sharpen all your shears and other tools; clean your digging tools and have your mower blade sharpened, if it’s not something you want to undertake yourself, before you put all your gardening tools away. Gas powered tools do best if the gas is removed or run until they are out of fuel. And a little oil goes a long way to keep tools in good condition for next Spring, ready for use.

Store—Hoses and watering cans should be drained and stored in a shed or basement. Leaving them outside could leave them open to cracking open after the first freeze, if there is still water in them. Outdoor faucets should also be drained and the water shut off from the inside.

After all that is done, you can sit back with your favourite hot drink and start planning your Spring planting and outdoor projects. It’s a great time of year to check in with your local landscaper / hardscaper to make sure that your projects are ready to start work when the ground thaws!

 

 

Outdoor Projects: Hiring Qualified People Is A Must

You’re not sure whether you need a gardener or a landscaper or perhaps an arborist, for an outdoor project that you’re planning? This post will walk you through the ins and outs of each role so you can make the right choice.

In the not so distant past, if you wanted to do some work to the garden or exterior of your home that was a little bit beyond your DIY skills or just something you didn’t want to take on personally, you would call up your local ‘handyman’ contractor to take up the project. But here’s the thing: hiring a generalist for a specific project is not usually a good bet. They just don’t have the background or skills to do it right the first time. This can lead to significant downstream costs if the project needs to be repaired or re-done at a later date.

The roles of gardener, landscaper / hardscaper and arborist are actually quite different and each one is suited to very specific tasks; a well trained professional will be knowledgeable and experienced, leaving you with project results that will last. No one is an expert in everything, particularly where bylaws and regulations are concerned, so you’re always best to pick the professional, based on your needs and their training, expertise and knowledge.

What Does A Gardener Do?

A gardener is adept at planting new flowers, trees and shrubs—provided you have a plan for the design of your garden (see the landscaper role, below!)—watering, feeding, fertilizing, mulching, composting, grass cutting, hedge trimming and the like. If it involves the care and maintenance of your outdoor space, a gardener is the right person for the job. They can help you to maintain a beautiful, healthy lawn and garden throughout the seasons and prepare your garden for the winter season, including protecting sensitive plants and shrubs, raking leaves, trimming or pruning and the like.

What Does A Landscaper / Hardscaper Do?

Landscapers / hardscapers also do most gardening tasks and most landscaping companies are happy to provide you with a maintenance package for your garden, but their true talents lie in designing a garden that works for you, taking into account where you live and what plants, trees and shrubs are best suited to your climate zone, the uses of your garden, and other considerations.

If you want water features, ponds or if you have drainage issues around your home, a landscaper / hardscaper can fix these with contouring, grading and leveling of the ground and the addition of additional drainage, where necessary.

Hardscaping, which includes things like walkways, driveways, paved areas, solid water features and stairs, is done with the impermeable materials. Never hire anyone other than a qualified hardscaper to build a retaining wall or a landscaper to design the physical layout of your garden unless you really love spring floods seeping through your or your neighbour’s foundation because you’ve interrupted the run-off pattern. Without adequately planned drainage, you can find yourself with not only flooding but foundation issues, soil erosion, plant / shrub drowning, wood rot on porches and decks, pest infiltration and even sinkholes!

What Does An Arborist Do?

The technical definition is that an arborist is someone who is a professional in arboriculture: in the management and study of trees. The term trees, in this case, includes shrubs, vines and other wood perennials. An arborist is focused on individual or small groups of trees, rather than forests—which are managed through forestry and silviculture.

Arborists are knowledgeable in all things about the trees: different pests, infestations, signs of ageing and decay in a tree, best pruning methods, planting distances and so on. They should also be knowledgeable on the local bylaws in the areas within which they practice. For example, planting distances to power lines, regulations concerning the pruning or removal of trees, or the protection of trees in a construction zone. Most municipalities are very strict in the management of trees, so before you consider planting or pruning a tree on your property, make sure that your arborist is up to date on the laws.

Is There Such A Thing As An All-In One Professional?

If you’re still wondering why you wouldn’t just hire an all round landscape company to do a bit of everything or ask your arborist to trim the hedges a little while they’re dealing with an ageing tree, the reason is quite simply that it’s a waste of their time and your money. Hiring an arborist to do a little gardening is something like hiring a hazmat team to sweep your kitchen floor. A little bit of overkill, don’t you think?

In Summary:

Do you need your garden maintained, hedges trimmed, lawn fertilized, weeding and other similar tasks? You need a gardener.

Do you want a risk assessment done on a damaged / ageing tree, tree removal or the trimming of trees, including knowledge about the local bylaws on this topic? You need an arborist.

Do you want to build a retaining wall in your garden, install interlocking stone / brick, figure out drainage or ground leveling or design a garden from scratch? You need a landscaper /hardscaper.

With these roles in mind, think about the projects that you want to undertake in the next year and ask for referrals from your local garden centre and always check their references!

Autumn Gardening – 5 Awesome Tips for Planting in the Fall

While the evenings are cooler, the days are still warm, making autumn gardening a perfect time to start your winter preparations.

Traditionally Spring is seen as the optimal season for planting, but that’s really a fallacy.

Thanks to the summer warmed soil and more frequent rainfall of early fall, autumn gardening is far better for perennials and many trees and shrubs. Why? It’s easier for them to form roots with a more temperate and evenly moisturized soil.

Spring planting often leaves plants struggling for their first season as they are planted in cold soil, making rooting more difficult, while at the same time the new plants are dealing with fast growing foliage thanks to the warm air that surrounds them.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some plants and trees that you can plant when doing autumn gardening, to enjoy right away and into next season as well:

  • Hostas
  • Daisies
  • Daylilies
  • Peonies
  • Maple, spruce and pine trees—if they’re very small, don’t forget to stake them to avoid damage from the stronger fall winds.
  • Don’t forget your bulbs, like tulips, daffodils and garlic!

TIP! Fall planting is most successful if you continue watering, so that roots can develop adequately and the still warm soil will be fully moisturized, prior to the first frost. Make sure to use mulch, which will help to retain the moisture and warmth in the soil and add much needed nutrients for the rooting process that will take place over the winter.

What About Planting Seeds?

Nature knows what she is doing: seeds blow around in the autumn, end up in the soil and germinate in the spring. There are certain seeds that do very well by being planted in the fall:

  • Sweet peas
  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons… to name but a few!

Get Your Garden and Soil Ready For Winter

Late August/September is the perfect time to take care preliminary garden tasks like:

  • Adding compost to your gardens or vegetable beds, readying the soil for spring planting.
  • Covering your water features with nets to keep them leaf-free.
  • Pulling weeds—these will go to seed in the fall and you’ll have that much more to pull in the spring if you don’t do it now!
  • Adding fertilizer to your lawn.
  • Continuing to water your plants—as we noted earlier—to make sure they are hydrated right up to the first freeze.
  • Trimming back any diseased foliage to avoid a new outbreak next year. Do NOT compost the diseased clippings!
  • Pruning perennials that are now dormant—gone yellow/brown in the stems and leaves.

Sod Or Overseed Your Lawn In The Fall

Cooler air in September onwards means less evaporation and limited growth of grass stems, so the grass seeds or sod have ample time to develop a strong root structure. Next summer? Your lawn will be the envy of the neighbourhood.

Consider using a high quality weed free overseeding soil—which contain organic compost—if you are going with seeds, to ensure that there are adequate nutrients available.

Don’t Forget Your Herbs

This is a perfect time to collect all the remaining herbs in your garden to dry them out for use throughout the winter. If you’re bringing some inside for the season, September is the perfect time, before the temperature fluctuations start to damage the plants.

Remember, clay pots, in particular, don’t do well as temperatures begin to cool more – they crack in the cold.

Once the temperatures start to really dip in October, it’s time to bring them inside for the season. Even if you have plastic pots, our advice is to store them in the garage at the very least so they don’t become bleached and weathered and last a year or two longer.

The average Southern Ontario September is mild and enjoyable with cooler evenings and no mosquitoes! So get outside, start autumn gardening and enjoy the fruits of your labour now and next season. Be sure to let us know if you have any questions about fall gardening.

5 Ways You Sabotage Your Lawn and How to Fix It Now

From dog marks to grubs to fertilizer burns, it’s easy to repair a damaged lawn…

Like with most things, the best defense against a damaged lawn is prevention, but when it comes to lawn care, even the most diligent green thumb can end up with a burnt out, unattractive lawn.

These are the top 5 issues we see with damaged lawns on a regular basis:

  • Over-fertilization, resulting in burnt or bare patches
  • Urine damage from pets, also resulting in yellow, bare patches
  • Insect and critter damage
  • Weeds, including dandelions and crabgrass
  • Lack of moisture

Over-fertilization And Pet Urine Damage

This kind of damage causes patches of burnt out lawn, where the grass has died and thinned out, or bare patches where there is basically no lawn left. There are two ways to tackle the problem in the specific patches: seeding or sod.

For seeding, you need high quality topsoil and grass seed, and you need to know the kind of soil you’re working with.

Step 1: Mow the whole lawn, paying particular attention to the areas you plan to re-seed

Step 2: Rake the soil areas that you want to re-seed

Step 3: Spread the grass seed according to the package instructions and roll the area to ensure that the seeds have good contact with the soil

Step 4: Add a layer of topsoil to the areas. This will help protect the seeds from blowing away or being picked up by birds and insects, while they germinate. It also helps to retain moisture, which the seeds will also need to effectively take hold.

For sod, preparation is key.

First off, plant your sod right away.

Step 1: Rake and prepare the damaged areas, lowering them to about 10-15 cm, below your lawn grade so your new sod will be level with the rest of the lawn.

Step 2: Remove weeds and clumps of clay.

Step 3: Till and level your topsoil (your finished topsoil should be an inch below the sidewalk curb.

Step 4: Install the sod in a staggered brick pattern if covering a large area, or in patches for spot repairs. Make sure edges are snug but do not overlap.

The sod needs to be watered frequently throughout the first season, and it will take a few weeks for the roots to truly take; Be patient!

Insect damage

Damage from insects occurs in two ways: from the insects themselves and from the birds and small animals that prey on the insects. Very often, lawn damage that is due to insects isn’t immediately visible, such as when the lawn is growing in the summer, but come the following spring, the damage may be very easy to spot.

Watch out for evidence of small animals, like raccoon droppings or a proliferation of skunks or birds congregating in one area of your lawn: these are signs that you’ve got grubs or other insects infesting your lawn. If your infestation is heavy, It will be hard to miss the quantify of torn grass resulting from these critters’ nightly grub hunts. They do provide a form of free pest control, but it’s at the cost of your lawn!

Pesticide bans in Ontario have made it difficult to deal with this type of infestation so your best bet is a thick healthy lawn and the easiest way to achieve that, again, is to re-seed or sod the affected areas, as described above.

It’s important to really work the ground, removing all the old sod, and keep an eye on re-seeded areas to make sure that weeds don’t take root.

TIP! A well-watered, appropriately fertilized and overseeded lawn is less likely to have issues with grubs and insects (and weeds, for that matter) simply because they’re more robust and can withstand the insects better, from the root upwards.

Weeds be gone

Issues with weeds like dandelions and crabgrass are similar to those of insects: they’re more likely to invade less healthy and bare areas of your lawn where competition for water and nutrients is less, and again, pesticide bans have made them more difficult to manage.

A healthy lawn will block out weeds before they can gain a foothold, so really the true solution to weed problems is prevention.

Unfortunately, once you have weeks, there’s no magic cure. You simply need to pull them by hand or by raking them from the root, then fix the lawn with seed or sod. After that, you can keep them at bay with a thick, healthy and well maintained lawn.

TIP! Don’t over-mow your lawn! A good lawn mower will have adjustable cutting heights so be sure to set it at the highest level: you want to be taking off no more than a third of the grass blade, each time you mow. Too short and the weeds will have an opportunity to invade!

Lack of moisture

The single biggest threat to a healthy lawn is lack of moisture. Without it, the grass roots will be shallow and easily disturbed, to say nothing of their inability to get the available nutrients in the soil.

How can you tell if your lawn needs moisture—before it turns brown, that is? Step on it. Does the grass retain your footprints or does it bounce back? If the former, you need to water. If the latter? Good job watering!

If you have any questions about seed, sod or anything else green thumb related, pop by the store or leave us a comment, below…

The Muck Truck – Indispensable Power Tool

We’re Hiring for Spring/Summer 2016!

WE ARE HIRING!

Spring is here and summer is around the corner so we thought we get the word out that we are looking for people to come join the Toemar team starting this April till September in both part time and full time positions. If you are a hard worker, like working with people and responsible, we want to hear from you.

To APPLY for any of these positions available, please come visit us IN STORE (no phone calls and/or email) and bring your resume with you.

Here are the positions that we have available.

Customer Service Representative:

  • Strong math skills required.
  • Ability to make quick calculation of materials for customers and generating orders.
  • Responsible for general office/front desk tasks (filling invoices, answering phone calls etc..).
  • Ability to lift up to 50 lbs (if required).
  • Minimum 1 year of customer service experience.
  • Part Time/Full Time Positions available.
  • Seasonal work, up to 40+ hours per week during peak times.

 Yard Worker/Loader:

  • Ability to lift up to 100lbs.
  • Loading landscape materials into customer vehicles, making bagged products.
  • Some customer service experience is required (>1 year).
  • Part Time/Full Time Positions available.
  • Seasonal work, up to 40+ hours per week during peak times.

Truck Driver:

  • D Licence required.
  • Clean drivers abstract.
  • Strong navigation skills especially locally (Mississauga, Toronto, Brampton and Oakville).
  • Delivering landscape materials with either dump truck, bin truck or flat-bed.
  • Minimum 3 years driving experience.
  • Ability to lift up to 100 lbs.
  • Part Time/Full Time Positions available.
  • Seasonal work, up to 40+ hours per week during peak times.

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5 Simple Tips to Stacking Firewood

Stacking firewood is just as important in getting a great burning experience as buying aged quality firewood.  Stacking the firewood properly ensure that the firewood quality remains long after you have purchased the product.  At Toemar, we go the extra mile in stacking firewood so that the wood ages properly with the appropriate moisture level.  Here are some great tips to ensuring that your firewood is stacked appropriately:

  1. Location – stacking firewood in a moist shaded area won’t help you in minimizing the moisture in the wood.  You want to stack the wood so that the cut ends face the prevailing west winds or moving air.  You also want to make sure that the ground is even so that the structure does not collapse
  2. Off the ground – you want to lift the entire wood stack off the ground to prevent bottom rot.  You know you have bottom rot by streaks of yellow mold or white fruiting bodies of fungus on the ground course of (ruined) wood.  You can do this by using placing interlocking stones at the end of each log so that gap in between the stones allows for moving air.  You may also want to consider building a wood shed with a floor
  3. Built-in airflow – when you stack your firewood, you want to build in as much airflow as possible by using irregularities and odd-shaped logs to create cross-stack channels for drying air
  4. Bark up – place the bark facing up when you stack so that you can use the bark to keep water out and allow moisture to continue to shed from the woodpile
  5. Pile sizes and shapes – the pile size and shape doesn’t matter as much as long as the pile is stable and allows for movement of air.  You can stack them against the home, or you can stack them in square piles, or even other whimsical shapes

firewood-stack-circular-shape

If you got any ideas or tips you like to share, please share them below.  We love to hear what others are doing!