Ideas for Your Tiny Mississauga Garden

Gardens in Mississauga subdivisions aren’t necessarily tiny but for the most part, they’re not great expanses of green space either.

That said, there is so much you can do to turn even a smaller space in the front or the back of your home into an oasis.

While some people might lament the reality of a small garden, just remember that on the plus side, less garden means less maintenance, so getting the most out of the available space is easier than you might think.

Yes the backyard of a new-build (or new-ish) home often feels like a fishbowl, but no reason it can’t be a beautiful fishbowl that all the other fish will want to visit! 😉

Go Vertical

With limited growing space, creating vertical gardens for your edibles, herbs and some perennials is a great way to use available space wisely.

You can attach a structure to your garden fence, or have a freestanding structure, set in the corner of your space. You can even create a vertical greenhouse, if you have a spot that gets full sunshine, and start your seedlings early.

Another option is to add hanging planter boxes on the edge of your deck, or under a window. Imagine the scent of basil and lavender wafting in through your open window in the summer!

A trellis tied to your garden fence is perfect for climbing ivy and roses, creating visual appeal on what is otherwise a blank canvas of boring fencing.

Retaining Walls That Serve Double Duty

If you want to build retaining walls to contain your perennials and bushes but also want to have some seating, build the walls high enough so that, in a pinch with extra guests, all you need is some outdoor cushions. You’ll have extra seating in an instant, set against the backdrop of fragrant blooms. What could be more elegant?

A word of caution: Employ a landscape architect before randomly building a garden wall of any kind. Your lovely spring garden just may become your neighbours not-so-lovely spring flood.

Pot Gardens Add Pizzazz

Whether for herbs or other edibles, small foliage bushes or waving ornamental grasses, planting them into pots can really spruce up a small space without taking up too much real estate.

Pots have the added advantage that they can be moved, if you decide you want to switch things up a little!

Use big and small pots, interspersed together, to create visual appeal and different heights. A dwarf tree can thrive in a large pot and that will add some height, while smaller pots filled with plants and blooms will add texture and dimension.

Corner spaces can be awkward, but add in a large terra cotta pot or two and plant your favourite perennials, or even small topiary style trees, to fill in an otherwise difficult to use space.

Or what about placing a bird bath in a corner, filling it with soil, and adding some smaller plants and succulents? It would look elegant and be easy to manage, all season long.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Colour

While bold colours can be overwhelming in small rooms, in the garden, they add so much life to a smaller space. With an amazing range of perennial and annual blooms to choose from, at different heights and growing periods, you can make sure there is always a splash of bright and invigorating colour in your tiny oasis.

You’re not limited to plants either! Brightly coloured garden furniture or accents can make a great statement: image a large red umbrella, throwing comforting shade over your favourite chair for reading. The key is to stay within a maximum of two or three colour palettes, so that the colours don’t clash and overwhelm the eye.

Pathways Create Style

Stone or brick pathways make a lovely addition, particularly to front yards. They add definition to your entryway, creating a welcoming path to your front door. Flagstones or patio stones in the back can help you create a seating area when a deck isn’t in the offing, which is easy to maintain.

If you create a curved pathway, rather than a straight line, it gives the sense of space as walking on it feels more like if you turn the corner, there will be a lot more garden than there actually is. It’s a bit of a visual trick of the eye that will add a wonderful dimension.

Choose Easy To Store Furniture

While it’s important to be able to enjoy the space with patio furniture, too much can become overwhelming. Having some extra lawn chairs is a great idea for when you have a few guests over, but make sure they can be stacked or folded as being able to put them out of the way, in the shed for example, will free up space when it’s just you and your family.

Hide The Trash

If you aren’t storing your garbage and recycling receptacles in the garage, find a way to camouflage them, whether they’re at the side of your house, or in the back. Nothing ruins a small space more than having to look at the trash cans!

Don’t Ignore The Grass

Even if your green space isn’t particularly large, the ability to sink your toes into luscious, tender grass is a pleasure beyond compare. You can make sure that your grass doesn’t affect your flower beds by creating small walls or garden beds that will create a physical separation between the two growing areas.

If you want to vary what you have on the ground, don’t do more than three textures. Anything more, in a small space, will become visually overwhelming. For example, you can lay sod, have some flagstones for a small pathway and perhaps a gravel or patio stone area for your furniture. This combination would look elegant and be easy to maintain.

TIP: if you’re going to go with gravel, make sure you lay down landscaping fabric first, to ensure that you don’t end up with endless weeds popping up, all summer long.

A small Mississauga garden doesn’t have to be without charm and style. It just takes a little planning and effort, but you can create a wonderful elegant space to enjoy throughout the warmer days of Spring, Summer and early Fall.

How to Artfully Stack Your Firewood

Keeping a cord of firewood handy in case of a storm, or just to get your hygge on through the long winter months makes sense. In addition to getting the right wood, and setting up an appropriate space to store it in, you can take your game one step beyond and stack your wood in such a way that it becomes a part of your landscaping decor!

Here’s another thought: if you have someone on your Christmas shopping list who is IMPOSSIBLE to shop for and has a wood burning stove, consider buying them firewood and then stack it for them. Once it’s been delivered, you want to get it off the ground and stacked nicely, so that’s a gift and a half that even Santa would love.

3 Steps To Start You Out Right

Step 1: Set up the perfect dry spot to store your firewood, near enough to the house to be retrievable even in the worst storm but far enough so that any mice that decide to take up residence are not right next to your house. Ideally, that will be a spot that has a way to keep the wood off the ground, with a partial roof, large overhang and / or a tarp, to keep it dry. If you burn a lot of wood every winter, a woodshed with a raised floor is a great idea. You can always store a week’s worth at a time, closer to the house, on a porch for example.

Step 2: Get a perfectly seasoned, dry face cord of firewood delivered to your home (If you’re in the Mississauga area? We can help you with that!) Properly dried wood has been stacked for at least six months to two years. Most firewood delivered by reputable companies will arrive in 12” pieces but cut down any that you feel are too long or too wide in circumference before you stack. Always stack with the cut ends facing out (west winds) and bark facing up (which acts as additional protection against moisture), with airflow around and between the pieces.

Step 3: Bring the wood in you’re going to need for any given day, 24-48 hours before you burn it. Room temperature works best for a fine merlot and excellent firewood.

What You Need To Know About Firewood

Freshly cut wood contains 50%+ moisture, which is too green to burn effectively or safely. Burning wood that is too green contributes to creosote build up in chimneys, which can result in a chimney fire. Wood that has been stacked and seasoned for at least two years is your best bet. Avoid buying your firewood from a place that just has it in a pile, instead of properly stacked. Odds are, it will be wet. Well seasoned firewood will have darker ends, with visible cracks or splits.

How Do You Know If Your Wood Is Too Wet To Burn?

If you see steam, bubbles and / or can hear a hissing sound as the firewood heats up, it’s too wet to burn. Make sure you pull your firewood from the most seasoned part of your stack, even if it means that your artful design will be a little off kilter! Better that than wet wood in your stove.

What’s The Best Type Firewood To Have?

You want wood that burns hot and long, rather than woods that burn hot and fast. Smoldering fires aren’t safe either.

Maple, beech, cherry and oak are all varieties that give long duration burns, instead of a short burst of high heat and then embers.

On To The Artful Outdoor Stacking

A standard stack of wood is utilitarian but not necessarily very attractive. Now that you know the basic details you need about firewood, here are five examples of artfully stacked wood that would make your neighbours stop and take notice!


Gary’s Owls — Gary Tallman from Montana has taken artful stacking to a new level, sorting by colour in the spring so he can create mosaic art!


Alastair Heseltine, an artist from BC, called this one ‘Meta Tree’.


A new take on tiny houses!


By Olle Hagman of Sweden

And finally, the most impressive of all, if not a little impractical, created by Michael Buck:


Thank you to for the artful inspiration!

And Indoors?

To stack some wood inside, and let it warm up to room temperature for a day or two, you need a good, safe place to put it. While some will use a rack or a large bucket, these designs from might inspire you to be more ambitious with your indoor wood storage.

Left: Old crates in the corner add elegance to the setting.

Right: A shelving unit keeps things tidy.

However you stack it, follow our few rules and you’re investment in dry, seasoned firewood will carry you through the winter in style and comfort.

2014 Backyard Design – 5 Simple Ideas

Backyard design, specifically susatinable designs are not as difficult as you think. In fact, here are 5 simple tips and ideas that we think will help you to plan your backyard landscape with years of enjoyment to come:

#1. Sustainability going mainstream:

Sustainable landscaping encompasses a variety of practices and used in every phase of the process including design, construction, implementation and maintenance. Low-maintenance gardens, drought-tolerant plants and less grass have become the norm. This not only makes sense for the environment but also for economical reasons.


Sustainable design going mainstream

#2. Edible landscapes:

Transform your backyard into a sensory experience that combines both sight and taste. Gardens that incorporate both edibles and ornamental plants will give you a taste of all natural produce while creating an eye-pleasing landscape that will be a hit with both your neighbours and food cost savings.


Edible landscape

#3. Quality is key:

Times are still tough and spending your money wisely is key. Invest in quality and natural materials that will withstand the elements of nature and your use and enjoyment of the space. Not only do you save money in the long run, but you will save yourself a great deal of stress and aggravation from poorly constructed materials.


Quality is key

#4. Water Features:

It was popular in 2013 and continues to be trend in 2014. Whether it is for the front yard or backyard, water features add another sensory experience to relaxing in your backyard. You can get relatively inexpensive self-contained systems in an urn or portable fountain to a high-end water wall are popular across all budgets.


Water features creates a relaxing atmosphere

#5. Indoor living outside:

Extend your home from the inside to the outdoors to create permanent living spaces that will not only add value to your home but also the level of enjoyment of your home. Make sure to take advantage of and use weather resistant fabrics and natural materials such as stone that both fade-resistant and waterproof.


Indoor living outside

Image sources:
Sustainable Landscape | Edible landscape | Water Features Source: Mcmonagle Stone | Build Quality Source: Turfdesigners | Indoor Living Outside Source: Nordby Design Studio

Practical Tips to Burning Firewood

Did you know that one cord of wood burned as firewood provides the heat equivalent to that produced by burning 200 to 250 gallons of heating oil, depending on the type of hardwood you are using?

If you are burning firewood or thinking about burning firewood here are some great tips that you can apply to your own experience:

  • Freshly cut wood contains up to 50 percent moisture and must be seasoned (approximately 2 years) to 20 to 25 percent moisture content before burning. Wood containing more than 25 percent moisture is wet, or green, and should never be burned in a fireplace or wood stove.
  • Wood must be split into pieces and stacked out of the rain for at least six months to season properly. If you see a place where firewood is just thrown into pile, you are not getting what you pay for.
  • If steam bubbles and hisses out of the end grain as the firewood heats up on the fire, the wood is wet, or green, and needs to be seasoned longer before burning. Do not burn!
  • Well-seasoned firewood generally has darkened ends with visible cracks or splits. It is relatively lightweight and makes a sharp, distinctive “clink” when two pieces strike each other.
  • To maintain proper airflow, regularly remove ashes from your wood-burning appliance into a metal container with a cover and store outdoors.
  • Build hot fires. A smoldering fire is not a safe or efficient fire.
  • Start fires only with newspaper, dry kindling and all natural or organic fire starters. Never start a fire with gasoline, kerosene, or charcoal starter.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Contact us if you have any questions on how to burn your firewood efficiently and effectively. Be safe and stay warm!

Source: Farmer’s Alamanac, US EPA

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.

Burning Firewood Guide – Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

Nothing fills the house with smells and warmth like the crackling of a burning fire. Wood-burning fireplaces can creative a peaceful, inviting ambiance as well as an alternative way to heat your home.

Choosing the type of firewood to use can be a daunting task, so here is a quick guide to selecting the best firewood to use to get the best burning firewood experience. Arm yourself with some key information to help you be on your way to picking the right kind of firewood for you.

1. Always pick a seasoned firewood

Freshly chopped or unseasoned (green) wood has up to 50% water content and burning this will only result in a room full of smoke. Seasoned wood on the other hand have been cut, split and properly dried out for over a year allowing the moisture in the wood to evaporate.

2. What is the difference between hardwood and softwood?

Wood Type Type of Trees Positive Negative
Hardwood maple, oak, ash, birch, fruit trees burns hotter and longer, uses less firewood more expensive, harder to split
Softwood pine, balsam, spruce, alder, poplar easy to ignite, easy to split creosote build-up (cause chimney fires), highly flammable, burns out quickly

3. How does wood burn?

In the first stage, wood is heated to the point where moisture within the wood cells is driven off and the cells are drying out. As the wood is losing moisture, it is chemically changing into charcoal – which is famous for its volatile gases and liquids. Stopping the process at this point is where the charcoal industry packages their products.

The second stage is where actual flames burn off the volatile gases and volatile liquids to the point where charcoal has lost most of these volatile fuels. Much of the energy of wood fuel is lost during this stage.

Finally, the third stage occurs when the charcoal burns and can be seen when the embers glow. This is called “coaling”. At this point, heat is radiated from the burning bed of coals. Different species of wood burn and expend energy differently throughout these three stages.

4. What do I look for when buying firewood?

The burning properties and the heating potential of wood depend upon its species and density of that wood. Here are three heating values to consider when buying firewood – density, heat content and coaling quality.

  • Density – Denser wood contains more heat per volume
  • BTU – The higher the value, the more heat you get per unit of wood
  • Coaling – Wood that forms coals allow a fire to burn longer
Tree Species Density (lbs/cu.ft) Million BTUs/cord Coaling Characteristics
White Birch (Hardwood) 42 20.8 good Birch gives off good heat but tends to be consumed pretty quickly. The flavor is good, similar to maple which compliments pork and poultry nicely.
Beechwood (Hardwood) 32 to 56 24 to 27 excellent This has some great heat and flame but tends to give off a fair amount of sparks. Use a fireplace screen or door.
Pine (Softwood) 22 to 31 15 poor This burns well when well- seasoned but has a tendency to crackle and pop because it is resinous and a softwood. Good for kindling since it lights easily but too much can leave a strong piney smell which is nice outdoors but can be overwhelming indoors or with food. Can also leave an oily soot in your chimney and your food.
Spruce (Softwood) 25 to 44 15.5 poor Burns too quickly, produces low heat, can be smokey and with too many sparks. It is good to start fires with, but substitute with a hardwood.
Poplar (Softwood) 22 to 31 16 fair Not recommended – even when very well seasoned it burns poorly and produces an unpleasant black smoke.

Remember, part of having a memorable fireplace experience is having the right type of fire wood – choose a quality hardwood that have been proper aged

A Fun Way to Remember your Firewood

Here’s a fun rhyme to help you to remember:

These hardwoods burn well and slowly,
Ash, beech, hawthorn oak and holly.
Softwoods flare up quick and fine,
Birch, fir, hazel, larch and pine.
Elm and willow you’ll regret,
Chestnut green and sycamore wet.

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

Image Source: Flickr

Firewood For Sale: The Untold Story Behind Toemar in Mississauga

More than 30 years ago, Toemar was the one of the very first companies to have firewood for sale and delivered to the residents of Mississauga and surrounding area, now called the Greater Toronto Area. Our very first customers back in the early 1980’s used our firewood to heat their homes. In fact, some residences in Old Toronto solely relied on this form of heating and as result we felt that it was imperative to make sure that we supplied firewood that was dried and aged properly.
We remember at that time there was tremendous demand for our firewood because it had a solid reputation of providing the best burning experience. There were times when we were making deliveries until 10PM at night to make sure that we fulfilled our promise of same day delivery. Convenience and customer service has always been a core attribute since the beginning and we believe that you should treat others as you want others to treat you. Our unspoken motto at that time was we are not happy unless you are happy which still continues today.
How did we get the reputation for providing the best burning experience for firewood? Our firewood is always aged at least for two years and rotated. Just like a great wine from Niagara-on-the-Lake, we let nature takes it course by properly stacking the firewood in rows. We make sure that firewood has optimal sun exposure and maximum airflow to allow for proper and consistent aging of the firewood resulting in a moisture level around 20% or less. It is a labour intensive process just like making great wine. We take great care in making sure that you enjoy the warmth of the fire instead of airing out your home.
We invite you to come and check out our yard and see how we age the firewood for the perfect burning experience. We know that what we do works and has for the last 30 years. We continue to take pride in going thru the process and we want to make sure that the firewood that you burn today is the same for many years to come. No short cuts equals happy customers.