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What’s Hot In Backyard Design in 2018 [6 Tips to an Amazing Yard]

Aiming for a new look for your outdoor oasis? Check out what’s hot in backyard design!

You might be looking for some of the latest and greatest gardening and landscaping ideas to make your space just that little bit more special. If so, you’ve come to the right place! The following are unique design concepts that are currently topping the gardening charts…

Landscaping With Edibles

Most of the time, people plan their landscaping to include an herb and veggie garden separate from their florals and other more ornamental landscaping, but the trend now is to mix and mingle the edibles with the decorative.

It’s a perfect way to keep the edibles front and center, and in some cases, the florals can help protect them from insects. Marigolds, sunflowers and lavender are just three examples of ornamental plants that can help protect your veggie plants from pests!

For extra fun, investigate and try your green thumb at growing a new veggie this year. Cucamelon, anyone? They are a cucumber watermelon hybrid that grow more or less like cucumbers do but are smaller, with a tinge of sour. Perfect for pickling.

Planning For Climate Change

Global warming is here to stay, so gardening in sustainable ways that match the current trends in weather makes sense. In our neck of the woods, designing your landscape to handle more water from wetter winters and more heat from drier summers is the best way to go.

Drought tolerant, low maintenance plants, good water drainage and decks that are properly treated to avoid wood rot are just a few of the ways you can improve your landscape with the environment in mind. Another big trend is planning for less lawn and more garden, including raised or multi-level beds, more natural looking mixes of tall grasses and foliage and even adding wildflowers, that are hardier and more resistant to changes in the environment.

If you don’t already have a rain barrel, get one! They come with spigots, so you can fill your watering can and hydrate your favourite flowers and plants without using municipal resources. Makes sense, right?

Keeping It Real. Your Garden, That Is…

For a few years, the trend in landscaping was about bigger, better and more. The fancier your back yard was, the better. These days, the trend is towards a more natural, rather than stylized, design. Following the flow of a garden and working with its existing qualities, rather than imposing large, expensive, and unnatural additions that don’t add any calm to the space.

Invest instead in high quality craftsmanship, rather than elaborate and overdone designs. That concept has never been out of style! If you want to create a long retaining wall along one edge of your garden, you can! Just make sure you blend it into the existing landscape by using natural stones and high-grade materials for a project that is done well the first time!

Another great option is to go for an eclectic design by mixing your old landscape with something new. No need to raz down the whole backyard to change things up! Just look at what you can and want to preserve in your current design and develop a plan that works around it.

Enhance Your Calm With Water

A great way to add value and calm, without being over the top, is to consider a water feature. It doesn’t have to be huge or complicated: even a standalone fountain can make a big impact without being ostentatious.

Surrounding your water feature with compatible plants and rocks keeps it natural looking.

Add Comfort And Chairs Further From The Back Door

Gone are the days with those old plastic webbing flip out chairs that left awful marks on the back of your legs and weren’t that comfortable! Worse still, you couldn’t leave them out for even one season without finding them deteriorated and raggedy by autumn. Now you can have a sofa, loveseat, chairs and swings, all in gorgeous weather resistant fabrics that will make you want to stay outside for hours, all summer long. Add an outdoor pizza oven, along with your grill, and you barely need to venture inside after June 1st!

An interesting trend is the idea of putting a deck and the eating area further away from the house, getting away from the traditional deck that comes straight off the back. It creates an island, as it were, in your yard, which you can surround with lush plants, an arbour or container gardens. If you have a pool or other visual feature in your yard, this can be a great way to enhance it!

Making Outdoor Play Space For EVERYONE

Sure, you can have a swing set for the littles, but how about a bocce or boules court for the ‘big kids’? All the studies say that North Americans aren’t active enough, so if you have the room, setting up a space for badminton, or bocce, will get friends and family coming to your house for the weekend barbecue, more often than not! After all, it’s nice to sit on the outdoor furniture and sip a cocktail; it’s even better to beat Uncle Lenny at a rousing game of horseshoes!

Whatever trend suits you, have a lot of fun in your garden this upcoming season by planning it now! You’ll be ready to roll when the warmer weather is here to stay.

Looking For Calm? Plan A New Water Feature In Your Garden

Adding a water feature to your backyard is a wonderful way to create another layer of serenity in your quiet space. The tranquil sounds of water bubbling, the sunlight glinting off the surface… all intended to enhance your calm.

If you want to add your water feature this spring, for a summer of enjoyment, you should start planning now!

What Kind Of Water Feature Do You Want?

There are several questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How big a feature do you want? This depends on the size of your yard and your existing landscaping. You don’t want the feature to become overwhelming. Balance is everything!
  • You also need to decide why you want a water feature? If it is to enjoy the sound of running water, you’ll want to place it not too far from seating areas and you’ll want an option that runs, like a waterfall, rather than a standing pond.
  • What type of feature would suit your current landscaping?
    • Pond
    • Waterfall
    • Stream
    • Fountain
    • Some combination of the above?
  • How much budget you want to set aside for this project? With water features, ‘you get what you pay for’ is a true statement. If you skimp up front, you’ll have more maintenance issues downstream.

Features Of Different Options

Pond — A pond, whether inground or above, including fish or not, is a beautiful addition. You can add a waterfall, to get more of the sound of water effect. Either way, a pond is lovely but it is also space consuming so you need to have a big enough yard to accommodate a pond without risking that someone is going to fall into it because it’s taking up too much space! Consider also, if you have a sloping area in your garden, how a waterfall would look, with a pond at the base, making positive use of the natural grade of the ground.

Ponds are build with a pump to ensure that oxygen levels are adequate for maintaining fish and plants. Your setup will also include a filtration system, which removes debris and other matter that might throw the pond out of balance. While a pond isn’t expensive to maintain, the initial cost might be a consideration, particularly if you want to add a waterfall to your feature.

Placement of an inground pond is particularly important if you want to avoid flooding your garden! A low spot that will already be taking the bulk of the spring run off might overwhelm the pond, in terms of water and chemical balance. Another consideration is what trees you have around the pond. Overhanging deciduous trees can look romantic until you end up spending a lot of time cleaning the leaves out of the pond.

Pondless Waterfall — As stated above, you can include a waterfall with your pond, but if you have small pets or children and are concerned about their safety, a pondless waterfall is a great option! The waterfall is designed to flow into a rock and gravel basin, which by way of a pump, is cycled back up and down the waterfall without pooling.

Utilizing natural elements, like boulders and rocks, to create your waterfall allows you to place it in your garden, almost as if just appeared there one day! A waterfall can also spruce up a space that is otherwise less visually appealing, like a standard retaining wall. Double it up with a waterfall and now you have a focal point to enjoy!

Stream — If you really want to create an interesting focal point and have the space for it, you could use a stream as a way to connect two separate features. For example, you could have a waterfall that is connected by a tiny stream to a pond. With the addition of foliage and rocks, the whole water feature can look very natural!

Fountain — If space is an issue, a fountain might be the perfect solution. An above ground fountain creates a gorgeous focal point in a garden. You can do anything from a traditional stone fountain or bird bath in the middle of your yard to a modern spherical waterfall fountain feature on your deck.

Just be sure to match it to the style of your home and garden. A focal point that doesn’t blend well with the surroundings isn’t a plus. If you use smaller, self-contained fountains, you can place several of them in your garden, surrounded by flowers and foliage, so that they almost seem part of the landscape.

Water gardens — A water garden is a space where you cultivate water plants. This could be a watertight container or a group of them on your deck, or set amongst other foliage in the garden. Lotus is a great example of a beautiful flower that blooms in water. Water lettuce and canna plants are other options.

Make A Water Feature Part Of Your Larger Landscaping Project

If you were planning to revamp your landscaping this spring, including a water feature in the plan from the beginning will be a lot easier—and less expensive—than adding it in later. Having to grub up some of your newly planted flower beds to make room for the pond isn’t ideal!

Whether you’re planning to DIY your project, or hire a professional to get it done, visit your local garden center for advice and information to make sure that your water feature project is a success you can enjoy for years to come!

5 Gorgeous Landscaping Tips & Images To Inspire You

With frigid weather and blowing snow, thoughts turn to green gardens filled with beautiful flowers, greenery and patios with cool drinks. What are your spring plans? January is the best time to start, because spring will be here before you know it, and the best landscapers & hardscapers in Mississauga book early.

At Toemar, we make planning easy with these five basic steps:

  1. Do your research including both style and functional design. For example, it’s just as important to make sure your pathway placement is right for the look as for usage and avoiding water accumulation
  2. Set a budget. This is the bottom line: what you can afford to spend on your project will dictate the extent of your plans. This might seem like an obvious statement but it’s always interesting how every spring, people have BIG projects and haven’t given a thought to how it will be paid for. If you need to meet with the bank, now is the time…
  3. Draw out your plan. Sketch out what plants, walls, or other ornaments you will want to add. Don’t forget to include measurements, including grade and slope, where it impacts the project. It doesn’t need to be exact, that’s your landscaper’s job, but it will make it much easier for your team to quote and to make sure everyone is on the same page
  4. Pop by Toemar, and talk to us. Together we can see if your plans match your budget!
  5. If you are going it alone, order everything you’ll need in advance, so that when spring arrives, you’re ready to go. If you’re worried about storing the supplies, talk to us. We’re experts in that area

Toemar has a useful planning tool that you can use to create the landscaping project you’ve always wanted.

It includes lists of items you’ll need and how to measure to ensure that you’re getting an accurate plan of what you want to accomplish. Our planning tool is help you turn a dreary January afternoon into a beautiful space you can enjoy with family and friends come May!

If you need some inspiration, here are a few beautiful examples of completed landscaping projects that you can accomplish in the spring and enjoy all season long.

Pool Area Landscaping

The right landscaping can turn a pool area into an oasis in the city. The trees create shade (in Mississauga, imagine lovely pines or junipers instead of palm trees) and that sense that you’re in another world. Strategically placed seating areas create a welcoming ambiance for neighbours to catch up and enjoy a little downtime.

pool-landscaping

Source: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/450430400212043953/

A Romantic Landscape

Imagine your backyard looking like a quiet English country cottage. Whimsical and romantic, this design below, is quite easy. Toemar is carries a wide variety of pebbles and pavers, plus all the materials to stabilize this kind of design, like limestone and landscaping material. Add climbing vines, plants and trellises for a final touch.

romantic-landscaping

Source: http://www.countryliving.com/gardening/garden-tours/g1432/landscaping-ideas/?slide=6

Walls, Steps And Spacing In Your Landscaping

Adding rocks and boulders to create walls can take a large yard and add some smaller, more intimate spaces to enjoy and decorate with perennials, annuals and greenery of all types. Each season, we receive a large shipment of rocks from local quarries and yes, we DO deliver!

walls-landscaping

Source: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/450430400213276450/

Looking to save on groceries this year? Or perhaps reduce chemicals in your diet. Why not  create a gorgeous kitchen garden with raised beds? A well-planned old-fashioned garden will provide visual interest and edibles all season, and is a source of wonderment for children. Preparing the right kind of soil is key, especially if this is the first time you’ve turned the earth over. Adding a garden path makes watering and weeding easier. Just remember to fence it off, or create a smaller second garden for the rabbits!

spacing-landscaping

Source: http://www.countryliving.com/gardening/garden-tours/g1432/landscaping-ideas/?slide=7

Adding stone steps leading up to the front of your home can completely enhance the front view and landscape. Surrounding those steps with

elevated plantings is welcoming and visually interesting. This image below uses a combination of hidden garden walls, pavers and natural boulders (all available at Toemar.) This is one of the fastest ways to amp up your home’s curb appeal and therefore its resale value…

curb-appeal-landscaping

Source: http://www.countryliving.com/gardening/garden-tours/g1432/landscaping-ideas/?slide=13

Patios For An Outdoor Living Landscape That Wows

Living in Mississauga means living through winter weather for a good third of the year, but the way see it, it’s all the more reason to capitalize on the outdoor living options of your home, for as long as you can!

Creating a patio that is both private and inviting is not difficult, but it does require some planning so why be satisfied with the four months Mother Natures gives us?

Expand the seasons by adding both light and heat sources in early spring and late autumn. Faux faur throws over your patio furniture will create immediate warmth and ambience and an outdoor fireplace or chimenea is a lovely focal point.

patio-landscaping

Source: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/450430400211905917/

For Landscaping That Is A Little Out Of The Ordinary

Imagine creating a space in your backyard that looks like the entrance to a secret garden. It’s every childhood fantasy come to life! In other words, the landscape you choose doesn’t have to be fussy or precise. Instead, it can be a little wild, creating a little scope for the imagination! Where does that path lead?

garden-landscaping

Source: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/450430400211946078/

However you plan your landscaping, whether front or back yard, poolside or just a place to put up your feet at the end of the day, all it takes is a little time and effort. The results will be well worth it!

10 Wonderful Ways To Create Some Backyard Privacy & Enhance the Space

Living in modern Mississauga subdivision can feel a bit like living in a fishbowl. This is doubly true if you’re in a new home with neighbours sharing a yard on every side. And while it’s nice to wave to John while you’re outside at the BBQ, sometimes it’d also be nice for John not to know the details of your dinner every night!

Urban sprawl continues unabated, and many of us live in very close quarters with our neighbours. What’s that old quote? “Good fences make good neighbours”? So said Robert Frost in his poem Mending Wall. Well, it’s true.

Creating spaces in your backyard to maintain a level of privacy is a great way to enhance the space and make it feel more friendly and inviting.  Here are 10 ways to create some backyard privacy:

1. The Obvious Choice: A Fence

A standard wood fence is a good option, particularly if the point of the fence isn’t just privacy. If you need to keep your pets and kids safe from traffic, a solid wood fence is just the ticket.

A fence need not be aesthetically unpleasing either! If your neighbours will agree, you can you can trim it with lattice across the top, or at end points, where you can add some creeping vine or other greenery that will travel along and fill in the gaps a little.

If you’re not using fencing to keep people in the yard, you don’t have to cover the full length and breadth of your yard. Instead, use panels of fencing judiciously and in places where it will provide the maximum privacy. Surround it by bushes and grasses to break it up and make it look more natural.

This is a great option if you’ve sitting on a larger track of land (lucky you!)

2. A Natural Fence Made Of Hedges

Privet and other evergreens like cedar are a great option to have year round coverage in your backyard. Running them along property lines makes a clear divider without being harsh on the eye, from a landscaping point of view.

The advantage to well planted privet is that it provides excellent coverage with a minimum of fuss and bother. You have to watch that you don’t end up with too much weed and other plants popping up under or through the hedges, but on the whole, they are hardy and useful. The downside is that unless you plant it full grown, it will take a few years before your new hedge is doing its job.

3. Trellises And Pergolas

Placing a pergola over your patio area, or a trellis in the right spot, doesn’t destroy the sightlines of your garden but can shield you from the prying eyes of the two-story house right next door. You can enjoy the breeze and sunlight while still maintaining privacy.

Adding climbing flowers or vines give a more natural feel, blending the addition into the garden more subtly.

You can also do like the Europeans and grow grape vines over the pergola. When the grapes begin to grow they hang down and the look is enchanting. Ditto for wisteria, although grapes last longer. Just be aware that, if you plant purple grapes, they will stain the deck below.

4. Put Up A Gazebo

A gazebo has a lot of advantages. It provides shade and some privacy and if you get one that actually has window netting and a door, it will be a perfect reprieve from mosquitoes in the summer!

Eating outside isn’t always pleasant, thanks to bees, mosquitoes and other flying creatures, but a gazebo can create a space that will allow you to enjoy your picnics in peace.

Why not trim one side of the gazebo with lattice to provide more privacy? Or line the entire gazebo with bug mesh, so that when Rolf comes to visit your eldest daughter in a rainstorm, they can dance and sing around the gazebo without bug bites.

5. Vertical Gardening

This is a popular idea, particularly in smaller gardens where raised vegetable beds and other planting areas are more difficult to add, and it’s a useful solution for those who love to garden, but find themselves with an urban backyard the size of a postage stamp.

Build hanging planters on a wall of rods, which you then fill with vegetables, herbs and flowers. You’ve got an instant privacy wall and more space in the garden for a patio. Win-win!

6. Multi Level Gardens

By using raised beds at different levels, you can plant taller bushes, grasses and trees at the highest levels and use retaining walls to make a natural divider. By placing these strategically behind a terrace or seating area, your privacy is ensured.

Just make sure that you consult an experience hard-scaper before doing this yourself, so that you don’t upset the elevation and disrupt run-off patterns.

7. Outdoor Curtains

Who doesn’t love this trend? Each year we see more and more front-yard patios curtained off on the sides, and it’s beautiful.

We suggest that you take the trend into the backyard too.

Whether you have a pergola or a back deck, outdoor curtains are a great way to keep the breezes flowing and prying eyes out.

Even better if they’re hung on moveable frames, so you can place them where you want them and perhaps out of the path of a strong wind. White curtains always look best and provided they are machine washable, should look great throughout the warm season.

8. Potted Gardens Around The Patio

Particularly for a large yard, it’s sometimes easier to create a space within the space and protect one small part of the garden. Place potted plants, bushes and trees around a small raised patio or terrace in one corner of the yard, so as to maximize privacy when you want to sit and read or chat with friends, without having to figure out a way to create privacy over a vast expanse.

Another great option is to add trellis panels to planters and position them strategically to ensure maximum coverage

9. Privacy Screens For Smaller Spaces

If your “garden” is more like a tiny space out the back of your house or even a balcony, you can still add planters with lattice and climbing vines to create division.

Another great option is a privacy screen. You can buy these or make one from reclaimed shutters, and it has the advantage of being moveable. When the sun turns or your neighbours come out on to their open patio, you can set it up in such a way as to give a little privacy without putting in a permanent structure.

10. Shade Trees For Larger Spaces

In larger gardens, creating privacy and shade can be accomplished by strategically planting deciduous trees. You get a natural screen protection with the leaves and branches from other multi-level homes near you. And in the winter when the leaves have all fallen, you can have streaming sunshine for your home. Planting deciduous trees is a longer term project, but well worth it in the end.

However you enjoy your garden and green spaces, a little bit of privacy can go a long way to making these places another part of our home. Places where you can entertain or just relax after a long day. Plan your garden privacy this winter so that come the spring, you’re ready to go!

5 Wonderful Ways To Beautify To Your Winter Garden

Think back to previous winters, when you looked out a window of your home, come December or January. What did you see in your winter garden?

Perhaps blankets of snow, or piles of dead leaves depending on the weather. But was there any visual appeal to your garden through the winter months?

If your answer is no, it’s time to start thinking about sprucing up your outdoor space so that it is a pleasure to behold, twelve months of the year.

Start With A Little Planning

Before winter sets in, visualize your garden as it will appear in January and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it include a variety of pathways, levels, walls?
  • Are there any eye-catching attractions non-vegetal focal points, like rocks and boulders?
  • Do you have easy to clear pathways for your pets and other people to navigate?
  • Do you have foliage that is still attractive in the winter?
  • Do you have firewood that you store year-round?

Variety For Your Garden

Being able to access the garden, even through the winter, makes the long season bearable.

Having pathways that are stable, well-built and either covered with interlocking paving stone or other stone work, can help make your garden accessible year round. After all, you need to be able to easily remove the snow from the path, to continue to enjoy it.

Adding in different levels to your garden, including a well-placed garden wall or two, provides interesting visual relief. Instead of looking out on a flat, often white space in the winter, you’ll have bushes and plants on different levels to attract the eye.

Garden walls are particularly attractive for visual interest, but you do need to make sure you build them correctly so that they don’t fall or crack under the pressure of ice and snow.

Pathways and walls need to be correctly placed and built to ensure that there is proper drainage in your garden, avoiding patches of ice forming where water can’t clear out.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, consider getting some professional help from a hardscaper.

Non-Vegetal Focal Points

Whether you like concrete statues or displays, or a more natural composition of boulders and rocks, creating non-vegetal focal points keeps your garden more interesting regardless of the weather outside.

Every rock or boulder is unique, and whether your go for one giant monolith or a grouping of smaller pieces, consider the vegetation that will grow around it to keep that natural look.

When adding rocks or boulders, you need to consider the following:

  • The size – bigger isn’t always better, depending on the look you’re trying to achieve in your garden. Good proportions are more important.
  • Placement – where you put these features in your garden is very important but they are also hard to move, so try to do some visualizing before your pieces arrive.
  • Shape and colour – if you already have rock features in your garden, any additions should blend in with them.

Prep Your Pathways

We’ve already noted that you should have pathways into your garden that are easy to clear but it’s equally important to make sure that they are in good repair.

The freeze and thaw cycles of winter can cause a lot of damage, particularly if you’ve got drainage issues, so before the winter sets in for the season, make sure your pathways are all in good repair and effectively draining.

Winter Foliage

Deciduous trees are lovely in any garden but once those leaves are gone, you’re left with little visual appeal until spring returns.

Mix in a few evergreen trees or shrubs and some ornamental cedars to keep the appeal. Just don’t overdo the evergreens as they will attract mosquitoes in the summer!

Holly and juniper bushes are also excellent options, mixed into your beds or surrounding the natural rocks.

The pops of colour from the berries are gorgeous, particularly set against the dark green of the leaves and your evergreens, as well as the snow!

Dogwood shrubs are also lovely, thanks to their signature red / burgundy bark.

Ornamental grasses are the perennial that stay the course through winter and snow, popping out to create a visual break in the landscape.

They come in many colours, which makes them a standout choice.

And if you’re thinking of adding any trees to your garden, one that looks particularly good throughout the winter, thanks to its bark, is a birch tree.

Decorate With Your Firewood

If you have the good fortune to have a wood burning stove, you can be creative with your stack by putting in a covered rack, somewhere in visual range, and stacking your wood there.

It will still be protected from the elements but will add a rustic appeal to your garden. Something straight out of Norman Rockwell painting!

However you choose to add a little something to your winter garden, the key is to create a space that you can enjoy, even from behind your living room window, as you grip a mug of hot cocoa.

Different Types Of Christmas Trees: Useful Pros, Cons, & Tips

‘Tis the season for planning Christmas and how you’ll decorate this year!

The first and most important decision you’ll make, when it comes to getting ready for the holidays, isn’t the turkey. It isn’t the presents. It’s the Christmas tree. What kind of tree should you get? How long will it last? How do you take care of it? All valid and important questions that we’ll address right here!

Fake Or Real?

The first question many people ask themselves is whether they want to bother with a real tree or if they will just get a fake one to use, year over year. Call us biased but there are a lot of reasons that a real tree beats fake every time, not the least of which is the gorgeous smell of evergreen in your home. Nothing beats it at Christmas time!

  1. Real trees—spruce, fir or pine—are sourced locally, within 5 – 25 kilometres of your home. They keep small family farms in business, which also contribute to your local economy and employ local people. Fake trees—made from PVC: polyvinyl chloride—come from overseas locations 85% of the time, to the tune of 2000+ kilometres, creating business for overseas firms, with no local employment.
  2. Real trees need sunlight and water to grow. Fake ones from countries like China need coal to be created (powering their electricity).
  3. Real trees might need some pesticides—about ¼ ounce over the lifetime of the tree. Fake trees are full of PVC related toxins, including phthalates and dioxins.
  4. Fake trees are not recyclable or biodegradable. Real trees serve the environment before and after they are cut, as well as being easily managed in terms of agricultural standards.

So, now that we’ve convinced you that real is a good option, the question is: which variety?

Spruce Trees—Pros And Cons

White Spruce

Pros are a good, uniform shape, dense branches and a gorgeous dark green colour. If you like a symmetrical, full and well balanced tree that looks good from any angle, this is a good option.

Cons are that the needles tend to be very prickly, which can be an issue if you have little ones helping with the decorating!

Fir Trees—Pros And Cons

Balsam Fir

Pros include dark green needles with an amazing fragrance, a tall, slender look with excellent needle retention. This variety is ideal if you need a tree for a smaller space and want a classic Christmas fragrance to permeate your home. Also, the needles aren’t very sharp, so decorating is easier, particularly for kids.

Cons include a shorter lifespan than some other varieties, with an outside limit of six weeks indoors.

Fraser Fir

Pros include a long life, up to eight weeks, and a beautiful scent. The needles are silvery and not as dense as some others, which makes a gorgeous backdrop for your decorations.

Cons include the lack of needle and branch density, which doesn’t give that full appearance you get with some of the other varieties, but that’s really up to personal taste. The branches are also flexible so are not ideal for heavy ornaments.

Pine Trees—Pros And Cons

Scotch Pine

Pros include vivid colours, ranging from bright green to a blue green, superior needle retention even as it dries, strong branches, and it keeps well during shipping and storage. If you use heavy decorations and HATE vacuuming needles, this is the tree for you.

Cons? There aren’t many. This is one of the most popular trees in North America for a reason! One remark people tend to make is that the needles are longer than with spruce or fir, so that can make decorations more difficult to see and arrange.

Five Tips To Keeping Your Tree Healthy

Now that you’ve chosen your tree, you’ll want to know how to keep it happy and thriving right through until New Year’s Day. These tips should help you along the way:

  1. Pick a healthy tree to begin with. At the tree lot, do a pinch test: Pick a branch of your chosen tree and place your thumb and fingers around it, about six inches in. Pull gently along the branch, towards you. If the tree is healthy and fresh, no more than 10 needs should come off in your hand.
  2. Make a cut. Give your tree a fresh cut, about an 1” above the base, to ensure that it can absorb water easily.
  3. Keep it cool. If you need to store your tree for a day or two before putting it up in the stand, make sure you choose a cool, dark place. An unheated garage is perfect. Leave it standing in a bucket of water so that it stays hydrated and cut it again before putting it in the tree stand indoors.
  4. Give it water. Make sure your tree stand can take a lot of water because your tree will need it. 4 litres is ideal. Set yourself a reminder to check the water levels and add to them regularly. Skip the chemical additives: they will only prevent your tree from getting the hydration it needs.
  5. Pick a good location. Placing the tree near heat sources, fireplaces, appliances like televisions or direct sunlight are not ideal. It will dry out more quickly.

Finally, when the holidays are over, you can dispose of your tree with curbside pickup in January, but if you miss it, just put it aside and cut it up in the spring to put out with yard waste.

Every November, Toemar receives a shipment of the healthiest and most beautiful Christmas trees in the GTA! Keep your eyes peeled; we always announce when trees are in store! We’ll help you choose the best tree for your home…

How to Install Interlocking Patio Pavers Tips – Part 2

If you missed part 1, of how to install interlocking patio pavers tips, you can click here.

Now that you’ve done your research, visualized your project, received free advice, determined your timeline and budget and possibly hired local help, its time to dig in and watch your dream landscape come to life.

Here are some additional tips that we think will help you to keep your project moving forward:

1. Keep your sketch or drawing close by

You’ve spent all that effort to visualizing your dream landscape, make sure you have it handy so that everything goes to plan. Better yet, make photocopies or scan your plan just in case it gets lost, waterlogged, ripped, eaten by the dog, or even buried (yeah, it has happened before!).

2. Getting the proper tools

You want to keep your significant other happy, get the rights tools so you can get the job done faster and better. Forget the snow shovel and go out and buy the right tool(s) or just rent them.

3. Stake it right

Make sure that when you stake out the dimensions of the project, it is important to keep your measurements consistent to your drawings to avoid shortage or overage of materials.

4. Keeping the edge straight

During installation you will need to use string between the stakes as a guide to help keep your interlocking pavers straight. If you want your pavers to stay straight for many years to come, think of installing landscape edging.

5. Tamping the sand

After you have applied the polymeric sand with a broom, use a tamper with a rubber pad to ensure that the sand fills in all the cracks properly. Once the polymeric sand activates, you are going to get a strong cohesive surface that will resist weeds and keep your landscape looking pristine.

6. More free landscaping advice

Just because you’ve started work, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still ask for advice. This is especially true if you encountered something unexpected like a large tree root. It won’t cost you anything and it may save you heartache and frustration down the road.

7. Don’t stop unnecessarily

Place your sand, gravel and stone in piles along the project perimeter so you don’t need to stop when you run out. This will help you keep focus on getting the project done. Don’t forget to cover the piles overnight to protect the sand from the rain.

8. Using a stone cutter

If you want smooth cut curve for your interlocking stone, rent a stone cutter or take it to your local garden centre to get cut it for you.

9. Keeping the help happy

If you’ve decided that you want to hire labour, save time and money by providing food and snacks so your help can stay onsite and help you finish your project faster.

How to Install Interlocking Patio Pavers Tips – Part 1

Interlocking pavers is probably one of the most cost effective and aesthetically pleasing products on the marketplace to add value to your property. The myriad of colors, shapes, sizes from a multitude of manufacturers will allow you to create the spectacular patio, walkway, terrace, or driveway that you dreamed of while adding value to your home.

As with any DIY project, installing interlocking pavers requires a bit of patience, time and elbow grease to come up with the finished look that you want. Here are some guidelines on how to prepare for the installation of interlocking pavers.

1. Research Interlocking Pavers and Materials

This is probably one of the most important parts of installing interlocking pavers. Good solid research will make your project a relatively smooth one. Here are some key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What do you want to do or accomplish or build and where do you want to build it? (e.g. pathway, terrace, patio, driveway, etc.)
  • Ask for product catalogs and pricing sheets
  • Visit the interlocking paver manufacturer’s website or visit our showroom or check out their picture gallery for ideas on things can be done.
  • Ask questions to help understand the myriad of options and choices available such as mixing and matching stones from different manufacturers to create that unique look.

2. Draw and Sketch Your Landscape Vision

You don’t have to be a graphic artist to help you visualize your dream landscape. Roughly drawing your landscape layout will help you gather your thoughts and guide you through to the end of your project. By having your vision articulated on paper, you can always easily fine-tune your project with an eraser and pencil. You can start now by downloading this graph paper and sketch away.

3. Taking Measurements

Measure the perimeter (sides) of the project. There are two approaches to measuring out the project.

  • First method – use your garden hose to mark the area where the interlocking stone will be laid down. It is not the most accurate, but it does give you a good idea of how much square footage is being used.
  • Second method – use wooden stakes and string and precisely mark out the area and then measure with a measuring tape.

With the second method, you eliminate the need to stake out the area again when you start digging, thus saving you some time and effort later on.

4. Smart Budgeting

Understanding how much want to spend and sticking with it will give you great satisfaction when you finish. There are typically 3 types of expenses you need budget or account for:

  • Variable Expenses – These expenses are typically related specifically with the quantity, type, size, and color of the interlocking paver.
  • Fixed Expenses – The expenses are the sand and gravel that you require to build a solid foundation. Regardless of what type of interlocking stone you decide to go with, you will typically have the same amount of sand and gravel.
  • Miscellaneous Expenses – These expenses are extraneous items that will help you complete the project such as renting equipment, bins for waste disposal, and accessories.

5. Free Landscaping Advice

It doesn’t hurt that once you’ve got your plans put together to get some free expert advice. Call us and we will help you fine tune your landscape project and provide a quotation on all the required materials.

6. Timing it Right

Once you have finalize your plans, make sure you block out enough time in your schedule (eg. 1 day for 4 weekends, 2 days for 2 weekends) to complete the job in a timely manner. Don’t schedule a project a few weeks before an event because time pressure may cause you to make costly mistakes. Always give yourself extra time to compensate for any unforeseen delays such as rainy days. Lastly, the key to timing is to estimate the pace that you want to work at.

7. Pre-ordering for Less Headaches

Placing your pre-order for materials is also important to making sure that you are off to a smooth start. Landscape materials such as interlocking stone typically require a 24 hour notice for delivery while bulk materials have a turnaround of 4-6 hours. Other items such as bin rentals or tool rentals require 4-6 hours’ notice to ensure that the items are available.

8. Hiring your Friends/Family

Getting your friends and/or family to help you with a part of the job or the entire job will allow you to complete the job faster and make it far more enjoyable.

9. Hiring Local Labour

If none of your friends and/or family can help you out, you can always find local help through your local classified ads (Kijiji or Craigslist). For example, you may need someone to help you dig out the dirt and remove it or move the sand and gravel for you from the driveway to the project area. Make sure that you do your due diligence on the individual(s) and provide right tools to get the job done correctly.

10. Giving Yourself a Break

If you are doing this yourself, remember to give yourself a break every few hours or so that you can last through the day and for the entire project. Have plenty of fluids like water and snacks close by so you grab them when you need them.

To start reading about Part 2 of installing interlocking pavers, go here