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Grass Is Still King:  Bring It Back To Life!

If Spring 2020 taught us anything, it’s that people are serious about their grass, and the more they’re home, the more serious they become!

In a world of front yard gardens, rock gardens, natural cottage gardens and innovative landscaping ideas, the reality is that, in Mississauga, grass is still king.

If you’re like many people, however, your lawn is a cross between overgrown in some patches and down to the dirt in others, with a hodgepodge of yellow spots, courtesy of Fido or your furry raccoon neighbours.

Low Spots And Drainage

One thing you might have noticed when the spring rain started pouring is that you have some low spots or depressions in your lawn that are accumulating water. Depending on your soil content, a heavy downpour can struggle to drain properly.

This is a great time, while you’re repairing your lawn, to deal with those depression by levelling them out.

Toemar’s advice? Fill those depressions with Garden Bag’s topsoil. Remember that topsoil has clay in it, so absorption is less, keeping your ground nice and stable, and, if you grade your lawn appropriately, keeping water away from the foundation of your house.

Most importantly, don’t use sand for this purpose. Sand doesn’t hold its shape when water pressure from rainfall is applied. If you use other soil, like veggie soil, for example, your depressions will be back after a few rainfalls!

Repairing grass on your newly leveled lawn

There are two ways to repair grass on a level lawn:

  1. After you’ve filled your low spots / depressions, put an inch to an inch and half of overseeding soil mixed with grass seed, on top of the topsoil. You’ll need 2-4 kg of grass seed per 1 cubic yard of soil. Don’t use more soil than 1.5 inches; you’ll find there’s too much drainage, and your seeds might dry out.Speaking of drying out, now it’s time to water it.

    Will you get a velvety lawn this season? Probably not: it takes time.

    If you have dogs and kids, you may want to fence off the area you are working on to allow the grass to take root properly. Paws and feet wreak havoc on freshly seeded areas! You might have to repeat the overseeding process next year to get the thick velvety grass you want.

  1. If you don’t have time for seeding and want to have a gorgeous lawn this year, or kids and dogs are a factor, consider using topsoil and sod instead.Each sod roll at Toemar is 2ft x 4.5ft of sod (9 feet), which gives remarkably good coverage and immediate results if it’s well watered and protected so that the rooting can occur. With a few rolls of sod and a little TLC, you can have a nice lawn within a few weeks!

A caution about lawn watering…

Remember that you need to water new seed / sod, but overwatering can also be damaging. How much is too much? It can be less about volume than frequency.

With new grass seed / sod, your gut might tell you to water less in volume but to do it more frequently.

In fact, that can create lawn dependency, where your lawn is growing in such a way that it expects frequent watering and if it doesn’t get it? You’ll end up with a shallow root structure.

Your best bet is to water less frequently but give your new growth areas a good soaking. This way the root structures develop deeply and are stronger. After all, who needs a needy lawn?

Pesky Pests

Insects, raccoons, and squirrels are just a few among the pesky pests that can get between you and a healthy lawn. One thing is for sure: if you’re seeing a lot of skunk or racoon droppings, it’s a pretty good sign that you’ve got grubs and other ‘delicious’ insects below ground.

Whether your lawn is being damaged by the insects themselves, or by pests that are feasting on them, if you live in racoon country, it might be easier to landscape your yard and skip the golf course lawn.

Toemar’s advice?

It might be time to surrender to the forces of nature. But take heart, there are so any alternatives to a traditional lawn.

Why not create flower beds, veggie beds, or rock gardens add interest to the landscape in those troublesome areas?

These are more sustainable for the environment, to say nothing of the increase to the value of your home. And if you plant perennials, your efforts to maintain your garden in future seasons are less. Result? More time enjoying your garden and less time planting, mowing and pulling weeds!

A few other tips:

  • Grow native species that are appealing to bees and butterflies.
  • Work with a landscaper to create a beautiful rock garden. The professional help ensures that you will have the right drainage to avoid damage to yours or your neighbours backyards.
  • Include ponds or water features for truly zen environment
  • If allowed, artificial turf is a possibility but only in VERY small areas. Covering your entire front lawn with turf impacts rain water runoff patterns, and in many areas is simply not allowed, and we think that’s a good thing. Furthermore, it’s pricey and there are lots of other gorgeous options open to you instead, to ‘soft landscape’ your space!

In Mississauga, like in other recently developed locales, a lot of homes have small yards, so remember that a lawn doesn’t have to be the be all and end all. Think instead about an oasis of a patio, where you can escape after a long day and enjoy the warmth of the summer sun.

If you’re unsure about what to do, come by Toemar and talk to our knowledgeable staff. We can point you in the right direction and even provide referrals to talented local gardeners, landscapers, hardscapers, and arborists. See you soon!

What Soil Is Best For Your Gardening Needs?

Since we’re all hanging out at home, now is the perfect time to get your garden and lawn in order for the upcoming summer season.

After removing all of the detritus of winter, including dead leaves, branches and so on, your garden beds and lawns are ready and waiting for a little TLC to help them reach their best potential.

If you’re not sure how best to nurture the soil for your garden beds, veggie boxes and patchy lawns, read on!

Best Soil For Flower And Garden Beds

Hands down, your best bet is veggie soil, sourced from the best place in Ontario to get nutrient dense soil: Holland Marsh.

If you don’t know it already, the Holland Marsh, an area of land just north of Toronto, is sometimes referred to as Ontario’s Vegetable Patch. Why? It is 7,000 acres of low-lying land that contains some of the richest farmland in the province, with another 2,500 surrounding acres.

Because of the canal drainage system and exposed organic soil, the Holland Marsh produces nearly 60% of Ontario’s carrots and 55% of its onions, along with a number of traditional crops.

Made up of a quadruple mix including peat loam, sandy loam, cattle manure and compost, veggie soil is best if you are doing new flower and garden beds.

It’s also perfect to rejuvenate old soil with nutrients. Mississauga soil is heavy with clay, particularly at new construction homes. It probably also contains a lot of fill, which isn’t nutrient rich. Basically, if you haven’t added any soil to your gardens, what you will have there already isn’t great, so you want to use veggie soil to get a maximum yield from your flower and garden beds.

60% of Mississauga homes have three types of soil and there are ways you can assess what you have particularly well, after rainfall when you have 50-100% moisture levels:

  • Heavy clay soil – The clay soil is wet, dark and feels slick when rubbed between thumb and forefinger. You could even draw with it! Even at less than 50% moisture, you will be able to form a ball with clay soil.
  • Coarse clay soil – This soil is more of a sandy loam or silt loam. At 50% moisture, you can probably form a ball but it will crumble. At 75% to 100% moisture levels, it will be similar to a heavy clay soil.
  • Coarse sandy soil – A ball will not form at less than 50% moisture. At 75% to 100% moisture, a weak ball can be formed but it will fall apart easily.

No matter the existing soil in your garden, you will need to add high quality, nutrient soil to get the flowers, herbs and vegetables that you want.

Veggie soil has high acidity and contains the nutrients your gardens will be needing. If you’re growing berries, you need specific soil, and you will want to be well informed about your soil’s pH levels. Some berries, like blueberries, require more acid. They are tougher to get a yield on, so if berries are part of your gardening game plan, use a pH tester to verify your soil. You may need to introduce more acidity / alkaline, but we’re not berry experts! We are, however, experts at eating berries!

Having the right soil can affect the quality of your growths. Ideally, you’re looking for a pH level between 6 and 7. If the soil is too acidic, you can add some lime to even it out. If you have sandy soil where there is not enough organic matter OR if you have clay soil which is too heavy and compact, you need to add compost to help improve soil structure and composition while providing the nutrients required by the plants. This is where veggie soil can definitely save the day!

Veggie Soil On Lawns

We’ve been asked this question before: “Can you use veggie soil on your lawn?” The short answer is: It depends.

If the issue is that your lawn isn’t getting enough nutrients, then it might work. But there is a very important caveat: Because cattle manure, and consequently veggie soil, is high in nitrogen, this soil will generate more weeds.

Grass seed doesn’t need a lot of nitrogen to grow; it grows simply, so overseeding soil might be a better option, giving grass seed what it needs to grow but not forcing you to break your back weeding your entire lawn.

Lawn Care With Overseeding Soil

If you are overseeding your lawn, remember that there is no grass seed in the soil so you have to order grass seed separately.

While you likely wouldn’t want to use veggie soil on your lawn, to avoid a weed infestation, you also wouldn’t use overseed soil in your veggie garden. There’s nothing wrong with overseeding soil, but it doesn’t have the nitrogen levels you’d want for veggies and blooms.

If you really only want to get one type of soil for your lawn and your garden, we’d recommend that you use veggie soil. It will be more work, but overseeding soil simply won’t be enough for a veggie garden.

What About Topsoil

Topsoil is used for filler. So if you built a beautiful garden wall, you would use topsoil to fill in the space, for volume. Topsoil is also good for building up around existing trees, but if you’re planting new trees, use veggie soil.

Whatever projects you want to start in your garden this spring, starting from a solid base of good quality soil is the way to ensure your veggie, flower and lawn success for the coming summer season.

A Surefire Way To Growing Vegetables In Your Garden

The secret to growing vegetables is in the soil.

Like an epic wine that takes its flavour from the land where the grape is grown, vegetables are also effected by the soil.

The taste of vegetables can be impacted by the soil, and the quality of soil that you use. The idea that ‘locally-grown’ produce taste better is not just a happy notion to make people feel good: it’s a reality.

Since you can’t get more local than your own backyard, create an environment where your vegetables—and plants, shrubs and flowers—can not only grow, but thrive!

About That Mississauga Soil In Your Backyard…

Fact: The natural soil types found in the Mississauga area aren’t necessarily conducive to that perfect vegetable garden. Most of the area is comprised of three soil compositions, two of which are heavy in clay: heavy clay and coarse clay. These can be difficult to plant in, being too heavy or too compact.

The rich, organic soil of the Holland Marsh, on the other hand, where a full 55% of Ontario’s produce is grown, is fertile and primed for growing produce including carrots, onions, parsnip, potatoes, cabbage, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers and more!

While you might not want to move to the Marsh, you can bring soil that is native to that area to your home, to enhance your vegetable (and flower / shrub) beds.

Three Types Of Soil For Your Garden

Vegetable soil—This should be a combination of peat loam, compost and manure, as it is at Holland Marsh. A fertile organic soil will be ‘active’, in that it will contain organic matter that will help keep moisture in and keep the soil alive with organisms, bacterias and fungi… all the things that make the soil diverse, and which then produce a tasty vegetable.

Overseeding soil—A combination of peat loam and compost, this is a weed free soil that is meant to be combined with grass seed, to promote grass growth.

TopsoilA filler type soil that is best used for filling uneven ground areas, creating raised beds and landscapes, and as a base for fresh sod. It’s also good for planting shrubs and trees.

When To Plant

Every spring, the question arises: when is it okay to start working the soil and begin planting? Ignoring for the moment the question of air temperature, the issue for soil is moisture.

If you start to work the soil too early, it will be too wet and dense from thawing and snowmelt, as well as spring rains, and will clump. Those clumps don’t break down later into the smaller, loose dirt particles that you need to create air pockets in the ground for plant roots to thrive in. If your soil is clumping, it’s too soon.

You can test your soil to see if it’s ready to start being tilled and worked: take a baseball size amount of soil that you think is relatively dry and squeeze it until it compacts into an actual ball shape. Then drop the ball from about table height. If it crumbles into loose soil, your soil is dry enough to begin your spring digging. If it breaks into large pieces or not at all, it’s still too wet.

Preparing Your Soil

Once you’ve determined that your soil is dry enough to begin digging, you need to clear the vegetable beds of any debris that accumulated over the winter: twigs, rocks, etc…

Then you can start working your soil, which means turning it over and digging down, at least 10 to 12 inches. Vegetable plants root fairly deeply. This is the point where you want to add your vegetable soil and work it through the soil in the bed. Particularly in the Mississauga area, where clay is a major composite of standard soil, adding clay-free vegetable soil will aerate the existing earth and create the air pockets your plants will need to germinate. The active, organic composition of the veggie soil will also help to retain necessary moisture and nutrients.

Creating New Beds?

If you’re new to vegetable gardening or creating new beds for the season, you can start off on the right foot (or bed!) by making sure that you plan for the best outcome!

Positioning—Many vegetable plants, including tomatoes, need a lot of sunlight to grow and to keep disease at bay, so placing your beds in relatively sunny, well drained areas of your garden is ideal.

Sizing—Make sure that your vegetable beds are big enough to leave space between your plants. Too close together and they will suffocate, get overly humid and be prone to more disease. You might also find one creating shade over another and stunting the growth.

The right foundation for any vegetable bed is going to be, first and foremost, the soil. The right base will retain an appropriate amount of moisture while still creating those all-important air pockets for roots to germinate and take, and will supply nutrients to the seedlings that your veggies need. Start with the right base, and you’ll find it easier to grow a steady supply of succulent vegetables, all season long.

To find out more about soil types, or to purchase soil, visit us at www.gardenbag.ca. If you live in Mississauga, we’ll deliver your soil for free! ?

Vegetable Soil Mix – Get your garden growing

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

Introducing Veggie Soil

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

About Holland Marsh

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

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

Getting started

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

Garden Walls: A Primer

A well-designed landscape can be inspiring, consider creating visual interest by adding garden walls. Changing the heights in your garden is one sure way to improve curb appeal on a once boring, flat yard. A low retaining wall or garden wall might be just what your landscape needs.

Concrete vs Stone walls?

The difference between the |”look and feel” concrete versus stone walls has become more indistinguishable as technology continues to evolve in concrete forming. Here is a list of pros and cons for both concrete and natural stone walls.

Concrete Walls

Modern concrete walls are not the ones you think of in cold, commercial plazas. They have much improved over the years and come in a variety of shapes, textures and colours allowing it to blend in well with the yard, garden and the exterior of the house.

Pros

  1. Lightweight – Machinery is usually not necessary when installing concrete garden walls, most attempting this DIY project are able to lift one or two blocks at the same time. Concrete products are usually compact and easy to work with.
  2. Quick and easy install – The integral lip or tongue-and-groove system interlocks the blocks and makes the installation fast and easy. You simply drop the blocks in place. Just be sure to stagger the vertical joints between rows.
  3. Versatile design – The shapes that this material comes in allows for curves in the design and much more versatile than stone.
  4. Inexpensive – The cost to make a garden wall out of concrete is less expensive than using natural stone and is widely available at home centers.

Cons

  1. Requires a strong and level base – Leveling a concrete garden wall requires more tedious leveling, it is imperative that your base (4 to 6”) is perfectly level before installing. We do not want the wall to shift. Unfortunately, this means more digging and base material required.
  2. Cutting with a saw – Cutting is required when installing a concrete garden wall. A special saw is required to cut these materials during installation.

Stone Walls

Natural stone (Armour Stone/rock) of different shapes and sizes fit tightly together when stacked to form a wall. Stones create the nicest-looking walls but are more costly and it will take much more skill and creativity to build as they are also much heavier.

Pros

  1. Less time is spent on the base when installing Armour Rock because most rocks are not perfectly level to begin with, most applications do not need tedious leveling.
  2. Strength – Strength is one of the biggest reasons why a natural stone wall built out of Armour Rock is a terrific option for a garden wall, the sheer weight of an individual rock will make it next to impossible to shift or move.
  3. Best-looking – Natural Stone is currently the trendiest option for landscaping; it offers great curb appeal to all homes. With increased competition within the industry natural stone is more affordable than ever before.

Cons

  1. Too heavy – Weight is a problem when using Armour Rock, most of the time a machine (skid steer) is used when installing Armour Rock.
  2. It is much more difficult to install Armour Rock on a tight radius, most of the time you are limited to straight/linear designs.
  3. Harder to work with – Stacking Armour Rock is difficult because of the various heights, skill and experience is important when selecting specific Armour Rock.

The finished product looks complicated but is a fairly simple project. Be sure to do your research. Regardless of the material you choose to build your new garden wall, with a little planning and effort, you will soon have a new focal point in your yard and a new home for your flowers and plants.

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

Soil Preparation for Gardens and Lawns

Good news fellow green thumbers, it’s time to get your gardening tools and gloves ready for spring! As we slowly enter into April, the snow melts into the ground and the cold winters break into longer, warmer days; many of us become eager to start planting in our gardens but it is important to care for the soil at this stage by adding back important nutrients and improving texture so that healthy plants can flourish.

Here’s a checklist to get your soil preparation for gardens and lawns started:

1. When can we start digging? Check the soil conditions.

A mistake that many make is working on the soil too early. Allow the melting snow and spring rain to pass and the earth to dry out a bit before attempting to do any work. Heavy, wet soil is difficult to work with and doesn’t break up into loose, plant-friendly texture. Also, treading across wet ground will further compact the soil making it much more difficult to dig up later.

Is the soil dry enough? Do a quick test!
Squeeze a handful of soil and form a ball in your hands. If the lump of soil shatters easily when given a tap, it is ready! If the lump keeps its shape or breaks apart in solid sections, it still contains too much water and you must let it dry out some more. Clay soil, the type commonly found in Mississauga, when too wet will feel slick when rubbed between the fingers.

2. Clearing the area

Springtime is often associated with new birth and green growth, but as the white snow melts, we are often left with areas of debris, rocks and twigs. These need to be cleared away. A spade or a hoe is a handy tool to have.

3. Dig deep and loosen the soil

Don’t make the common mistake by using lousy soil. Plant roots grow below the ground so remember to dig deep! It is best to work soil 10 to 12 inches deep.

4. Adding organic matter

Lay the organic matter on top of the loosened, prepared soil and work the material thoroughly into the soil with a spade or a fork. Make sure it is even distributed. You can’t change the soil you have but adding organic matter drastically improves the overall soil quality.

Organic matter improves the soil by:

  • It helps loosen and aerate clay soil
  • It improves the water – and nutrient-holding capacity of sandy soil

Add lots of organic matter such as:

  • compost
  • manure
  • peat moss
  • grass clippings
  • aged sawdust
  • Spring soil preparations maybe hard and tedious work but it can save you untold disappointments and ensure you give your new plants and seedlings the best nutritious soil to grow and thrive in.

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