Posts

3 Garden Projects You Should NOT Attempt Alone

As the birds are now singing in the mornings, it’s tempting to start planning all of the gardening projects that will keep you busy this spring, summer and fall.

Perhaps you have simple aspirations, like putting in new annual or perennial plants in an old garden bed and re-seeding part of your lawn. Or perhaps you’ve got BIG plans? A walkway, a new deck, maybe even a pond?

If the latter, you need to consider whether or not you can do these projects yourself, or if it would be a better idea to bring in professional help.

With our climate changing, we’re likely to see more rain and higher water tables in many parts of Ontario, including Mississauga.

How you structure your garden could very well impact whether or not you end up with water in your basement.

Toemar’s take? DIY is well and good, but professional help at the outset could prevent a costly problem, down the road.

Interlocking Stone Driveways Or Pathways In The Garden

Laying down impermeable materials in a driveway or garden, particularly where none existed before, is a sure way to affect natural drainage patterns in your yard.

Ripping out the turf and installing paving stones in your backyard will certainly add beauty if well installed, but if could also create a path for water to flow into your foundation and flood your basement, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Improperly planned drainage can also result in soil erosion around the impermeable materials, pooling or standing water which can also be ice in winter, creating a hazard, and potentially damaging your stone work. You can even end up creating sinkholes in your garden or driveway!

Installing impermeable like stone or concrete requires a professional, if not to install, then at least to help guide you.

Garden Or Retaining Walls

A small edge of scalloped interlocking stone around your garden beds is definitely a project that you can DIY if you want, but if you are looking for something more substantial, you should consult a landscape / hardscape professional.

Why? Well, getting it right takes some practice, in terms of laying stones or concrete bricks properly. Even interlocking ‘tongue and groove’ style concrete systems aren’t easy to manage for a larger project.

More importantly, if your retaining wall is less about aesthetics and more about how to manage a structural issue in your garden, professional help can make all the difference.

What kind of issues? Imagine you have two levels of elevation in your yard. A good retaining wall will hold back the soil, which exerts a fair amount of pressure, to keep the integrity of the yard intact. A badly built wall will cave against the pressure.

In addition, a badly placed wall that does not take into account natural drainage patterns for rainwater run-off, could flood parts of your garden, or worse, your neighbour’s garden. You could be looking at foundation erosion/infiltration, drowning plants, shrubs and trees that can’t cope with low draining soil areas, wood rot on decks and fences, pests and more!

Overall Landscaping Design

Once your garden is designed and in place, you can hire a gardener to take care of the basic lawn maintenance, garden pruning and weeding and so on, if you prefer.

But if you’re creating a garden from scratch, as so many people buying new homes have to do, you should definitely get advice from a qualified landscaper.

One of the main reasons is to ensure that you don’t create drainage problems that damage your house and garden, or anyone else’s in the neighbourhood. Most areas are designed to include swales and drainage paths: interfering with these could be a real issue. A qualified landscaper will be able to design a garden that is properly graded and contoured, to eliminate / avoid drainage issues.

Beyond drainage, a solid design will take into account how you want to use the space, what kind of time you can put into maintaining it, availability of sun and shade as well as hardiness levels of various plants to ensure that you are putting in place a garden that will not just survive, but thrive.

A Few Tips On Hiring A Landscaper

As with hiring any professional, getting referrals from trusted sources and checking credentials is always a good idea. Here are a few other tips:

  • Do a little research on your short list of landscapers. Look for verified reviews and at before and after pictures.
  • Ask for several project quotes. They should provide you with an outline of the work, time required and an estimate as to the cost. With several options to review, you’ll be able to make a better choice based on a variety of factors, including value for money.
  • Check their stated credentials. If they say they’re a member of Landscape Ontario and have taken extra courses for a variety of skills, check to make sure.
  • Get a contract with exactly what they’re going to do, a timeline and a payment schedule. NEVER pay for all of a project up front.

For months of every year, a beautiful garden can be the perfect spot to relax after a long day, or to enjoy the company of family and friends. Make sure that your yard is the oasis you long for by getting the job right, the first time!

Permeable Pavers

Permeable pavers are interlocking pavers that have joints between them that are filled with small stones. Because of the space in the joints between the interlocking pavers, water enters this space and flows through to a base of crushed stone layers and then into the soil below. As a result the stones in the joints, this provides 100% surface permeability and reduces storm water and filters out pollutants.

The Future of Interlocking Pavers

Last year on July 8th, 2014, we all felt the after effects of one of the biggest rain storms to hit the Greater Toronto Area. With reports of major streets completely underwater and even a major rescue operation on the GO train, storm water has become an issue as a result of all the impervious surfaces that have been created to handle ever increasing volume of vehicular traffic. As a result, this has impacted stream bank erosion, flooding and polluting of streams, lakes and rivers which also affects our source of drinking water. It should come as no surprise that cities are now looking for cost effective storm water management solutions. Permeable pavements are what cities around the world are looking at now and beyond to help combat storm water runoff. It is also something that homeowners should be considering as well to help contribute to the reduction of harmful and potentially devastating effects of storm water on our environment.

It’s “Green” = More $$$?

The cost of installing permeable pavers is comparable to the installation of standard interlocking pavers. At Toemar, we have a product called Moderna and it can be configured in a specific pattern so that it is permeable while creating the high end look of regular square-cut flagstone. In addition, the base created for permeable pavers is essentially identical with the exception of using more pervious base such as ¾ clear stone and high performance bedding (HPB) which will allow a flow through of the water into the soil base.

Check out this video on Moderna’s permeable capabilities starting at 1:48.

How does it look?

Depending on what your needs are and your taste, you can setup your permeable pavers in many different configurations for your driveway and/or walkway. You can set it up so that it looks just like a standard interlocking paver driveway or you can “green it up” as part of the natural look. Check out some samples of what people have done:

permeable-paver-designs

Other Benefits of Permeable Pavers

In addition to diverting water from storm sewers which goes into stream, permeable pavers can also reduce something called “heat island effect”. This effect is caused by the buildup of heat in and around cities, towns, and structures. Asphalt and concrete absorb sunlight and convert it to heat and that is why when you walk on your driveway or a mall parking lot it feels that much warmer.
Lastly, by retaining water on your property you not only water the plants but also return water to the water table on your property.

Feel free to reach out to us should you have any more questions by commenting below or contacting us phone or email.

Flagstone – How to Buy for Patios, Walkways and Driveways

Buying flagstone may seem like a daunting task to the everyday homeowner, but it doesn’t have to be. You just need to understand some basics and you can have a good grasp of what your potential dream flagstone patio, walkways or driveway may cost you.

Here are some things you should know:

How is it sold?

Flagstone is typically sold by the weight, specifically either in lbs or tonnes. The reason it is sold by weight is because of how it is sold by the quarries and because of the irregular shape of each piece of flagstone.

How do I measure or figure out how much I need?

There is an industry standard that everyone goes by to determine the amount of flagstone one needs to purchase. For every 100 square feet of coverage, you will need approximately 1 tonne or 2000 pounds of flagstone that is between 1″ to 1.5″ thickness with spacing between each flagstone around 1/2″ to 1″ wide gap.

What varieties are available of flagstone?

Slate, limestone, and sandstone are just a few varieties of flagstone that are available in the market today. In Ontario, the most common type of flagstone available is called Wiarton since the quarries are located in Southern Ontario. Wiarton is a form of limestone that comes in various colors. However, the most common color range is from light grey to charcoal grey.

What thickness should I use?

Flagstone thickness ranges from 3/4″ up to 3″ and possibly even more. The most common thickness from 1″ to 1.5″ thickness. This flagstone thickness is good for paved concrete surfaces. The reason for a thinner flagstone is because of there little chance the flagstone would be affected by winter on a concrete pad. For surfaces where the base is gravel, you would want to purchase flagstone that is at least 2″ to 3″ thick. The reason for this thickness is that the weight and the thickness of the flagstone will to help counteract heaving during the freeze thaw cycle that happens each year and minimize any potential for cracking that may occur.

What are the jointing materials that I need to finish the flagstone project?

As it was mentioned earlier, there are different types of jointing materials that can be used. If your flagstone base is a concrete platform/pad, then you should use cement or other types of mortar. If you have a gravel base, then you should use sand (fine or coarse), pea gravel, or even polymeric sand (wide joint variety) as a mortar. The sand or pea gravel is a more forgiving and will not show cracks should the flagstone have movement after the freeze-thaw cycle of winter.