How Much Landscaping Rock Do I Really Need?

Landscaping rock emerged a winner of the 2020 and 2021 landscaping scene. And no wonder, from natural stone and river rocks, to pea gravel and bedding, landscaping rock looks gorgeous and provides a quick lift to a tired yard, not to mention creates the right stable foundation for your landscaping and hardscaping projects.

How to Calculate How Much Rock I Need in Cubic Yards

There are several formulas you can use, but the one Toemar recommends is the easiest and most accurate.

It’s important to know how much you need, because too little means going through the whole process twice, and too much is difficult because most landscaping rock can’t be refunded, not to mention the hassle of getting it back to the store.

You know the saying, ‘measure twice, cut once’? For landscaping supplies, we say, ‘measure twice, order once!’

First determine the area and depth you need to cover. Know the length and width in feet and the height in inches, then apply this formula:

(Length (ft) * Width (ft) * (Depth (inches) / 12)) / 27

For example, if the section of yard you want to cover in gravel is 4ft long, 6ft wide, and 12 inches deep, it would look like this:

(4 x 6 x (12 / 12)) / 27 = 24 / 27 = 0.88 cubic yards

How much does one cubic yard of landscaping rock cover?

Use this handy chart to determine how many bulk bags of material you will need to order:

landscaping rock measurement chart

Toemar’s Bulk Sand Rock and Limestone Calculator

Simply input your measurements into Toemar’s landscaping materials calculator and let us do the math for you. The calculator is located on Toemar’s homepage. If you’re using your laptop or desktop, you’ll see the green calculator icon to the right of the screen. If you’re using your mobile, you’ll see the green calculator icon overlaying the main picture…

Use this landscaping calculator for stone, sand, soil and mulch on your laptop/desktop:

calculator for landscaping rock

Mobile version of Toemar’s landscaping calculator:

how to measure landscaping rock

Work with Toemar for Your Landscaping Needs

Choosing the right amounts of landscaping rock and other materials for your project can get confusing even for the most experienced landscapers. That’s why the Toemar team works closely with both landscapers, hardscapers and homeowners to make sure they get exactly what they need in the right quantity.

If you ever have a question or concern, simply drop us a line at 905-826-3821.

What do You Lay Under Landscaping Rock?

Sometimes using landscaping rock in your project is a necessity, like limestone screening for pavers, but other times, landscape rock is used to create a beautiful, low maintenance environment for homeowners.

But for that low-maintenance benefit to last, it’s important to create a barrier between the rocks and soil that will prevent weeds from cropping up.

Landscape fabric creates an intentional weed barrier that encourages root growth beneath it because air, water and nutrients can still flow into the soil beneath.

Toemar’s weed barrier come with a 20-year guarantee, or you can use a heavy duty filter cloth type (usually this would be the best choice to line retaining walls, etc.)

How to Install a Weed Barrier Beneath Landscaping Rocks

1. Measure out how much landscaping fabric you will need by calculating the area and order.

2. Remove sod, plants, etc. and level the area as much as you can. If the space you where you are adding the rocks abuts your home’s foundation, make sure to add a slight gradient that will carry rainwater and snowmelt AWAY from your foundation.

3. Choosing a dry day, lay the landscaping fabric where you want it, and use heavy stone to secure it along the edges, so it doesn’t shift when you cover it with the landscaping stone. Make sure edges overlap any curbs or edging because it will sink down a bit when covered with stone.

4. Cover the space in your landscaping rock.

5. Trim the fabric to fall around anything coming out of the ground like pipes, etc.

Check out this video on how to what to lay beneath your landscaping rocks…

The other option is not to create that barrier, but unless you’re using many inches of material, chances are, you’ll see green weeds poking through your material within a year or two. Some people prefer this, and we support that, but it’s important to know the likely outcome of using vs not using landscape fabric underneath your rock.

In our experience, the vast majority of landscaping and hardscaping professionals use landscaping fabric as a matter of course, and this is not an area where you’ll want to cut corners.

For more information on ordering your bulk landscaping rock, visit us at www.toemar.ca or drop us a line.

How to Use Landscaping Rock in Your Yard

Outdoor Space

Landscaping rock of any kind will create the perfect ambiance for your patio or outdoor sitting space. Our favourite is to see uniform pathways extending from the central outdoor sitting/living space to various points in the yard. It creates a sense of continuity and expands the feel of the stone – whether it be sleek or more modern in design – throughout the yard, achieving a cohesive and coordinated feel to the space.

Water Features

Use landscaping rock around hot tubs, patios and pools. Smooth cut natural stone pavers go well with almost any landscape and create an instant environment of sleek modernity.

With clever contemporary designs, smooth cut pavers can be extended on pathways, retaining walls and even around sitting areas. For natural designs, large natural boulders can double as sitting areas and create gorgeous focal points for the yard, particularly if placed near waterfalls.

Water Gardens

The idea of a water garden may inspire memories of the rugged and wild fairy pools of Connemara or the graceful and elegant sun-gilded still water of a Japanese lily pond. Careful use of natural stone and water can create a water feature that captures the imagination and creates a brag-worthy oasis of calm in your backyard.

We have seen homeowners use natural stone to create water features within their pool (for example, a natural stone waterfall) or to create a stunning and natural landscape around a pool or hot tub, and even a few brave souls who simply wanted to recreate a truly stand-alone water garden on their property.

It’s worth mentioning koi ponds in this section and we offer a word of warning:

We live in Mississauga. If you plan to build a pond and invest in both koi and a winter warmth system, make sure you have a strong protection barrier that even the wiliest of raccoons can’t displace.

Be diligent! Mississauga’s most determined citizens have a relentless appetite for koi, but forewarned is forearmed.

Patio Space

There are two ways you may want to use landscaping stone in your patio project. The first is pavers. Natural stone pavers can create a striking and modern look for your yard. Having said that, it’s more natural looking than old-fashioned interlocking stone and the colours and textures blend in more seamlessly with your garden and tree-scape.

The trick to natural stone pavers is professional installation. Because they tend to be larger and flatter than traditional interlocking brick, you need to make sure your foundation is perfectly level. Uneven pavers due to levelling will stand out and interrupt the entire impression of your yard. Unless you’re a professional hardscaper or landscaper, this is not a simple DIY weekend project.

The other way to use landscaping stone in your patio design is by investing in large natural boulders as accent pieces. If you do place a few boulders on your patio, remember to place them elsewhere in your yard as well to extend the feel of your patio space and create some continuity and flow.

What Kind of Rock Can I Use Instead of Pavers?

Everyone loves pavers because they tend to be affordable, durable and can usually be installed in a day or two (ideally by a professional – read above!)

But there are so many kinds of landscaping rock out there, that there’s no need to be tied to just one.

Lockdown 2020 brought about some big trends for 2021, in particular, creativity around what kind of landscaping rock homeowners and landscapers are using in their landscape designs.

Gone are the days (the 1990s!) when interlocking pavers in geometric designs were the start and end of modern landscaping. Today landscapers take their cues from the natural landscape and mix materials, elevations and plant life to create oases that feel natural and blend into their environments.

We’ve listed a few ideas to get your imagination flowing…

River Rock: Is River Rock Good For Landscaping?

We had a client ask this the other day, and 35 minutes later, when we couldn’t stop talking about river rock, you might think they regretted asking the question, but not so – they were totally on board! River rock is, for all intents and purposes, FABULOUS.

Starting around 2016, river rock became a big deal in landscaping circles. River rocks are easy and versatile to incorporate into most landscape designs. Particularly when used as edging or to create lightly trod pathways that meander around front-yard gardens.

River rocks are a good option with children because they lack sharp edges. Come summertime, no matter how many times we ask our kids to wear sandals, bare feet rule.

Sometimes, it’s better to let your six-year-old feel the sun-warmed-river rock on the soles of their feet while they eat a popsicle; it’s the Mississauga way.

We also have several clients who have replaced their mulch with a few inches of river rock (six, to be exact) to deter determined dogs from digging. This solution not only helps their garden but can also protect the dogs as not all varieties of mulch are pet friendly.

River rock comes in three sizes at Toemar:

1″ River Rock
https://gardenbag.ca/collections/all/products/river-rock-1

Landcaping with river rock

 

1″-3″ River Rock

https://gardenbag.ca/collections/all/products/river-rock-1-3

How to measure river rocks

 

4’-8” River Rocks

https://gardenbag.ca/collections/all/products/river-rock-4-8

How to measure landscaping rock

Pea Gravel: Where Should I Use Pea Gravel?

Pea gravel is a popular option for everything from walkways and borders to your basement window well.

It’s smooth on tender feet and satisfies both style and function. Pea gravel can be used (carefully) in lieu of mulch because it’s quite light yet serves as an appropriate driveway material while creating a natural and beautiful focal point.

https://gardenbag.ca/collections/gravel-1/products/pea-gravel

As an aside, many of our clients ask (seriously):

Will my dog poop on gravel?

We’re dog people too, so we’ve got an answer to this common question.is pea gravel safe for dogs

Regular gravel can hurt your puppy’s paws, but pea gravel is rounded so it’s the perfect place for your pooch to… errrr…poop, but make sure your dog isn’t more interested in playing with the pea gravel than doing its business.

Bottom line? Each dog is different, but if it can work for your puppy, it’ll work for you too.

Flagstones: Are Flagstones Expensive?

Flagstones cost more than the average interlocking paver, but over time, the investment is worth it.

Flagstone provides a beautiful and durable surface that will survive decades. Versatility is key, because flagstone can be cut smooth and sleek – square cut, which is easier to install – or more rugged and natural looking.

Colours tend to lean towards natural browns, grays, blues and blacks; perfect for patios, pathways and porches.

The cost of flagstone is quickly justified by a few factors:

  • Unique Design (they look gorgeous)
  • Durability (decades!)
  • Easy Maintenance (seal and be done with it… for YEARS)
  • Permeability (because rain is meant to be absorbed by land, not washed onto your neighbours’ foundation)

Can you get landscaping rock or pavers delivered?

Absolutely! There are a few ways to arrange deliver with Toemar or Toemar’s bulk material branch, Gardenbag.

For landscaping rock:

If you order your landscaping rock through Gardenbag.ca, and by the square yard, depending on where you live, we will either deliver your garden bag of material for free or charge a flat fee for delivery.

Simply make sure to check our delivery areas before you order, and if you’re still not sure, send us a note via email or Facebook and we’ll respond quickly.

If you’re a landscaper, you may need more than a few yards of product. Give us a call at 905.826.3821 and we can arrange a bulk delivery (via dump truck) to wherever you need that material. This costs a bit more, but when you’re on the job, time is money, and we’re happy to save you that time by bringing your materials to you.

For pavers:

In 2020, Toemar launched its online shop which provides a quick and easy way to order your natural stone pavers.  Simply visit https://shop.toemar.ca/collections/pavers to browse the collection.

We also stock all these materials on our lot at 1005 Eglinton Ave. W (Eglinton & Terry Fox) in Mississauga should you wish to see them in person, but definitely check local covid lockdown measures before you come.

Most of the time, Toemar can deliver your pavers within 3-5 business days. Feel free to drop us a line for more information. We’d be happy to help you with all your landscaping projects!

A New Year, a New Landscaping Business? Tips to Help You Get Started

The big lesson we learned in 2020 is that, when forced to stay home, the good people of Peel region turn to their landscapers to create their ideal environment.

As a result, last year was a steady year for many landscaping businesses, so it’s no surprise that, for 2021, many of enterprising souls plan to start their own landscaping business.

Landscapers are the heart-blood of Toemar; they always have been, and with over 40 years working with landscapers and hardscapers under our belt, we’d like to think we’ve learned a thing or two about the anatomy of a successful landscaping business.

Before we begin, it’s worth saying that this industry is on the grow. There is lots of room for new companies! We can speak to this anecdotally of course; last year was off the charts in terms of demand (even if the situation meant we couldn’t always be open), but the years before Covid also saw incremental growth and an influx or new landscaping companies, the vast majority of them successful.

The numbers also prove the point. Landscaping in Canada is an $8bn (USD) industry. It employs upwards of 70k people across the country, and it’s egalitarian and diverse: No one company owns more than 5% of overall market share (as small business owners ourselves, we love this stat.)

Landscaping growth tends to follow housing industry growth and is therefore concentrated in certain places – Mississauga and the GTA being one of them.

Just because the external conditions may be right to start a landscaping business, what we’ve found is that it’s the internal conditions – your skill set, aptitude and attitude, that are the real driver of success.

There’s a wonderful quote from Bruce Pon Tip (founder of Toronto-based G Adventures (formerly Gap Adventures)) who said back in 2010, “If the economy isn’t good, you need to make your own economy.”

Ladies and gentlemen: This is 100% true, and while Bruce delivers the line quite nicely, we’ve been living it at Toemar since the day we opened our doors.

Beyond good equipment and a reliable pickup truck or two, here’s what you really need to run a successful landscaping business.

1. Willingness to Learn

No matter how much you think you know, there’s always more to learn.

In our industry, all our tradespeople work side by side and need to understand each other’s function. If you’re redesigning your client’s backyard, you must understand the physics of hardscaping, the science of horticulture and aboriculture, and the art of making those realities support your client’s vision.

This doesn’t mean you have to become an expert in all these things, but it’s important to create relationships with complementary tradespeople, and at least have a basic understanding of why you may need to call on them and what they can do for you/your client.

This often requires business owners to put their ego aside and be open to what other experts have to say, even if it may impact their project. When you’re working in the field, this is easier said than done, which is why an open-minded attitude comes in handy.

2. Support Your Team

A landscaping company will rise or fall according to the quality of its team.

If you’re lucky enough to find talented support staff, you must know how to effectively and respectfully communicate your expectations, while supporting their growth and development.

Personnel issues are going to come up. How will you handle them?

And there will be times when you will be blindsided because your team’s perspective is so far off from what you thought it was, or what you thought you’d communicated, that you will, at times, wonder if you’re living in a parallel universe.

As a business owner, it’s up to you to bridge that gap in understanding. It’s also up to you to take responsibility for how you communicate.

Something we’ve learned at Toemar is that, if someone is not receiving the message the way we’d intended it, the issue is with how it’s being communicated. So the issue is with us, not with the employee or the client or whomever.

It’s easy to blame the other person when something you’ve communicated is misinterpreted, but it’s a mistake that could cost you the trust of your team and respect of your employees. And always remember: In this industry, your team will make or break you.

3. Understand the Value of Client Relationships (Marketing)

The above header is synonymous with ‘know how to market your business’.

We didn’t want to write that because people may talk themselves out of starting their business because they think they don’t know how to market, but the foundation of marketing is simple: Build solid relationships with your clients, so that they know you, like you and trust you.

If you can do that without over-complicating it, you’re half-way there.

Speaking of complicated, having attractive social media is important to a degree. You will need a way to showcase the work your team has completed and the good results people have when they choose your company for their landscaping, but our advice is not worry about social media for now, and to focus your preliminary marketing efforts on two things:

  1. Invest in a decent website that contains lots of pretty pictures of work you’ve done and an easy-to-use contact form that includes a ‘referred by’ field
  2. Get to know your clients. Do a good job for them. Ask them for referrals. Do a good job for those referral clients. Ask them for referrals.

This is a one-two marketing punch. Your website makes it easier for your clients to refer their friends and neighbours to you. Your strong relationships with these clients will make them want to refer people to you using your website.

(And aside: Write into your contract that you will take before and after pictures of your client’s property and use these for marketing purposes. Then, take those pictures and show them to every single lead.)

Some new businesses may opt to rely on a social media account to replace the need to have a website. While this practice can yield results and be affordable, there are a few issues we see with it.

First, it’s never a good idea to build your house on someone else’s property. As your business grows, you may want more flexibility to scale your business, and your chosen network may limit you.

Second, all social media users are beholden to the terms of use of their chosen platform, and most of those terms of use are written clear as mud. If you or an employee or contractor you’ve hired to manage your social media accidentally violates those terms, your account can be suspended or banned. It doesn’t matter how much money or time you’ve spent developing it, it can disappear overnight.

This is why, in the first year or two, we think it makes sense to invest your money in your own website, and to spend your time networking, and then, if you have the resources, add social media to the mix.

4. Get a Handle on Contracts and Money

Contracts

Never, ever, ever-ever, do work without a contract.

Look, we understand that the idea of hiring a lawyer to write a 45-page document in legalease can feel like a crime against humanity, but rest assured – that kind of contract is probably overkill anyhow.

What is necessary is a statement of work, or a scope document. We recommend you keep this down to a page or two, write your terms in simple English, and make sure you’re specific about what your team is responsible for, and what are additional billable services that are not covered in the initial scope of work. It can sometimes be hard to control scope-creep, but you can control whether or not you get compensated for it.

Also be clear about your payment terms and any guarantees you may offer, and promise the client that you will not embark on additional billable services without informing them and seeking their consent. There should never be a suprise on an invoice (unless it’s a good surprise for your client!)

If you don’t want to include pages and pages of terms in your statement of work, but you feel the need to include them, you can always post them online, provide the url in the statement of work, and have a check box that client has visited that url and read those terms in full.

Finally, make sure your statement of work has a dated sign-off for both you and your client.

Make it easy for clients to pay

Most landscapers need to invest in materials before starting a project, but if you have to wait two weeks  after you’ve begun your project to get the first payment, you’re going to run into serious cash flow issues.

Our advice is to a) be clear about terms (see above) and b) set up a merchant account so that all your clients have to do is provide a credit card number at the get-go, and you can do the rest.

It may sometimes be necessary to call a client who is behind on payments, and that can be awkward as anything. Our advice? Use the term ‘money conversation.’

For example, you can say to them, “Hi John. I’d like to have a money conversation with you, can we do that?” This is allows the other person to mentally prepare, and it empowers a frank and effective conversation about money, while separating that conversation out from small talk and other conversations.

Hire a bookkeeper

When you’re a business owner, its up to you to find, mind, and grind the business.

Hiring a bookkeeper is an affordable way to keep your books and invoicing up to date and shipshape  while freeing up much of your time.

An affordable virtual assistant who is also a bookkeeper is worth their weight in gold and will do more to free up your time and help you run your business in those first few years than most other functions.

This will not only assist with cashflow, but it will also mean that, should your name be drawn for a CRA audit, your books will be available, accurate and up to date. The less stress the better!

Be Proud of What You’re Doing

Look man, if it were easy, everybody would have a corner office.

What you’re doing is hard work. It takes courage and resilience. You’re going to trip, learn and succeed, in that order. But it IS a trip, and a good one too.

When you decide to open your own business, you are choosing to take control of your own destiny and finances, you are choosing to claim your own space in this world, and you are empowering others to reach their goals and provide for their families.

Sure, it’s not always easy, but it’s rewarding, and it’s always a bit of thrill to tell someone that you run your own business. And there’s one thing that’s even better than that: That feeling at the end of a day, on the last day of a project, when your team has done an amazing job, and you take a moment to look at what you’ve done. A happy client, a happy team, and a brilliant outcome. You did that, my friend. Kudos to you.

Stats:

https://www.ibisworld.com/canada/market-research-reports/landscaping-services-industry/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/899045/revenue-of-landscaping-services-in-canada/

How To Create Privacy In Your Garden

As the poet Robert Frost said: “Good fences make good neighbors.” We like to say: “Privacy makes GREAT neighbours.”

We’re not talking about building an English style walled garden with a secret doorway—though that would be lovely! When we say privacy, we’re talking about ways you can create spaces in your suburban backyard that go beyond standard fences.

Many neighbourhoods in Mississauga and beyond are designed in rows of two story, single family homes. That means that unless you’re at the end of a row, you’ve got neighbours who can see into your backyard on three sides. Your ideas around creating a private backyard oasis will be marred slightly if every time you sit out, you can see your neighbour in their bathroom, looking back at you!

In other words, fences will only get you so far: you need some other garden creations to create some legitimate privacy for yourself and your family.

Assess The Space You Have To Work With

Your first step in creating some privacy is deciding where you want it most and where it makes sense for your garden. Depending on the size of your garden, which way it faces and how much sun you get, there are different ways you can proceed.

Toemar has a handy checklist you can use before starting any project.

For A Small Garden, A Great Option Is A Living Wall

When you don’t have a lot of space for garden beds or even potted plants, creating a vertical garden, known as a living wall, will help you get some plants growing AND create some privacy. This is also a great option if you live in a condo or apartment to separate your patio from your neighbour’s side.

Planting edibles and perennials that bloom throughout the season in a vertical garden is ideal use of the space, while still giving in to your green thumb. If you place it in such a way that the plants get the sun they need, you can then create a space for yourself in the shade beside it! Add a simple shade awning, using your wall as an anchor, and you’ve got a little private space to lay on the chaise and snooze on a sunny, summer afternoon.

A Pergola With Vines, For Shade And Privacy

If you have more space in the garden, it’s nice to create a patch where you can set up seating or a dining table, to really enjoy your outdoor space to the maximum, without ruining the sight lines in your garden.

A pergola set up on a deck or on some flagstone can be enhanced with flowering vines, or even grape vines, grown through the lattice like “roof”, so that you have shade and privacy in one natural looking setting.

This can also be a perfect set up if you have a hot tub, to ensure that you can sit and soak without being peeped at.

A Gazebo Can Give You Privacy And Bug Protection

With the solid roof of a gazebo, you can eliminate the second floor viewings of your lunch spread as well as create a decent amount of shade. If you set up your gazebo on the corner of a deck, adding lattice on two sides can help create even more privacy.

The other advantage to a gazebo is the ability to add netting and a door, which makes dining al fresco more enjoyable, and an evening drink with fairy lights decorating the ceiling will be mosquito free.

Outdoor Curtains

You’ve probably seen people who have added gauzy, flowing curtains to the sides of their porches, giving them more privacy while still letting the breeze flow through. You can take that same idea to your backyard by adding them to your pergola or gazebo, if you have a side that is particularly exposed to the view of others.

If you don’t have the space for a pergola, another option to leverage the beauty and privacy of flowing curtains is to create moveable frames for them: this way, you can put them where you want in the garden, in effect creating a privacy wall, and you can move it around if you want to, depending on the position of the sun.

Lattice And Vines Keep A Balcony Cool And Private

If you have a small deck or balcony that you don’t use because of the way you are on display when you sit there, a simple fix is to add lattice with climbing vines intertwined throughout, positioned on the sides where you have the most ‘visibility’. The light still comes through but you can sit out and enjoy your morning coffee in peace, with a little shade to protect you from the heat of the sun.

For A Large Yard, Plant Some Trees

It’s a solution that takes time to grow up, but if you have a good sized yard, a large, leafy deciduous tree or two  will help create shade and privacy throughout the spring and summer months. The only downside is the raking you’ll have to do come fall, but jumping in leaf piles is a time honoured tradition worth preserving!

However you create your space, always be mindful of what you want to use it for and how much space you have to work with. The winter is a great time to start planning for next spring, so that by summer, you’re able to enjoy your backyard to the fullest.

Tips For Landscaping Around Your Hot Tub

Hot tub sales are through the roof these days, and with so many of us spending more time at home, it’s no wonder. Retailers are hard pressed to keep up with the demand these days. One of the reasons is that, unlike swimming pools, you can make use of the steamy waters of your hot tub year round.

If you’ve got a tub already or are getting one installed, you need to consider the landscape that will surround it, when it comes to positioning and views. It’s important that the immediate area around your hot tub be clean and safe, but it doesn’t have to be concrete and ugly!

After all, a hot tub in the backyard becomes a focal point just by virtue of its size so a little bit of planning and design will make it stand out in the right ways.

Consider Your Positioning

If you haven’t already installed your hot tub, consider the positioning of it from a couple of perspectives:

  • How far is it from the back door? If you’re going to have to shovel out a long path in the snow to get to it, you might decide it isn’t worth the effort, in January. To get maximum use of the tub, it should be within a reasonable proximity from the back door of your home for an easy dash!
  • Avoid placing it in the middle of your yard: it will become TOO MUCH of a focal point. Hot tubs integrate best into the landscape if they are more off to the side.
  • Covered or not? Many people choose to put a hot tub under a gazebo or overhanging deck, in order to provide some privacy and also to protect the area around it, to make it easier to access in all weather.
  • Look at the view. Unlike a swimming pool, where you are more often swimming laps or just fooling around, a lot of time in the hot tub is spent sitting back, relaxing and looking outwards. So what will you be looking at? The compost pile and garbage cans or a beautiful wall of blooms and grasses?
  • Consider who will be viewing you while you’re in the tub. By placing it near a privacy wall, or in a spot where you can create privacy, you can avoid your nosy neighbour peeping over their fence at you while you’re trying to relax!

Walkways Around The Hot Tub

Some people choose to integrate their hot tub into their deck, so while the tub is still above ground, you walk into it, as you would a pool. It’s pleasing to the eye but it’s a bigger project. If that’s not in the cards, it’s important to consider what the pool will be set on and what will surround it.

Cement, interlocking pavers, flagstone or stone tiling, are just a few options for walkways and areas around your tub. The pavers are a superb way to create pathways to and around the hot tub, allowing space to get around it for cleaning and maintenance, as well as making a clear path to have access even in the winter. Durable and easy to install, pavers don’t require mortar, so they make a good economical option too. Different colours and shapes are available, which allow you to design a hot tub area that matches your style.

You can also consider landscaping around the hot tub, with tall grasses, bushes and so forth, which have the added advantage of creating some privacy. After all, your enjoyment of an evening soak might be dashed a little if your neighbours are able to peer over at you!

Landscaping And Hardscaping Around The Hot Tub

If you’re planning on having trees near your tub, look to species that will not ‘shed’ a lot of leaves and branches into the hot tub. Even though you’ll use a cover when it’s not in operation, it can still rain a lot of leaves from the time you set up to get in and when you exit your tub! You also don’t want trees with root structures that could impact the flat surface you have created for your hot tub.

All that said, having some foliage can create a little shade, which makes your tub usable even in the midst of a fully sunny day, as well as to create a windbreak and some privacy for your enjoyment of the tub. With both of these functions in mind, evergreens are a good, low maintenance option.

If you want more plants and colour around your hot tub, container gardens, set at different levels are a good choice: you can move them if you need to but they can also be set at different heights for a variety of a view.

The types of trees, flowers and plants that you choose should be consistent with your hardiness zone: recreating the tropical paradise from your last vacation might be the goal, but the reality is that you can’t plant palm trees in Mississauga. You can, however, use a textural mixture of stone, rock, garden pots, grasses and shrubbery to create a truly luxurious ambiance.

Container gardens around your hot tub will also allow it to blend into the landscape more, rather than standing out. It really depends on the look you’re going for, but this type of landscaping will still give you the access you need to maintain and protect your hot tub, all year round.

Blending the materials from the rest of your garden design into your hot tub design is the best way to keep flow and a cohesive look. For example, if your garden patio is made up of elegant stone, you want to keep that up around your hot tub. Most hot tubs are set up on a concrete pad, to ensure they stay level, but there’s nothing preventing you from integrating the same stone from your patio right up to the level of the pad, to keep it out of sight.

Other Considerations

Lighting around the hot tub is an important consideration: you don’t want a spotlight on you while you’re in it, but you need to be able to get to it safely, any time of the day or night. After all, a late soak after a long day might be just what the doctor ordered, but not if you trip on the way to the tub and hurt yourself!

However you design the space around your hot tub, make sure that the maintenance panel is accessible at all times, whether through a trap door section of the deck or enough space around the tub, particularly near that panel. You don’t want to have to tear apart your design so repairs can be made!

With all these tips in mind, you can get to planning the ideal hot tub escape to enjoy for years to come.

Decorating With An Autumnal Theme

Whether you’re into Halloween, or just like a little fall decor, there are some fun, kid-friendly ways to jazz up your curb appeal.

Even though trick-or-treating might not be on the ‘to do’ list this year for your family, there’s nothing wrong with decorating your home’s exterior and garden with a little ambiance.

Autumnal Wreaths

There’s no reason you have to limit your wreath creativity for your door and / or windows to the Christmas holiday season. You can use vine branch bases and hot glue on a variety of fall’s natural decorations, to create the perfect wreath. Leaves of all different colours interwoven with acorns, pine cones and a little greenery would look beautiful. It’s a creation that everyone can help with, by finding the perfect leaves and extras.

If you prefer something spooky for Halloween, look no further than your local dollar store for little ghosts, pumpkins, bats and witches to add to a neutral wreath. Imagine a wreath made up entirely of glowing, googly eyeballs? You can even add battery operated LED lights, for a little extra glow.

Floral Delights

There are some flowers that scream autumn, and will add that splash of colour that you might already be craving, as the nights get longer. Chrysanthemums, for example, are ideal this time of year, in pots or in your garden beds, as they add vibrant, natural colour to your design. Other options:

  • Marigolds
  • Peonies
  • Hostas
  • Daylilies
  • Daisies
  • Grasses
  • Ornamental pepper plants

Basically anything in shades or red, orange or yellow will go a long way to setting the autumn scene! If you’re planters are sitting empty right now, you can always take some branches and put them in, either all natural or painted with black, white, silver or gold. Add some pretend cobwebs or a fake crow, if you want to add a little spooky to your look!

Decorate Your Front Garden Trees Or Bushes

The trees that are losing their leaves and the bushes that are settling down for winter make the perfect canvas against which to add some seasonal decorations:

  • Foam cutouts of bats, witches, cats hanging from your tree will blow around with the wind and look fun in the proces.
  • Make ghosts with old pieces of white sheets or cheese cloth, cut into squares, filled with leaves you raked up, tied and a face drawn or pasted on. In a few steps, you’ve got wispy, floating ghosts to hang in your tree.
  • Add some spooky to your bushes by taking the cardboard tubes from your paper towels, cutting two holes and putting a glow stick inside the tube: placed in your bushes, it will look like your garden is coming alive!
  • Mummify your door by wrapping it with white crepe paper streamers. Add two huge felt eyes and you’re done!

Pumpkin Fun

Instead of the typical jack-o-lantern, particularly if you aren’t planning on handing out goodies this year, you can still take a visit to the pumpkin patch and have some fun with the orange gourds.

How about recreating your family with pumpkins? With three pumpkins per ‘person’, going from larger to smaller, they’ll look like little orange snowmen! Add leaves, acorns and other natural extras to make eyes and hair, and set them out to greet visitors before they’ve even arrived at your front door.

You can also line your front walkway with pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes: mixed in with some potted mums or a bale of hay or two and you’ve got an enchanting path to your front door. Include some jars with LED tea lights in them, and turn the earlier sunsets to your advantage.

Another option is to paint pumpkins, creating whatever look you want and grouping your gourds on the porch for anything from a fun, Halloween look to a surprisingly elegant design that picks up colours from the front of your home, or your fall garden. Here are a few ideas of ways to paint your pumpkin, to get you started:

  • A leaf or ivy design, in greens, browns and reds.
  • A fun plaid or simple stripes.
  • Paint them a specific colour, to enhance what the front of your home already looks like. If you have a black door, you could add a black diamond pattern. Or paint them all black, add some eyes and whiskers and you’ve got yourself some spooky black ‘cats’!
  • Gold and silver paint can be extra fun, adding a little shimmer and shine to your design.

If you’re not big on paint, another option is to glue leaves and other garden treasures found in the fall, on to your pumpkins!

A Taste Of The Field

From dried wheat and corn stalks to bales of hay all piled up, adding some elements from a field can lend a down home country look to your front porch and garden. If you want to take it a step further, add a straw filled scarecrow or two, dressed in old clothes and last season’s gardening hat: visitors will walk up to your door and find someone already sitting on the porch!

Hay bales also make great side tables to hold pumpkins, or even to put a blanket on to sit out and enjoy a little of the fall weather. Add some burlap garlands or bows on everything and you’ll have a fully countrified front area, right in the middle of Mississauga (or wherever you are!)

Whether you tie some stalks to porch pillars, or turn them into a garland to surround your front window, there are a lot of ways to add some seasonal decorations that create a cozy, comfortable and inviting look to the front of your home.

How To Use Natural Stone In Your Landscaping

One of the best things about heading out for a hike in the great outdoors is the natural landscape and how a dose of it can calm even the most rumpled of spirits.

Whether you’re looking for a sleek modern look in your yard, or you prefer a slightly more wild design, natural stone is a perfect medium to work with. In addition to the aesthetic side, there are a couple of other advantages to natural stone:

  • It’s tough and durable but it can also be cut and shaped to bring out the best of the stone surface.
  • It’s an environmentally friendly option, relative to man-made materials, and also looks more natural in your outdoor space.

If you want to make a visual impression in your garden or infuse a natural look to your garden walls, steps, stairways or walkways, natural stone is definitely worth considering.

Rocks And Boulders

Provided you have a decently sized yard, rocks and boulders can be the perfect way to add some natural dimension and texture to a design. It is possible to go too far, however, by adding pieces that are too large or don’t fit well within the design of your landscape, so this is an area where you’ll want the discerning eye of a professional landscaper.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you go shopping for rocks for your landscape design:

  • Size matters — A small yard with several large boulders in a raised garden bed might look distinctly uncoordinated. Choose rocks that are proportionate to the size of your yard.
  • Type matters — Stick to one kind of natural stone, or at least pieces that go well together. One way to ensure that is to stick to stone that is local to your area. In Mississauga and southern Ontario, that includes Blue Mountain rock, Orillia Limestone, or pieces from quarries in Peterborough and Bobcaygeon. Another bonus is that local stone will be cheaper than imported rocks.
  • Placement — Consider whether the natural stone will stand out like a sore thumb in the place you want to put it, or if it will blend in and create a natural division? For example, if you have a terraced lawn, natural stone can create a beautiful cascading dividing wall between the two areas, accompanied by appropriate trees or foliage. Sticking a large boulder in the middle of a postage stamp sized yard? Maybe not.

If you’re building a rock garden, swale or some other way to redirect water on your property, river rocks are a great way to line a flowing riverbed, giving a natural appearance. One note about river rocks: Buy the from reputable retailer like Toemar. Never remove them from the side of your local riverbed. At Toemar, river rocks come in 3 sizes.

Flagstone

Cut and shaped to a specific use or used in its more natural shape, flagstone is a beautiful way to create walkways, pathways, entranceways and so on.

All of the areas of your garden that require a more structured and functional design can still be very elegant by using flagstone. Available in a range of colours, there is a flagstone to complement most any design, including Blue Ice, Slate Grey, Limestone Black and so on.

Preferred by many homeowners over interlocking concrete pavers, flagstone is durable and naturally slip resistant, making it a good option for outdoor use. You can choose irregularly cut stone, for a more random, natural look in your design, or tile flagstones, with uniform cut and design, for a more formal look.

Either way, a properly designed walkway or patio will have the beauty of natural stone, with a lot of other design features:

  • Unlike pavers, each stone will have unique attributes, which are gorgeous and add a richness to a design.
  • Flagstone is a very durable medium to work with that will add value to the space you create with it. By the same token, it requires very little in terms of maintenance.

Natural Stone Projects

In addition to the ideas mentioned above, natural stone is a perfect starting point for a variety of landscaping projects including:

  • Ponds and water features: a pond can only be enhanced by the use of natural stone, giving it the true look of being part of the landscape, not just added to it.
  • Fireplaces also look more integrated into the natural landscape, if they are created with natural stone.
  • Retaining walls and flower beds, while intended to create dividers and specific spaces, look more integrated with the natural environment when built with natural stone.

The visual appeal and elegance of natural stone is without compare and a worthwhile investment to create the garden of your dreams.

If you are looking for something more premium, consider Indiana Limestone to use as a natural stone. It’s been in use for more than 200+ years on various projects such as Royal York Hotel, Empire State Building, more recently the Royal Alberta Museum. With that being said, this product is also used for beautiful homes (inside and outside) or for individuals looking to achieve a very specific look in their landscaping project.

If you’re unsure what your want for your outdoor space, grab a coffee and pop by Toemar’s showroom (really, it’s a show-patio within our show-lot!). Wander the lot and take note of those materials that catch your eye. If you’re not sure where to start, one of our staff will be happy to walk you through the different options.

Come visit us.  We look forward to serving you.

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.

The Calming Effects Of Kitchen Gardening

During WWII, governments the world over were encouraging their citizens to plant “victory gardens”.

In Canada, these were vegetable gardens that citizens planted to help supplement their food resources.

But beyond the practical effects of providing additional nutrition, victory gardens were useful in helping people cope with the realities of war.

Today, we’re in a new war against the novel coronavirus so this is a great time to look for ways to help yourself and your family cope with the new normal. Gardening is a perfect outlet for that.

Depending on where you live, it may still be little too early in the season to be turning the soil outside, as you may disturb hibernating bees and butterflies, (which you’ll need if your garden is going to thrive), but there’s nothing wrong with getting your garden going indoors.

April / May is the perfect time to start with seeds for many vegetable options.

Working With Seeds

Growing veggies from seeds isn’t hard, but it does require a few essentials.

While many garden centres are closed during the pandemic, others have curbside pick up of your order available, so give them a call to see what you can get.

  • Use potting mix that is meant for vegetable seed gardening—it’s going to drain well and be more lightweight, so the seeds can sprout easily.
  • Vegetable seeds. More below on what vegetables should work well.
  • A container for starting them. If you don’t have a seed tray, an empty egg carton will help. Just make sure you have a plastic tray underneath it, to contain excess water! You’ll also need something to cover them with, to retain humidity, in the early days of their growth.
  • Once they’ve started sprouting, seedlings need light: a windowsill that gets a lot of sun, or even lights from bulbs will make all the difference.

Once you have your essentials, you can get started:

  1. Fill your seed trays with the potting mix and water it well before even adding your seeds. You’ll want the mix to be thoroughly soaked but you don’t want to add seeds into the wet soil. Let the water drain through the mix before sowing your seeds.
  2. Every vegetable will have different instructions, so make sure you read the packet before you start sowing.
  3. Sprinkle seeds with about a half to full inch between each one and then cover them with another layer of potting mix.
  4. Cover them with a plastic cover—standard kitchen wrap will work—until they germinate and don’t place them in harsh, direct sunlight just yet. You don’t want to fry them with a hot, direct heat source! The cover will keep them warm and humid, with water dripping down to feed back into the tray: it’s self-watering at its best!
  5. When they’ve begun to sprout (or germinate, for the technical term), you can take the cover off and move them into a sunny spot.
  6. For watering, the key is consistency. You don’t want them to dry out or to drown! Even, consistent watering is best.
  7. You’ll also need to fertilize the soil, if your potting mix didn’t already come with slow release chemical fertilizers. Read the directions carefully however because over fertilizing can burn the very tender root structure that is forming.

Once you’ve planted your seeds, make sure you label the containers with both the date you planted them and what they are.

Different veggies require different amounts of water and light, per the packet instructions mentioned above.

Most seedlings take about 6 weeks to grow to a point where they can be potted into larger containers where you add veggie soil.

They will need 6-8 hours of sunlight a day to keep growing successfully, once potted out, so consider that a window sill might not do the trick after a while.

Whether you transplant them to a garden plot or to larger containers, just remember that you need good drainage to ensure your plants get the nutrients they need without rotting.

If you are using containers, size matters. You can use large trays that are only inches deep for things like lettuce because you’ll cultivate them quickly and before they are very large. Crops like beans and cucumbers, however, need to be able to build a solid root system and have a structure to be able to support them as they begin to climb upwards.

Obviously, crops that grow underground, like carrots, need a certain amount of depth of soil as well.

Before you move your seedlings outside, they need to be hardened. Basically, this involves slowly taking your seedlings outdoors to get them used to the light, wind and rain before you transplant them into a garden bed or large containers outside. Take them outside for the day, and bring them back in at night for several days, eventually stretching that out to all day and night until you can get them transplanted.

If the sun is direct, you might want to give them some partial shade during the hottest part of the day, while they are still very young.

Ambient temperature matters too.

While hardier crops like chard, lettuce and spinach can thrive even if the temperature is around 15 degrees, warm weather veggies like tomatoes and peppers need consistent temperatures of 20 degrees, so consider that when you are thinking of moving your seedlings outdoors.

Vegetables That Grow Well From Seeds

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it does give you an idea of what you can get going on right now, so you can be transplanting when the weather is more consistently warmer, in May and June:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce, as well as other leafy greens like Swiss chard and spinach
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Of course, you can’t forget all the wonderful herbs that you can grow indoors year round, if you want to: basil, coriander, parsley and rosemary are easy to grow and will add so much flavour to your cooking.

Enjoying a delicious dinner with your family can be a bright spot in an otherwise difficult time.

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!