Month: March 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Garden Designs and Landscaping Ideas

Garden Design / Landscaping Ideas

Whether you’re a gardening guru or a newbie looking at a clean slate, there is always room for yet another idea, or a change up if you’re bold with old designs.  Here are some tips to get you started.


Gardens come in all shapes and sizes, and if you don’t have a yard, you’ve still got container options.  One really great tip is to start small.  If you dive in with a huge plot to plan, plant and maintain, you can easily become overwhelmed.  I’ve seen so many gardens that started with the right intentions but have turned into renovation nightmares.  When choosing plants, especially trees, consider their mature size, not just the size they’re at when you buy.  Don’t overplant.  Give them room to grow and fill in.

Garden Types

There are gorgeous garden options no matter where you live, and many zones have a variety of options to choose from.  Plan your garden, incorporating spaces to sit and enjoy your hard work.  The best seating area will be just outside your back door.  Make it inviting with great seating and shade to make it comfortable in the hottest part of the day or first thing in the morning.

Colour Scheme

You may have read about “colour rules” for your garden, but if you find something you love, go ahead and plant it; just do a little research to be sure it’s going to be a good fit, long term.  Size matters.  Consider foliage colour as well as bloom colours.  Many perennials have fairly short blooming periods and then you are left with the foliage which may not be all that attractive.

Garden Centres vs Big Box Stores

You might be tempted to shop at the nearest big box store where they advertise the cheapest rates for garden plants.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  Your local garden centres carry what they know will survive in your climate.  Big box stores carry what sells.  Case in point, my girlfriend who decided she wanted to include roses in her garden and headed out to drop $500 in the nearest box store.  Yes they were beautiful and yes they lasted all of about a month.  If she’d gone to a local garden centre, she would likely have spent far less, been armed with a host of roses, the knowledge of how to care for them and roses that would actually survive the season and many more seasons to come.

Perennials vs Annuals

A perennial is a plant that will come back year after year, generally with little maintenance.  Examples are daisies, lilies, foxglove, hostas, peonies, etc.  An annual is a one shot deal – the plant blooms, dies, and won’t reappear. Some annuals will need dead-heading to keep them blooming; geraniums for example.  Petunias, begonias, impatiens, coleus for example are consistent bloomers right until frost.  Consider annuals for shots of colour in well placed containers.  They will also supplement your “backbone” perennials in spaces that you won’t often want to change.

Whatever type of garden you plant, enjoy the process. Gardening will get you outside and improve your health in a host of different ways.  Whether you are doing the work; weeding, digging, watering and hauling compost, or simply enjoying the benefits of the most welcome space in your home, enjoy.  Take the advice of your horticultural trades professionals.  Explore your options!


Your Garden and our Warm Winter.. Good news or bad?

Some of us have truly enjoyed this pleasantly mild ‘winter’.  Skiers, snowmobilers and cold weather lovers, not so much.

But for gardeners, the real question is, “how has my lawn and garden survived this winter?”  Well, the situation isn’t actually too bad.

Yes, we received less than half the moisture, (44 cm, when we usually get an average of 95cm of snow). But otherwise your landscape will have come out fairly well.

That is, with the exception of your parched evergreens, who are screaming for water at this point.


Evergreens need to get moisture back into their foliage.  Just as winter winds and cold suck the moisture out of our skin, the same applies to the foliage of your evergreens.  So as soon as you turn your outside water back on, give them a good drink.  Turn your tap to about quarter strength, wrap the hose around the trunk of your tree and let the water soak in for a half hour or so.  Repeat again about once a week until we are into a steady rainy season.  Your evergreens will thank you for it!

Landscape Clean Up

With spring surely arriving early this year, take advantage and start your shrub revitalization.  Pruning from the inside out will give old shrubs a nicer shape.  And newer shrubs will expand their longevity with an annual trimming out of dead wood, over-grown or broken stalks.  Without all the foliage, you can get in there and cut out the stuff that needs to go.

There is a significant difference between restorative pruning and trimming/shearing.  Great for hedges and topiaries but once foliage is on your shrubs, it’s more about trimming/shearing than it is about pruning like we’re doing in the spring. (Think of trimming/shearing like going to the hair dresser for styling.)

Winter pruning example:pruning_heading-back_SMALL (1)
Shearing/trimming example:Sheared shrubs
Hopefully, your lawn doesn’t look like this right now. If you didn’t get a chance to clean up all the leaves in the fall, get them off your lawn now.  Those wet leaves can destroy your lawn. Leaves left on lawns over winter

And those leaves you decided to leave in your gardens in the fall, great, you can work those into the soil now.

Fertilizing – Feeding lawns, gardens and trees

Now that the clean-up is done and you’ve had a chance to look more closely at your landscape and garden, you will probably start to think about fertilizing and the best time to do it.

Great question.  Early spring is perfect for trees and shrubs.  They’ll suck up the fertilizer with the moisture in the soil.  There is no need to rush fertilizing your lawn though.

By the way, do you follow the best practice of putting down a good late fall fertilizer on your lawn?  If not, please consider this for the fall this year.  But let’s not think about fall just yet.  Just a little head’s up not to forget the most important feeding of the year.

This spring, apply your first fertilizer after the initial lawn green up has occurred.

 FACT: Your grass will start to grow when the daytime temperatures are over 12C.

 Applying fertilizer too early will result in surge growth.  That’s when your grass outgrows itself… and by early summer you’ll be a left with a dustbowl for a lawn.

 TIP:  Too much food too early and your lawn will outgrow itself

Surge growth

Yikes!  Weeds!

Weeds!  None of us want to talk about this, but it’s always on our minds; our enemy, weeds.  When will they be back and how do we deal with their visit?

Sadly, we’ve come to a time to learn that you’re just going to have to get used them   I know, you’re cringing at the thought and possibly you’re not ready to accept a crazy notion like that.  Sorry, but weeds are here to stay.  Pesticides have been banned in Ontario since 2009 and there has been consultation by the government since 2002.  It’s not new news.  Time flies.

A healthy lawn doesn’t mean its weed free.  We’ve embraced a healthier environment.  A weed-free lawn is not easy to attain while respecting the environment, especially if you have a large property.  Yes, I see people out with their dandelion diggers and those great tools that the hardware stores sell but if your neighbours have weeds, you have an almost impossible task to keep your lawn “weedless”.

You’re thinking, and saying to yourself, “I’m driving down the street, and I see that my neighbour’s lawn is so perfect?  How is that possible?”  Well, there’s a good possibility there are some cross border shoppers bringing home “lawn narcotics” that are no longer available here.  Sorry, in my professional opinion, that’s just not the way to go.

 TIP: You’ll go a long way competing with those weeds if you:

  • Fertilize
  • Aerate
  • Water properly

And now, here is my personal favourite suggestion; get outside and enjoy!

For more great advice or simply great service that lets you relax and enjoy your outdoor space, contact Green Thumb Landscaping today. 

 We create landscapes that leave a lasting impression..An impression you will be proud of! Learn more about lawn maintenance and landscaping  on our website!


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