Category Archives: Landscaping Questions Answered

Ditch the Sprinkler with These Water-Efficient Landscaping Ideas

From efficient plants to water-smart landscaping, your lawn can certainly do its part to improve water efficiency.

Ready for a shock? The average household guzzles down 320 gallons of water a day—that’s about nine full bath tubs’ worth of liquid! And about 30 percent of that gets dumped out straight on the lawn. Conventional water sprinklers are so inefficient that about half of all the water they use is totally wasted.

Mulch the Eco-friendly Way

Mulching bed around the house and bushes, wheelbarrel along with a showel.

Many new gardeners assume that mulching is just for appearances—but did you know it does a lot more for your beds than covering up the dirt? Mulch not only roots out troublesome weeds, it conserves moisture in the soil. A layer of it around plants more closely mirrors natural conditions, since forested areas are typically topped with nutrient-rich plant debris. Inside this mixture of twigs, bark, and leaves are beneficial microbes that subsist off the decaying matter. As these organisms break down organic material, transforming it into soil, they give off a sticky, almost glue-like substance that holds the topsoil together so that it has a crumbly texture. Soil with this texture holds in water much more effectively than other consistencies. Mulching with organic materials like leaves or pine needles kicks off this natural process, so that the soil is less likely to dry out—and it also forms a protective layer that keeps water from evaporating as fast.

Forget the Landscaping—Go for Hardscaping

A professional landscaping job with stone path and stone steps.

Turf is overrated, at least where water conservation is concerned. Hardscaping, the collective name for stone features used to landscape a garden or exterior area, gets points for being drought-tolerant—and when used properly, can really add some modern verve to your lawn. A terraced backyard, for instance, uses stone boundary walls to create multiple tiers—which can then be topped by native plants or beds of pebbles.

Other options? If you have a smaller lawn, try extending your paved patio out further from the back door. Leave openings for attractive beds that provide a peak of color, without being too hard on your water profile. Or add a “dry creek bed” finished with appealing native stones and pebbles—as a bonus, permeable paving like this helps collect rainfall and return it to the soil. Curved paths, steps, and stacked retaining walls all offer notes of interest in the hardscaped yard. And the best part? You’ll never forget to water them!

Spruce Up Your Beds with Ornamental Grasses and Succulents

Cortaderia selloana Grass in the Park Citadel in Barcelona, Spain. The Park is also called Ciutadella Park. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia

Most lawns are pretty thirsty—experts recommend giving your grass about one to two inches of water a week, which is about two-thirds of a gallon for every square foot. That means that if you’ve got quite a bit of turf on your hands, your lawn could be practically guzzling water!

The alternatives take a little more planning—and a designer’s eye—but they’re definitely worth it when you weigh your water footprint. In particular, native ornamental grasses make for a pretty stunning display. Try pairing two species at varying heights for a more polished look. These work well along a fence or border wall, or in place of less drought-tolerant shrubs against your house or beside an entryway. You should try to pick varieties that are native to your area.

When You Do Water, Do It Wisely

Detail of a working lawn sprinkler head watering colorful flower in the garden.

No matter how hardy the plant, most species need a little supplemental watering every once and awhile, especially during the driest parts of the year. Certain techniques definitely are more water-efficient than others, however. For instance, never water your garden during the hottest part of the day. Not only will the water evaporate more quickly, meaning your plants don’t get the good soak they deserve, if the sunlight is very intense, the reflection from the water droplets could damage the leaves.

Likewise, you can adopt practices that will minimize runoff as well. For instance, a short watering—say one to four minutes—three to four times in a day is much more efficient than a long soak. If you must have the sprinkler, turn it off after a rain or in the winter, when most plants are dormant.  Investigate a water-saving smart irrigation system. Using your input, such as your soil type, area, and sun exposure, these WiFi-connected sprinkler controllers are able to create a customized watering schedule that delivers just the right amount of irrigation— no more, no less. Many can even access weather reports to automatically cancel watering if it’s just rained. And the EPA estimates that products labeled with its WaterSense efficiency rating save an average 9,000 gallons of water per household annually. That’s a lot of water for one little change! With updates like these, the future of our water table is right in your hands.

4 Simple Pesticides for Your Garden

Check out these easy and natural pesticides that you can make at home.

Spring has arrived. It’s only a matter of time before insects arrive in droves to your garden. Begin protecting your lawn and garden with pesticides now so that the impact of them will be less throughout the growing season. Check out these easy and natural pesticides that you can make at home:

1. Oil Spray Insecticide

If you see a lot of aphids, mites, or other small insects on your plants consider making an easy oil spray to help kill these pesky insects. Simply mix together 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of soap in a jar. Mix two teaspoons of this mixture to spray bottle filled with one quart of water. Shake the mixture and spray directly onto plants to help eliminate insects. The oil will keep insects away without hurting your plants. Spray affected plants every 10 days to keep insects at bay. As suggested by landscape experts, make sure to apply your solution carefully as natural remedies sterilize the surround soil as well.

2. Diatomaceous Earth

This commonly known natural product is regularly found in the Earth’s crust. Diatomaceous Earth is made up of the sharp remains of miniscule fossilized plants and can be easily found in garden centers. For a do-it-yourself version, rinse and breakdown egg shells into a granular state. Use this natural compound by sprinkling it around plants in your garden. The sharp contents will keep insects away without harming your plants at all.

3. Sprinkle Soap

For those homeowners who have a high population of deer in their area, sprinkling soap around gardens is a great way to deter deer from eating your prized petunias. Soap can be used in a few different ways and is a great way to easily deter pests from the garden. Full bars of soap can be used if put on spears in the garden or slices of soap can also be used around the garden area as well. If you have just planted seedlings, consider shaving soap and sprinkling it on the garden bed.

The soap deters deer who don’t like the fragrant aroma and will also help to keep bugs away as it dehydrates them in the soil. Soap won’t hurt plants and will last as long as the rain allows it to before being washed away. Highly fragrant soaps, like Irish Spring, are the best choice when using in your garden as a deterrent.

4. Order Ladybugs

Ladybugs are not only pretty to look at but they also are quite the helper when it comes to ridding your garden of unwanted insects like aphids. One ladybug can eat up to 50 aphids a day and they also will help rid your garden of other insects like boil worm, corn earworm, scale, leaf hopper, and mealybugs. Ladybugs can be ordered online and will arrive at your door hungry and ready to feast. Simply open the container at sundown to encourage them to scatter, without flying away, and they will go to work on ridding your garden of insects quickly!
Keeping your outdoor space free from pests is easy with these simple things that you can do at home. Mix up some oil spray, slice some soap, or order some ladybugs to quickly rid your garden of insects this growing season. #cbrmr

Investing in Curb Appeal

Thinking of renovating your home, either for yourself or to add head-turning sales appeal for potential buyers? Consider your return on investment (ROI) before you get too far.

On average, Canadian homeowners plan to spend about $16,400 on their home renovations*, so it’s important to ask yourself how long you plan to stay in your home after your renovation project. If you’re simply looking to freshen it up in order to put it on the market, you’ll be looking at your projects in a whole different light than if you’re planning to stay in the house for a few more years.

While the Appraisal Institute of Canada notes that kitchen and bathroom renovations can receive a 75% to 100% ROI, they also suggest homeowners not underestimate the value of inexpensive upgrades, noting that light landscaping or gardening, a fresh coat of paint, modern lighting fictures, or even upgraded door handles can give a home an updated look and feel, without spending a lot of money.

The spring real estate rush is on, so if you’re thinking of putting your house on the market, you may want to focus first on renovation projects that reflect prominently on a home’s curb appeal, enticing potential buyers to want to see more. Quick and simple tasks like painting your front door, mowing the grass, giving the yard a good tidying up and arranging bright flowers in outdoor containers go far in creating impressive curb appeal. #cbrmr

Read This Post Before Raking Up Those Fall Leaves

Bring the beauty of fall into your home with these easy DIY decor projects.

Ahh Fall Foliage…so beautiful but also SO messy!

For those who live in parts of the world that get to experience fall foliage you can relate to the love/hate relationship that comes with the turn of the season. On one hand the beauty of the changing leaves is something we look forward to with the first cool breeze that returns each year. On the other, cleaning up our yards seems like a never ending task. Before you break out your rake and drag that pile of leaves to your curb check out some creative ways you can add the beauty of fall to your home with these DIY leaf decor projects.

Throw Pillows | Butiksofie

This DIY project is so incredibly affordable and allows you to create gorgeous one of a kind fall decor that is subtle yet spectacular. Learn How Here

Leaf Bowl | diyncraftpriscilla

This autumnal bowl brings nature into your home and provides the perfect place for small treats (like Halloween candy). Watch Below

Leaf CoastersConfessionsofahomeschooler

This project is an awesome one to do with children and makes a great hostess gift for any fall house parties you are attending. Learn how here

Leaf Wreath | DIYMood

Treat yourself to a warm welcome home from the moment you walk in the door with a dried leaf wreath (I know you are impressed with my rhyming skills :) ) Watch Below.

Framed Pressed Leaves |witandwhistle

Swapping out pictures is a great way to keep your home decor fresh and this project will give you beautiful decor that you can bring back each year. Learn how here

So there you have it, five fall projects that will leaf any auntumn fan happy at home. Happy Fall Y’all!

Light The Way To A Successful Sale!

Photo

When presenting your home for sale, the value of curb appeal can’t be emphasized enough. Here are some ways to shine a light on your selling opportunity.

  • Illuminated address sign. Make your address easy to find with an illuminated address sign or at least a spotlight shining on your house number. This is a great idea even if you’re not selling your home, as it allows everyone, from the pizza delivery person to emergency first responders, to find you quickly and easily.
  • A well-lit path. Once the potential buyer finds your house, make sure their trip to the front door is clear and well lit. This is an attractive feature that also doubles as a safety measure for both you and your visitors, who need a clear view and safe access to your home’s entrance.
  • Highlighted landscaping. A lot of time and money goes into creating a beautiful lawn and garden. Consider how to best highlight your outdoor efforts using uplights to illuminate trees from below, and quality solar lights to cast a magical glow to the garden.

In many cases, the evening hours are the only time available for potential buyers to view your property. Make sure you present your home in the best possible light with attractive path, patio and landscape lighting systems, no matter what time of day it is!

Green Tips for Keeping Your Home Cool in the Summer

It’s easier to keep cool when you use a few passive-cooling tips. Greener is cooler when you open a window!

No doubt about it, summers are hotter these days. For many homeowners, this means switching on the air conditioning to help keep their home cool. But did you ever wonder what homeowners did before this cool idea came along? It turns out that some of the old-school tricks are still useful today. Whether you want to keep your summers greener or want to keep your energy bills low, there are some great efficiency lessons we can learn from homeowners of the past:

1. Minimize incoming heat naturally – Those trees and shrubs that add curb appeal to your home pull double-duty by filtering direct light that comes through windows and heats your rooftop. With less heat entering your home, your home doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the indoors cool.

2. Cross-ventilate – This is a built-in feature for many older homes: windows strategically placed to maximize airflow through interior spaces. Not only does natural airflow help boost your indoor air quality, it also cools interior spaces efficiently.

200 Series Perma-Shield Patio Door with Blinds Between the Glass Option and Anvers Satin Nickel Hardware

200 Series Perma-Shield Patio Door with Blinds Between the Glass Option and Anvers Satin Nickel Hardware

3. Throw some shade – Maybe you remember visiting grandparents who kept shades and curtains drawn during the daytime. Odd as it may have seemed, they knew that this simple move helps cut “solar gain.” With the shades drawn, a well-insulated house doesn’t heat as quickly during the daytime.

4. Maximize your energy efficiency – Sealing air leaks and improving insulation isn’t just a wintertime tip! When a house is functioning better, you feel the benefits year-round. Some improvements, like installing more efficient windows, make more of a difference than you think.

400 Series Casement Windows, White, Specified Equal Light Grilles

400 Series Casement Windows, White, Specified Equal Light Grilles

5. Cool down at night – Open your windows to let more cool air into the house overnight. Then close the windows as the sun rises and begins warming the air. This will help trap that cooler air indoors to keep things more comfortable throughout the day.

6. Get the latest glass – While this may not be an old-school trick, we just could not stand to leave it out. By simply making sure you have the right glass in your home, you can make a big impact on the comfort and efficiency of your home.

As time has proven, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Keeping your home comfortable throughout the year is easier to do when you marry new technologies with old-fashioned common sense.

5 Reasons to Grow Vegetables in Raised Beds

Check Out the Community Raided Bed Garden at the corner of John and Albert Street in Oshawa as well as the Community Garden across the Street.

Home Depot breaks down the big advantages of planting your produce in a raised bed.
 Growing vegetables in raised beds can produce a bountiful harvest in the fall. That may be reason enough to consider raised bed gardening, but there are plenty of others, as well.

Here are the five best advantages to planting your produce in a raised bed:

1. You can garden anywhere. A raised bed is a frame that contains soil. That means you can orient it to take full advantage of the sun and move it around the yard to find the best location. Pre-made beds come in a variety of sizes, which means you can place them close to the house for convenience. If you don’t have a lot of yard space, you can place your bed on your deck or patio—but if you do, be sure to build or buy a bed with a bottom and legs to keep it raised above the hard surface and allow for proper drainage.

2. You have complete control over the soil your vegetables grow in. Unlike a traditional garden where you start with the soil that is already there and work it to get it to an acceptable level, a raised bed lets you start with a blank slate. You determine the type of soil that is best. Basically, you want soil that contains a large amount of organic matter and drains well. The depth of the soil depends on the depth of the raised bed and the vegetables you will be growing, and whether the bed is open to the soil below. Just be sure to give the roots plenty of room.

When it is time to prepare the garden for winter, add a layer of compost to the soil. If you don’t have compost, use shredded leaves and grass clippings or rotted manure. Many gardeners add compost in the spring, which is fine, but adding it in the fall gives it more time to decompose in the soil. Simply till the organic matter into the soil with a garden fork.

Replenishing the soil is especially important for raised-bed gardens because they lose soil over time, and like any container, repeated plantings drains the soil of nutrients. Many people simply replace the soil in a raised bed and start over in the spring. That is not necessary. By adding organic matter, you will replenish the soil and keep the container full. Rotating the crops you plant also helps preserve the nutrients in the soil.

3. Raised beds produce higher yields than traditional gardening. Raised beds are not planted in the same manner as a traditional garden. Rather than planting a row of plants with a walkway separating the rows, the plants in a raised bed can be planted block style. In other words, plants are spaced an equal distance in all directions, creating a block of plants that are all spaced equidistance from one another. In a publication for the Colorado Master Gardeners program entitled “Block Style Layouts in Raised Vegetable Gardens,” the authors stated that this method of planting yields five times that of a traditional garden.

This approach is similar to the one found in the book All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Bartholomew starts with a square raised bed and then divides it into one-foot squares. Each square is planted with a different type plant. The number of plants in each square will depend on the size of the plant.

These methods result in larger harvests because more plants are put in the ground in a smaller space and the plants are spaced closer together than they would be in a traditional garden. Or, sow seeds by following the “thin to” spacing found on your seed packets. Because gardening conditions vary, experiment with different spacing. This is where a garden diary or log can help. Experience will help you determine the right plant spacing for your garden.

Because you don’t walk on a raised bed, there is no fear of compacting the soil, which can harm growing plants and reduce the overall yield.

4. Raised beds require less work than traditional gardens. Because plants are close together in a block layout, weed growth is discouraged, meaning you won’t need to weed often. And if the bed is deep enough and contains a ledge, you can sit and rest on the edge while weeding, trimming or watering. You also won’t need to bend down to reach your plants.

Watering a compact raised bed is easier than watering a large row garden. You can use a hose with a wand shower attachment, but soaker hoses or drip-irrigation systems are more efficient. Once they are set up, they deliver water directly to the base of the plant. Attaching a timer to the system is even more efficient.

Raised beds are easy to cover to provide protection from the sun or insects. They are also easy to fence in to keep out animals who may raid your garden.

5. Raised beds may be planted earlier than traditional gardens. The soil in a raised bed will warm up sooner than soil in the ground, so you may be able to get your veggies and flowers planted earlier in the growing season than you would with a traditional garden. The beds are also easy to cover if the forecast predicts a spring frost or heavier-than-usual rains.

Planting your garden in a raised bed will allow you more control and ease of use. They make it easy to get the garden you dream of with little work and a longer growing season.

 

Spring Cleaning Tips to Spruce Up Your Home

Outdoor spring cleaning tips are essential this time of year. In Philadelphia, winter leaves behind dull surfaces, chipped concrete, and brown lawns. These tips will help you make your home sparkle this spring!

When you are looking for spring cleaning tips, you usually encounter advice to help you get organized, clean up, and reduce clutter inside your home. But winter has taken its toll on the outside of your home, too. These spring cleaning tips will help you get the outside of your home looking pretty in a jiffy!

Smooth It Out

Shoveling and salt can affect your sidewalk. Once the snow melts, it may reveal cracked, chipped concrete. You can fix this yourself with just a few simple supplies you can find at your local home improvement store. Check out this sidewalk repair guidethat tells you exactly what to buy and how to use it.

Wash and Check It

Winter may also leave behind dull, dirty surfaces on and around your home. Is your siding looking dingy? Deck looking dirty or dull from the sun? First, wash these surfaces and see if that improves how they look. If not, consider staining your deck or replacing parts of your siding. Doing these things now can help ensure that by the time cookout season is upon us, your home and deck will look great for guests!

Grow Some Green

Is your lawn more brown than green, with bare muddy patches and areas of dead grass? Now is the time to spread some grass seed so that the spring showers will help it grow. If you’ve never grown grass from seed before, this simple lawn-planting guidewill help you get started.

Make It Colorful

Are your flower beds looking bare? If so, brighten them up with your favorite flowering plants. And flowers aren’t just for the garden, either! Consider installing window boxes on the first floor windows, and plant some flowers in there. Or, buy pots of flowers that you can use to decorate the front porch or back patio or deck.

Get Your Hands Dirty

When you’re dealing with spring cleaning tips, you’re bound to get a little dirty! Once you’ve planted flowers, there’s still one more detail you need to do to make your garden look great. Last season’s mulch probably looks dingy and sun-dulled by now. Purchase some fresh, new mulch for your garden. Since fresh mulch is generally darker than older mulch, it’ll really help the flowers’ colors pop!

Add a Fun Finishing Touch

Add some details to your outdoor space that are fun and whimsical. Consider a garden gnome or outdoor statuette of your favorite animal. Hang bird feeders from trees, or place a bird bath in your backyard. Hang wind chimes or a pretty outdoor mobile. Light up your space with tiki torches or solar-powered string lights. The possibilities are endless!

Take Pictures

This is especially important if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market anytime soon. Once all these details are completed and your home looks its absolute best, take photos! That way, when you decide to sell your home, you’ll already have pictures of it looking great. That’s even more helpful if you eventually sell during a winter month, as people will want to see what your home looks like during the warmer months!

Your Home’s October Honey-Do List

Get your home ready for the spookiest month of the year with this list of to do’s.

our house 009

It’s official. Summer is over, the kids are back to school and the leaves are beginning to change. October is upon us–the month of crisp fall weather, spooky traditions, and cozy moments at home. Here is what you need to know to get your home ready for the pookiest month of the year.

1. Don’t Fall Behind on Your Garden – Just because the summer months are over, it doesn’t mean that you have liberty to neglect your yard. Spruce up your garden by planting chrysanthemums which bring an added pop of color to the fall landscape. Add a few dried corn stalks to a lamp post or mailbox for natural decor. As for those potted plants that have been living outdoors all summer, start transitioning them indoors now with these 4 easy steps.

2. Reorganize the Garage/Attic – It’s time to tuck the beach toys behind the rakes and shovels. Bring the Halloween decorations down from the attic and stock up on on-sale gardening products for next spring. As always with any reorganization project, be sure to evaluate how much use particular items got this summer. If necessary, donate unused or unwanted items and trash broken tools and supplies.

3. Collect Your Costumes – Decide on a costume early, before the stores are picked over and supplies are low. Try on all the moving pieces to make sure everything fits and make plans for cooler weather, if necessary.

4. Spooktacular Halloween Decor – Halloween is all about making your home spooktacular. That said, it can be easy to do a little too much. Not to worry, we’ve got the guide to decorating for Halloween without going overboard. If you’re looking for even more decor ideas, try the Coldwell Banker Holiday Home Decor Ideas pinterest board.

5. Touch Down! – That’s right. We’re telling you to watch football. But, before you wave the white flag and surrender to your Barcalounger in front of the flat screen all day Sunday, read our Father’s Guide to Fantasy Football Enjoyment in a Crowded House.

6. Champion your Meal Calendar – Now that school is in full swing, your family calendar is crowded with soccer games, Halloween parades and piano recitals. Getting everyone to the dinner table at the same time is an epic challenge. Make dinner prep easier by mapping out your meal plan a week in advance. If you know football practice may run late on Monday, make extra portions on Sunday night for easy heat & eat the next day. Hey, there’s even an app for that!

7. Get your Fireplace Ready – This is the time for cozy nights at home by the fire. Make sure your fireplace is ready for those cooler nights by following these 3 steps.

8. Get Cozy! – Switch out your lighter bedding for wamer, cozier linens. Swap your light down blanket for a heavier duvet, add a faux fur throw blanket at the base of the bed and use linens made of cozier material like flannel or wool. Looking for inspiration for a cozy fall bedroom? Try our Beautiful Bedrooms pinterest board.

9. Weather Proof your Home – Before the colder months set in, check weather stripping on windows and doors. Also be sure to caulk cracks and gaps in siding. For those in coastal areas, be sure that your home is ready for Hurricane Season by following this guide for Hurricane preparedness.

 

Buy Local Buy Fresh – Home Durham Farm Fresh

Buy local! Your guide to farm fresh veggies and fruit.

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Buy Local Buy Fresh – Home Durham Farm Fresh

Durham Farm Fresh has created a seasonal availability schedule that shows the average growing times for each farm fresh product. Keep in mind that weather conditions can alter these times.

Our Farmers

Durham Region is home to some of the most talented and innovative farmers in Canada. Many of the farms have been family owned and operated for many generations. Farming is truly in the blood of Durham Region and we are proud to represent such a dynamic group of farmers.

Farmers Markets

Farmers’ Markets are unique in that they bring together communities every week, all for the love of farm fresh food! Durham Farm Fresh represents farmers’ markets throughout the region, which many of our farmers attend. Visiting farmers’ markets is a great “one-stop-shop” and the easiest way you can support your local farmers.

 Chefs and Restaurants

Chefs and restaurants in Durham Region know the importance of supporting local farmers and farmers’ markets. The food not only tastes better, but buying from farms keeps money in the local economy. Durham Farm Fresh hopes to strengthen the relationship between the farm and the table by representing the chefs and restaurants that support local farms.

Check out whats in Season Today and Support our local farmers.