Gardening Tips

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Accessorizing Your Garden

The three components to any landscape design are:

  • The hard constructed landscape - paths, driveway, fence, gate, pergola, gazebo
  • The soft landscape - plant material including the lawn
  • Decorative accessories - (finish a design) wind-chimes, garden plaques, water features, birdbaths etc.
Algae & The Water Garden

All water gardens have algae but too much algae can cause the water to become cloudy and turn green. Water naturally contains many elements, mineral salts, and nitrates. When sunlight hits the water, the temperature increases and evaporation takes place. The mineral salts, nitrates etc. are left behind and the water is 100% pure. This is compounded every time more water is added. Algae feed on the salts and nitrates and proliferate when concentrations are increased.

Amazing Amaryllis

Amaryllis is a flowering plant that is available in the fall for indoor cultivation and is truly spectacular for the sheer size of the bulb, the lily-like flowers and long, strap-like leaves. They are easy to grow and with proper care will bloom again in future years.

Animals in the Garden

Many gardeners share their gardens with animals - some welcome, some not.

Annuals

Annuals provide great colour, form, and texture to any garden. Unlike Perennials which blooms for a limited amount of time, Annuals will flower continuously (with the proper care) until the frost hits. There are so many annuals to choose from; whether you plant a few or a lot, you will never be bored.
 

Attracting Birds to your Garden

Garden Plants That Attract Birds

Birds feed on seed, berries, fruit, nuts, and insects. Some of these things can be provided by plant material in your own garden. Look for the bird symbol beside plants in our Garden Guide to quickly identify special ornamental plants that provide these materials. Plants that attract birds range in size.

Attracting Hummingbirds & Butterflies

If you are planning a new garden with lots of flowering plant material, why not include plants that will attract one of nature’s smallest miracles; the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird or a beautiful butterfly?

Balcony Gardening

If you don’t have a back yard, your balcony can still make it possible to have a beautiful garden.

Bonsai

Originally, the term Bonsai simply meant ‘a plant grown in a container’. Today, Bonsai means ‘miniaturized plant, shrub, or tree in a planter’. This miniaturization process is achieved by planting in a smaller than normal container and by judicious pruning to make the plant resemble its larger counterpart in nature. The art of Bonsai was developed long ago in the Far East where it was considered an expression of the harmony between heaven and earth, man and nature.

Bromeliads & Air Plants

Bromeliads and Air Plants are distinctly different and desirable because of their striking foliage and unusual flowers. Both groups come from the same large family of plants known as Bromeliaceae which includes pineapples and Spanish moss.
 

Bulbs for All Seasons

Learn how to create the perfect growing environment for bulb blooms.

Caring for your Christmas Plants

There are many different plants used around the world during the festive season of Christmas.

Cattleya Orchids

Cattleya Orchids are native to the Americas, particularly to the tropical regions, where they thrive in high humidity and abundant light. The colour range is vast and exotic. Blooms can be 13-18 cm (5- 7”) across in white, yellow, orange, purple, pink, lavender, blue, green, and red. Some are even multicoloured. The flower has three narrow sepals, two broader side petals, and a large, tubular lip at the bottom. Cattleyas bloom in spring, fall, or winter depending on the variety.

Clematis

Clematis is one of the most popular flowering vines. They bloom in almost every colour; flowers can be single, double, or semi-double, ranging from small to large. Their shape can be tubular, star-like, flat open discs, or nodding bells. Depending on the cultivar, flowering can take place in spring and again in late summer, all summer long, or in late summer through fall.


 

Companion Planting

The relationship between plants and insects is known as “companion planting”. Long before the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, it was known that certain plants grow and/or taste better when planted next to each other. One type of plant may help another by providing shelter From wind, sun, or frost. Plants may help each other by improving the soil with minerals and nutrients.

Composting

Homeowners can do their part by recycling most yard and kitchen waste. “Composting” is a simple process in which this material can be turned into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner often referred to as black gold. The addition of compost to any garden soil encourages plants to develop a deeper, more fibrous system that makes it more vigorous, productive, and drought resistant. Compost also conditions the soil so it’s able to retain the moisture and nutrients as well as allowing more air into the soil system. Healthy roots depend on air, water, and readily available nutrients.
 

Cut Flowers from your Garden

If you love the flowers in your garden, take the time to grow more so you have enough to enjoy them in your home as well as in your garden. Every flower arrangement you create from your garden will be unique depending on what’s in season at the time and your choice of vase or container.
 

Deciduous Trees

Trees are an important part of landscaping. They add beauty and a sense of structure to any garden, street, commercial property, or public space. Environmentally, they are essential to our survival. Trees moderate climate by cooling in summer (deflecting sun and heat) and warming in winter (deflecting wind), thereby reducing energy costs. They improve air quality by removing dust and other particulates from the air. The leaves absorb harmful carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide and give off huge amounts of life-giving oxygen. Trees also absorb sound and provide shelter to birds and other wildlife. Their size provides privacy wherever it’s required.
 

Dormant Spraying

Dormant spraying combines Horticulture Oil and Lime Sulphur to kill overwintering insects (such as scale and mites), insect eggs, and diseases on certain hardy landscape plants.
 

Drought Tolerant Plants

Keep in mind that all plants require water, light, and nutrients to grow. There are however, some plants that need little water or can go for extended periods without watering (once established). These are what we call “drought- tolerant.” plants. There is a relatively new concept in landscape design called “Xeriscaping”. This is choosing plants that will survive on only the natural water that is available to them. These plants should be grouped together in a dry sunny area of your garden.
 

Dwarf Plants for Small Spaces

How to Choose Dwarf Plants

When choosing plants for your small space there are a few things you need to know to ensure you have success.

Every Plant Has A Place

We as homeowners can help the environment by planting only native and non-invasive garden species. Find out more about invasive plants, what are the dangers and how to recognize them...

Fall Gardening Tips

Fall is the perfect time for planting, while the ground is still warm and the soil is still moist. It is also an ideal opportunity to prepare your lawn and plants for the coming cold winter months, ensuring your garden is healthy and full of life next spring.

If you're not sure where to start, take a look at our fall gardening tips for how to maintain a healthy lawn, what to plant for spring colour and how to keep your garden exploding with fall colour until early winter.

Fertilizer for Healthy Plants

All plants require light, air, water, and nutrients to grow. As they mature, plants often use up the naturally occurring nutrients in the soil around the root zone. These nutrients need to be regularly replaced in order for the plants to continue to grow and remain strong. The plant food that gardeners provide is called fertilizer.
 

Fragrance

Like sequencing flowering shrubs and perennials that bloom from spring through fall, fragrant plants can also be chosen to delight our sense of smell over the same period. As our windows are usually open in May and early June, before the air conditioning goes on, place the earlier fragrant specimens near the house so you can fully appreciate them both inside and out.
 

Gardening in Moist Areas

Soil that doesn’t drain properly can lead to major frustration along with struggling or dying plants. Re-grading the entire area is one option. Drainage can be improved by installing weeping tile, dumping quantities of sand and gravel, or building raised beds. These methods are not inexpensive in terms of materials or labour but a more practical solution would involve working with the condition and not against it. Many plants will tolerate dampness and thrive beautifully; just choose wisely.
 

Gardening with Herbs

Growing herbs is a fun part of gardening

  • They are easy to grow
  • You can plant them practically anywhere
  • Their fresh taste in cooking is incomparable
  • Herbs have also gained great respect for their medicinal properties in recent years
Gardening with Perennial Flowers

Gardeners love perennial flowers for their infinite variety, their hardiness, and the ease with which you can propagate more. They return each year so they are also cost efficient. How do you select what’s right for you?
 

Ground Covers

As the name implies, ground covers can be used anywhere that bare soil needs to be covered. Most often they replace areas of lawn where grass simply won’t grow. They can be used on slopes where erosion is a problem, they can replace grass grown on a slope when mowing is difficult and hazardous, or they can be used with small gardens, compacted soil and shade for city dwellers. Beyond these very practical reasons, ground covers are being used more and more because of their colour and offer much more interesting texture than grass alone.
 

Growing Rhododendrons

In order for Rhododendrons to develop successfully in colder climates they need:

  • Porous or acidic soil.
  • To be planted in an area that receives morning sun with shade in mid to late afternoon (shade tolerant, not shade loving).
  • Protection from winter wind (do not plant in open areas unless well protected with burlap screening).
Growing Roses

To determine what kind of rose will serve you best; consider flower shapes, sizes, colours, fragrance and how much maintenance it will require.

 

Growing Vegetables

The taste of vegetables grown from your garden is so superior to store-bought we often can’t resist the notion of growing our own. The only mistake enthusiasts make is that they grow far more than their family can consume because they didn’t anticipate the incredible yield.

 

Growing Your Own Fruit

The decision to grow your own fruit is an easy one because it’s delicious and economical but there are other considerations to take into account.

  • Ensure you have enough space to grow your fruit trees. For most fruit you have to plant two trees to cross pollinate. This means that to grow pears you need two different kinds of pear trees. An apple tree will not pollinate a pear.
  • All fruit needs at least 6 hours of direct sun per day and well-drained soil amended with peat moss, manure, or compost.
  • Fruit trees require an ongoing spray program to control insects and disease if you wish to produce a healthy crop of fruit that is edible.
Hanging Baskets

When you add annuals to your garden in May, it’s generally because you want continuous colour in certain areas right through the summer and into the fall. Chances are you love to place brimming pots at the front door, on the deck or balcony, on steps, around a swimming pool, even in your garden beds. Hanging baskets add a very important splash of colour well above ground. They can decorate an empty garage, house wall, fence or lattice privacy screen, porch or a covered entrance. All a hanging basket requires is a hanging device from which it can be suspended. Wall brackets are available in many attractive styles. They can be found in either wrought iron or wood that is left natural or stained.
 

Hardy Plants in Year Round Containers

For those with limited space who want to have an attractive garden year-round on a deck or balcony, plant only the hardiest small trees and shrubs in containers. The trick is to use the right plants, the right size and type of planter, the appropriate soil, regular watering and proper placement of plants.
 

House Plants

Adding plants to your home will beautify any interior and increase the amount of oxygen in a room. Some plants are known to actually purify the air according to studies done by NASA. The Peace Lily, Sanseveria, Chinese Evergreen, Heartleaf Philodendron, Spider Plant, Golden Pothos, English Ivy, Gerbera Daisy, and Dracaena Marginata are examples of plants that fight indoor air pollution.
 

How to Design Your Garden

Every garden is different because it reflects the personality and taste of the garden designer. You can study books, read magazines, take classes, and be able to differentiate between formal and informal styles, cottage gardening and herbaceous borders, Japanese and contemporary styles, etc.

Your final result will be a compilation of everything you like and every fond memory you have of long ago gardens. The following design principles and elements are intended to help you put it all together a cohesive, beautiful, and satisfying landscape design.
 

How to Evaluate your Garden Needs

Whether starting a garden from scratch or renovating one you need to ask some important questions.

  • How you intend to use the space.
  • What your budget will allow. For older gardens you need a critical, objective eye to determine what can be kept and what should be eliminated altogether. Sometimes standing on the other side of the street will give you the best perspective for evaluating the front as others might see it. Ask yourself the following questions to help in the decision-making process.
How to Set Up your Pond

Water features should be located in an area that receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day. This will allow you to plant many varieties of water plants. If possible, place your pond away from trees and shrubs to prevent unwanted leaves from clogging any filtration system you are using.
 

Integrated Pest Management

Many questions are being raised concerning the widespread use of pesticides (insecticides for insect control, fungicides for disease, and herbicides for weeds). What is the risk to the environment, to birds and animals, to beneficial insects, and to humans, particularly children? To replace traditional means of pest control, a new attitude is gaining acceptance and being put into practice. This is called Integrated Pest Management or IPM.
 

Lady Slipper Orchids

Members of the genus paphiopedilum are found in southern Asia, in habitats ranging from hot jungles to cool mountain peaks. They are semi-terrestrial, growing in rich humus and other material on the forest floor as well as on cliffs in pockets of humus and occasionally in trees. Much like the Phalaenopsis, these are considered the easiest Orchids to grow in the average home. Lady Slipper Orchids grow 10-30 cm (4-12”) high and bloom most abundantly in fall through spring. The truly unique flower occurs on a single, upright stem and is characterized by a prominent pouch (the“slipper”) flanked by two horizontal petals and crowned by a broad dorsal sepal that is often attractively striped or speckled. Although the size of the flower varies with the variety, many are 7-10 cm (3-4”) across. Each bloom lasts approximately 4-6 weeks, even as long as 3 months. Leaves are 15-20 cm (6-8”) long, strap like, leathery, and solid green or mottled.
 

Lawn Care

Keep your grass healthy and green with lawn-care tips and techniques.

Living Christmas Trees & Other Holiday Ideas

Potted Christmas Trees are a nice alternative to artificial or cut Christmas trees. Bring your potted live evergreen in your home for the Christmas holidays. Once the holidays are over, plant outdoors for years of enjoyment. There are a few key things to keep in mind if you would like to make your potted Christmas tree a permanent part of your garden.
 

Low Maintenance Gardening

There is no such thing as a maintenance free garden, but you can reduce the workload with some careful planning.
 

Making your garden Bee-Friendly

Believe it or not, bees are an important part of gardening. All plant eating animals including humans depend on bees as pollinators. Many of our food crops depend on bees and their ability to increase yields of fruit and vegetables in our fields and in our gardens.
Gardens, over farm fields, can be an important source of nectar to bees as many of our gardens contain a wide variety of plants.

Maples

The maple is one of North America's most versatile and best-loved deciduous trees.

Native Plants & Wildflowers

One of the delights of our Conservation areas, Provincial and National Parks are the plants in their natural habitats. These native plants have evolved to survive in the natural areas of these particular regions. Many of these plants will adapt to conditions found in suburban or rural gardens. When you think of White Pine, Sugar Maple, Red Oak, Paper Birch, or Hemlock you have a distinct image of Eastern Canada. We can use these native plants and wildflowers in our residential gardens but we must do so carefully.


 

Oncidium Orchids

Oncidium Orchids are naturally found in the warm temperate regions of the Americas from Florida to Argentina. The varieties most often sold here produce long arching sprays of numerous, exquisite yellow flowers variously speckled with brown, burgundy edged with yellow (often referred to as “wildcats”), creamy-white and light burgundy, and purple and white. Blooms are much smaller, more delicate looking than on a Phalaenopsis but similarly they appear to be hovering. Oncidium’s nickname is “dancing lady” or “dancing doll”. All orchids can be divided into 2 major groups depending on where they naturally grow. These are epiphytes that cling with fleshy roots to some kind of support like a tree or rock. These exposed roots are frequently misted with dew or rain. But they dry out quickly because they’re exposed to the air. Terrestrial Orchids grow directly in soil on the forest floor and prefer evenly moist, but not soggy, conditions. Oncidiums are epiphytic.

Orchids

Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants known. The prime attraction for growing orchids is the diverse and exotic bloom that is produced. The notion that all orchids are temperamental and difficult to grow is a myth. Some may not be particularly easy however most orchids can be grown anywhere provided that their basic requirements are being met.

Ornamental Grasses

Perennials continue to be hybridized. The sheer number of Hostas and Daylilies on the market today will attest to the desire for more and more choice. One group of perennials that continues to draw attention to for its diversity of colour, form, and texture are Ornamental Grasses.

Overwintering Water Garden Plants & Fish

Take the appropriate steps to ensure your water plants and fish overwinter properly.

Patio Tropicals

Container gardening has become increasingly popular in recent years because it can be done in even the smallest space. Gardeners everywhere are expressing themselves with colour and an ever expanding range of plants including tropicals.

Perfect Annual Containers

The best thing about containers is you can put them anywhere, move them around if you need a change, and fill them with different displays for each season.

Phalaenopsis Orchids

Phalaenopsis is considered one of the easiest Orchids to grow. There are native to the tropics of Asia, Africa, and Australia. The name Phalaenopsis derives from the Greek word phalaina meaning ‘moth’ and ‘opsis’ that means like. Since the flat flowers appear along a graceful, arching stem, they look just like hovering moths or delicate butterflies, hence the nickname “moth” Orchids.

Planting, Dividing, & Repotting Water Garden Plants

Aquatic plants are plants that have adapted to living in aquatic environments

Pruning Practices

Why Prune

When a plant grows too large for its space or is blocking the view from a window, it’s time to remove or restrict unwanted growth.


 

Rock Gardens

This form of gardening originates from England and conjures an image of rocks combined with plants often on a slope. The slope itself can be naturally occurring or constructed, just as the stones can be natural outcroppings or brought in. Generally, the effect is one of plant material cascading down an incline of some degree with rocks holding the embankment in place and setting off the individual character of each plant. The alternative to this “natural” look, when a change in elevation is the case, is constructing retaining walls and/or terraces that look more formal by comparison.

Shade Gardening

Most homeowners have some degree of shade somewhere on their property whether it’s from buildings, a fence, or mature trees. Since shade varies from heavy, where no direct sunlight penetrates, to partial or dappled, you need to observe what kind of shade you are dealing with and plant accordingly.


 

Shrubs For All Seasons

Shrubs that offer colour, form and texture all season long will make a great addition to your garden.

Starting Plants from Seed

Nothing is as rewarding as growing your own plants from seed.

Versatile Evergreens

Year-round interest is reason enough to include evergreens in the landscape, but their range of colour and forms makes them irresistible.


 

Vines for All Purposes

Vines are great as they make a strong vertical statement and can be used in any garden. They can be a quick disguise as well as add interest to other flowers or an otherwise boring fence. They can even be used as a ground cover for large areas that need quick coverage.

Water Garden Maintenance

All gardening requires a degree of on-going maintenance. Installing a water garden does not mean endless hours of work per week.

Water Plants

A water garden enables the gardener an opportunity to grow a range of plants that can only be cultivated in this liquid format. These water plants are not only beautiful but they also have the important function of minimizing the build-up of algae. Without water plants, the water will quickly turn green and cloudy.
 

What’s Bugging Your Lawn?

Home lawns are commonly infested with insects, bugs, and other pests that cause severe damage to your lawn.

Winterizing Your Garden

In October and November there are a few small tasks to do to help your garden survive the winter and make your property beautiful for the spring.