Posted in business, gardening, gardens4u

Next Gardens4U Project

My most recent Gardens4U project involved two new garden beds for the back corners of a large, pie-shaped lot. The yard has a large swimming pool so the corner beds were placed far enough way that pool water will not splash onto the plantings. The clients’ own three dogs, so my plans also had to allow for a running area between the flower beds and the pool. Check out the before and after shots…

To save my time (not to mention my back) and the expense involved, the client dug out the beds after I marked them out. I added composted manure to improve the clay-laden soil, then arranged the perennials and shrubs according to their potential sizes at maturity as well as their bloom time and colour.

When the temperatures cooled off a bit, and I was happy with the placement of plants, I spent half a day planting them in their new beds. Note the drain in one corner bed, a low point in the area that rainwater from several adjacent lots drain into. It is imperative that this drainage site not be adversely affected when adding soil and plants. Although this consideration makes the one bed appear oddly shaped and lacking soil, the drain will not be visible when the plants grow to mature size. After planting, the garden beds were then edged to leave a clear demarcation line between the gardens and the lawn…

Once the perennials and shrubs were watered in well, (every day for a week) I added dark brown, cedar mulch for the finishing touch. The plantings may look a bit sparse right now, but in a few seasons from now they will have reached their full, mature size. If I plant too many plants and too close together, I will have unhappy clients in a few years…

I also talked the clients into outlining the perimeter of their above-ground pool with river rock. They did this project themselves; I think it looks great!

pool edged with river rock

You can see the one corner garden at the back left, peeking out from behind the pool. Onto the next project! Now that the weather has cooled off I can get more done before garden fall cleanups start.

Posted in climate, exercise, freelance writing, gardens4u, lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa

Exercise in Winter

What exercise do you get in winter? With my own gardening business, I get plenty of exercise between April and October, sometimes six hours per day! Exercise in winter can be tricky though, I am the first to admit I spend far too much time sitting down writing for whatever projects come my way.

However, when the snow hits, as it has often these past few days here in Ottawa, I love to get my exercise in winter with a shovel in my hand. Especially when the snow is light and fluffy as it was today. These pictures give you an idea of just how much snow we received overnight. Enough to get me out there with my shovel, but not enough to wear me out. The posts on my veranda make great snow gauges…

Who needs a gym membership when you can get an hour (or two or three some days) of cardio exercise shovelling the driveway and sidewalk? Not me!

Posted in gardening, gardens, gardens4u, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.com, weather

Latest project by Gardens4u

As our fall weather was too nice to start garden cleanups and winter preparation, I (GARDENS4U) took on another (small) project last week.  This client lives on the same street as two other clients for whom I have recently reconstructed front gardens.  The client wanted a smaller footprint for the new garden with plants that require no maintenance and stay tidy looking all season.  I started by removing all of the existing plants, leaving the large rock as the focal point…

20171026_140658
before

20171026_154158
after the clean out

 

I replanted a ring of groundcover (lamium) around the tree to include the tree in the garden.  I added heuchera in various colors around the perimeter of the garden to define its new edge, including around the outer edges of the rock. Both of these inclusions make it easier for the lawnmower, removing the chore of trimming around the tree and rock.  The large and overgrown clump of Solomon’s seal was dug out from around the rock.  It was overpowering the rock and looked messy.  Instead, I planted three different varieties of ornamental grass strategically around the edges of the rock, with two tall ones at the corners closest to the house and a shorter one at the front, outer edge.  This will draw the eye to the rock, making it an integral part of the garden.

New plants included the heuchera, a dwarf shrub rose, a varigated and reblooming weigela, as well as several colorful and long blooming perennials.  I reused a few daylilies, some (a very small portion) of the lamium, and none of the aggressive Solomon’s seal.  Unused plants have been potted up in my ICU (home inventory of plants) for recycling (use in someone else’s gardens).  Grass seed was sprinkled on the bare spots where the garden used to extend to. After the past few days of rainy weather the grass seed should be well watered.  If the mild weather holds, the grass may even grow before spring.

The end result was a smaller, tidier garden between the rock and the tree.  As it is currently late in the season, the client will have to wait until next spring and summer to fully appreciate the new look…

20171027_14335520171027_143411

 

Unfortunately, this week looks like our great weather is behind us so I will be starting that cleanup and winterizing this morning (after it warms up a bit)…not nearly as much fun as designing a new garden!

Posted in gardening, gardens4u, nature, ontario, Ottawa, zone 5

Include vines in your gardens for vertical drama

Vines make wonderful additions to gardens, providing vertical drama to otherwise horizontal landscapes.  They can be used to cover unsightly fences, utility boxes or pipes, storage areas and more.  They make great privacy screens too, shielding your yard from neighbours’ views.  There are many things to consider when choosing a vine for any of these functions…

  • size matters: consider the coverage you need.  Some vines cover a small space, others need lots of room to sprawl
  • invasive:  some vines can be invasive and very hard to remove from places you don’t want them to grow
  • damage:  some vines can cause incredible damage, destroying eavestroughing, fences and even brick!
  • color: some vines change colour in the fall, an added bonus to landscapes.  Others are a bright, chartreuse green contrasting with other green plants in your yard.  Some have flowers, others are grown just for the foliage.
  • pruning/cutting back: some vines require more maintenance than others.  Many die back to the ground when frost hits them making cleanup easy.  Some have to severely cut back in the spring to prevent them from taking over your yard.
  • annual or perennial:  the vines I use are perennial meaning they come back each year on their own.  Included in the perennial category are clematis, ivy, golden hops, hydrangea, bittersweet, honeysuckle and silver lace. There are also many annual varieties available such as morning glories, sweet peas, black-eyed susans and more.
  • Here are a few I have in my gardens…

Choose a few vines to add vertical drama to your landscaping, just do your homework first so you will be pleased with the result.  As always, if you have any questions, please contact me, I would be happy to research the perfect vine for your garden.

Posted in Canada, current events, education, gardens4u, lorieb.com, nature, ontario

Why do leaves change colour in the fall?

Have you ever wondered why leaves change colour in the fall?  This chemistry lesson will teach you all about photosynthesis and chlorophyll.  In the spring of the year new leaves emerge on the trees and plants as a bright green colour….

This bright green colour is due to the large amount of chlorophyll present in the leaves.  Chlorophyll is produced through  photosynthesis which needs water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to happen.  In the spring all of these requirements are available; the melted snow and rain provide the water and the sun is at an advantageous angle in the sky.

In the fall or autumn however, the sun is at a much lower angle with fewer daylight hours.  The soil  around the base of the trees contains much less moisture in the fall than the spring. Without adequate sunlight and water, photosynthesis shuts down, no chlorophyll is produced, and the leaves on the trees turn red, yellow, orange and brown…

That is your chemistry lesson on why the leaves change colours!  These colours on the trees are very pretty to look at, especially here in Canada and the northern USA where the roadsides are cloaked in them.  Get out and enjoy the colours of fall today!