Last Garden Project of the Season for Gardens4u

gardening business

photo credit

I finished my last garden project of my Gardens4u season recently. The beautiful weather we have experienced lately has certainly helped in that I was able to extend the season a bit.

This latest garden project was for a neighbour. I had already designed a garden in her front yard a few years ago…

…but the condition of her lawn after the drought conditions of this past summer convinced her to extend the garden right to the road.

So, she dug up what little lawn was left, giving me a blank slate….my favourite design opportunity! I amended the existing soil with composted manure, then added stepping stones to divide the yard visually….and to provide access for maintenance as well as amusement for her grandchildren…

 Instead of one large garden, I treated the sections as individual gardens with taller plants in the center and lower ones around the perimeters. I think this will create added visual appeal. (this may be difficult to see now, but will be obvious when the plants mature) Several existing plants were moved to achieve this effect; those that were previously at the edges of the garden were moved to the fronts of each new bed, with taller ones planted behind them. A row of drought-tolerant, succulent groundcover now edges the curb where the lawn refused to thrive.

 After the plants settled into their new homes, mulch was added to finish off the project and protect the new plants over the winter. 

The neighbouring yard/garden visible in my pictures is the mature version of one of my very first Gardens4u projects, way back in 2012.

The challenge now is waiting until spring to see this latest design come alive!

Garden Renovation at Ruddy Shenkman Hospice

gardening business

Recently Gardens4u expanded the front garden at the Ruddy Shenkman Hospice (RSH) in Kanata. I have been volunteering my (gardening) services at RSH for several years now, shortly after it moved to my neighbourhood.

Only the Good Die Young

This project has been a vision in my brain for a while; I just had to wait until all parties were onboard and permission was granted. As a non-profit organization there are always lots of hoops to jump through.

A few existing shrubs were left in place, in particular the burning bush which is gorgeous this time of year. Two large spreading junipers were trimmed and shaped, but will remain in the garden, mainly because they would be much too difficult (for me) to remove. They also provide winter interest as they are evergreen in our climate.

The first step was to mark out the shape of the new garden using a garden hose and black spray paint. My granddaughter was on hand as the inspector for that job…

Next, to save time as well as my back, I enlisted the help of Tim Driscoll of TD Small Loads who scraped the sod and carted it away.

When that chore was complete, we spread the composted manure donated and delivered by Ritchies Feed & Seed on Carp Road in Stittsville.

After the soil amendment came the plants, many of which were donated by other members of the RSH garden team as well as some of my neighbours. The large shrubs were also selected from and donated by Ritchies. I placed the shrubs and perennials strategically in the garden, still in their pots, according to their bloom time and colour, foliage shape as well as their mature size. A few tweaks here and there are always the norm before holes are dug and actual planting takes place.

The final step is to fill any blank spots in with contributions from my own gardens. Then a layer of cedar mulch (also donated and delivered from Ritchies) finishes the garden off…

I can’t wait until this garden matures, it should look beautiful!!

Fall is the Best Time to Improve your Lawn

With cooler nights as well as more and longer lasting dew on the ground each morning, fall is the best time to improve the quality of your lawn. If your lawn looks terrible due to the long drought we endured this summer, this post is for you!

Recovering from Summer

My lawn held up amazingly well (some weeds moved in along the curb, but the grass recovered) in the drought this summer, much better than many others in my neighbourhood, and also much better than it ever has other summers. I suspect the TLC I showed it last fall is the reason for that.

Fall lawn repair
front lawn

Fall Lawn Regime

That sign of success means I will be following a similar protocol this season:

  • aerating
  • adding composted manure and seed
  • applying a fall fertilizer six weeks after seeding
  • cutting the lawn shorter than usual before the first snowfall

Aerating

When you aerate, ensure you use a proper aerator (hire someone to do it for you) that digs out plugs of soil. The inexpensive, so-called aerating tools that you step on do more damage to your lawn as they compact the soil instead of aerating it.

Fall lawn repair
aerated lawn

Composted Manure vs Garden Soil for Lawns

I choose composted manure, either sheep or cattle/steer, because I have yet to find a bad bag of it. By bad I mean no weeds or junk in it. In the past I have purchased bags and loads of soil, from garden soil to black earth, that were loaded with weeds seeds, garbage and even cigarette butts. Never again! You can purchase composted manure at Home Depot, Lowes or locally at Ritchies Nurseries. I would not however, recommend the brand that Canadian Tire sells.

Fertilize

If you plan to fertilize your lawn, pay attention to the three numbers on the bags. In order, they represent the nutrient levels of Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash/Potassium in the fertilizer. In September, as lawns recover from the summer weather, choose a fertilizer highest in Nitrogen for a slow growth.

Later in the fall, choose one with a higher middle number to stimulate root growth and protection over the winter.

Reseed

If you plan to reseed because your lawn has bare spots and lots of weeds, you should wait six weeks after seeding to apply fertilizer. Be sure too to invest in grass seed specific for your location and sun exposure. If you are one of the lucky ones and do not plan/need to reseed, you can fertilize twice as indicated, once now (September) and again in November.

I promise, it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds! Next summer your lawn will be grateful for the extra TLC you provide this fall.

Garden Makeover in the Rain

Rainy days are good for a garden makeover, except for the mess that is inevitable. Today was such a day. Gardens4u got this project going early this morning before the rain started, but a drizzle started a few hours in, followed by a torrential downpour. Downpours to me mean lunch time, sitting in my van. Luckily, the rain subsided enough for me to continue until the job was complete. Well, except for the cleanup. Trying to sweep up my mess on the wet stone was not very effective. Nothing a hose down won’t fix though, a job I left for the homeowner when the rain stopped, long after I left.

These are the “before” pictures. The tree is a dead maple that was removed with the stump ground down before I started the makeover…

The burning bush (far right in second pic), lilac (center in first pic) and hydrangea (right corner in first pic) were salvaged, with the lilac getting a good pruning to whip it into shape. Everything else was removed. New shrubs and perennials were strategically planted and composted manure, my new favourite soil amendment, was added.

Here are the “after” pictures…

New plantings in this garden makeover include a pink magnolia (center of bed), a “Wine & Roses” weigela, several ornamental grasses, coneflowers, pink and purple sages and lavender, as well as several varieties of sedum and stonecrop to spill over the edges of this sunny garden. Once the new plants are established and well watered, I will add mulch to complete the job.

A second bed, between the sidewalk and the garage, is next up on my garden makeover list. Stay tuned for more before and after pictures.