Great Ponds & Gardens

Garden landscape design and construction tips

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Where does a landscape contractor offer value?

I’ve been asked far more times than I’d like to come in and fix past landscaping disasters. Quick fix services provided by less reputable providers or DIYs gone bad. Ponds or water features that longer work or leak, landscape grading that settles in the wrong areas and improper drainage flooding homes. The sad reality is that the initial decision can cost the homeowner far more in the future through damage, and may require a new solution, ripping out the initial install and starting over. The bottom line: you get what you pay for. Do your research. Be sure to choose a quality contractor that has a proven track record.

An experienced landscape contractor offers:

  • Knowledge of plants to get the optimal mix of seasonal color and layering
  • Creativity
  • Structural knowledge
  • Craftsmanship
  • Grading expertise
  • Knowledge of local bylaws
  • Proper disposal procedures
  • Vast supplier network including licensed sub-trades (e.g. electricians, gas fitters, plumbers) 
  • Access to a variety of material resources
  • Training and expertise

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No sun, no problem

hostaPlanting for the Shade
What to do in your shady areas can be a challenge even for the most experienced gardener. Fortunately there are many shrubs, trees and perennials that will thrive in shady conditions. One of my favorites is the Hosta. Layered against garden accents, water features or amongst other shade-loving plants, the Hosta adds texture to your surround. As a general rule, gold and yellow varieties produce their best colour in slightly more sun. Blue varieties produce their most intense colour when grown in dappled shade. The top five Hostas include: Sagae, Sum and Substance, Great Expectations, Patriot, and Pauls Glory.

Your August Garden checklist

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Tips for selecting a contractor for your garden landscape needs

Is it time for a garden touch up or perhaps, a complete overhaul? There are many advantages to turning over your footprint to a landscape expert. Before you do, here are six tips:

Landscape Contractor Checklist

  1. Do you know what you want? Like a carefully planned kitchen, it’s important to understand the functionality and look you expect from your garden; and are great resources to see what’s possible and to create your outdoor “ideabook”; a well-designed garden landscape will incorporate your expectations for functionality, colour and texture; the successful landscape contractor should spend a lot of time asking questions and listening to your needs before presenting solutions
  2. Hire locally – a resource in your area, like for Oakville and Halton, saves time and money by reducing transportation time
  3. Beware of startups – hire a credible, experienced contractor that has referrals and repeat business; your contractor should be knowledgeable about techniques, grading requirements, resources, local bylaws, local issues (such as dealing with clay soil in Oakville and southern Ontario) and plant species appropriate for your area
  4. Inspect previous landscaping work – specifically installations that are a few years old so you can see the quality of workmanship and how it stands up to our Southern Ontario temperatures
  5. Timing – you may have to wait to get the best landscape contractor for your needs; be sure to start early so you don’t have to compromise and to allow for ordering of special materials
  6. Respect the environment – ask about the landscape contractor’s disposal procedures to ensure they follow local bylaws