Getting Your Garden Ready For Spring

Gardens ready for spring

Spring is just around the corner, and that is good news for garden enthusiasts who want to see beautiful flowers and plants in their backyards instead of snow. But before you jump into the gardening, there are some things you need to do in order to make the most of your garden.

Take Stock of Your Tools and Supplies

Make sure that you have adequate supplies for gardening: shovel, hoe, gloves, wheelbarrow and anything else that you know you use or might use to cultivate your garden. Inspect the tools that you do have for any signs of decay or damage. Check metal tools for rust and for wooden tools check for splits and cracks.

Inspect the Garden Bed

The harsh winter weather could easily damage your garden bed, so it is a good idea to repair or replace any damage to the frame. Also check for weeds that might have grown. Weeds can be your garden?s biggest enemy so make sure they are fully uprooted before you begin sowing.

Break up the Ground

The ground would have been frozen solid by the cold winter so you need to loosen it up. This can be hard work but it is important to make sure that your garden has the best environment to grow in. A rototiller would be a good tool for this. Alternatively you can use a hoe, shovel or pick.

Fertilize the Soil

Make sure that your soil is adequately fertilized. You can use commercial fertilizer or compost you might have accumulated. Just spread the compost over the top of the soil.

Shift around Perennials

Spring is a good opportunity to put some variety into your garden by trading plants. Just make sure that whatever plants you trade in are healthy, you don?t want to take the risk of cultivating unhealthy plants as they can ruin your entire garden.

Plant Vegetables Early

Some seeds actually germinate better in cooler weather so make sure you take advantage of the favourable spring conditions. After you sow, prune away any foliage to ensure that the seeds grow successfully.

Protect Your Plants

Spring can still bring on late spates of frost and snow. Prepare your plants for this by covering them in plastic and cloth. Check the weather forecast for any freezing weather and take action early.

Sometimes you might find yourself short of supplies or in need of some advice. If you have a local garden supplier, you can ask them about any new tools or information that can be useful. Our team at Infinity Gardens is available to offer their assistance, guidance and insight.

8 Ideas For An Outdoor Kitchen

ideas for an outdoor kitchen in your  back yard

The only thing better than sharing an amazing homemade meal with your family and friends is preparing it outdoors under the summer sky. Whether you live in a climate that is warm or a little on the cooler side, you can still enjoy the luxury of an outdoor kitchen.

Being stuck inside on a warm evening while your guests socialize outside is not fun. There is often discussion about bringing the outdoors inside, so why not try bringing the indoors outside? An outdoor kitchen might be exactly the project you have been wanting to accomplish this summer.

Functional Layout and Storage

Functionality is an essential component for building a successful outdoor kitchen. Just as you would design your ideal indoor kitchen in a way to increase flow and productivity, with cupboards and appliances in locations where they make the most sense, you can do the same with your outdoor kitchen. Depending on space, create a U-shaped, L-shaped or rectangular kitchen that will best serve your cooking style.

Work with a designer and/or architect to come up with a layout with both functionality and storage capabilities ? you don?t want to run inside every time you need a pot or pan. Think of an outdoor kitchen as a completely separate entity for your indoor one, in need of both cooking and dining ware.

Lighting

A dark kitchen is never easy for a chef to work in and you don?t want to limit your outdoor cooking and entertaining possibilities to daylight hours. Make sure to consider lighting in your new outdoor space. Be creative with it ? try fixtures and shapes you would not try indoors. Although your outdoor space is an extension of your indoor design, with open air comes a more flexible aesthetic. What may not work indoors might be a perfect fit in your outdoor kitchen.

Pair Alongside Garden or Pool

If you have a garden or pool in your backyard, consider installing your outdoor kitchen beside them. This will create tasteful cohesion in your yard as well as allow family members and guests to enjoy both spaces simultaneously. Swim in the morning and then prepare lunch at noon without even having to go indoors. Summer is for outdoor living and this is how you capitalize on its warm weather and cloudless, storm-free days ? and nights.

Fireplace

Consider installing a fireplace in your outdoor kitchen or adjacent dining area. An outdoor fireplace, whether wood-burning or electric, will provide needed warmth and comfort for cool summer nights. Spark up your fireplace to dine outside with your guests, long into the late hours of the night.

Gourmet Grill

The grill, the mecca of summer cooking and entertaining, should be the focal point of any outdoor kitchen. Although this might seem obvious, allot for an adequate amount of your appliance budget for a grill. A grill is not an afterthought ? it is a way of life for outdoor chefs. If possible, find a professional grade one that heats up quickly, like this gas and charcoal grill from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. You will be happy you went the extra mile in this department when you start cooking in your outdoor kitchen.

Pizza Oven

Fire it up! To all the pizza lovers out there, what is better than a freshly grilled wood-oven pizza? Well, maybe, delicious wood-oven pizza cooked and enjoyed in the comfort of your outdoor kitchen? If you like a good pie, consider designing your outdoor kitchen to include a pizza oven. Not only are they lovely to look at, but they will create endless summer fun for you and your family.

Wine and Beer Fridge

Cool drinks are essential on hot summer days. Make sure your outdoor kitchen is equipped with proper refrigeration for both food and beverages. This will save you time from having to run back and forth between your indoor fridge, as well as make beverages easily accessible while entertaining. Also, consider installing a built-in cooler specifically for beer, water and other bottled drinks.

Sink and Dishwasher

Make cleaning up simple with an outdoor sink and dishwasher. Lugging all your dirty pots, pans, glasses and dinnerware inside is a total drag. Reduce cleaning time and hassle by having everything you need to prepare, eat and clean up a meal in your outdoor kitchen. Cooking outdoors becomes a hassle when you have to dirty your indoor kitchen as well just to wash dishes.

If you are interested in the possibilities of equipping your homes with an outdoor kitchen, call Infinity Gardens today at 403-938-5512 or send us an email at info@infinitygardens.ca for more information.

12 Ways To Make Your Yard More Inviting For Guests

landscape design and planning

Entertaining doesn?t have to be reserved for the living room. The next time you have people over, encourage them to sit outside and enjoy the yard. How do you get our guests to want to hang out in the backyard? It?s not as hard as you may think. Here are 12 ways to?make your yard more inviting for guests:

  1. Keep Bugs Away Because we spend most of our daily hours at work, we usually only utilize our yards in the evening and that?s when the bugs come out in full force. To keep bugs away try citronella candles and have plants around that repel insects like basil, mint and chrysanthemums. There are also light fixtures that you can buy that zap bugs on contact. However, they can be noisy and distracting when you?re trying to entertain.
  2. Furnish with Relaxation in Mind A great way to get people to want to enjoy your yard is to cultivate an atmosphere that looks relaxing. Comfortable seating like padded garden furniture and patio sets that look inviting create the perfect match of style and comfort. Do not put indoor furniture outside. It will get ruined. Make sure you get furniture that is specifically made for the outdoors.
  3. Light the Way During the day you?ll have the sun to provide natural illumination but at night you?ll need candles, torches and outdoor lights. You don?t have to light up your yard like it?s a Major League Baseball diamond but you should provide enough lighting so that people can see each other while they hang out. LED and solar powered lights are a nice green option if you?re looking to conserve energy in your yard.
  4. Avoid Clutter A yard with too much stuff in it, will not be inviting to guests. Avoid cluttering your yard with too much furniture and fixtures. An easy way to stay away from clutter is to pick a theme for your yard and stick to it. You won?t want to add items and furniture that don?t fit with your theme.
  5. Add Water If you have a pool then you?re already one step ahead of the game. If you don?t have a pool and there?s no option to get one, try a small water feature like a fountain. Not only do water features add a touch of style to your yard, the bubbling sounds can be very calming and contribute to the relaxing atmosphere you?re trying to cultivate.
  6. Let Your Yard Bloom Flowers and greenery make any yard more inviting for guests because they look beautiful and stimulate the senses. Keeping your yard in full bloom (which may not be possible in the winter, making it all the more desirable when it?s warm out) creates swaths of colour and adds a nice fragrant touch.
  7. Keep the Grass Trimmed Unkempt grass will make everyone stay away from your yard. Besides keeping your grass trimmed and cared for, ensure that there?s enough green space available for kids (and adults) to run around on. With a grassy area in your yard, you can have games for everyone to enjoy like lawn bowling and beanbag toss.
  8. Throw Some Shade Your yard will get very warm, perhaps unpleasantly so on a hot day. Keep an area of your backyard shaded to give your guests somewhere to escape the sun. You can have a canopy or tent put up in your yard, or if you have large trees, use them as a refuge by hanging a hammock where people can get out of the sun.
  9. Fire It Up If you?re looking to extend the outdoor season well into the winter, invite your guests over to sit by your outdoor fireplace or firepit. The warm glow of the fire, coupled with the hot cocoa you?ll make in your outdoor kitchen (see #12) will make your guests feel cozy.
  10. Deck the Yard Deck the yard with?a deck. If you don?t have one already, having a deck put in gives you an extra incentive to have people over. Decks are easy to clean and maintain and you don?t have to stick to the traditional wood option. Stone patios are equally as inviting as wooden decks. If you have a fireplace or firepit installed, you might as well house it on a gorgeous deck or patio.
  11. Project the Entertainment Movie projectors are easy to make these days. All you need is an app for your smartphone, a light coloured sheet and a wall. Invite your guests over for outdoor movie nights and serve popcorn that you?ve popped directly on your fireplace or firepit.
  12. Keep It Cooking Another option to make your yard the place to be, is to add an outdoor kitchen. Many people already have barbeques and other cooking appliances outside, why not have an entire kitchen so you don?t have to run back into the house every time you need to make dinner for your guests?

To view features Infinity gardens can design and build for your new landscaped yard, click to see our work with:

  1. Water Features
  2. Deck Design and Construction
  3. Outdoor Fireplaces
  4. Outdoor Kitchens

These 12 ways to make your backyard more inviting for guests are so appealing that you may have trouble getting your guests to ever leave!

Making The Most Of Your Small Patio

making the most of your small patio

More and more people are flocking to Canada?s urban centres, making usable yard space (or lack there-of) more of an issue than ever before. Fortunately, there are many innovative ways to make your small patio unique, beautiful, and functional!

Install a Garden

Just because you don?t have a large yard, doesn?t mean you have to go without a garden. There are many ways to incorporate plants into your small patio which will bring an entirely new value to your space.

If you?re looking to get the most out of your dollar, hiring a professional is a must. They?ll be able to create a garden oasis no matter what size area you?re working with. However, if you?re working on a budget, there are still a few small improvements you can create yourself:

  • Mount canning jars on your wall to build an herb garden
  • Use repurposed wooden pallets to house herbs and cascading plants
  • Incorporate vines and cascading plants into the structure of your patio
  • Hang planters to create a vertical garden
  • Use repurposed items like cement blocks, wooden crates, birdcages, pails, and whatever else the flea market has to offer to create unique planters with a vintage vibe
  • Use a small shelving unit to house your potted plants

When building your patio garden, always think vertically to maximize the space. It?s amazing what can be accomplished with a little creativity!

Invest in the Proper Patio Furniture

The amount of patio furniture you can have depends on the size of your patio, and what you?d like to use it for. Benches are a great space saver because they can be built against the wall and create a more open area in the middle.

Here are a few other ideas for compact patio furniture:

  • Multi-tasking furniture:Having a bench or ottoman double as storage for gardening supplies and other small items is a great way economize your space.
  • Collapsible furniture:If your patio is usually used by just one or two people, all you may want is a bench or nook to sit in. However if you have company, you?ll likely need more. Collapsible furniture is useful for those occasions because once you?re done, you can just put it away and still enjoy your space.

Stores that sell patio furniture usually have lots of options for smaller spaces. Do research online and in-store to find what suits your aesthetic, and comfort.

Don?t Forget the D?cor

Don?t sacrifice d?cor just because you have a small space! Like gardens, thinking vertically and using wall space is the key to maximizing your patio?s potential.

  • Repurposed items:Using antiques or other ?junk? items is a great way to recycle and give your space a unique look.
  • Hanging items:If you have any sort of ceiling?perhaps lattice or canopy?items like birdcages or wind chimes will hardly take up any space.
  • Mirrors:Incorporating a mirror into your patio will make the space appear larger.

The key to getting the most out of your small patio is creativity and experimentation. Just because your patio is small, doesn?t mean it can?t be the patio of your dreams! For the best results, consult a professional. Companies like Infinity Gardens are able to make a mountain out of the smallest backyard molehills, giving you a beautiful space in even the smallest areas. Contact our team today to find out more!

Shade Planting

Shady, damp areas are often a difficult place to maintain a garden. Coniferous (cone bearing trees) tend to create a rather acid soil environment making plant growth difficult. The soil can be amended with calcium sources. It is better to use decorative mulch, rather than plants under trees. Mulch will prevent root damage to the trees. Under deciduous trees (broad leaf trees) it is not necessarily a desirable place to plant, because of potential root damage to the trees. When you go outside of the drip line (the edge of the branches) the roots are deeper and the soil is less acidic making planting desirable.

Often by looking at a plants foliage, you can tell if it will do well in a damp shady area. Shade plants have large leaves to maximize photosynthesis.

Some good plant choices for shade include:

  • Lily of the valley ? Convallaria majalis
  • Hosta lily?s ? Hosta crispula/elata
  • Bergenia ? Bergenia crassifolia
  • Large rooted geraniums ? Geranium macrorrhizum

Annual Planting

Landscaping ideas about planting your garden

Gardeners look forward to the bright, instant flash of colour annual flowering plants bring to their planters and flower beds. The number of cultivars available to the home or commercial gardener is truly abundant.

To ensure the success of your newly purchased planting materials, it is important to keep them well watered before and after planting. A cool overcast day is ideal, when transferring young ornamentals to their new environment. A hot sunny day will cause additional shock to transplants, leaving plants wilted or scorched. Soil should be tilled up and moist prior to planting. If the soil is excessively heavy or sandy, compost or peat can be incorporated.

These pre-planting additions will aid in the development of new roots. Slow release granular fertilizers can be added at this time. When it comes time to remove plants from their cell packs, loosen or slightly score the roots, this will stimulate growth and spread. If roots are not stimulated they will grow and continue to circle them selves causing reduced over all vigour.

Transplants should be planted level with the soil. If annuals are planted too deep rot can occur and if the root ball is left slightly exposed then plant will dry out excessively. The soil should be lightly tamped and watered throughly.

Water soluble fertilizers can be added after planting, if pre-planting fertilizers have not been previously added. Fertilizers for flowering plants should be high in phosphorus, this is represented by the middle number in a fertilizer ratio. These ratios are always printed on the packaging of any fertilizer.

The single most important factor to ensure the survival of annual plantings is to keep them well watered during their initial establishment. Annual transplants have to be watered daily unless it is raining adequately.