Fallen Leaves make Great Mulch!


Fallen leaves make great mulch and compost for your garden, protecting your perennials as well as improving the condition of your garden soil.  Instead of raking the leaves up and taking them to the curb in lawn waste bags, consider using them to your advantage this fall.

If they are small leaves, simply rake or blow them into your garden around your perennials and shrubs, taking care not to bury the smaller plants.  If the leaves are large, run them over with your lawn mower to shred them before adding them to your garden.  Oak leaves especially should be shredded, as they are slow to decompose.  You may have to spray the leaves with your hose once they are in the garden to keep them from blowing back onto your lawn.

In the garden, worms from the soil will draw the decomposing leaves into the soil, improving the condition of your soil, which in turn benefits your plants.  Next spring you can bury the portions of leaves that have not decomposed in the garden, and marvel at how rich your soil is.

The leaves in the garden will also protect your perennials and shrubs, like a warm blanket, from the freezing and thawing cycles that do the most damage to garden plants.  Roses especially benefit from a blanket of leaves around their crowns at the soil level.

Leaves should not be left on the lawn however, as they will smother the grass, ruining even the healthiest lawn.

So, when you are out raking the leaves off of your lawn within the next few weeks, save your money by forgoing the lawn bags and turning the leaves into compost and mulch.

Add Beauty to Your Fall Landscape with Ornamental Grasses

One of the most beautiful garden plants in the fall season are the numerous varieties of ornamental grasses.  If you want to add one or more of these grasses to your landscape, make sure you choose ones that are hardy to your area.  In the Ottawa area I usually recommend zone 4 or lower to my clients to ensure the grasses survive our cold winters.  There are many to choose from:

These fall grasses are very easy to care for; you can cut them back to the ground when the ground freezes, or leave them blowing in the wind over the winter, and cut them to the ground in the early spring, before they start to turn green.  Whichever method you choose, you won’t be disappointed in their beauty…

Follow the Red Leaved Trail

I snapped this picture of colorful leaves while out for a stroll recently, enjoying the beautiful fall weather we have been fortunate to have in Ottawa.  It was too nice outside to wait inside the cold arena for our son’s hockey game to start…


I see another beautiful display of red fall leaves on the way to and from my son’s school these past few weeks here in Ottawa.  These red maples are only a few years old, but already add an impressive splash of color along this street.  I can only imagine how spectacular it will look ten years from now…

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Backyard Makeover by Gardens4u

In a previous post I talked about a makeover Gardens4u started in a friend’s backyard last fall…

This client wanted a small patio surrounded by gardens with very little grass to cut.  She also requested the cost be kept to a minimum.  We started by layering newspaper, soil and leaves in the area that was to be garden, leaving it over the winter months to decompose.  This spring it was dark, rich soil with only a few pieces of newspaper remaining to be raked up from the garden bed.  The lesson learned here was to ensure the newspapers are applied thickly and overlapping so that the grass is completely smothered.  The newspapers must then be completely covered by soil and leaves; you cannot have too much soil or too many leaves.  The newspaper should not be visible.  The layers must then be wet well to prevent the leaves from blowing around.

Plants recycled from other gardens were added throughout the summer, then mulch to complete the garden area.  I prefer the black cedar mulch as it compliments the green plants and smells great.

The patio was constructed using pavers discarded by another friend who was replacing the pavers from her sidewalk with interlocking brick.  The patio is just large enough to fit a few lawn chairs or a lounger.

Next, stepping-stones were added leading from the deck and patio to the small patch of remaining lawn. More plants and additional mulch were then added around the patio, deck and pathway..

The final step was to treat the lawn for weeds, then overseed it so by next spring it will be lush and green, complimenting the rest of the yard.  Be sure to wait at least six weeks after treating for weeds to overseed your lawn so your new grass sprouts will not be affected by the weed treatment.

The makeover was a complete success, with cost kept to a minimum by using recycled materials as well as the homeowner’s and her son’s manpower:

I can’t wait until next season, to see how it looks when the plants have a chance to settle into their new homes.  Next spring I will edge the garden area so there is a distinct demarcation line between the garden and lawn, and so cutting the lawn will be simple…stay tuned!

The Best Things About Working in Someone Else’s Garden…

I am very fortunate in my business Gardens4u to be able to work in other people’s gardens.  Why?  Because I learn a lot, and we are never too old to learn…

  • I discover new plants, some I have never seen or heard of before and some I have just never tried in my gardens.  For example, I had never heard of montbretia and never seen verbascum, both beautiful perennials I will be sure to add to my gardens:
  • I discover new ways to improve my own gardens.  For example, one client whose garden I just finished getting ready for winter dumps the soil from her various and many pots of annuals into a wheelbarrow, adds some mulch, then spreads the whole mixture around her gardens.  The soil in her gardens is extremely nice to work with!  Mine is heavy with clay, so any suggestions to improve it are greatly appreciated.  Anyone who enjoys gardening knows a garden is always a work in progress.
  • I can admire, and perhaps copy, other ideas for whimsical touches in the gardens.  These whimsical touches are what makes each garden unique and special to the owner.
  • I am often offered clumps of plants I admire as well as seeds from the spent flower heads.  I do love to experiment with new seed varieties!  I share most of these clumps of plants with other clients, but have stuck a few in empty spaces in my gardens.
  • I get paid to play in the dirt!  One of my neighbours laughed at me returning from work very muddy one day, and suggested I need an outdoor shower.
  • Gardening is great exercise!  As long as I remember to stretch properly before and after my hours in the various gardens, I can handle up to six hours a day, and can honestly say I am in the best shape I have ever been in!  Basic Yoga poses are my favourite stretches…
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  • I meet new and interesting people.  I am definitely a people person, and one of the things I miss most about my old job in the health care industry is the social interaction.
  • Too bad my season is winding down.  I will have to find another way to keep in shape over the winter months…

Get a Handle on Ebola!

These words of wisdom about the EBOLA situation come from a nurse in Corpus Christi, Texas who just happens to be my sister.  Never one to beat around the bush, she hits the nail on the head here….

Get a handle on it!  Infections (viral and bacterial) have been around for a looooooonnng time and have caused many deaths before Ebola. Infection control is NOT new to any hospital or other health care facility. The problem is people not following protocol. Maybe because they are busy, forget, or are just plain lazy, but seldom because they lack the education. Infection control is 101 (basic learning) in health care. Be on the watch ….. in health care facilities, in grocery stores and at your neighbor’s….for good infection control practices and if you see something like …..people not washing their hands, using antibacterial or hand sanitizer, not covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing, not disposing of used tissues, not washing their hands after restroom breaks, not using gloves when providing care, etc….. speak up and steer clear!  Don’t ever feel like you are “covered” and disease proof, even when you suspect that you or your government knows how the virus or bacteria is transferred from one person to another.

I am not meaning to come across as peeved and am not placing blame on the nurses. Just saying that we can’t depend on others for infection control and need to watch out for ourselves too. Obviously if this infected guy got over here and sat in an emergency room twice and waited several days for engineering controls, hazard suits and workplace controls to be put in place several people were potentially exposed. Take personal precautions like staying away from others body fluids, blood or other, keep your hands clean and away from your face, eyes etc and protect yourself! If the govt isn’t going to stop infected or exposed individuals from coming into our communities then each of us need to be aware and proactive in our own protection.

Also just because CDC or the president say an infection isn’t airborne doesn’t mean we can’t protect ourselves. Like anything they say…doesn’t make it the whole truth.

Live the Life Of Passion: The New Startup


good luck Jesse!

Originally posted on The Real World Wrestler:

I quit.

I had an internship with a social network geared towards professional networking for athletes. I’m giving it up. And I’m proud.

I found that the overall message to the interns was to break yourself down into objective qualities and try to fit yourself into a mold that’s desirable to corporations.

I also think the internship was structured like a class, and implicitly played to the dumb athlete stereotype, like we didn’t have the responsibility or creativity to work and think independently.

The internship made me depressed on a daily basis. So I gave it up.

You should drop things that don’t make you happy. Even if those things are what people say you should do to be “successful”.

In place of this internship, I have committed myself to something I am really passionate about.

[Big News]:

I’m working with two friends to start a business aimed at growing…

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