Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gardening Guidance From Mike Holmes

Last week, Canadians like Mike Holmes enjoyed a three day weekend. Similar to Memorial Day in the US, Victoria Day weekend is the kick-off to summer in Canada. Many Canadians took advantage of their extra day off by catching up on a little home maintenance and starting a project or two, such as touching up the landscaping around their properties. If you plan on doing a little gardening any time soon, Mike Holmes has some tips and pointers to start it off right. First, before you start any home improvement project, make sure your home, roof, windows, and the like are all in good shape. There's no point in starting a pretty garden if your roof needs to be replaced -- roofers will have to trample your pretty petunias and all your hard work will be for naught. Long story short, make sure you address all major home repairs first before working on anything aesthetic. So, you've inspected your property, and everything survived the winter intact. What's next? Make sure that you pick the right kinds of plants and trees for your property, as well as for your skill level. If your front yard is the place that plants go to die, stick to low maintenance (and perhaps drought tolerant) plants. Plant your plants and trees strategically away from foundations and neighbors homes. Follow some common sense rules and your yard will be the envy of the neighborhood in no time!
From the Montreal Gazette:

Mike Holmes: A little gardening guidance

Before you landscape, do a quick survey of the state of your home

The location of greenery on your property is more important than your selection of plants. Make sure landscaping projects don’t lead to expensive repairs.

It’s been a long and brutal winter, but it’s finally Victoria Day weekend — the official start to barbecue season. Many Canadians will be firing up the grill, but not before rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty.
This weekend is one of the most popular weekends to do home projects, especially small outdoor jobs like landscaping and gardening. If you’re getting ready to gear up this weekend, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Before you buy landscaping tools, plants, grass seed and soil, take an inventory of your house.
Look at the exterior, including the roof, windows, exterior siding and foundation. Are there any new leaks? Any new cracks in the foundation, or have older cracks got bigger?
What about your windows? How does the framing and windowsills look? Are there cracks in the bricks, or are they flaking or spalling? Is there missing mortar?
These are things you — or the right pros — need to fix before you worry about making things look great on the surface.
When everything checks out, then you can start to think about investments — like landscaping — that will enhance the value of your home. Can you imagine spending time and money working on your yard and garden only to have it stomped and trampled by someone who is trying to fix the framing around your windows or sealing a crack in the foundation?
If you decide to do some landscaping this weekend, don’t plant anything next to your foundation. Every time you water the plants there you would be directing water right to your foundation.
Your house needs to breathe. If there isn’t enough space between your house and any shrubs or plants, moisture builds up, potentially leading to mould, termites and other insects. You don’t want to create the perfect environment for these types of problems.
And don’t forget about maintenance. How often do you need to water the plants you’re choosing? How often do they need to be pruned? If you don’t have a green thumb, get low maintenance greenery. You could save yourself a lot of money, time, sweat and tears. You’ll also be saving many plants.
If you’re planning to plant a couple of new trees, choose the right ones for your property and make sure you plant them in areas where they won’t damage your home or your neighbour’s. That means as far away from the house as possible and ideally away from the sanitary line.
Large trees have large branches and foliage that can direct more water to the house, including the roof, siding and foundation. This leads to more wear and tear. And remember, a tree’s roots can be two to three times wider than the tree. Find out how big the tree’s canopy can grow to be; its root system will be just as wide or wider.
Tree roots can do a lot of damage to your plumbing and weeping tile. If you have mature trees on your property, contact a professional plumber who can scope your plumbing lines to make sure there aren’t any roots causing damage to your underground pipes.
If you catch the problem early, you can prevent water or sewage from backing up into the house. I don’t know a single homeowner who wouldn’t want to prevent that.
Small landscaping projects are good ways to get outdoors and improve your home. But if you don’t know what you’re doing you could cause problems like messing up the grading or drainage around your property — or worse, your neighbour’s.
If you aren’t 100 per cent sure about something, hire a pro. It’s your safest bet.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit

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