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Question – why is my interlock driveway shifting throughout the winter?

It’s true that an interlocking driveway can add an impressive amount of curb appeal to your home, creating a sophisticated, stream-lined look. There are also additional benefits that make it a smart investment. For instance, the array of stone colors, styles and designs can perfectly match your house—from traditional to modern—and will significantly increase the value of your home. Additionally, the maintenance of an interlocking driveway is negligible. You get the entire ‘look’ and none of the work!

Interlock Driveway Proviso

Untitled-Scanned-59There is one small caveat to interlocking driveways, but it’s a stipulation that is fairly common among home remodels and repairs: it is a job that should be done by a professional. While the concept of an interlocking driveway is simple, the installation is anything but easy.

There are many different factors to consider when installing an interlock driveway. For example, it needs to be able to handle the weight of multiple vehicles and stand up to the rigors of winter weather for years to come. The last thing you want to see is the beautifully uniform lines of your driveway’s pavers starting to shift in a random direction, completely ruining the driveway’s perfect design and beauty. In short, if you value your home’s appearance and curb appeal, an interlocking driveway needs to be properly installed by an experienced professional.

Interlocking Installation Woes

If your interlock driveway is shifting throughout the winter, then it’s likely that something went awry during installation. Two different scenarios are likely:

  1. You DIY’d your interlock driveway. Most homeowners simply don’t have the experience and knowledge,or the equipment to properly install an interlocking driveway. In instances when inexperienced homeowners take on such an expert-level task, ‘DIY’ stands for ‘Disaster-It-Yourself.’
  2. You hired a less experienced landscaper to install the driveway. Again, not everyone has the know-how and experience to properly install such an important feature of your home. There are many ways that the project could have gone wrong. For example, your installer might not have packed the base materials well enough,or installed enough base materials, and the right  base materials for your climate and for your existing soil conditions, and those materials are shifting due to natural expansion experienced during freezing temperatures.

Finding a Solution

There is only one solution if your home’s curb appeal is being seriously diminished by a shifting interlocking driveway. You need to call in a professional to assess your options for fixing your driveway.

As an added bonus, calling a professional like Dutchman’s Landscaping will get you these additional benefits:

  • An expert in the industry will have the experience to do the job correctly the first time.
  • A pro will have references from past projects to prove their capabilities.
  • A professional can guarantee that your interlock driveway will stay put.
  • An expert will be able to help with choosing designs and colors, as well as installation.
  • A specialist will also be able to reliably assist you with other home landscaping chores and projects.

If your home’s interlock driveway is shifting, look to a professional to identify and address the problem. Contact us today for an expert quote for an interlocking driveway installation or troubleshooting assessment!

Another Win for Dutchman’s!

We don’t normally toot our own horn, but this we just had to share.

Dutchman’s was nominated for, and then won a sought-after Award of Excellence at the Landscape Ontario 2015 Awards Gala for our awesome new website.

Dutchman's LandscapingOf the hundreds of beautiful landscaping contractor websites out there, ours emerged as one among a select few the rest of the industry should strive to match.

We’re extremely grateful to receive this award and want to thank Landscape Ontario and our customers for supporting us all these years. Thanks to WSI Milton too for building us this user-friendly and eye-catching website. Talk to them if you want a great looking site of your own.

We’re already starting to plan out a number of spring and summer landscaping projects for our clients.Give us a call today and book your service before the rest of your neighbourhood fills our schedule.

Give the Gift of Landscaping for Christmas This Year

Having a hard time with your Christmas list? Landscaping is one of the most personalized gifts you can give your loved one. While you may not be able to hide a new patio or BBQ in a Christmas stocking, you can give design plans, gift certificates or pictures that show what the landscape present will be. It’s the perfect gift for someone who loves to spend time outdoors, but doesn’t have the time or know how to put in a new landscape themselves.

Dutchman’s Design Options

Of course, you may be hesitant to present a final design plan for a new patio or entry walkway. What if your gift recipient doesn’t like the plan? All experienced landscape designers consider several options when they are designing. Have Dutchman’s Landscaping provide two or three sketch plans that show design options. Wrap them up with a card explaining the choices. Your giftee can then make the final selection for the plan they would like best.

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

If you are not ready to move ahead with design plan options, how about starting with some pictures? Cut a few pictures out of your favorite garden design magazine that show some possible projects: a fire pit area, a garden gazebo or flagstone pathway through a planting bed. Let your loved one pick the landscape project they would like to see installed.

You can also find fabulous design images on Pinterest and Houzz. Look over your spouse’s shoulder when they are browsing through their account online to see what they like. Print a few of the pictures later and put them in a Christmas card.

Gift Certificates

Dutchman’s Landscaping can provide you with a gift certificate to put under the Christmas tree. They will create a special gift certificate to your specifications or give you a simple card that you can wrap up or tuck into a custom card of your own creation. Gift certificates are one of the best options when you have a general idea for a present, but are not sure about the final choice.

With a Dutchman’s gift certificate, your special someone can participate in the design and landscaping project from beginning to end. If they enjoy being involved in landscape projects without having to do the labour involved, it’s the best way to make sure they get exactly what they want.

Winter Landscaping

While winter is usually not the preferred season for outdoor projects, there are still several things that can be done during winter months in Ontario. If you don’t want your giftee to have to wait until spring, woodworking projects such as decks and gazebos can often be completed during winter. You might also schedule some maintenance tasks; trees can be trimmed during winter when leaves are gone and it’s easy to see what should be pruned. That could be your first visit as part of an annual maintenance contract from Dutchman’s.

If your loved one has been reluctant to get started on the landscaping project you know they want, whether it’s because of money or confusion over how to get started, they are the perfect candidate for a present from Dutchman’s. To give the gift of landscaping this year, call Dutchman’s Landscaping and let us be your secret Santa.

Is Your Garden Ready for Winter?

For those of us who love the fall colours, it’s sad to think that the trees will soon be stripped of their leaves and coated in ice and snow. Sooner or later (sooner is better!) we have to take an afternoon and get the garden we’ve enjoyed over the summer and fall ready to weather the winter storm.

That involves making sure your carefully tended garden is good to go by the time the weather turns and the frost settles in night after night. Some homeowners avoid these closing out duties, choosing to stop the usual routine of caring for their greenery cold turkey when winter starts to rear its ugly head. Don’t be one of these homeowners, because the fact is your garden will pay you back next spring for the good care you provide this late fall and winter.

Save Your Plants

Avoiding an afternoon of winterizing your garden means you can more or less say goodbye to that beautiful greenery next April when the spring weather starts to melt away the piles of snow. Throughout those cold and dark months, the persistence of your plants is largely dependent on your help during the change of seasons, and doing so can help you make a happy shift from staring out your window at a mountain of white to tending your garden with ease. You love your plants, so be sure to show it by making sure they’re prepared to hibernate for the winter.

Save Your Cash

Your plants aren’t the only thing you’ll lose if you fail to prepare them for the season of snowfall. Chances are you don’t want a dead and decaying garden to display to your neighbours next spring, so if your plants die this winter, you’ll be looking at a significant investment to outfit a fresh round of replacements when you want to enjoy the outdoors again. Save future-you some money and take care of your winterizing tasks this weekend.

Save Your Time

There’s a huge time difference between normal seasonal maintenance and replacing your entire garden. You already know how a failure to prepare your landscape for winter will cost you your plants and a significant chunk of change, but it’ll also take up time you probably don’t want to spend labouring in the dirt – especially if you could have avoided these days of labour by taking one afternoon to get your landscape ready for the freeze. Wouldn’t it be better to enjoy your garden from a lawn chair with a glass of wine or lemonade rather than on your knees in the mud?

Finally, facing the fact that summer has gone and fall is slowly fading is never easy, and shutting down the things that remind us of the season of warmth and relaxation often makes it more difficult. But taking care to get your garden prepped for winter means you’ll be able to enjoy next year that much more, so be sure to get to work before it’s too cold and frosty.

Of course, we could take care of your winter preparation for a very reasonable price. Save your time and invest a little money today to save yourself a lot of money come spring. Call us today!

dutchmanslandscaping_RaQ

Get Your Pool Ready for Winter

It’s hard, sad, terrible, all other kinds of synonyms, to acknowledge when the weather starts to get a little cooler, the sun starts to set a little earlier, and the lazy days of summer are gone again. And while homeowners hate to say goodbye to those easygoing, sun-drenched hours spent lounging by the swimming pool, you need to get your pool ready for the snow and ice if you want to be able to enjoy it again without dumping your savings into repair work next spring.

It’s got to be done, and for those of you who are new to pool ownership or unsure of how exactly to hibernate your pool, here’s what you need to do when shutting down your above or in-ground pool.

An Above Ground Pool

Start by making sure the water chemistry of the pool is balanced. Check your pH, Total Alkalinity, and Calcium Hardness so the pool liner where the surface of the water sits is well-protected from staining and etching.

A floater with a strong oxidizer like chlorine or bromine could stain or bleach the wall. So don’t use one! You should also avoid throwing chlorine or bromine tablets into the water because they’ll damage the liner surface just like the floater would.

Lower the water level below the mouth of the skimmer or using an Aquador on the mouth of the skimmer. Or do things the old way with a bucket and some muscle power. Pro tip: enlist some friends.

Drain all the water from the filter equipment and hoses run the pump for a few seconds to remove water from the veins of the impeller. DO NOT do this for more than a second or two, or risk burning out the seal.

Let the chemicals run out of the chemical feeder so they’re not damaged over the winter months. Once that’s done you can drain the chemical feeder.

Finally, cover your pool up for the winter with a good quality cover to protect it from debris.

Once all these steps are done, you should also put the pump and pressure gauge inside for the winter. Don’t risk the cold weather damaging either.

Winterizing Your In-Ground Pool

Like an above-ground pool, your in-ground pool needs balanced water chemistry to sit throughout the winter, so check your pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness. Don’t use floaters with strong oxidizers and don’t dump bromine or chlorine tablets into the standing water. Lower the water level below the mouth of the skimmer so frozen water doesn’t crack and ruin its innards.

Blow out the water from your plumbing lines, adding a plug in the lines at the pool end as the water is removed from each one. A plug with a rubber gasket or “O” ring will ensure the lines are totally sealed. You can use a rubber freeze plug for any unthreaded fittings.

Use a cover to keep debris out for the winter. There are both hard and soft covers. If you worry about animals or kids falling into the winterized pool, opt for a more expensive hard cover. After that, the final step is to drain the water from the filter equipment.

Winterizing your pool is a chore for certain, made a little worse by the fact that swimming season is over and cold weather is on its way, but doing it right will make sure you have a functional pool to swim in next year.

If you want to make your pool area look more like a retreat next year, give us a call to find out how we can get started today.

Drought resistant gardens that save you serious dollars

When changes to your water supply or the natural weather patterns occur, it can trickle into larger, more serious consequences, such as a shortage in water supply and water bans, which can ultimately affect your ability to nourish a colourful and flourishing garden.

Drought resistant gardensSummer fun so often revolves around cooling down around the pool, pond, lake, or sprinkler, (or keeping your gardens healthy for entertaining), and your water bills and the environment could benefit from more sustainable soaking endeavors.  If you like relaxing in your mighty garden but are interested in a more water-wise approach, why not go for a drought-tolerant garden?

Drought-tolerance, or ‘xeriscaping’, is a recent garden style first seen in the arid western regions of the United States.  But it’s gaining growing support as a practical means of both relishing the beauty of gardening, while also maintaining a conscientious effort to minimize water usage.  To receive notice as a drought-resistant plant, a plant needs to be able to thrive in dry conditions where water is much more scarce than Ontario..

If you’re planning a drought hardy garden, it is best to place drought-resistant plants in close proximity to each other, to get the most out of any watering you do.  We also recommend the plants sit in full sun at least part of the day to promote healthy growth..

Drought resistant choices to help your garden live on

Drought resistantBefore purchasing any plants, you have to know the ones that will stand up to your environment and look great with your design. You can always ask the experts at Dutchman’s, or sit back and have us do it all for you. But if you want to have at it yourself…

  • Grasses:
    • Bluestem, Tufted hair grass
  • Evergreens:
    • Junipers (there are so many species of these!)
    • Yuccas—similar appearance to a desert plant. Once planted and settled, they usually do not need to be watered. Their roots grow extremely long and seek out hidden sources of food.
  • Trees and Shrubs:
    • Honey-locust (tree), Buckthorn (large shrub), Honeysuckle (smaller shrub)
  • Annuals:
    • Sunflowers, Amaranth, Zinnia
  • Perennials: 
    • Characterized by their either waxy or furry leaves, which retain a lot of moisture. Some examples include: Daylilies, Lavender, Thyme, Blanket flower, Marguerite Daisy, Baby’s breath, Sweet pea, Peony, Lamb’s ears, Black-Eyed Susan

When should you water?

When should you waterThere are specific water and soil guidelines to help ensure the best results for draught-resistant plants.

  • Use more organic matter (i.e. compost, manure) in your soil mixture. These components hold moisture for long periods
  • Avoid evaporation by only watering plants in the early morning or late evening.
  • In the first year, after the soil and plants have been accommodatingly established, many drought-resistant plants can go without water for a solid week. After two years and beyond, when the plants are totally at home, watering can occur every two weeks.

Creating a drought-resistant garden is a great way to be water-wise and Earth friendly while saving money and also enjoying the pleasing array of colourful sights and sweet smells this type of garden has to offer. Try something new, both aesthetically and environmentally, and you can be sure a drought-resistant garden and its low maintenance requirements will give you a new perspective on garden life.

Give us a call today to learn more about this growing trend.

The Best Places for Landscaping Inspiration in Burlington

Green spaces are good for the body and the soul, and an increasing number of homeowners are investing in landscaping services or building comforting backyard retreats themselves. Sitting outside with the rustle of leaves, the babbling of a small water feature and the chatter of birds and other urban wildlife can do wonders for a stressed out body. So if you’re looking to get inspired before embarking on your own landscaping project, visit these sites in Burlington where urban nature is at its best.

Royal Botanical Gardens

Royal Botanical GardensAny list of Burlington’s most inspired outdoor spaces has to include the Royal Botanical Gardens. RBG is Canada’s largest botanical garden and covers a sprawling 2450 acres of protected land. A visit to any of RBG’s protected area might get you some face time with at risk species enjoying safety and a clean habitat. In July you’ll find fragrant blooming roses and Lilliums in pink, yellow, orange, purple and more. You’ll find rock gardens, water features, landscaped parks, ponds, lakes and any other natural feature you might want to incorporate on a smaller scale on your property.

Community Gardens

The City of Burlington operates three community gardens where green thumbed residents can plant whatever they want. The gardens are located at Amherst Park, Central Park and Francis Road Bikeway. Pathways between garden plots are kept clear of growth with a nice, even application of wood chips (a great example of how you could use wood chips for the same purpose in your home garden). You’ll also find great examples of how to place and build a planting bed and how to store compost that will later keep your veggies (as many people choose to grow) growing vigorously. These community gardens are great places to pick up some tips from other gardeners. Plots are assigned by lottery at the beginning of each spring and cost $50 to rent for a yearly growing season.

The Central Park Labyrinth

The Central Park LabyrinthSurrounded by trees young and old in the heart of Burlington’s Central Park you’ll find the Labyrinth. It’s not a maze. There are no walls but rather a geometric pattern laid out on the ground with a single entrance and a single exit. A labyrinth invites people to participate in walking meditation, an activity that is highly effective at reducing anxiety and eliciting the relaxation response, according to research from Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Herbert Benson. Maybe a labyrinth isn’t right for your property, but the surrounding gardens and peaceful air might be exactly what you’re hoping to create at home.

Inspiring Waterfalls

Five waterfalls (fitting City of Burlington official waterfall criteria) encircle the City. These waterfalls are a great source for design inspiration for your own smaller water feature. See how the water cascades over rocky ledges and rolling boulders naturally. Note the nooks where plants gain a foothold and nourish themselves. Boundary Falls, Snake Falls, Lower Snake Falls, Kilbride Falls and Bronte Creek Waterfall range from 3 metres to 30 metres tall.

LaSalle Park

LaSalle Park50 North Shore Boulevard has housed LaSalle Park for 99 years. In that time, the 57 acre park overlooks Lake Ontario and has beautifully maintained walking trails and established landscaping that many homeowners dream of. The shoreline is dedicated to fish and wildlife habitat restoration, where you can observe plants that thrive in Canadian waters and their relationships with insects, reptiles and fish. Perhaps the same wildlife you want to draw to your home oasis.

Burlington is a particularly beautiful city with more landscaped public spaces than most. These five are excellent sources of inspiration, but a drive around your neighbourhood will also lead to many beautifully designed home landscapes and public spaces.

Dutchman’s Landscaping can help turn your inspired vision to reality. Call us today to request a quote.

Royal Botanical Gardens and other courtesy of Gillian Floyd

The 5 Best Ornamental Trees for Ontario

Ornamental and decorative trees bring interest to the landscape garden through their flowers, foliage and overall form. Though most trees flower in the spring, many of them have small, undistinguished displays of color. Flowering ornamental trees are usually small to medium size with bold, splashy displays of color. Other types of decorative trees are selected for the color and shape of their leaves.

The right species of ornamental tree in the right place makes a distinctive focal point in the home landscape. Some species of ornamentals work better for naturalizing or as a backdrop for the showier species. Here are a few of the best decorative trees for Ontario.


Dogwood 1. Dogwood

There are several species of dogwoods native to Ontario, and they all make great ornamentals. Cornus florida, flowering dogwood, is the most recognized of the group. It’s full, beautiful white flowers, seen in this photo, row 1column 3 are a sure sign that spring has arrived. Pagoda dogwood, Cornus alternifolia, looks very similar; at first glance, you may not notice a difference. Both of these small trees will flower more if they have full sun or only light shade.

Pink flowering varieties of Cornus florida are very popular with homeowners. Everything else about the tree is the same, but the flowers are a medium shade of pink with tinges of white. Again, full sun will help with flower production.


Redbud 2. Redbud

Eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, is another Ontario native. It’s flowers range from light pink to magenta; they pop out in spring just before the dogwoods. Large, heart-shaped leaves emerge after the flowers. The overall appearance of a redbud tree is not as refined as most of the other trees on this list, but they are worth having for their flowers alone. A drift of flowering redbud trees across the edge of the woods in early spring is a beautiful sight.


Golden Chain Tree 3. Golden Chain Tree

Golden chain tree, Laburnum anagyroides, is named for its spectacular, hanging yellow flowers. A little pickier about growing conditions than dogwoods and redbuds, golden chain trees are worth planting if you are a fan of their flowers. The rest of the year, they tend to blend in with the rest of the trees in your yard.


Japanese Maple 4. Japanese Maple

Japanese maples, Acer palmatum, are some of the most distinct and recognizable ornamental trees for the home landscape. Known for their distinctive form and foliage rather than their flowers, Japanese maples come in a variety of sizes and colours with differing leaf shapes. A medium size, red Japanese maple is shown here.

This multi-stemmed specimen has been limbed up to allow smaller ornamentals to be planted close by. In general, Japanese maples work best as single accents or focal points as opposed to being planted in groups or rows.


Blue Spruce 5. Blue Spruce

The other tree on this list selected for its foliage is Colorado blue spruce, Picea pungens. An evergreen tree, blue spruce makes an effective visual screen or backdrop for flowering species. Though it’s a slow grower, blue spruce can eventually get quite large. Foliage color may vary; some varieties are bluer than others. Colorado blue spruce makes a nice Christmas tree, but you probably won’t want to cut yours down!

 

All of the trees above stay hearty and healthy in the diverse conditions that Ontario offers. Talk to your landscaping company about the specific conditions in your yard to make sure the tree of your choice will thrive there. Everyone should have at least one special ornamental tree that will bring extra color and excitement to their landscape.

If you’re interested in a quote for planting, contact us now!

The Top 3 Ways to Make Your Entryway More Inviting

An entryway may be the most important part of your home landscape. It helps to form the image of your home as it is seen from the street. You use your entryway at least twice a day, usually more often. Your entryway also serves as a transition between indoors and outdoors and should relate to both of those as it welcomes people into your home. If you are considering changes to your front yard landscape, here are a few elements to work into the plan to make your entryway more inviting.

Create Mystery

Create Mystery

If everything in your landscape is completely visible at first glance, it actually becomes less interesting. Inviting landscapes lead us to believe there is more to discover. While an entryway should not be completely hidden, it should contain some element of mystery.

The entry landscape shown in this photo is a good example. The route to the front door is obvious, but not everything that will be seen along the way is visible from the beginning of the walk. The landing area at the bottom of the front porch steps looks like it may be larger than it appears as part of it is in the shadows and hidden by shrubs. The front porch itself is also partially screened by the mature landscape plantings. This entryway walk invites you to come see what is there.

Provide Enclosure

Provide Enclosure

We all want to feel safe and secure in our homes. Creating a sense of enclosure in the landscape will help with this. An entryway that is partially enclosed or has defined boundaries is a comfortable place to be. In the photo shown,the front porch structure partially encloses the visitor before they go through the front door. The landscape planting also contributes. In particular, the spruce tree in the foreground provides separation between the entry walk and the adjacent yard and drive. Most of the Front Landscaping photos in our Inspiration Gallery show landscape planting along entry walkways to help create enclosure.

Show the Way

Show the Way

While it may seem obvious, a first time visitor to your home should be able to easily figure out the best route to your front door. You might be surprised by how many landscapes do not do this! Visual clues that define an entryway also invite you to enter.

The entry walk shown in this photo comes all the way to the front sidewalk to welcome you. The unit pavers are a different material than both the sidewalk and the driveway. The mid-level landing looks like a nice place to pause; it will have more enclosure as the landscape matures. The wide steps bring you up to the front door. Even though it is a small front yard, there are different spaces that create interest along the path to the entry.

Mystery, enclosure and an interesting, defined pathway are all complementary characteristics of a successful, inviting entry. It makes the simple act of walking to your front door become an enjoyable journey for both you and your guests.

If you’re ready to get started updating your front yard landscaping now, contact us for a consultation.

When To Start Planning Your Landscape Project

Start Planning Your Landscape ProjectBy late winter, everyone in Ontario is dreaming of spring. Even if you enjoy cold weather, snow and winter activities, by February or March it can feel like warm weather will never arrive. Fortunately, there are things you can do to get you through the last, long weeks of winter. One of the best is to begin planning your next landscape project.

When there is still snow on the ground, it may seem too early to be planning a summer landscape project, but that is not the case. Good landscaping companies will have weeks or months of work pre-booked for spring and summer. After a particularly harsh winter like this one, landscape contractors will be busier than usual with spring cleanup projects, maintenance and new construction.

The Importance of Planning

The-Importance-of-PlanningThough you may be eager to break ground and begin landscape improvements the moment warm weather arrives, it’s important to go through a thoughtful planning process.

Consider that you will be using your landscape for years or decades. Landscaping can be a significant investment, but it adds enjoyment to your life and increases the value of your home. While landscape planning will often move quickly and efficiently, given all that it provides, it is best not to cut corners or make rushed decisions.

Planning and Design Timelines

The timeline for a landscape design and construction project should be measured in months, not weeks. Even for simple home landscaping projects, there are several steps to the process. You are likely to be selecting a landscape designer, meeting with them and evaluating design options, waiting for them to produce design plans, scheduling construction and then going through the construction process. If you want to complete a landscape project this summer, it’s not too early to begin the process now.

Experience Counts

Experience CountsThe best landscape designs have a lot of creativity and experience behind them. A good landscape design professional can make your new landscape improvements fit seamlessly into your existing landscape and lifestyle. They will also be aware of potential pitfalls and problems that can arise along the way and will help to guide you through the process. While going the do-it-yourself route may look like a way to save time and money, that is not always true. For most projects, it is worth working with someone that has the knowledge and practical experience to make your yard look and function the best it possibly can.

As winter winds down, landscape designers and contractors are beginning to gear up for spring and summer. Start thinking now about what you would like to accomplish in your yard this year, and begin your landscape planning process by calling an experienced, qualified landscaping company. Contact our team today to get started.