For most of us, we know the struggle of waking up early in order to dig our cars out of the snow before work. In the dark and cold, we toil. Even without the occasional slip on the ice or pulled back muscle, shoveling is not on the top of most people’s list of activities they love. So why are we still doing it? That’s a very good question, but we have our excuses:
“It doesn’t cost me anything.”
“I don’t have to wait for anyone to arrive.”
“Snow removal services never get the job done exactly right.”
Those seem like logical reasons for not hiring a snow removal service, but let’s look at the issue a little more closely.
1. Effort and time vs. cost
When making the decision to hire a snow removal contractor, you should weigh the positives and the negatives. Depending on your budget, cost may be the largest factor as to why you have not considered hiring out for snow removal. But cost can come in other forms besides dollars:
- If it takes you an hour or longer to shovel your driveway, think of how this affects you. First, if it’s a work day, you may have to wake up early, losing out on precious sleep.
- Depending on how much snow has fallen, it may take you longer than expected to get your driveway clear. This can mean arriving late to work or not making it in at all. Some jobs are flexible, but if yours isn't, deductions may come out of your pay check. Is that a cost you have accounted for?
2. Expediency and reliability
If you are worried about the dependability of a certain snow removal company, there are many ways to do your homework before signing a contract.
- First, see whether the business belongs to any associations or if they're accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Professional affiliations and accreditations don’t mean everything, but they can often clue you in on the legitimacy and professionalism of the business.
- Second, you should always review any contracts presented by the snow removal company. Some contracts may state that a truck will come by after three centimetres of snow and others after five centimetres. Knowing this information can help you determine whether the company can meet your needs.
3. Who knows your needs better than you?
If you're afraid of half-completed jobs, snow piled in front of your mailbox or tire tracks in your front lawn, these are all common concerns you can address with one simple conversation with your potential snow removal provider.
Leave the shovel in the garage
Some homeowners or apartment residents are lucky enough to have snow removal taken care of without having to look for a contractor, but for the rest of us, all it takes is a quick search by asking around. The benefits of convenient and affordable snow removal can be immediate, and you’d be surprised how wonderful it feels to look out of your window at the snow falling down, knowing that your shovel has been retired indefinitely.
10 Important Things to Consider When Planning Your Landscape Design
Whether you are interested in completely redesigning your landscape or simply making a few changes there are some important factors to consider before you start planting.
While many people head straight to their local gardening supply store to browse the selections, creating a plan beforehand will help you chose plants that will best fit your needs and thrive in your landscape.
It's easy to go out and be tempted into buying plants that look beautiful at the garden store, only to get them home and realize they are wrong for your landscape. These tips will help you develop a plan and put you on the road to creating a beautiful, cohesive, and thriving landscape.
1. Know your yard
Think about your regional climate, the topography of your site, and your soil type when planning your landscape. Using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a great place to start.
Keep in mind that the specific conditions of your yard are likely to create a microclimate based on the amount and length of sun and shade exposure the area receives.
Microclimates are usually broken into one of four categories: full sun, partial shade, shade, or deep shade; take note of your landscape's microclimate when selecting plants for your landscape.
The topography of your site is important to consider as well as you plan; take note of how water drains in your landscape. The best landscape design will promote water movement away from your home towards other areas of your yard.
2. Who will be using your yard?
Think about who will be using your yard and how they will use it. Will children be using your yard? Do you have pets? Are you hoping to use your yard for outdoor entertaining? Remember you can create different spaces for different uses in your landscape using strategic plantings and hardscapes. Walkways can be used to move people from one area to another.
Since you will be using and maintaining your yard (or hiring someone to maintain it) consider what your maintenance style and budget are. Be as realistic as you can. How much time will you truly have to put into your landscape? Or if you won't have the time will you have the money to pay someone else to put in the time? How much do you have to invest in your landscape? Determining the answer to these questions will help to ensure the success of your landscape for years to come.
3. Think about themes
A theme can unify your landscape and help guide your plant and material selections. Themes can be as simple as using consistent shapes or forms throughout your yard or as complex as creating a relaxation garden or an Oriental garden.
When deciding on a theme for your yard, a good place to start is looking at the architecture of your home. Try to complement the lines and style of your home's architecture in your yard; after all, your yard is an extension of your home.
Themes can help guide how you place and select plants, decorations, hardscapes, and structures. Are you someone who wants lots of neat, geometric shapes and structures in you landscape? Do you want softer lines and a more natural feel to your space? Do you want a landscape to include only specific colors? Questions like these will help you choose a unified theme for your garden.
For more on finding inspiration for your design theme, read the EDIS publication Landscape Design: Finding Inspiration for a Design Theme. Gardening Solutions also has articles on specific Types of Gardens.
4. Create and link spaces
In order to get the most out of your yard, think of it as another room, or rooms, in your home. Just as a home has well defined and carefully planned rooms, so should your landscape; using your materials wisely allows you can create different "rooms" in your landscape.
Don't forget to think about how you'll link your spaces. How will people move from one area of your yard to another? Create openings to encourage exploration in your yard and keep people moving throughout the landscape.
5. Make your plants work for you
Early in your planning you should determine how your plants will function in your landscape. Plants can be used in a number of ways, they can provide you with fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables, beautiful scenery, lovely aromas, and much more.
Plants can be used as barriers to define areas within your landscape as well as identify where your landscape ends. You can use plants to create physical barriers in your landscape by blocking both views and access to an area. If you want to keep your views open, but maintain some barriers, low growing plants can be used to create implied barriers, blocking access but not the view.
Correctly placed plants can also be used to alter your landscape site conditions. Temperature, light levels, and wind are greatly affected by the trees and plants in a landscape. The noises in your landscape can be affected by what you put into the design, such as water features or bird houses, as well as any physical barriers that keep your garden insulated from noises beyond your landscape.
6. Structure your plantings
Consider your various visual planes when selecting plants. Starting from the area above you, think about the overhead plane, this might include archways and trees.
Moving on to the vertical plane, consider how closely spaced or far apart plants will be, how plants will be layered or staggered (generally larger plants are used behind smaller plants), as well as the individual and massed heights and widths of your plants.
Don't forget about the ground plane (including how smaller plants will be grouped and arranged as well as groundcovers and hardscapes).
Repeating similar shapes and structures in your garden will give you a unified view throughout your space.
7. Highlight important points
Using unique plants, distinct structures, or garden ornaments allows you to highlight a particular area of your landscape. Contrasting shapes, textures, sizes, and colors will help to capture attention and direct it to a specific area.
8. Pay attention to detail
Plants, hardscapes, and garden ornaments all have their own visual details, from various forms and shapes to an array of colors and textures. By thinking about how these visual details can be used to complement and contrast each other, you can create a cohesive and captivating landscape.
Don't just think about visuals; taking into consideration the scents of the plants you select for your landscape can enhance the experience you create for those in your garden. Think about when flowers will be blooming and fragrant, as well as what scents will complement each other in the landscape.
9. Think about the future
More specifically, take into account how the passage of time will affect your landscape plants. When selecting plants, make sure you consider the plant's growth rate, maintenance needs, and its eventual mature size. Make sure you provide your plants with enough room to reach their mature size. Keep in mind though, that mature size is typically based on optimal growing conditions, your landscape's specific conditions may cause a plant to grow larger or smaller.
10. Protect your resources
Winnipeg has one of the largest remaining mature urban Elm Forest in all of North America, but that is a problem. Dutch Elm disease is slowly decimating the cities green canopy with more than 6000 albums slated to be removed this year alone.
In Winnipeg, ask trees are also in serious danger.
The city is bracing for the arrival of the emerald ash borer beetle, which is an invasive species that cannot be eradicated once here. The Beetles arrival has the potential to wipe out all Winnipeg's ash trees.