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While the temperatures remain relatively warm during the day, it is obvious that Fall is in the air. Nights are cool. The leaves are beginning to change. Annuals that you may have planted in the spring are now looking relatively straggly. The grass is slowing down in its growth. As Mother Nature changes her decor, so too should you. Who’s got time to tackle some home maintenance projects?

OUTDOORS

  • Fresh Fall planters renew your home’s decor

    Pull out annuals that are leggy and spent. While you are at it, dig out summer bulbs and store them for the season. You can replace those bulbs with spring flowers, like crocuses, daffodils and tulips for that burst of colour first thing in the spring.

  • The garden isn’t the only thing that needs some TLC. Your planters are probably looking rather spent as well. Renew them with a hint of fall flair in choices like colourful mums, cool-weather-loving kale, jazzy grasses, and a selection of pumpkins and gourds.
  • Keep cutting your grass right up until it stops growing. Think about over-seeding in the early part of the fall. While the weather stays warm, continue watering your grass. A fall fertilizer applied in October will also give your lawn that boost it needs to shine next spring. Once you have cut the grass for the last time, make sure to winterize your lawn care equipment before putting it to bed for the winter.
  • When the leaves transform into a beautiful rainbow overhead, a camera might be the first thing that you think to reach for. The next thing you reach for though will be a rake. That stunning canopy only lasts so long before it gently drifts to the ground and you have some work to do. Whether you prefer a rake, leaf blower, or mulcher, now is the time to amass yard waste bags in preparation for leaf raking season.

INDOORS

  • Storm windows will keep the heat Inside your home this winter

    Prepping your indoor world for winter is a good idea too. Slowly reintroduce any plants that you took outside for the summer, back indoors. They need to gradually readjust, but most certainly can’t handle any frost or other frigid temperatures.

  • There aren’t too many hot breezes blowing through your home anymore. Time to switch your ceiling fans to clockwise for the winter. That will pull cool air up off the floor and push the warmer air off the ceiling and down the walls towards the floor. It is a simple step that will save you a couple of degrees in your house and dollars in your pocket.
  • While insects might still be buzzing in your yard, they will be gone soon, and with them the need for window screens. Now is the time to remove, wash and store your screens and haul out your storm windows if you’ve got them. While you are at it, check for any drafts and caulk around windows as necessary. If those drafts are bad enough, why not think about replacing those leaky windows altogether? It might be more expensive than tacking up plastic window barriers, but replacement windows add more value to the resale value of your home in the long run.
  • Don’t put the caulking gun away too fast. Since it is out already, now is a great time to recaulk the tub, fill any cracks in your foundation or around outdoor faucets, seal around doors, and winterize your home as needed.

There’s  plenty more to be done around the house this Autumn, but as the days get shorter, energy levels tend to lag. One step at a time my friends! It will all get done eventually…

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Galoshes

Galoshes (Photo credit: This Is A Wake Up Call)

Brace yourself London. While you might have seen the sun today, it’s not going to last. In case you haven’t heard, rain is on the way. And not just a drop or two. Oh no, they are suggesting that we have the chance of receiving upwards of 100 mm of precipitation, with maybe even a snowflake or two thrown in on Thursday and Friday. Nice. If you don’t have galoshes, better buy some when you are out getting that new umbrella.

That means that any dreams of getting into your garden will remain just that; dreams. At least for the short-term forecast. All that rain is sure to knock the last of the frost out of the ground though. And then whammo, flowers, plants and trees will spring back to life. Finally, garden season is about to arrive! That leaves you the next couple of weeks to finish up your indoors Spring cleaning, before heading outdoors. Maybe you can even spend that time picking up some bulbs to plant and the last of the seed packets you have been eyeing for this year’s garden. Do you have a plan once you get outside though? You might want to consider this;

Spring Garden Clean-up & Wake-up 101

Open secator - Secateur ouvert

  • Cut down grasses, sedums, hydrangeas and other perennials that you left for winter interest in your garden
  • Prune roses, butterfly bushes, azaleas, Weigela,  and Rose of Sharon
    • When pruning plants the general rule is to only cut about 1/3 of the plant at any given time. Remove any dead or damaged branches and trim the longest ones to encourage new growth.
  • Now is also a good time to prune evergreens like yew, cedar and euonymous bushes
  • English: Two raspberries, still on plant.Raspberries also require pruning. Make sure to remove any suckers that spring up outside of your designated area (they send underground suckers that can spread far and wide, so be diligent!). Cut to ground level any canes that produced fruit in the previous year, as the canes produce leaves the first year, fruit the second, then they die. Don’t worry, as new canes will replace them. With an eye to pruning, you have a few options;
    • Before their buds break, cut all canes down to about a foot from the ground and thin your canes to about 4-7 of the healthiest ones.You should get one larger fall crop versus a larger summer crop and smaller fall crop
    • Summer-bearing raspberries should have any weak, diseased and damaged canes removed to the ground. Trim any damaged tips.
  • While you have your pruning shears out and sharp, inspect any trees on your property. Prune any that show signs of disease or winter damage. Also consider air flow and prune out any branches that prevent proper circulation or that are weak or spindly.
  • Plant cool-weather crops like radishes, onions, beets, snow peas, kholrabi, potatoes, carrots and leafy greens, like kale, lettuce and spinach. You can even throw in some cold-loving annual flowers like a whole pack of pansies for a much-needed splash of colour in the garden

Spring will sprung eventually folks. It has to one of these days!

With August upon us, summer just seems to be flying by. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t enjoy the last of it though. There are still plenty more pool days. You have lots of time yet to relax in the backyard. As the temperature dips slightly in the evening, you might even be tempted to spend even more time outside, with less need for your a/c. Looking around your yard, might just cause you to shudder though. Have the kids put the pool toys away? Who left those towels balled up in a heap over yonder? What about that pile of dirt there? Are you ever going to sweep it up from your last gardening project? You know what you need? A few outdoor storage solutions. An organized home is a happier home, both inside and out!

OUTDOOR STORAGE SOLUTIONS

  • If damp towels seem to always accumulate over the backs of chairs, or worse, lying on the ground, why not think about hanging some hooks up outside to give those beach towels a chance to dry. Get creative and get every member of the family to choose their own personal hook for their own towel. Go with a theme that suits your decor; think poolside, garden-inspired, nascar or whatever screams YOU. Use found items, like sturdy branches or leftover plumbing pieces from your last DIY project, to minimize your costs. However you design it, make sure you let the family know where their towels belong from here on out.
  • Speaking of poolside items, what about all those pool toys and other paraphernalia? How about a deck box! All those diving rings, snorkels, rubber duckies and more can be tossed inside, clearing off the deck around the pool. Even better, there are still plenty on the market at this time of year and you should be able to find summer sales aplenty. A deck box will improve poolside safety and the peace of mind that comes with an organized space.
  • Now what about that messy space that you call your gardener’s corner? You need an organized space where you can store all your garden tools, plus tackle some of your garden projects. How about a potter’s bench! A well designed potter’s bench can house trowels, extra pots, bags of soil, bone meal and more. Plus, it gives you a dedicated space to start seeds, repot plants and plan a layout for your yard. You can repurpose an old dresser, use baskets you no longer use or head out to a big box store and take your pickings. If you are really handy, you might even add a sink, so that you can rinse your towels and water those delicate plants. There are more ideas here to get you started, so get organized today, before fall cleanup has you running again.

That sun just keeps on shining and nary a cloud is in sight yet again. Wonderful if it is a beach day for you, but what about for your garden? Many a garden in the London area is looking wilted, crispy and downright dry to the bone. Wide swathes of brown lawns attest to the fact that we have had little rain in the past several weeks. While that isn’t a problem for the grass, as it goes dormant in the summer heat, trees and other plant life does not. How do you prevent them from drying up and playing dead? Check out these suggestions for how to beat the heat in your garden.

BEAT THE HEAT IN THE GARDEN

  • Tree Watering Alert:

    Right now there is tree watering alert in London, Ontario. People are being asked to water their trees either with a soaker hose left on for 30-60 minutes or a 20-litre bucket drip. Trees require a minimum of 25mm of rain per week, so if you are watering by hand a rain gauge might be helpful to help measure that. Trees provide shade for you, your house and your gardens, keeping you all cooler, so say thank you with a big long drink for those hard-working trees.

  • Water Drop

    Water Drop (Photo credit: Isolino)

    Plant more trees:

    Not only will you be supporting the Million Tree Challenge, but you will also be reducing the amount of sun on your garden. That makes your whole garden cooler, plus it improves the quality of water that makes it to the ground as well. Add that to improved air quality, which is welcome during the many heat and smog alerts that strike in the summer and you’ve got plenty to reasons to plant a few more trees in your yard.

  • Add a rain barrel:

    When Mother Nature does grace us with a spot of rain, be ready to catch some of it in a rain barrel. You will have access to water, without having to worry about what day you are watering on (in London, even-numbered houses can only water on even days, and odd houses on odd by City of London bylaw) or how much it is going to cost you. Some rain barrels make a nice addition to your garden as well, with small planters included to

  • Mulch Party

    Mulch Party (Photo credit: Willowtree2005)

    MULCH!:

    If you didn’t get around to it in the spring, I will remind you now. A layer of mulch helps to prevent water loss through evaporation. It also helps to keep the soil cooler (don’t we all want that!), lessens the amounts of weeds (which compete for water) and improves the quality of the soil itself. Your whole garden will benefit from the addition of mulch, so get on it now!

  • Time your watering:

    Before you head out to water your garden, be smart about the time of day that you water. Early morning watering, before the heat of the day sets in, gives your plants an opportunity to absorb that precious moisture, before the sun whisks it away. You can also water in the evening, after the sun has retreated for the day, again reducing water loss due to evaporation.

  • Yarrow is a pretty drought-tolerant species for the garden

    Plant drought-resistant species:

    With temperatures staying hot for longer and longer periods, perhaps it is time to look at more heat-resistant species to replace your water-loving ones. Xeriscaping is an art in and of itself, plus it reduces your consumption of water altogether. You might discover a whole new love of gardening, as you explore drought-tolerant plants like black-eyed susans, butterfly bushes, maiden grass and more!  Heck, you could get rid of your lawn altogether and just fill your yard with a variety of heat-loving plants that will make you, the birds, bees and butterflies all happier!

Do you have any plans for this weekend Londoners? After the refreshing rain of the last few days, the weather is looking like it is going to be sunny and beautiful again. Perfect weather to explore a garden or two, I’d say. I’m sure that the gardeners participating in the Garden Gates Open 2012 would agree. You will too, if you make the time this weekend to get out and explore the 5th annual garden tour of everyday gardens around London, Ontario.

If you think I am talking about London’s best kept garden secret, let me let you in on the know. This local grassroots event is all about “Every Day Gardens by Everyday People”. From 10am Saturday, July 21, 2012 to Sunday, July 22 at 6pm, 28 residential gardens and 9 commercial gardens will open their gates to anyone and everyone that appreciates a patch of green. The gardens range from small, compact and creative, to large, rambling and rapturous, but all have one thing in common – a love of gardening.

And you never know. Maybe next year you will have your garden ready to share with the people of London too. All you need is a green thumb, a patch of dirt and a little know-how on how to coax the two into a state of beauty for everyone to enjoy. If you get the chance, it is certainly worth the effort, so stop by and support these great everyday people, making their environments extraordinary. Here’s the map, so get exploring!

 

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Don’t forget to get out and support our local musicians and artisans, while you are out and about this weekend too. Home County Music & Art Festival will be going on at Victoria Park from Friday July 20, 2012 at 6pm, through to Sunday, July 22nd at 8:30pm. You will be treated to over 120 Canadian artisans showcasing pottery, glass, jewellery, metal, wood, textiles, fine art and more. There will be 30 food vendors on hand, offering a wide variety of food choices as well. Also, Home County’s Green Village, which showcases “green vendors who demonstrate innovation and environmental sustainability in products and services” will be in action for a second year. And of course take the time to stop and listen to the music from a superb selection of Canadian talents. There will be afternoon workshops on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as evening performances by a wide group of musicians. Home County has been rated one of the top 100 festivals in Ontario, so be sure not to miss it.

Have a great weekend Londoners!

Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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