It may be warm outside but that doesn’t mean you can’t think of plants inside. Here House and Home proposed over 20 ways to decorate your home with plants.
It may be warm outside but that doesn’t mean you can’t think of plants inside. Here House and Home proposed over 20 ways to decorate your home with plants.
Living Room of Realtor.ca proposes ideas on how to set up an outdoor kitchen.
ApartmentTherapy has suggestions on how to best improve your front garden.
It’s not particularly warm today, but the forecast is good. Plus we’ve changed our clocks (well some changed automatically) and so we should start thinking of the great outdoors. apartmenttherapy has put together a short list of essential accessories for your garden. Start planning!
In a recent post, Apartmenttherapy presents an analysis of Google search data done by HouseFresh to determine what plant is the most popular by country. Apparently, in Canada, we like the monster deliciosa, a plant I’ve always known as the split-leaf philodendron, a plant I thought was a bit from another era. But hey what’s the expression: everything old is new again.
Architectural Digest has put together a list of 17 indoor trees and tropical plants to grow in your living room. Nice list to peruse as fall approaches and you surrender your outdoor living and prepare to move back indoors. Bonus, they’ve also included tips on how to take care of them.
As much as we all love Canada’s hottest season, summer also means one thing—bugs. From mosquitoes and cluster flies to earwigs, insects are the unpleasant reality we suffer each year. While it may be impossible to avoid their presence altogether, especially in rural areas, here are 11 ways to deter them and even reduce their populations so you can spend more time enjoying your yard.
1. Landscaping matters
Maintaining a well-groomed yard is one way to discourage unwanted denizens. Keeping your lawn, gardens, shrubs and hedges trim and tidy reduces places for harbouring insects, while also supporting your yard’s curb appeal.
2. Avoid standing water
Removing standing water from your yard is a must as it attracts all sorts of unsavoury guests. The moisture entices earwigs and slugs, while mosquitoes seek it out to lay their eggs. A single female mosquito lays between 100 and 400 eggs at a time, in as little as 1 tbsp of standing water.
Ensure flower pots are stored upside down and out of the elements while fully changing birdbath water at least twice each week. If you have any low dips in your yard where water collects and sits after substantial rain, consider filling these in.
Blocked gutters are also prime spots for water accumulation. If you performed your pre-winter maintenance, your eavestroughs and gutters should be clear, but now’s the time to double-check, and clean them out if needed.
3. Use citronella
Surrounding your deck or patio with citronella candles or torches discourages biting insects because the smoke confuses their senses, making it difficult for them to smell humans. While their flickering lights add to the relaxing atmosphere of your space, the effective range for a single candle or torch is approximately two metres (six feet), so keep this in mind when determining placements.
Never leave an open flame unsupervised when using candles or torches on dry or windy days.
4. Secure trash and compost
If you store your garbage and compost bins outside, be sure they are always kept tightly closed, and away from your patio to discourage earwigs and flies. Blow flies (also called cluster flies or blue/green bottle flies), most common in Eastern Canada, require only a tiny opening to lay their eggs, and can quickly become a nuisance during summer.
5. Install a bat box
If you live within 500 metres of a water source, installing a bat box is one way to reduce insect populations. A single bat can catch hundreds of insects in just one hour, and not only eat mosquitoes but can also protect gardens from pests. The Canadian Wildlife Federation has excellent resources regarding bat house installations, plus step-by-step instructions on how to build your own!
6. Bug repellent plants
While some individuals are naturally green-thumbed, the benefit of keeping insect-repellent plants in your yard is certainly enough reason for anyone to attempt gardening. There are many plants with insect-repelling qualities like lemongrass, marigolds, lavender, and catnip to name a few. Placing plants near seating areas or yard and garden borders will help reduce incursions while beautifying your space. Be wary of citrosa geraniums (a.k.a. mosquito plants), because a 1996 study determined they’re not effective repellents.
Tip: Rub lemongrass vigorously between your hands then apply the scent to your clothing and limbs to act as a natural repellent, if you prefer to avoid DEET-containing products.
7. Install patio fans
Because mosquitoes are scarce on windy days, it only makes sense to install outdoor fans on your patio or deck area to deter them. The strong breeze created by the fans not only pushes mosquitoes away, they will help keep you cooler during those dog days of summer.
8. Use a lighter exterior paint
If your home has a dark exterior, it’s advisable to paint it a lighter colour. The two main factors that attract biting insects are heat and carbon dioxide. Because darker colours absorb light energy, they radiate heat which attracts more insects, meaning a lighter paint-job will help discourage these blood-thirsty pests.
9. Use yellow outdoor lights
Since varying spectrums of light attract insects differently, it’s important to ensure you’ve selected the best light colour—especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors at dusk and after sundown. Biting insects are attracted to nearly all light spectrums—sorry folks!—but they’re least attracted to lights nearest the red spectrum. That’s why yellow lights are your best choice during bug season.
10. Trap or zap them!
Two other methods to reduce biting bugs in your yard are bug zappers and propane-powered traps. Hanging a bug zapper near your seating area will attract and kill biting insects with a single snap. Propane mosquito traps have become quite popular in recent years, especially in rural areas, because they lure mosquitoes from a wide area into a chamber where they dehydrate and die. Both of these tools can be purchased from most local hardware retailers.
11. Apply a larvicide
Many homeowners incorporate decorative ponds into their landscaping or collect water using rain barrels for their gardens. In these cases, it’s a good idea to consider using larvicide tablets (also called mosquito pellets or dunks). They contain bacteria that are only harmful to mosquito larvae and are effective at destroying them before they reach adult stage.
Did you know? Some municipalities like Kanata, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba, have mosquito control programs in place to reduce populations throughout the season. If this is something you desire for a prospective neighbourhood, your REALTOR® will be knowledgeable regarding local pest control programs.
While employing these methods may not mean the complete eradication of unwanted insects around your home, they will provide some relief during bug season so you can spend your time appreciating the great outdoors, rather than running for the house.
Cover photo courtesy of Randy Fath.
There’s one kind of home with a view that already comes mortgage-free: a bird house! With spring in full bloom, we’re sharing some tips about backyard birds, what you need to know about birdseed, and how to make a bird feeder or birdhouse. Create a safe and happy haven for birds this spring and summer, and enjoy all your new feathered friends!
A feast for a finch
Feeding wildlife is usually discouraged, but backyard birds are an exception to the rule. Since birds don’t become dependent on feeders, you can feed them guilt free! To help keep birds safe, feeders should be cleaned regularly, placed near but not too close to trees or shrubs, and at least four metres from windows. For seed, opt for a range of high-quality seeds like sunflower or niger seeds, and avoid seed mixed with oats, rice, corn, or wheat which can attract pests and are lower in the nutrients birds need. Check out your local garden or hardware store for a variety of birdseed suited to the birds in your area.
Build it and they shall come
Birdhouses are another way to invite feathered friends into your yard. Birds that nest in a natural nook like a tree cavity (for example, a chickadee or bluebird) might opt for a birdhouse if available. If you don’t know what kind of birds might call your yard home, try the NestWatch Right Bird, Right House tool to look for feathered tenants in your neighbourhood and learn about their housing needs.
Build a DIY birdfeeder with the kids
Get the kids involved and make this easy DIY bird feeder project with items you probably have around the house! Start by cleaning out a used milk carton and cutting out two squares on opposite sides of the carton. Let the carton dry before painting it a colour of your choice and covering the roof with popsicle sticks for shingles. To add a place for birds to stand, make two small holes on either side of the carton and insert a wooden dowel or plant stick. Be sure to monitor your homemade bird feeder and replace it or repair it if needed!
If you’re worried about pesky critters like squirrels or chipmunks being attracted to your birdfeeder, this list of DIY hacks can ‘squirrel-proof’ your creation and leave the feed for the intended audience: the birds.
Tea for two and two for tea
This teacup bird feeder is playful, easy to make, and will look charming in any backyard. Start by choosing a pretty teacup and saucer from your own collection, or visit a local thrift store to find a set. Use craft glue (like e6000) and a glue gun to adhere the cup to the saucer before letting it dry, then hang it up with twine. To finish, fill the teacup with your seed of choice and watch birds line up for an afternoon tea party hosted by you.
Birdhouses that keep up with the trends
A-frames are making a comeback, and this one designed for backyard birds will make a statement in your yard. This modern birdhouse DIY requires a few basic tools and materials you can find at a hardware store including a handheld drill, craft knife, glue, a wooden dowel, birch wood, and balsa wood. Thin birch and balsa wood sheets make building this birdhouse easy to do for any skill level because the wood can be cut with a craft knife and then assembled with glue—no saw or nails required.
Leave it to the pros (and the crows)
For just a few dollars, you can find a variety of preassembled birdhouses at craft stores like Michaels. Leave the birdhouse bare for a natural look that will weather in your yard. To add colour, use non-toxic paint or stain to create a kid-friendly DIY without any tools or glue required. For a natural but colourful birdhouse, use sandpaper to go over painted or stained surfaces to let the wood show through. Hang up a single or coordinated group of feeders and watch the birds flock to your yard.
Whether you add a birdhouse or bird feeder to your yard this spring, you’re sure to enjoy watching who flies by for a visit. If you really want to see who’s visiting, set up a camera and watch who stops by!
This article was written by Nicole Wray, a strategic communications professional and freelance writer.
By now, we’re getting tired of staring at our walls, and many of us long to add some colour, texture, and interest to our homes. Living plant walls–vertical gardens that hang on the wall–tick all these boxes.
First appearing several years ago in commercial, public, and institutional buildings, residential living walls have become increasingly popular lately. They can be compact or sprawl across an entire expanse, and they’re available at various price points and styles to suit any budget and lifestyle. You can go the DIY route, purchase a ready-made kit, or splurge for a custom work of art. When artificial greenery just won’t cut it anymore, here’s what you need to know about bringing nature indoors by incorporating a living plant wall in your house.
Living walls offer wellness benefits
In addition to punching up your décor, living walls provide positive benefits: a wall of 20 houseplants emits enough oxygen and moisture to purify the air, get rid of toxins, and absorb sound, says Tim Suddaby, chief designer and construction manager at Vertical Oxygen in Calgary, which he runs with his wife, Nathalie Callede, an interior landscape designer. The 11-year-old company specializes in living walls.
“Good health begins with the air we breathe, and living walls work really well to capture airborne chemicals and make the air more oxygen-rich,” says Suddaby. “Plants make us feel better, too. Just the aesthetic of seeing greenery has been proven fairly widely to uplift your mood.”
Go the DIY route
Whether you build your own frame from reclaimed wood, hang some angled plant trays, or string together a system of pockets, you can make your own living wall affordably with some know-how, landscaping fabric and plastic sheeting, and some potting soil. Be sure to watch a few tutorials to make sure you set up your system properly.
Buy a ready-made kit
A variety of self-watering living wall kits can be purchased online or at a local garden centre. They come in all sizes, even for the tiniest spaces. You can choose from systems including waterproof fabric pockets–which look like high-end hanging shoe organizers–or you can purchase a hydroponic system, which comes with a frame, a growing medium, micro plumbing, and drip irrigation. This type of living wall takes care of itself once you install a water pump and encase it in a cabinet. Water and plant nutrients filter down to feed the roots of your plants, which sit in a thick fabric.
Wall-mounted plant units are usually made of wood, metal, or terra cotta, and can be purchased for anywhere between $40 to $150.
Invest in a custom design for your space
Of course, like every other home improvement project, you get what you pay for, and you may want to invest in a splurge-worthy one-of-a-kind living wall, says Suddaby.
“Each hydroponic project we do is custom; we start with an open canvas–it’s a recycled, porous product from the green roof industry that’s extremely strong and it lets water through–and then we draw how the plants are going to be laid out,” he explains.
You can work with a designer to create your own living plant wall that not only fits your space, but also your budget.
Pop in the perfect plants
Suddaby says most tropical plants will work in a living wall, as long as you have good natural light or dedicated grow lights on a timer.
Some tropical plants, like pothos and philodendron, do especially well in this application, as do trailing plants, succulents, snake plants, ferns, peace lilies and spider plants. Vertical Oxygen recommends these 15 plants, which are especially efficient in cleaning the air.
The key is to group plants with similar light, water and care requirements. You can also plant edibles to make a living herb or salad wall!
Take good care of your living wall
Suddaby recommends regular maintenance such as trimming your plants every two weeks, removing any brown leaves, and making sure the water feeding your vertical water includes a small amount of fertilizer.
“You have to take care of it, or you’ll have problems like plant rot which turns to mold, or dying plants,” he says.
With some types of hanging gardens, you’ll want to take the plants out and clean your wall, and inspect for insects regularly, too.
Living walls create an instant focal point to elevate any décor, and with so many options, you can easily find the right one for your space.