7 Best Tips for Prepping Your Backyard and Patio for the Summer

Now that the weather has apologized for what it did to us last winter, it’s time to expand our living spaces outside. After all, the sun is shining, and the great outdoors are calling!

Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a chic downtown patio, there are several things you can do prep your backyard and patio for the summer.

Here are 7 tips to get you started!

1. Clean Surfaces

 

No matter what else you do to make your outdoor living space look nice, nothing will help if everything is dirty.

First, give all of the floor surfaces a good sweep. Once that’s done, it’s time to get in there and deep clean. 30-Seconds Outdoor Cleaner is great for cleaning large outdoor spaces, and it’s safe to use on lawns, plants, and fabrics. You can even attach the spray bottle right to a hose and douse all of the concrete, wood, siding, patio furniture, flower pots, and garden boxes if need be. Then just scrub with a brush and rinse.

Voilà! No more winter blahs.


2. Get Your Lawn Ready

 

Sprucing up the yard is more than just about mowing the grass – take your lawn to the next level with some extra TLC.

  • Aerate: Aeration helps the grass to breathe and also helps the water and nutrients reach the root system. You should aerate your lawn every 1 to 3 years, but high-traffic areas may require more attention. Here are some more aeration tips.
  • Rake: Debris that has accumulated over the winter can block sunlight and prevent water from reaching deep down to the roots of the grass.
  • Fertilize: Do a little research about what kind of grass you have, then fertilize accordingly.
  • Maintain: After checking your lawnmower for sharp blades, appropriate oil level, and properly inflated tires, mow the grass regularly, about once a week. Keep grass cut to a height of about 5 cm, except in the hottest part of the summer, when you should let it grow about 1 cm longer.
  • Water: Watering your lawn slowly allows water to get all the way down to the roots and avoids runoff, so choose a sprinkler that moves in smooth, sweeping motions. Don’t forget to check the water restrictions in your area, and water your yard at night or in the morning before the sun hits it so that the water doesn’t evaporate before it gets into the soil.


3. Prune Trees, Shrubs, and Potted Plants

 

Pruning dead and excess growth off trees, shrubs, or plants helps the plants grow, and gets rid of harmful insects and rot. Plus, it just looks nicer.

Make sure to also remove any branches hanging over driveways, sidewalks, or paths (these can be a major problem for anyone who has mobility limitations).

If you need a few tools to get started, you can grab heavy-duty pruning tools and protective gloves here. You got this!


4. Let Your Garden Grow

 

Choose a sunny corner of your yard or patio for a new flower bed, planter box, pot arrangement, or even a few containers for vegetables. Ask at the garden centre which varieties grow best in your region, then select your favourite variety of seasonals and perennials. It’s easier than you think!

Just remember to mind your watering — flowers don’t require as much moisture as vegetables.

If you’re short on space, check out this tutorial to make your own (adorable) shoe organizer herb garden! It works great even on a tiny outdoor balcony and you’ll have fresh, delicious herbs well into the fall.


5. Control Pests

 

Check your flowers, shrubs, and trees for any creepy crawlies. Remove any larger critters by hand or with a blast of the hose, and use natural pesticide for the rest. Not sure what works best? Here’s a handy guide to garden pests.

If you have some six-legged visitors in your yard that prefer to annoy people instead of plants, stock up on wasp, mosquito, or ant control products. While we share the outdoors with nature’s creatures, we don’t necessarily want any uninvited guests at our next backyard BBQ.


6. Ready, Set, Grill!

 

Speaking of BBQs, prepping yours is an essential part of preparing your yard for summer.

Luckily, modern grills are easy to clean. Turn your grill on for 10-15 minutes, then allow it to cool for a while before cleaning it with a heat-safe tool. (Wire brushes can be dangerous, so here are some alternative grill cleaning ideas.) And don’t forget to fill up your propane tank — nothing is worse than preparing delicious homemade burgers only to find out there’s not enough fuel to cook them.

We’ve got some great deals on grilling tools and BBQ essentials right here.


7. Sit Back and Relax

Now that you’ve done all the hard work of making your outdoor space beautiful, enjoy the fruits of your labour and relax. You’ve earned it!

Invest in some comfortable, sturdy, weather-resistant furniture to take full advantage of your backyard space.

If you’ve got the room, consider adding an entire dining set. If you have a smaller space, a bistro-sized table and chairs can make even the smallest patios fashionable and a joy to be on! You’ll be surprised how much time you and your family spend out there. Don’t forget to add a shady umbrella for the hot days, and some inviting mood lighting or a home fire-pit to really enjoy your outdoor experience well into the warm, summer evenings.

 

If your backyard or patio is in need of some upgrades, London Drugs has everything you need to improve and beautify your outdoor space.  Check out our Outdoor Living Guide or just stop by and talk to one of our experts about your unique needs. We’d love to see you!

 

How to Cultivate a Gorgeously Green Garden

Eco-friendly gardening amplifies what nature has already perfected. Working with the flow of the seasons, let your imagination run wild, and cultivating a green garden will be a satisfying, thrilling, and therapeutic experience. With a bit of planning, persistence, and intuition, your earth-friendly garden can become your outdoor sanctuary for years to come.

Here are some tips to cultivate a gorgeous green garden in your very own backyard.   

Plan Your Garden

How to Cultivate a Green Garden

When the weather warms up, it’s tempting to get outside and start throwing seeds in the ground right away, but take a bit of time to plan your eco-friendly garden. It can go a long way toward boosting your long-term success.

Sketch out a quick map of your space and think about where you might place beds, raised boxes, containers, trellises, and pathways. You will (hopefully) be spending a lot of time in your garden, working the land and enjoying the space, so it’s worth putting in some forethought.

Consider the sun’s path throughout the day. This will help you get to know which areas have the most light/heat and which will be better suited to shade-grown plants like spinach and greens.

It’s also a great time to do an inventory of gardening tools, gloves, seeds, and soil. Set up a dry storage space that will be easily accessible to your garden.

Finally, it can be helpful to start a garden journal to keep track of your layout, planting plans, and harvest notes so you can adjust and improve things year over year.

Design Your Garden

How to Cultivate a Green Garden

Once you have a rough plan in place, it’s time to get out there and start digging!

You can reuse materials around the house to start creating structures in your garden. Bricks, stones, tiles, or logs, make great outlines for ground-level beds. You can mix and match with new structures as well. Concrete planters could be supplemented with old barrels, wooden boxes, or even a vintage sink or bathtub repurposed into raised beds. These will give plants extra warmth and help keep slugs and other pests out.

Vases, pots, and water jugs could make interesting containers for smaller plants. Mix in a few classic patio pots for a more modern look.

Don’t forget to install a little bench or chair in a nice sunny spot. You’ll need somewhere to put up your feet and enjoy the fruits of your labour on quiet afternoons. You could also install some of these nifty solar lights and turn it into a nighttime fairy garden.

Prepare Your Garden

How to Cultivate a Green Garden

Before planting, you’ll need to prepare your beds by working in homemade compost and setting up irrigation for the season.

Make sure you have a good working hose and nozzle ready for the months of watering ahead. Collecting rainwater is a great practice that lowers the demand on your main water supply and contributes to a more sustainable, efficient garden.

Now open up that handy gardening toolkit you prepared earlier and get ready to plant! Experiment with companion planting and see how different combinations fare. Be sure to make a note in your journal so you can adjust and rotate your crops next year.

Maintain Your GardenHow to cultivate a green garden

The true key to cultivating a gorgeous green garden is to keep it manageable. There is always a push required to get things set up and growing, but once the plants are established, your garden should switch into maintenance mode.

Now you can relax into watering daily, weeding as needed, and watching with fascination as things grow and develop. It’s curiously fun and exhilarating to see your garden transform before your eyes!

If you have space, mix things up with vegetable beds, herbs, small fruit trees, flowering trees, perennials, shrubs, and flowers. This will keep things blooming and fruiting across the entire season which is interesting and exciting.

It might also be a good time to add some fun decorations to your garden while you’re at it.

Share the Harvest

How to cultivate a green garden

Before harvest time, you’ll notice you’re not the only who has moved into your garden. Bees and birds (among other creatures) will be regular visitors, which can be a delight to watch.

Encourage birds to come by setting up a bird house. It’s fascinating to watch them feed, converse, and settle around the garden.  

Perennial herbs, like lavender, sage, and thyme, are great for attracting more pollinators too. They smell beautiful, require very little maintenance, and are great for cooking.

Finally, don’t forget to invite your friends and neighbours to enjoy your gorgeous green garden. They may be happy to lend a hand for harvesting, canning, pickling, and other fun food preserving activities that come along with a plentiful garden. Or, make it a relaxing evening in the garden while the sun sets. Light up a Citronella candle and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

With a little effort and care, your green garden will benefit you, your family, and your community for years to come.

Visit your local London Drugs or check out our outdoor living guide for more gardening tools and decor.

How to Winterize Your Garden in 4 Simple Steps

When preparing for the chilly fall and winter months, winterizing your backyard or deck may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it is an important step. Before you retreat indoors to cozy up in front of the fireplace with a mug of cocoa, remember that your home requires some fall maintenance. Here’s what you need to do to winterize your garden!

By following these outdoor tips, you’ll ensure that come springtime, your backyard, deck or garden will be ready to thrive.

1. Clean and compost

Winterize Your Garden - London Drugs Blog

Clear leaves and gutters

Even if you are short on time, or are heading on an early fall vacation, the one thing you can do to prepare for the season is to keep your deck, gutters, and lawn clear of fallen leaves. They may look beautiful at first, but if you leave them on the ground for too long—especially in wet weather—they can rot, cause mould and moss growth, and damage wooden decks. Clean out your gutters and downspouts as well, as clogged leaves can cause ice dams once the temperature drops. You may want to invest in a gutter screen just to be safe. If you do only one thing on this list, this should be it. 

Pick over and compost

If you have a garden and are keen to keep it in good shape for the spring, it’s incredibly important to pick over and pull out plants and flowers that are no longer productive. The same goes for any fruits or vegetables that aren’t in harvest or have been leftover from last season. Rake up all debris (this can easily be done while you’re clearing out leaves) and add to the compost bin. Don’t forget to trim dead tree branches and shrubs, and while you’re at it, clean your flowerbeds and mulch— you’ll need them in shape to help protect your next crop!

2. Inspect for damage

Fix up your garden for fall - London Drugs blog

Check for leaks and cracks

While you’re already up on the roof clearing out the gutters, take a look around and make sure there is no roof damage. The last thing you need this season is a dripping ceiling! Inspect for loose or missing shingles, and if you have a deck, make sure the gutter doesn’t empty onto its foundation. If you want to go the extra mile, inspect your driveway for cracks and seal them with driveway filler, and then check  your windows to make sure they don’t need extra caulking. Making sure your home is as snug as a bug in a rug will help you save $$ on heat and electricity. 

Repair and replace

Tighten any loose screws, replace nails, and fill any cracks or loose boards on the deck or patio. If your region is anticipating heavy rain or snowfall in the coming months, plan ahead and consider creating a rainscape below your gutters to redirect any overflow. Use rocks as a channel guard underneath to protect your flowerbeds, driveway or deck from damage.

3. Plant and protect

Flower pot planting bulbs in winter - London Drugs blog

Plant bulbs and trees

It may come as a surprise, but fall is actually one of the best times of year to plant spring-blooming bulbs in certain cold-weather areas. Simply plant them in containers just as you would do in the ground, in odd-numbered groups of 5-9. Choosing containers with good longevity (think ceramic or plastic) will protect your plants from freezing and moisture. Tulip bulbs are a favourite that can be transplanted around the garden in the spring. Trees and evergreen shrubs can also be planted during the cooler season, and you’ll have a great head start to the growing season when spring comes.

Protect plants and flowers

There are a number of measures you can take to protect your garden and plants over the winter months. This includes deadheading potted plants and making sure they get plenty of water before bringing them inside, as well as covering flowerbeds with mulch for protection against frost. You can also leave some seeds out for the birds to ensure your garden gets some attention over the winter, and to promote your next bloom.

4. Winterize the patio

Fall decor winterize garden - London Drugs blog

Care for patio furniture and equipment

The last thing you want when opening up your patio or deck in the spring is to find rusted or damaged patio furniture that you have to replace. If you plan ahead and store, cover, and clean all hard surfaces before the first frost, you’ll having nothing to worry about. Even if patio furniture is powder-coated, it can pay to take extra precaution by cleaning and covering aluminum metals with automotive wax. Plastic furniture and fabrics do need to be brought indoors, and while wood-based and wicker furniture will probably need oiling or painting touch-ups, covering with a tarp will protect them from most elements. The same goes for covering any exposed air conditioners, and other lawn equipment.

Decorate for the season

Don’t miss out on the most fun part of winterizing your deck—the decorating! Once you’ve cleaned, inspected and winterized the backyard and taken care of all the logistics, it’s time to get creative. Whether you string fairy lights around windows and doors, or display multi-coloured pumpkins, cornstalks, and pinecones along the staircase, there are endless patio designs available to inspire you. 

The Most Beautiful Blossoms in Canada

Despite some setbacks and non-starts this year, we are finally(!) beginning to see visual evidence of spring in Canada. Our favourite sign of spring is the emergence of beautiful blossoms, so we thought we’d better celebrate. Canada, we know you’re pretty. You don’t have to show off!

1. Almost There

These delicate little guys in Langely, BC are raring to go, now that the temperatures are finally cooperating.

2. Canadian Tulip Festival

Every May, Ottawa is home to the Canadian Tulip Festival, and this year’s crop is getting ready to strut their stuff.

3. Forever Cherry Blossoms

Vancouverites know that right now is the best time to take advantage of the gorgeous cherry blossoms blooming on streets and in parks all over town.

4. Butchart Gardens, Of Course

No visit to Victoria, BC is complete without a trip to Butchart Gardens, especially in the spring. Don’t you just want to get lost in there for a couple of hours?

5. Walking on Clouds

This little critter is hard at work, so we’ll stop and smell the flowers for him.

6. Wild Mountain Beauty

 

Along with their spectacular winter vistas, Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta is also famous for their spring wildflowers, and they even celebrate with a Wildflower Festival every June. Half of all wildflower species found in Alberta grow in this park, and of those, 175 species are listed as rare in Alberta, and 20 are only found in Waterton. Worth the hike, to be sure!

Did we miss your #BeautifulCanada blossoms photo? Link to it in the comments or tag us on Instagram @LondonDrugs so we all can ooh and ahhh!

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for DIYers

It’s less than a month until Christmas. Still working on your holiday shopping? We’ve got you covered!

Leading up to December 25, we’re posting holiday gift guides for everyone on your list. We have already shared guides for the home cook, kids (and parents), and techies. Today’s guide is all about the DIYer!

What do you get for someone who likes to make things? Buying a scarf for a knitter or a nice planter for someone who works with ceramics can seem a waste. Instead, give them what they love best—tools or supplies to make something themselves!

Here’s our guide to buying a cool crafty present for the DIYer on your list.

1. Build their Tool Box

 

 

DIYers love new tools. Not only will they expand their range of projects, but new tools are sometimes just inspiring in and of themselves—opening up a whole new world of possibilities.

DIY Gift Guide

Help the DIYers in your life build their ultimate tool box with a glue gun, an X-Acto knife, and a screwdriver with multiple bits. These long nose pliers are perfect for making jewelry, and a tape measure will be useful no matter the project. An adjustable wrench means they’ve always got the right size. Scissors are necessary for just about any DIY project. And a multitool means they can carry it all with them and be ready for anything.

2. Grow their Garden

 

 

It’s not really the right season for gardening, but don’t let that stop you. There are plenty of great presents for DIY plant lovers that you can still find at this time of year, like garden gloves and a gorgeous green watering can. They’ll be great in the spring for outdoor use, but they can be used with indoor plants as well.

DIY Gift Guide

We’ve got plenty of great planters that will look lovely on a beautiful plant stand. And this Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners hand soap and hand cream duo will remind your DIYer that you care about them and their well being. No cracked skin here!

3. Sew So Well

 

 

Sewing is such a handy skill. Sewers can make clothes, create curtains, upgrade their bed with a new duvet cover, mend fabric, fashion their own duffle bags and totes–the list is almost unending. It’s perfect for upgrading one’s home or wardrobe with big or small projects and is a life skill that everyone should have.

https://www.londondrugs.com/home-and-lifestyle/appliances/small-appliances/irons-garment-steamers-and-sewing-machines/sewing-machines-and-attachments/

Make sewing easier for your DIY friend with a new sewing machine. If they’ve already got one they love, then think about supplemental sewing tools like a new iron, fabric scissors, a seam ripper, or a hand sewing kit.

4. Perfect Preserving

 

 

Who doesn’t love some delicious homemade jellies and jams? You can certainly make some yourself for excellent Christmas gifts (check out our guide to canning and preserving for tips and recipes!), but for the DIYer on your list, you’ll want to be giving them supplies.

DIY Gift Guide

A canning kit complete with a funnel, jar lifter and lid lifter, as well as glass canning jars and lids, is a great gift for someone who’s looking to expand their DIY ways into food preservation (it’s a special order item, so be sure to get this one early!). It’s not just for jam; canning is perfect for pickling too! Preserving food via canning is both a science and an art, which is just what crafty folks love.

For more gift-giving advice for the DIYer on your list, speak to an LD Expert today. To make a purchase, visit London Drugs in-store and online. We’ll be back in a few days with a gift guide for music lovers. See you then!

See all of our 2017 Holiday Gift Guides here:

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Kids (and Parents)

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Techies

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for the Home Cook 

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Music Lovers