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 Get Your Kids Playing Outside

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

Thirty years ago, a common refrain from parents to kids was “Go play outside.” These days, many kids would respond with “Well, what are we supposed to do out there?” According to new studies, children are “taller, heavier, fatter and weaker” than their parents were at the same age, mostly due to declining rates of physical literacy. Only one third of Canadian kids are meeting the physical activity recommendation of 60 minutes per day. We can blame this decline on the prevalence of screens and more sedentary activities, but those are just a symptom of a bigger problem — kids aren’t playing outside like they used to. 

Less time outdoors isn’t just linked to decreased fitness levels in children, it also causes a decreased appreciation of the environment, vitamin D deficiency, diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of emotional illnesses like anxiety and depression.

Being outside has so many health benefits for children — both physical and mental. Movement through unstructured play, especially outside, has been shown to improve creativity, academic success, and mental stability, among other things.

With all of the distractions indoors, it can be challenging to get kids to “go play outside,” but these tips can help your kids turn off the screens and get off the couch.

Set Strict Limits on Screen Time

This tip is first and foremost. Everyone knows that too much screen time is bad for your health, especially for kids. Health professionals recommend children aged 2 to 5 be limited to one hour of screen time a day, with consistent limits for older children on the amount of time and place they get to have screen time. Parents can help by setting timers for recreational screen time, keeping all screens out of kids’ rooms (living/dining room only), and limiting it to certain times of the day (i.e. video games after dinner for two hours, and only if homework is done). Screen time limits will open up time in their lives to find other, healthier things to do for fun.

Spend More Time Outdoors Yourself

This one is easy. Kids learn by example, especially when they’re little, so if they see you enjoying a walk, a bike ride, a hike, or a run, they’ll grow up knowing that these things are normal and fun. Studies have shown that 60 minutes of a parent’s physical activity adds 15 minutes to a child’s average daily physical activity.

Make Family Time Nature Time

We know you plan family time every week, so instead of movies on the couch every Sunday, why not pack up the car and head to the park, beach, forest, or ski hill as a family once in a while? Make a family challenge to explore new areas of your town together at least once a month: visit as many different parks or playgrounds and find your favourites.

Plan Outdoorsy Vacations

Hotels or theme parks are fun, but your family vacation is the perfect opportunity to unplug and connect with nature. Seek out destinations that cater to camping, RVing, surfing, hiking, biking, or even the beach and see how much it replenishes everyone. Even if you are stuck in a hotel, every city in the world has playgrounds — why not find the best one close to where you’re staying? Thank goodness for Google Maps!

Extend Play Date Times

Modern kids are used to being entertained and scheduled every minute of their lives (which has been shown to be detrimental to their mental development), so a two-hour playdate may not give them enough time to know what to do outdoors. Clear your schedule and head to the beach or forest until dinner time. If given enough freedom, that boring, old stick will eventually become a tool or a game, and they’ll come up with more complex levels of free play on their own.

Incorporate Natural Materials and Loose Parts into Play

Swing sets and playgrounds are fun for a while, but they’re very specific and limited. Equip your play space with stumps, small logs, a fun sprinkler, sticks, plants, gravel, dirt, and sand for imaginative building and exploration. Loose items like balls, hoops, ropes, sidewalk chalk, kitchen wear, wood pieces, pots, shovels, and trays are ripe for creative play. Long sticks and old bedsheets are perfect for building forts. A water source and buckets will provide hours of messy fun. If you’re nervous about any of it, put them on a time limit, or better yet, get out there with them.

Encourage Them to Get Dirty

Yes, you spend a lot on their clothes, but kids are meant to be outside, exploring everything nature has to offer. Just remember that their health is more important than the laundry. If it is an issue, keep inexpensive or hand-me-down clothes and shoes on hand especially for outdoor adventures.

Photo by Anna Samoylova on Unsplash

Bring in a Blast from the Past

What was your favourite thing to do outside as a kid? We’re pretty sure it’s still fun, even though your kids might groan at first. Teach your kids how to build a fort, play catch, toss a frisbee, build a forest fairy village, play tug of war, catch bugs in a jar, or play kick the can. You’ll be surprised how much they love it, especially if you’re doing it with them.

Get a Dog

If you’ve always wanted to get a best friend for the kids, now is the time. Not only will it teach them about daily responsibilities, it will get them outside daily for walks and epic games of fetch. If you don’t have the space for a dog, rabbits and guinea pigs can play outside in an enclosed area.

Register Your Kids for Outdoor Sports and Summer Camp

If they’re into it, leave the volleyball, basketball, and hockey behind and lean more toward sports like soccer, baseball, or field hockey – they’ll be outside getting fit and making friends at least once a week. As soon as they’re ready, register them for summer camp. The benefits of camp are huge, from life lessons beyond the classroom to appreciating nature, making friends for life, and building resilience and leadership skills.

Gear Up

Birthdays and Christmas roll around every year, so why not make them an excuse to get some new outdoor gear? A bike, baseball glove, gardening tools, in-line or roller skates, a soccer ball, a kite, or a badminton set for the back yard would light up any kid’s eyes. And dad would love a new camp chair!

Game-ify Nature

Outdoor activities aren’t limited to gentle nature walks. If your family loves games and competition, you have lots of options. Geocaching could be your new favourite hobby. PokemonGo is still hugely popular and will get you and the kids outside. Organize a scavenger hunt, beat your best time around the block on a bike, get a deck of nature cards, or challenge the whole family to get in the most steps in a week on your fitness trackers.

Do Indoor Things Outside

If you have the space, make an inviting outdoor area in the backyard where the kids can do their homework, eat meals, or just hang out as a family during the warmer months. If you live in an apartment, pack up the kids’ textbooks (and a book for yourself) and find the nearest picnic table, or play a game of Go Fish on a park bench.

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

 

We hope these easy tips inspire you and your family to go from indoorsy to outdoorsy types. If you need more inspiration, check out everything London Drugs has to offer for outdoor living, from camping to gardening to just relaxing.

Top 5 Things You Need to Do Before Summer Ends

What do we love so much about the summertime? Is it the sunshine, the warm breezes, the lazy days spent at the beach or the lake? Whatever it is that you love about the warmer months, when the end of August starts to roll around, you know that the end of summer is fast approaching. You can feel it in that little nip in the air and the darkness rolling in earlier and earlier.

End of Summer Activities London Drugs Blog

Let’s try and capture some of that summer magic before the kids go back to school and we all get back to our routines—and before the rain and snow come back with a vengeance! Here are a few tips on how to make the most of the dog days of summer before the leaves inevitably start to fall.

Invite your friends and neighbours over for a BBQ

Friends BBQ End of Summer Outdoors London Drugs

Nothing defines summer quite like that unmistakable barbecue scent in the air. Before you have to pack up the grill for another year, have one last backyard cookout. Invite your friends and neighbours over, whip up a batch of fruity drinks, and throw some protein on the barbecue. For all your grilling needs, visit any of our locations for a full range of BBQ products.

Enjoy a beautiful sunset (or sunrise!)

Lake Moraine Canada Sunrise Sunset London Drugs

Head to your favourite hilltop, mountain, or body of water to catch an epic sunset. There’s something romantic and whimsical about watching a sunset, whether it’s at the peak of a mountain or with your toes digging in the sand at your favourite beach. If you’re feeling really ambitious, take in a sunrise at dawn. Currently on the west coast, the sun is rising just after 6 a.m. and setting just after 8 p.m., making this the ideal time to catch nature at its most glorious.

Go on a mini vacation

Jumping into Water End of Summer London Drugs Blog

In just a couple of weeks, the summer of 2018 will be but a mere memory. Don’t pack away the sunscreen and picnic blankets just yet! A last-minute mini getaway is a great way to experience a few more adventures. Whether it’s camping or luxury hotels, there are so many fabulous spots to escape to right here in BC. Just make sure to be cautious of wildfires in the province if you’re planning a roadtrip.

Take in a festival or outdoor theatre

Festival PNE Vancouver London Drugs Blog

Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival runs right through to September 22. The spectacular waterfront setting is the perfect way to bid farewell to summer, while you take in Macbeth, Timon of Athens, As You Like It, or Lysistrata. If Shakespeare isn’t really your speed, visit the ever-popular end of summer festival, the PNE, and dance along to the I Love the 90s Tour featuring Salt-N-Pepa, Color Me Badd, and Young MC.

Do one thing you wouldn’t do in the winter

Sailing End of Summer Sailboat London Drugs

As the seasons change, there are certain activities we ruefully wave goodbye to. Whatever it is for you, fit it in as much as you can. Sailing, hiking, taking a dip in an outdoor pool, enjoying a live baseball game, or roasting marshmallows for s’mores on the barbecue, this is it! Summer is almost over and it’ll be a long time before we see live fireworks or swim in a lake again, so let’s make the most of it.


London Drugs is your one stop shop for all things summer. Pop in to pick up everything you’ll need for your last summer barbecue or road trip.

Get Prepared for Winter With These Survival Essentials

Winter Survival Guide - London Drugs

Despite our habit of complaining about them, we Canadians actually love our winters. In fact, we’re proud of them. They’re wonderful for curling up at home, visiting family and friends, and playing in the snow.

But our winter has a dark side, with the risk of power outages, frostbite, vehicle mishaps, and more. As with any danger, the key to survival is good preparation. Here are some helpful checklists for winter safety indoors, outdoors, and on the road. They’ll help you survive a Canadian winter in style.

In The Home…

Blackout Basics: Home is the coziest place to be during winter. Until there’s a power outage, that is. That’s when you’ll need three days of food and water, a first-aid kit, a battery-powered or crank-powered radio, candles, flashlights, and a few board games to pass the time, too.

Fire Logs: When waiting out cold snaps and nasty colds alike, a roaring fire makes your home into a sanctuary. But maintaining a woodpile can be impractical. Luckily, artificial logs burn for hours. No fireplace? You can fake it with an electric version or a portable space heater instead.  

A Generator: During prolonged blackouts, a generator can power all your survival essentials, like the heaters we mentioned before and so much more. Just keep it full of fuel and stored away. Even if you never need to use it, it’s great to know it’s there. 

On The Road…

Large Flashlight: If your car is stuck or can’t be driven safely, you might need to flag down assistance or head for nearby help on foot. In those cases, you’ll be glad to have a large, very bright flashlight to ensure you’re easily seen. 

Quality Scraper & Shovel: Don’t be forced to push snow around with your boot or use the old credit card window-cleaning trick this winter. Get a full-sized shovel and a quality scraper, instead. You’ll thank yourself later.

A GPS Tracker: Planning a long winter car trip? There’s a good chance you’ll leave cellular reception far behind. So it’s always smart to let someone know where you’re headed. Even better? Give them the ability to track you via satellite

And Out In The Snow.

Warming Pads: Being outdoors is exhilarating in the wintertime. But before long, your fingers and toes will start to smart. Or worse, they’ll become numb. Keep the fun going with heating pads for your hands and feet.

Insulated Drink Container: Canadians know the only thing better than a warm drink at home is one outdoors. If you’re headed out beyond the coffee shops (difficult in Canada, we know), a quality insulated container, like this one from Thermos, will save the day.

Phone Charger: You’ve been out all day taking and sharing pictures of your winter fun when you suddenly realize your battery is getting low. Sound familiar? For safety and convenience, carry a pocket-sized phone charger wherever you go. 

For more advice on winterizing your home, yourself, or your car, speak to an LD Expert today, or visit London Drugs in-store and online.

Stay safe and enjoy the winter, everyone!

10 Places to See Fall Colours in Beautiful Canada

There is something particularly special about the fall season in beautiful Canada. Among our alpine lakes, sky-high mountains, lush forests, and crisp true north air, you can find autumn colours in so many parts of this grand country. So whether you’re heading out on a hike before the snow settles in, or you’d like to admire the red, orange, and yellow hues on Instagram from the comfort of your home, here are ten places you’ll find fall colours in Canada.

1. Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park

Golden Autumn Day in Canada - London Drugs

Image by @jordanherschel

Head off the grid in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia, for alpine lakes that reflect the mountains and the changing colours of surrounding trees.

2. The Icefields Parkway

Drive the Icefields Parkway for an endless road lined with autumnal tones of yellow, orange, and dark green.

3. Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park - London Drugs Blog

Image by @stevint

Take a walk on the wild side with the scenic Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta flanked by the Rocky Mountains.

4. Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake - London Drugs Blog

Image by @mblockk

It’s hard to ignore the stunning fall colours glistening on Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta. How many times have you visited this beautiful place?

5. Lake O’Hara

Lake O'Hara - London Drugs Blog

Image by @kayitscait

Dive into autumn at Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. It might be cold, but it’s almost impossible not to take a quick swim while you’re there.

6. Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park - London Drugs Blog

Image by @alexstrohl

Witness fall in the Rockies with the sun lighting up all of the autumn tones. Visit the Kootenay National Park in British Columbia to see the incredible punch of yellow for yourself.

7. Cypress Provincial Park

It’s a beautiful sight from Cypress Provincial Park in Vancouver, British Columbia. Catch the North Shore on a crisp sunny day with the leaves turning all colours of red and orange.

8. The Rockies

Rocky Mountains - London Drugs Blog

Image by @jamieout

Muted fall colours of green and yellow framed by the Rocky Mountains shows just how picturesque the change in seasons can be.

9. Larch Valley

Larch Valley - London Drugs Blog

Image by @jfragasso

Have you had the chance to experience Larch Valley in autumn? Head to Banff National Park in Alberta to find the larch trees turning a brilliant yellow before they shed their needles.

10. Mount Taynton

Mount Taynton - London Drugs Blog

Image by @scottcbakken

The road to autumn is in Mount Taynton, British Columbia, between the trees with the mountains in the distance.

See more pictures of #BeautifulCanada on the @londondrugs Instagram, and happy fall!

LD Experts: The Ultimate “Glamping” Shopping List

Glamping Ultimate List London Drugs

LD Expert Damion chats Glamping Accessories on Edmonton’s CTV Morning Live

Watch the full interview here.

Tent Glamping

Flickr Photo: “Glamping!” by Noam, Jemima & Lila

For many, roughing is just rough. They like the outdoors, but not being uncomfortable. And separation from technology sounds like the start of a spooky campfire story.  For them, now there’s “glamping.” A combination of glamorous and camping, it’s pretty self-explanatory. 

Recently, LD Expert Damion G. shared some fabulous London Drugs “glamping” accessories on Edmonton’s CTV Morning Live. Here’s our:

Ultimate “Glamping” Accessories Shopping List

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