Archive for the ‘Landscaping’ category

Urban Agriculture: New Project at le Palais des Congrès de Montréal

October 3rd, 2016
Harvest Bounty from the Montreal Convention Centre's Green Roof

Harvest Bounty from the Montreal Convention Centre’s Green Roof

Like many cities across North America, Montreal has problems with localized heat islands during the summer, raising the temperature significantly compared with its surroundings. This effect is due to the density of buildings and road network, and not enough green space to absorb the sun’s heat.  In addition, with changing and somewhat unpredictable weather conditions due to climate change, an increasing number of cities are beginning to experiment with different forms of urban agriculture. One of the projects in Montreal is a partnership between the Montreal convention centre (le Palais des Congrès de Montréal), the department of urban agricultural research from the university of Quebec at Montreal (AU/LAB at UQAM), Miel Montreal, and La Ligne Verte. This is a true collaborative project to learn what is possible regarding growing food within the confines of a rooftop. The project aims to fulfill several objectives:

  • Reduce heat island effect for the neighbouring area;
  • Absorb stormwater;
  • Produce plants and vegetables for a variety of uses;
  • Preserve heirloom seeds from some rarer varieties of plants;
  • Demonstrate Montreal’s efforts to become a resilient city in the face of changing weather patterns;
  • Provide a “lab” like setting to develop new vertical farming techniques.

» Read more: Urban Agriculture: New Project at le Palais des Congrès de Montréal

What are your Green Options in Fighting off a Pest Invasion?

July 20th, 2015

While pests have developed over the millions of years, it took only about 50 for science to keep up the pace. Today, with increasing environmental concerns, non-toxic pest control options that are harmless to humans, non-pest species, and the soil and water resources are becoming a popular alternative to traditional aggressive chemical products.

Carpenter Ants


By Richard Bartz, Munich Makro Freak (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

They are considered a pest because of their habit of tunneling inside wood and rigid foam insulation. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not feed on wood, but use it solely for building the nest. They can be especially dangerous if they infest your house foundation.

  • Control measures – treat exposed parts of wooden structure with Bora Care against moisture accumulation. If you notice ant damage, repair it and prevent them from reaching that spot again. Deny them nesting areas by excavating stumps and taking care of injured trees. Inspect firewood before taking it inside. As these ants love trees, they will likely use branches to reach your roof. Prune all branches that touch the house. Discovered nests should be treated with boric acid.



By Mfield, Matthew Field, (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

 Colonies of these hard-working pest insects are so feared by homeowners that you can often hear that only a full scale extermination procedure gives results. However, homeowners forget that these operations are costly, and that not only these pesticides are harmful for the environments, but can also present a risk to the inhabitants.

  • Control measures – Termites feed on wood, but cannot live in it for long. Actually they live in a nest that is often underground and commute to your structure only to feed. By attacking the nest or shelter tubes that they use to enter your structure with vinegar, you can effectively stop them in tracks. If needed, apply the vinegar few more times. Another green way of dealing with them steps into the field of biological warfare. Nematodes are microscopic worms that can be bought in containers and poured as a water solution into the nest or shelter tubes. They effectively kill termites by infecting them.


wasp-564609_640 Although there are certain benefits from wasps, like pollination and killing other pests, there are much more reasons not to leave them be. For example, if you have a small backyard, or their nest is built low along your path, it would be really hard not to disturb them. The pesticides that are used in spray cans are strong enough to kill your pet if it eats a dead wasp.

  • Control Measures – the easiest way to keep them off is to hang a fake paper nest. Although it doesn’t work every time, wasps are territorial and won’t get into another gang’s area. There are all kinds of wasp traps and you can make some yourself. The trick is to use savory bait, like tuna or a piece of sausage as sweet bait will attract honeybees, too. You can find eco pest control products against wasps such as EcoPCO JET-X – Wasp & Hornet Jet Aerosol which are as effective as heavy duty chemical products but they are made of 100% natural ingredients.

Green ways of dealing with pests vary from prevention, keeping them at bay, to natural bait traps and non-toxic spray products. They are best used combined, respective to the infestation level.

Ecoraster Storm water solutions products

March 27th, 2015

ecoraste E40

Cities are grappling with storm water run-off more than ever as storms become more violent and development increases leaving less permeable land. In heavy rains, sewers sometimes aren’t able to handle the downpour that might happen (think Toronto in July, 2013, or Montreal, May, 2012). Encouraging more permeable areas allows the ground to absorb water helping to alleviate some of the pressure on sewer systems. Sometimes, however, finding the right solution to increasing permeability can be a challenge. Laying down loose gravel over ground makes it difficult to plow in winter, while small stones get caught in pedestrians boot treads get dragged indoors and ruining floors. Another challenge is that sometimes permeable paving needs a strong, impermeable base so that the blocks don’t crack under the weight of vehicles or develop ruts in the most heavily traveled areas. It kind of defeats the purpose of permeable pavers.

A great product originating in Germany, is Ecoraster, a grid system that is used to keep surfaces permeable. It can replace paved parking lots, driveways, pathways and can be used in various agricultural applications as well. The Ecoraster is available in different levels of durability depending on intended use.

It is an extremely versatile product and can be used in a variety of urban situations.

» Read more: Ecoraster Storm water solutions products

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4 Ways to Go Green in the Garden

March 19th, 2015

4 Ways To Go Green In The Garden

In the recent years, the idea of environmentally conscious society seems to captivate more and more people. There is more to the phrase “green” than just replacing your electric bulbs with an LED one or sorting your garbage. This is a way of thinking that impacts every aspect of your life. Then why not incorporate some sustainable practices in your gardening? Combine aesthetics and practicality, while preserving the environment.

» Read more: 4 Ways to Go Green in the Garden

Outdoor Spring Cleaning Checklist

April 17th, 2013
Carson Arthur, Landscape Designer

Carson Arthur, Landscape Designer

Carson Arthur, Landscape designer and TV personality writes about how to tackle your outdoor spring clean-up. Carson sits very much in the green camp and encourages the use of non-toxic products and conserving water in our outdoor activities.  Thanks for you contribution Carson!

When the warm weather arrives, every homeowner has an inventory of outside chores:  cutting the lawn, weeding the garden, washing windows and cleaning the eaves are at the top of every list, including mine.   This year however, I’m adding some new ‘must-do’ items to make the outdoors more enjoyable.

  1. Top dress the lawn.  I’m taking top-dressing a step further and reseeding my entire lawn this spring!  Every July when the hot weather hits, I have yellow patches in my grass.  I’ve been told slugs or hot dry weather are the culprits.  The truth is…most of our lawns are Kentucky Blue Grass which naturally goes dormant in the heat and but also needs a lot of water.  By moving Canadians away from the  ‘all consuming’ Kentucky Blue grass and into the rye grasses, we will see less water consumption but also less pesticides and fertilizers. Check out this new seed which I am a fan and spokesman for. I will add this grass seed, a rye fescue, because it stays green all season long and uses 30% less water.  Do this by adding a 2-kilogram bag of seed to a 20-pound bag of top soil, mix them in a wheelbarrow, and spread across your existing grass.  The ‘seed-to-soil’ contact is what makes this work!
  2. Cleaned using Concrobium House and Deck Wash

    Cleaned using Concrobium House and Deck Wash and Mold Stain Eraser

    Remove the Mold.  As an allergy sufferer, getting rid of the mold that forms in damp, warm weather is extremely important.  Washing the outdoor cushions is only one part of the equation.  Mold can form on decks, furniture, siding and eaves troughs.  I use a two-step process to effectively remove the mold. First I wash away all the surface dirt, grime and mildew with a product called Concrobium House & Deck wash. Not only is it safe around the plants, so I don’t have to cover all my shrubs, it doesn’t contain bleach so it won’t damage the deck. I also have old stains that are deep in the wood so the second step I take is to use Concrobium’s Mold Stain Eraser product that removes just the staining without damaging the wood. I also love that it doesn’t require any scrubbing. Now my siding is spotless, everything made of plastic looks new again and I can finally get rid of those mold spots on my wooden deck.

  3. Wash the Salt.  I never use salt outside my home but it still gets tracked onto the path and driveway from city streets and sidewalks.  Salt damage to plants and grass happens as the snow melts or as rain carries the deposits into the yard.  This build up in the soil can be very damaging and can increase after every winter.  One of the best ways to remove the salt from damaged areas is with a mild vinegar-water solution.  A half teaspoon of white vinegar to one litre of water makes a great rinse for removing salt from concrete or asphalt.  I use a stiff bristle boat mop to make the job quick and easy.
  4. Mulch Late!  Mulching in the spring is very important but most people do it too early.   I’ve always tried to mulch when the snow melts to conserve water by keeping the ground moist.   Unfortunately, this slows growth in my gardens.  Mulch acts as an insulator, protecting the plants from the elements.  However, if you spread it before the soil is completely thawed the mulch keeps the ground colder for longer!  The best time to mulch is when the ground is 5-7 degrees C.  You can measure ground temperatures by completely burying a thermometer in a re-sealable bag.

Our time outside is short in Canada so everyone wants to be outside as much as possible.   My tips will help keep your spaces looking their best all summer long!



After: Using Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser

After: Using Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser


About Carson: Carson Arthur started his television career as a behind-the-scenes prop coordinator for a national garden call-in show.  Very quickly, Carson turned an opportunity to host his own show into a landscape design staple.  With international coverage, Carson has become a voice of environmentally friendly landscape design on a global scale.  By addressing outdoor challenges with a keen sense of style and a passion for eco-consciousness, Carson continues to reinvent the definition of gardening.   With his first series, Room To Grow, Carson created inspired outdoor spaces for homeowners and taught a generation of viewers how to increase their own living spaces by expanding outside.  Following on the heels of his first success, Green Force provided Carson with the opportunity to take on some of the largest challenges associated with urban living.  Carson and his team travel throughout a large urban center and tackle some of the most depressing, under-utilized, and forgotten spaces around us turning them into parks and beautiful art installations while using environmentally friendly techniques and products.

 Carson takes pride in where he lives and what he does.  As the spokesperson for RTF WaterSaver Grass seed, PureRain North America, and Black and Decker Canada, Carson has made the most of his television career to date by being active in helping to develop a better understanding of green living within a social context.  When not in the dirt; Carson stays busy building, planting, writing or designing as a featured guest on CityLine, Steven & Chris, and as a contributing writer for Wal-Mart’s upcoming retail magazine.  Look for Carson as the newest guest expert for The Shopping Channel as he roles out amazing new products for the great outdoors in 2013. Carson is also now the outdoor expert for Better Homes and Gardens Dream Team. 



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