Planning your Winter Wonderland

Planning your Winter Wonderland

Wondering what to do with your garden now the cold has set in? Our Landscape Horticulturist Erin Stackhouse has the answers.


By the time the final leaves have fallen, been raked up and composted or removed, it’s easy to think the work is done.

We can wait until spring when we feel inspired by new growth, longer days and warmth in the air.

However the change of seasons is important for plants, and is often a missed opportunity to showcase the quiet, more subtle beauty gardens contribute to a landscape.

At this time of year, many people have questions regarding how and when to prune various plants and there is a lot of different information available depending on where you live and therefore, your growing zone.

In the Pacific Northwest we are fortunate to be able to accommodate the growing requirements of an impressive range of plants.

From the near tropical to much hardier species common in more frigid parts of the country.

While this allows winter garden care to be more flexible, the last couple of winters reminded us we do still live in Canada and are not immune to that white fluffy (or not so fluffy) stuff that threatens the livelihood of plants.

The tendency is to cut back all plants, remove all leaves and prepare beds as though spring is around the corner.

But this can leave plants vulnerable going into our coldest months.

With recent environmental fluctuations and unpredictable weather patterns, it can be difficult to know how to give these plants the best chance of success.

Some, such as herbaceous perennials, can be cut right to the ground while roses can be cut right back and annuals removed.

Most pruning can be done once leaf fall has finished and plants have entered dormancy without any harm being done.

Since we live in a temperate climate, it’s important to be aware of the effect unpredictable weather can have.

Warmer temperatures can trick plants into producing tender new growth then suffers dieback if a cold snap follows.

If you are concerned about the well-being of your plants or have species on the verge of being suitably hardy in Vancouver, here are some precautionary actions you can take:

  1. Save pruning until late winter when the greatest risk has passed. An added benefit is that many plants, including grasses and hydrangeas, provide great winter interest with some snow resting on them.
  2. Allow a layer of leaves to cover the garden. It may not be a popular aesthetic choice, but it effectively protects plants from frost. In the spring, partial removal of the leaves and addition of a mulch allows this organic matter to be incorporated into the soil, providing further nutrients and oxygen.
  3. If leaves are garden undesirable for appearance sake, or the leaves are unhealthy and may perpetuate plant sickness, there are other ways to provide mulch! A great alternative is a layer of compost or soil amender. The goal is not to bury plants- 1-2” will protect from the worst of the frost.
  4. Wrap susceptible specimens. Burlap can easily be found in rolls at garden centres and protects tender foliage from winter damage and desiccation. Some plants teeter on the edge of hardiness, and younger, less established plants are at higher risk. Rosemary and Lithodora are examples of such plants.

Another activity to consider is hedge trimming. Vancouver tends to get a lot of wet heavy snow, which thaws, refreezes, and weighs down branches and leggy growth.

Keeping shrubs and hedges well maintained encourages density, producing stronger plants that are less likely to split or bow under added weight.

Also, be aware of deadwood or already damaged branches that are susceptible to failure if exposed to additional stress.

Safe in the knowledge that your garden is well prepared, now is the perfect time to contemplate changes or additions you would like to make for the upcoming growing season.

Plant some bulbs, flip through gardening magazines for inspiration, consider your spaces and what you enjoy about them, and discuss ideas that you may have to maximize the time spent in your garden.

On the west coast spring tends to come early and businesses such as ours quickly become busy with requests for garden clean ups and upgrades.

By putting the time in over the winter, you can beat the rush and ensure your ideas become reality in time for them to be properly enjoyed.

Best of luck to all of you and your gardens from the team at Yard Ventures Inc, and visit our contact page if you need any help.

Blown Away By Leaves?

Blown Away By Leaves?

You would have to be living under a rock (or a leaf) to not notice the impact fall has on Vancouver streets and gardens.

The evidence is all around us, with varying shades of red on trees, and increasingly on the ground.

This requires a lot of clean up work, and while regular street sweeping is conducted by the City of Vancouver from November to January, the boulevard and sidewalk is your responsibility.

Knowing the dos and don’ts of how to deal with it will go a long way toward making you a good neighbour.


  • Clean up sidewalks before it gets out of hand and creates hazardous conditions
  • If your green bin is full use paper bags or store-bought bins to ensure removal
  • Additional pickups are being scheduled Set out leaves for collection before 7am on the scheduled Saturday to avoid a missed collection
  • Store extra leaves in a dry or covered area before setting them out for pick up
  • Leaves left on lawns and garden beds are actually good for the environment and provide a natural mulch.

Do not

  • Blow leaves onto the streets, catch basins, sidewalks, boulevards or bike lane. This is not only hazardous, but could land you a hefty fine (up to $10,000)
  • Leave piles of wet leaves that could cause slippery conditions or flooding
  • Use leaf blowers outside the following times (except the West End where leaf blowers are banned);

Monday-Friday: 8am-6pm

Saturday: 9am-5pm

Sundays and holidays: Not allowed

If you are getting tired just thinking about all that raking, we can help. Visit our estimates page or email to enquire about our leaf clearing services.

Join the Yard Ventures team

Join the Yard Ventures team

Yard Ventures Inc is looking to hire energetic, hard working people to join our team for fall and beyond.

We are looking to fill multiple positions, and successful applicants will perform a wide variety of work.

Lawn mowing, hedge trimming, planting and pruning are all part of a regular day for our maintenance crews.

Our hardscaping crews install gardens, pathways, walls, fences and more.

Starting wage is commensurate with experience, and training will be provided for those without a background in landscaping.

If working outdoors with a fun and enthusiastic team appeals to you, email your application, including a resume, to:

New Threat to Vancouver Plants

New Threat to Vancouver Plants

If you own a lawn in Vancouver you are probably aware of the dreaded European Chafer Beetle.

Now a new- and in many ways worse- threat has emerged, with the discovery of the Japanese Beetle in False Creek.

Like chafer beetles, the larvae feed on turf grass roots.

But they are also found in the roots of many other plants, and adults feast on more than 250 species of flowers, foliage and fruit.

In short, if it has leaves, it is at risk.

The Japanese Beetle was first discovered in BC last year, although it was introduced to North America in 1916.

Nine Vancouver parks have so far been affected.

The City of Vancouver has implemented a regulated zone, restricting movement of plants and soil.

The area is bordered by;

·         Burrard Street – north from West 12th Avenue to Burrard Inlet

·         Burrard Street – east along West 12th Avenue to Clark Drive

·         Clark Drive – north from East 12th Avenue to Burrard Inlet

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is using larvicide and traps to limit the damage.

There are also several ways the public can assist.

1.       Report sightings to the CFIA on 1-800-442-2342

2.       Do not touch the Japanese Beetle traps that are being set within the regulated area

3.       Do not move soil, plants with soil, pruning waste and other plant debris from areas where the insect has been reported

For more information visit

Spring is in the air

Spring is in the air

If watching grass grow is your thing, then this is an exciting time of year in Vancouver.

Spring is officially here, and evidence of plant growth is all around.

That means pretty soon you will want to be out in the sun enjoying your lawn.

For the first lawn cut of the season (or any cut really) it is always important to use a sharp blade.

Cut on the lowest setting initially, allowing sun and water easier access to the roots, then gradually increase the setting over several subsequent cuts so the grass is 2-3” long during the hotter months.

A great way to ensure your lawn is immaculate and ready for increased use is a Spring Tune Up.

The following is a complete list of what a Spring Tune Up entails, but even one or two if these will be hugely beneficial.

And of course if you don’t have the time or energy, Yard Ventures Inc can help.

1. Aeration pulls plugs of grass out of your lawn, which increases the air reaching the roots and reduces compaction.

2. Lime will increase the soil’s pH balance, and most importantly for many lawns, reduces moss over time.

3. Top dressing and seeding is an easy way to improve lawn thickness and repair any bare patches that may have developed over the winter.

4. Power-rake and de-thatch is not for everyone, but it may be useful for spongy or mossy lawns.  If a power rake is not available the hand-held version can be just effective, but a little less enjoyable.

5. Lawn fertilizer is an easy way to promote growth, giving the grass much needed nutrients.

The End is Near

The End is Near

By Erin Stackhouse

While much of the country languishes under several feet of snow, here in Vancouver we are being teased by the first glimpses of spring. With recent double-digit temperatures, some trees are already blooming and weeds are already poking out of the soil. With all the action our city sees in early spring, it’s easy to forget the risk of frost still exists through to the end of March. Now is the time to put together an action plan for lawns and gardens to take full advantage when growing season arrives. The following are a few activities worth considering.

Lawn Care
A Spring Tune Up addresses the primary issues experienced by lawns after a long winter. This includes moss removal and remediation with fertilizer, lime, aeration to reduce compaction, and additional soil and seed where required.
Many lawns also suffer damage from European Chafer Beetle infestations, when the larvae are largest and most appealing. Keep an eye out for torn up or rolled back turf and monitor the damage. It’s best to deal with when the area is no longer increasing in size and turf can be restored without risk of further damage.

Plant Clean Up
If the fall season got away from you and a clean-up didn’t happen, you’ll be thinking about pruning your perennials and shrubs in preparation for growing season. Although fall clean ups are popular (largely for aesthetic reasons), this delay can be beneficial, as it prevents stimulation of new growth which then suffers from frost and cold temperatures. Leaves left in beds over winter further protect the ground from freezing and provide a layer of insulation to the roots beneath. These are factors to take into consideration when performing a spring clean-up; while some plants (i.e. grasses) can be cut back early without any consequence, pruning some woody plants is best left until the risk of frost has passed.

Garden Assessment
This is the perfect time to assess your garden’s potential. It’s still too early to be certain exactly which plants survived, but if you’re an avid gardener you likely have some ideas for new plants you want to experiment with. A successful garden is all about placement. Consider which plants on your wish list will get the light and moisture requirements they need to thrive. You may need to move some plants around or consider dividing ones that are outgrowing their locations.
Spring is also a great time for addition of mulch, which will protect from water loss in the heat of summer, provide nutrients, and increase the visual appeal of your garden. This is an especially good time for application because plants are in their dormant state and the job is usually much easier! You may also choose to fertilize, but we recommend a good organic soil amender to provide the necessary nutrients without risk of toxicity. When applying synthetic fertilizers, it may be worth having soil testing done to ascertain whether any deficiency is present.

Hopefully these tips are helpful! If you have any questions regarding our services, please visit our Estimates page or email to In the meantime, enjoy getting those wheels turning while we wait for the onset of spring!

Now hiring for 2018

Now hiring for 2018

We are currently seeking applicants to fill a range of positions in our landscaping and maintenance crews.

From landscape installations to garden clean ups, residential to commercial, hardscaping to softscaping, paving installation to lawn cutting, big projects or small – you will have the opportunity to do it all.

Experienced landscapers are welcomed, but this is also a great opportunity for travelers looking for short-term work or locals wanting a new experience in a growing industry.

$15-$20/hr depending on experience.

8am Start, Monday-Friday.

If you are energetic, conscientious, and this job appeals to you then email your application- including a resume- to



Yard Ventures Inc would like to welcome you to our new website. We hope you will enjoy some of the new features, including gardening and landscaping advice. We plan to add new content regularly, so check the news section for the latest information. For more details about our services contact us on 604-321-0212, or by email at

Fall Lawn Care

Fall Lawn Care

Lawn care may be low on your priority list right now. But there are steps you can take during fall that will be invaluable to your lawn’s health when spring arrives. Although growth has slowed and you can reduce frequency, it is important to continue mowing until grass stops growing, usually around the end of October. Using the lowest blade setting for the last two cuts is highly recommended as it will allow more sunlight to reach the roots. Here are some other useful tips from Yard Ventures Inc;


Fall is the optimum time to fertilize lawns (additional fertilizer in spring is also recommended). Although there will be minimal growth, the nutrients delivered now will reap rewards later.


Aeration ensures the roots are receiving much needed oxygen, water and fertilizer.

Leaf removal

Sunlight is crucial to a healthy lawn, and as the days grow shorter it is important to maximize exposure. Leaves left too long can cause significant damage so rake them up regularly.


The most environmentally friendly way to deal with weeds is by hand. Please not that the use of herbicides is prohibited in Vancouver.

Yard Ventures Inc can provide all of the above services. For more information contact us on 604-321-0212 or