Monthly Archives

March 2023

How landscapers stay busy on cold winter days

By | gardening, landscape maintenance | No Comments

There’s always work

If you live in a strata building and look outside at your landscapers with suspicion, fear not. They’re busy even though it’s cold outside. Let’s see what they’re doing.


There’s no point making a site look beautiful when there is a pile of garbage on the lawn. You might as well pick it up, otherwise it will detract from your overall maintenance presentation. This will also take the pressure off your building caretaker.


Assuming your edges aren’t frozen solid, you can re-establish your deep edges with an edging shovel which is flat on the bottom. Make sure the edges are sharp ninety degrees and remove any dislodged grass chunks.

Edging gives our beds nice definition, it will help guide our lawn care edger machines, and it’s best done now in winter when we’re not busy cutting grass.

Dead out

Now is a great time to snip out dead foliage out of our plants. Often people are too busy during the season to stop and deal with this. Not deep into January: I snipped out dead branches from trees, dead out of Salal and evergreens. We should aim for beautiful, healthy landscapes. Dead foliage looks awful so snip it out.


Add soil

If there’s budget, adding soil amender to tired, depleted beds, is also a great winter time task. The warm soil might even warm you up. New soil looks great immediately and you won’t have to weed for months. The plants also appreciate the new soil.

My commercial site in Coquitlam.

Note the Miscanthus sinensis ornamental grass. Since it’s still beautiful and upright, I’m leaving the cutback closer to spring. It’s important to cut it back before new foliage starts to emerge in spring. But for now, enjoy it.

This bed usually requires cultivation but now, with new soil installed, I shouldn’t have to touch it too much.


Yes, the winter is a slow season but we still have work to do. We can add new soil to tired, depleted beds, snip out dead foliage from trees and shrubs, prune roses and deep edge our beds. And don’t skip garbage picking.

Yes, trees can kill you!

By | Company News | No Comments

RIP Jed Walters

Arborists go down every year in North America. One of my LinkedIn contacts shared this statistic: tree workers in the United States are fifteen times more likely to die on the job than workers in other industries. Sadly, Jed Walters became a statistic on January 20, 2023. We’ll get back to Jed soon but first let’s see my “redneck” tree work.

Targets everywhere

Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Since I was on site to do landscape maintenance, not tree work, I had to improvise a bit. Below this broken branch is a parking lot full of cars so there were too many targets for me to ignore it and walk off.

Considering the size of the branch, I had to strap it to the tree first before cutting it loose. I couldn’t be sure where it would land. And once I cut it loose, it just sat there, propped up by other branches. So, I made one more cut and the heavier top part crashed down with limited guidance from me. Even a branch this small generates huge forces. Forces large enough to kill you.

Deadly snags

Last summer, a girl from the school board showed up and cut down blown-over trees. Unfortunately, the tops broke off and lodged themselves over the fence in our maple tree. Incredibly, the girl didn’t inform us of this, I just happened to notice it later.

You can’t leave dead pieces of wood in another tree’s canopy and walk away. As soon as people walk out to enjoy their patio, they’ll become targets. So, I dislodged the loose snags and hauled them away, cursing.

Bigger scale

Jed Walters was a professional arborist with his own YouTube channel: Guilty of Treeson. Last week he was clearing away trees felled by a storm. Two fir trees had crashed into a maple so the idea was to drop the maple, which would automatically take down the firs. Except, things didn’t work out as planned.

Jed and his crew didn’t notice a snag, hanging in the maple tree. It might have been the chainsaw’s vibrations that sent it crashing down. It hit Jed in the face and killed him instantly!

So, let’s give trees and arborists lots of respect. I always encourage my readers to prune their own small trees; and to hire professionals for bigger specimens. It’s better to pay the hefty charges than to become a statistic.

Jed leaves a wife and two kids and there is a GoFundMe page set-up if you want to help.

Stay safe!

Jed Walters

Let the monkey puzzle tree surprise you

By | Trees | No Comments

Living fossil

The monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) is a living fossil. Because it’s a tree adapted to a different earth, seeing it in our landscapes is a memorable experience. Now, I’ve seen the trees before and I knew they had a bizarre look to them; but I never really looked them up, until now. The trees we see in our landscapes are native to Chile.

Young specimens are spindly and their foliage is made up of spiky triangular leaves that openly advertise to every passerby and animal to stay away. Even the stems are covered in spiky leaves which makes me wonder how people plant the trees. I’m sure you need heavy duty gloves and goggles.

A young specimen of Auracaria araucana.

Branch tip


The young monkey puzzle tree above is well planted because there is ample space for it to develop. It will grow to 30-40 m and it will also get the full sun it likes in this spot. Remember to always consider the mature size of the trees you are planting to avoid future problems.

The monkey puzzle tree is slow-growing. It takes years for cones to develop so until then, it’s difficult to say if this tree is male or female. The cones will tell us.


Mature monkey puzzle trees lose their lower branches and flatten out on top, which gives them an umbrella shape. Self-pruning is common as lower branches are shed. I didn’t know what the tree looked like at maturity until one of my Facebook friends posted a series of photos online.

A mature monkey puzzle tree.

I was also surprised to learn that the trees produce edible nuts. I would love to try one. Allegedly they taste like a cross between cashews and pine nuts but I have no idea what pine nuts taste like. If indigenous people in South America harvest them, they must be good to eat.

Monkey puzzle trees, like ginkgos, are living fossils and I enjoy seeing both species in our parks and gardens. The monkey puzzle tree has a bizarre look with its spiky triangular leaves. Interestingly, it transforms into an umbrella shape as it sheds its lower branches with maturity.

If you have space and time, you can plant one in your garden and give your visitors a memorable experience.