Expert Advice

Winter Landscaping Primer

"So What Do You Do In The Winter?"

I have been involved in Horticulture/Landscaping for over 3o years and have been asked that question a thousand times, so here’s the answer…

Professionals in the original Green industry spend not only the Winter but a great deal of time during all the seasons attending conferences, researching new products, plants, equipment and  completing courses to upgrade their skills.

A modern landscape project often involves many components, starting with a professional design which can call for not only creative plant combinations selected from top quality nurseries but also special effect night lighting, irrigation systems to reduce maintenance, exotic plant material that may need to be overwintered inside, turf areas for children to play, intricate patterned patios and outdoor kitchens.

As you can see this is a very diverse industry and the professionals need to keep up with the new trends systems, standards, bi-laws and leading edge technology.

When you decide to landscape your property you are really making an investment, so how can you make sure that you are selecting the right companies to work with you on your special project and protect your investment?

Start with a professional Landscape designer that can work with you to create your dream garden.                                                                      

Determine which specific types of work are required for your project i.e. grading, stone work, carpentry, water features etc the company you choose should be skilled in all aspects or have access to reputable sub-contractors.

Ask about the level of training and experience key personnel have that will be working on your project, University/ College training, Apprenticeship and Industry Certified programs are all indicators that you will be working with competent people.

Check out the legal side of things, make sure the company has proof of Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage, and ask to see a Certificate of Clearance.

You as the property owner could be responsible if there is an injury and the company you have hired does not have current coverage. Contractors should also carry liability insurance to protect them and you from any unforeseen damage to the property, check that the certificate is current and is adequate for the size of project.

Completing a written and signed contract before the work begins is important to avoid any future misunderstandings. The contract should detail the work to be done and may include points such as Permits, locates, change orders, extras, and payment schedules.

It is comforting to know that you will be able to work well with the contractor, the best way to determine this is to ask for references and follow up with a phone call to ask questions such as:

  • Was the work finished on time
  • Did the contractor return phone calls
  • Was the quality of work acceptable
  • Any other questions that will put your mind at ease

Membership in a Professional Association is a very strong indicator of a company’s commitment to professionalism. An accreditation procedure is part of the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association membership.

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Blog post written by

Denis Flanagan

Director of Public Relations

Landscape Ontario

To find out more about Landscape Ontario visit their website

About Denis Flanagan

After graduating from Horticulture in Surrey, England Denis was involved in many projects including work for the Royal Family and achieved a Gold Medal at The Chelsea Flower Show.

Following a successful transplant to Canada, Denis continued designing award winning gardens including many for Canada Blooms, he has taught at several community colleges including Humber and Seneca.

Denis is well known for his Gardening shows on HGTV and continues to promote the joys and benefits of horticulture through the ‘Green for Life “program at