Common Lawn and Garden Pests

Common Lawn and Garden Pests

Spring has arrived and green is overtaking white. However, the growing season is accompanied by pests who like to feast on our landscapes. Below, we’ll shed light on some of the most common lawn and garden pests in Southwestern Ontario – their origins, identification, prevention, and management strategies.

Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica)

Japanese Beetles are a Common Lawn and Garden PestJapanese beetles were introduced from Japan in the early 20th century and have since made themselves at home in Southwestern Ontario. These beetles have a metallic green color with copper-colored wings and are often found munching on the leaves of roses, grapes, and fruit trees.

Control Methods

  • Handpick the beetles
  • Use row covers
  • Apply insecticidal soap or neem oil
  • Introduce beneficial nematodes to target the larvae

Dealing with Damage

Prune damaged foliage and promote plant health through proper care.

Aphids (Aphidoidea)

Aphids on a rose stemAphids are native to North America and thrive in our temperate climate, reproducing rapidly and infesting a wide range of plants. This makes Aphids one of the most common among the common lawn and garden pests in our region. Look for clusters of small, green, pear-shaped insects on plant stems and new growth of various garden plants, including roses, vegetables, and fruit trees.

Control Methods

  • Encourage natural predators such as ladybugs and lacewings
  • Use insecticidal soap or neem oil, and blast aphids off plants with a strong stream of water.

Dealing with Damage

Prune heavily infested areas and monitor plant recovery.

Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis)

Emerald Ash BorerNative to Asia, emerald ash borers arrived in North America in the early 2000s and have devastated ash tree populations. Look for D-shaped exit holes in ash tree bark, canopy dieback, and S-shaped larval galleries under the bark.

Control Methods

  • Implement preventive treatments such as trunk injections with systemic insecticides
  • Consider replacing susceptible ash trees with resistant species.

Dealing with Damage

Prune dead branches and monitor remaining ash trees for signs of infestation.

Spider Mites (Tetranychidae)

Tiny Spider Mites on Stem - Common PestSpider mites are native to North America and thrive in warm, dry conditions, rapidly infesting plants. Look for fine webbing on the undersides of leaves and stippling or discoloration on foliage of garden plants, including tomatoes, beans, and ornamentals.

Control Methods

  • Increase humidity around plants
  • Introduce predatory mites or insects
  • Apply horticultural oil or insecticidal soap

Dealing with Damage

Trim away heavily infested foliage and monitor plant recovery.

White Grubs (Scarabaeidae larvae)

White Grubs feed on grass roots and destroy grassThese soil-dwelling larvae are the immature stage of beetles like Japanese beetles, and they primarily feed on grass roots. Look for patches of dead or dying grass, which may indicate white grub infestation.

Control Methods

  • Use beneficial nematodes or milky spore disease to target grubs in the soil

Dealing with Damage

Re-seed affected areas and maintain proper lawn care practices.

Cutworms (Noctuidae larvae)

Cutworm is a common garden pestCutworms are native to North America and are nocturnal pests that feed on young seedlings at or below ground level. Look for seedlings that have been cut off at the base.

Control Methods

  • Use collar barriers around seedlings
  • Handpick cutworks from plants
  • Apply biological controls

Dealing with Damage

Replant damaged seedlings and protect them from future attacks.

Slugs and Snails (Gastropoda)

Common Lawn and Garden Pests - Slugs and SnailsSlugs and snails are native to the region and are nocturnal pests that feed on plant foliage and tender shoots of a range of garden plants. Follow slime trails and look for irregular holes in leaves.

Control Methods

  • Set up beer traps
  • Apply diatomaceous earth
  • Handpick them off of plants
  • Introduce natural predators like toads and birds

Dealing with Damage

Trim away damaged foliage and keep garden areas clean and tidy.

Cabbage Worms (Pieris rapae)

Cabbage worm feeds on cabbage leafCabbage worms are native to North America and are the larval stage of small white butterflies. As their name implies, they feed on brassica crops. Look for green caterpillars on cabbage family plants (cabbage, broccoli, kale), causing chewing damage to leaves.

Control Methods

  • Handpick caterpillars
  • Use floating row covers
  • Apply Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
  • Encourage natural predators

Dealing with Damage

Trim away damaged leaves and protect plants from future infestations.

Thrips (Thysanoptera)

Common pest - small thrip on leafThrips are native insects that feed on the sap of garden plants, including roses, onions, and peppers. They can transmit diseases to a wide range of plants. Look for tiny, slender insects and silvery patches on leaves.

Control Methods

  • Use insecticidal soap or neem oil
  • Introduce predatory insects

Dealing with Damage

Trim away damaged foliage and monitor plant health.

Scale Insects (Coccoidea)

Scale Insects on stem - common pestScale insects are native to North America and can weaken or kill plants by feeding on sap and excreting honeydew of ornamental and fruit-bearing trees. Look for small, immobile insects on stems and leaves, often surrounded by a protective shell.

Control Methods

  • Use horticultural oil or insecticidal soap
  • Introduce natural enemies like ladybugs

Dealing with Damage

Prune away heavily infested branches and monitor plant recovery.

This guide will help prepare you to identify and combat common lawn and garden pests in Southwestern Ontario. Remember to stay vigilant, implement preventive measures, and maintain overall plant health to keep those pesky critters at bay.

Pest control product mentioned above – insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, neem oil, nematodes, collar barriers, floating row covers – are available at local garden centres. When purchasing, talk to staff about proper application/use for optimal effectiveness.

Soil Types and Landscaping

Soil Types and Landscaping

Landscaping that not only is not only beautiful but healthy depends heavily on the quality of the soil that provides a landscape’s foundation. As in most places, Southwestern Ontario’s distinct regional climate and geological conditions shape the native soils. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between soil types and landscaping, delve into the characteristics of Southwestern Ontario soils, and discuss how homeowners can improve soil conditions in their own landscapes.

The Significance of Soil in Landscaping

Soil serves as the lifeblood of any garden, influencing plant health, growth, and overall ecosystem balance. Its physical, chemical, and biological properties contribute to water retention, nutrient availability, and microbial activity – all crucial factors for a flourishing landscape. Properly managed soil can enhance plant resilience, reduce erosion, and create a sustainable and visually appealing outdoor space.

Southwestern Ontario Soils

Amending soil for landscapingThe soils in Southwestern Ontario are diverse, shaped by various factors including climate, parent material, and topography. Common soil types include clay, loam, and sandy soils. Each soil type has unique characteristics that affect water retention, drainage, and nutrient availability.

Clay Soil

Clay soils are heavy and compacted, which allows them to retain water well. However, they can also result in poor drainage and aeration. To improve clay soil, adding organic matter such as compost can enhance its structure and drainage. Simply adding sand to dry soil can also improve drainage, as can adding garden lime. Clay soil comprises a significant proportion of the soils in our region.

Loam Soil

Loam soil is a well-balanced combination of sand, silt, and clay. It is ideal for gardening due to its excellent water retention and drainage properties. Regular addition of organic matter helps maintain its fertility.

Sandy Soil

Sandy soils consist of larger particles that drain quickly. However, they struggle to retain water and nutrients. Adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can improve water retention and fertility.

Best Plants for Different Soil Types

Soil types and qualitySelecting the appropriate plants for your soil type is crucial for a thriving landscape in Southwestern Ontario:

Clay Soil

  • Plants that tolerate wet conditions: Redtwig dogwood, summersweet, and cardinal flower
  • Drought-tolerant options: Russian sage, yarrow, and black-eyed Susan

Loam Soil

  • Versatile options: Daylilies, coneflowers, and ornamental grasses.
  • Shade-loving plants: Hostas, astilbes, and ferns.

Sandy Soil

  • Drought-tolerant plants: Lavender, sedum, and coreopsis.
  • Acid-loving plants: Azaleas, blueberries, and rhododendrons.

Even if you have soil that is unsuitable for a particular tree or plant you desire to include in your landscape, you don’t have to give up on the idea entirely. It will require some effort to amend the soil to adequately sustain the chosen specimen.

Amending Soil Conditions

soil types and landscapingHomeowners in Southwestern Ontario can proactively improve soil conditions to meet their landscaping needs. Here are some suggestions:

Adjusting Acidity

  • Test the soil pH using a home testing kit.
  • To increase acidity, incorporate organic matter like pine needles, peat moss, or sulfur.
  • To decrease acidity, introduce lime into the soil.

Improving Drainage

  • For clay soils, add organic matter, garden lime, or sand to enhance aeration and drainage.
  • For sandy soils, mix in compost to improve water retention.
  • Consider installing raised beds or French drains in poorly draining areas.

Homeowners in Southwestern Ontario can achieve a beautiful and sustainable outdoor space by understanding the unique characteristics of their soils and implementing thoughtful improvements. By selecting appropriate plants and maintaining healthy soil conditions, they can create a vibrant and resilient garden that enhances the beauty of their homes while positively contributing to the local ecosystem.

Compact Trees and Shrubs for Small Spaces

Compact Trees and Shrubs for Small Spaces

Transform your petite yard into a lush oasis with our top recommendations for compact trees and shrubs for small spaces in hardiness zones 5 and 6. We understand the challenges posed by these demanding climates. But with the right plant selection, you can cultivate a vibrant and inviting outdoor space that thrives. Discover the perfect options for small yards and narrow spaces in our guide below.

Dwarf Korean Lilac

In small yards, this compact lilac variety shines with fragrant blooms in a stunning lavender hue. It serves as an ideal focal point or a charming addition to borders.

The japanese maples is a compact tree that works well in a small yardJapanese Maple

The compact “Crimson Queen” Japanese maple is a stunning ornamental tree prized for its compact size and rich burgundy cut-leaf foliage. It belongs to the Aceraceae family and is a dwarf cultivar of the Japanese maple species. The Crimson Queen typically grows to about 6 to 8 feet high. Its spreading, cascading form creates an elegant and graceful appearance.

Compact Burning Bush

Add a burst of color to your small yard with the Compact Burning Bush, known for its fiery fall foliage. Its compact size and low maintenance make it a popular choice for tight spaces.

The Boxwood is an excellent choice for a small yard.Boxwood

The boxwood is a popular evergreen shrub that belongs to the Buxaceae family. It is widely cultivated for its dense foliage and compact growth habit  in landscaping and garden design. Boxwoods are versatile and known for their small, glossy, and leathery leaves.

Dwarf Balsam Fir

The Dwarf Balsam Fir is a variant of the balsam fir and is known for its compact size and dense growth habit. The dwarf balsam fir typically reaches a height of about 3 to 6 feet and has a pyramidal shape with short, soft dark green needles.

rhododendrons are relatively compact and add bursts of colour to small backyard gardensRhododendrons and Azaleas

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, these plants are admired for their compact growth habit. They typically form dense, rounded bushes with a well-branched structure. This makes them ideal for creating hedges, borders, or even standalone focal points. Their compact nature allows them to fit well in smaller gardens or confined spaces. And they provide a burst of color and greenery without overwhelming an area. It’s easy to maintain and shape these flowering shrubs through pruning, enabling gardeners to control their size and promote healthy growth.

Weeping Pussy Willow

With its graceful weeping branches and early spring catkins, the Weeping Pussy Willow brings whimsy and charm to small yards without overwhelming the space.

compact trees and shrubs for small spaces hydrangea Compact Hydrangea

‘Little Lime,’ a smaller version of the popular ‘Limelight,’ adds a touch of romance to limited spaces. With its showy, cone-shaped blooms, this hydrangea is beautiful in small areas.

Pencil Point Juniper

The Pencil Point Juniper is a fantastic addition to small yards. With its slender, columnar form and compact size, it adds a vertical elegance without taking up much space. The blue-green foliage adds a touch of colour and texture to your garden, making it an excellent choice for adding visual interest.

To achieve a stunning small yard in hardiness zones 5 and 6, selecting the right compact trees and shrubs for a small yard is crucial. Choose trees and shrubs that are naturally compact or can be pruned to fit your space, ensuring your garden is both beautiful and tailored to the demands of your region. Embrace the diverse colors, shapes, and sizes available among these selections, and witness your small yard transform into a captivating retreat that delights you throughout the seasons.


Caring for Ice-Damaged Trees and Shrubs

Caring for Ice-Damaged Trees and Shrubs

As winter tightens its icy grip, our landscapes often suffer from freezing temperatures, leaving trees and shrubs susceptible to damage. Ice storms can be particularly harsh, encasing branches in thick layers of ice that lead to breakage and stress. However, with proper care and attention, you can facilitate the recovery and revitalization of your greenery. In this guide, we will explore effective strategies for nurturing and restoring trees and shrubs damaged by ice, ensuring they thrive once again.

Caring for Ice-damaged Trees and ShrubsAssessment and Safety Considerations

Before embarking on the recovery process, it is crucial to assess the extent of the damage. Start by identifying broken or hanging branches that pose safety risks. Trim these damaged limbs cautiously to prevent harm to people, pets, or property. Use appropriate pruning tools and techniques to make clean cuts, minimizing the risk of further damage.

Gentle De-Icing Methods

If your trees and shrubs are still coated in ice, avoid the temptation to forcibly remove it. Instead, allow nature to take its course and naturally melt the ice. Applying force can cause additional harm, so exercise patience and let the sun or slightly warmer temperatures facilitate the melting process.

Precise Pruning Techniques

Once the ice has melted, initiate the pruning process. Remove broken or damaged branches using clean, sharp tools. Make cuts just outside the branch collar—the swollen area where the branch meets the trunk. This promotes faster healing and reduces the risk of disease. If the branches are larger, don’t make the initial cut at the collar, since it might strip the bark of the tree or create a larger wound than necessary. Cut if off in stages. If you are uncertain about which branches to trim, seek guidance from a professional landscaper or arborist.

guide for dealing with ice damage on trees and shrubsFertilization and Hydration

Ice-damaged trees and shrubs can benefit from a nutrient boost to aid in their recovery. But fertilize only in the months without an “r” (May to August) to prevent forced growth during a tree’s dormant period. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to the soil around the base of the plants. This provides essential nutrients for new growth. Additionally, ensure that the damaged area receives adequate water to support the healing process.

Protective Mulching

Applying a layer of mulch around the base of your trees and shrubs serves multiple purposes. It helps retain soil moisture, regulates temperature, and acts as a protective barrier. Spread a two- to four-inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, making sure it does not directly touch the trunk. Instead, create a well, with the centre lower than the outside part of the mulch ring. This helps with water absorption. Mulching also prevents competition from grass and weeds, allowing your plants to focus on recovery.

Patience and Observance

Recovery takes time, so exercise patience and regularly observe your trees and shrubs. Look for signs of new growth, such as budding leaves or shoots. If progress is slow or you notice persistent issues, consider seeking professional advice. Arborists can provide specialized care tailored to your specific situation.

Caring for ice-damaged trees and shrubs requires a delicate balance of patience, precision, and nurturing. By following these steps, you can provide the necessary support for your green companions on their journey to recovery, ensuring they continue to enhance your landscape with their beauty for years to come. Remember, a little tender loving care goes a long way in revitalizing nature’s resilience.

Colourful Autumn Plants

Colourful Autumn Plants

Perennials, Trees, and Shrubs That Look Great in Autumn

As the summer heat gives way to cooler temperatures and the days grow shorter, nature puts on a breathtaking display with colourful autumn plants that herald the arrival of a new season. The changing foliage is one of the most enchanting aspects of the fall season, and there’s no better way to celebrate it than by incorporating stunning perennials, trees, and shrubs into your garden landscape. In this blog post, we’ll explore a selection of these autumnal gems that can transform your outdoor space into a captivating fall wonderland.

A Selection of Colourful Autumn Plants

Colourful Autumn Plants Sugar Maple in fall landscapingSugar Maple (Acer spp.)

When it comes to fall foliage, few trees can rival the brilliance of maples. Known for their fiery red, orange, and yellow leaves, maple trees are iconic symbols of autumn. Varieties like the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) and Red Maple (Acer rubrum) are especially popular for their vibrant colour transformations. Plant one in your yard, and you’ll be treated to a stunning display of orange and crimson leaves that will be the envy of every neighbour on your block.

Oak Trees (Quercus spp.)

Oak trees, with their bold and enduring leaves, are another fantastic choice for fall colour. While oak leaves tend to change colour later in the season, they often turn deep shades of russet, burgundy, and brown. These majestic trees are not only beautiful but also provide valuable wildlife habitat and shade, making them a practical and aesthetically pleasing addition to any landscape.

Colourful Autumn Plants Japanese Maple in fall landscapingJapanese Maples (Acer palmatum)

Japanese maples are renowned for their elegant and delicate foliage. These smaller trees or large shrubs come in a variety of cultivars, each offering unique leaf shapes and colours. In the fall, the leaves of Japanese maples often turn brilliant shades of red, orange, or purple. These trees can be used as focal points in your garden or as accents to complement other plants.

Ornamental Pear (Pyrus calleryana)

The foliage of the ornamental pear tree in the fall is nothing short of spectacular. As the temperatures begin to drop and the days grow shorter, these trees undergo a remarkable transformation. Late to change colour, the typically glossy green leaves of the ornamental pear take on a vibrant and rich array of autumn hues, ranging from brilliant shades of orange and deep red to warm purples when many other trees have turned brown or have shed their leaves. The canopy of an ornamental pear tree, with its fiery foliage, becomes a captivating focal point in any landscape, providing a breathtaking and enduring display that continues well into the fall season.

Colourful Autumn Plants burning bush in fall landscaping

Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)

The Burning Bush, also known as the Winged Euonymus, is a compact shrub that truly lives up to its name in the fall. Its leaves explode into vibrant shades of crimson, creating a striking visual contrast against the green backdrop of your garden. This deciduous shrub is not only stunning but also low-maintenance, making it a favorite of all colourful autumn plants among gardeners looking for a hassle-free addition to their fall landscape.

Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Sumac trees are another colourful addition to the fall landscape, showcasing their unique beauty as the season progresses. In the autumn, sumac leaves transform into a brilliant palette of red, orange, and burgundy, creating a fiery spectacle that catches the eye from afar. Their feathery, pinnate leaves often persist well into late fall, providing a striking contrast against the backdrop of the changing landscape. What makes sumac trees even more appealing is their upright, architectural growth habit, which adds structure and drama to your garden. As the sumac’s vibrant foliage unfurls, it signals the arrival of fall in a grand and picturesque manner, making it an outstanding choice for those seeking a bold statement in their autumn garden design.

Colourful Autumn Plants Chrysanthemums mums in fall landscapingChrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum spp.)

Chrysanthemums, commonly known as mums, are a classic choice for adding a burst of colour to your fall garden. These perennials come in a wide range of colours, including deep purples, vibrant yellows, and warm oranges. Plant them in pots or garden beds to create stunning displays that can last well into the late autumn. Mums are also perfect for adding a touch of fall festivity to your outdoor decor.

Asters (Symphyotrichum puniceum)

Asters, often referred to as the “stars of autumn,” truly shine in the fall landscape. These charming perennials burst into bloom just as summer transitions into autumn, covering gardens with a sea of vibrant colours. With their daisy-like flowers in shades of purple, pink, and white, asters add a delightful contrast to the changing foliage around them. As the days grow shorter and cooler, asters continue to thrive, providing a late-season nectar source for pollinators like bees and butterflies. Their resilient and cheerful presence makes them a beloved choice for gardeners seeking to extend the beauty of their outdoor spaces well into the fall months.

Colourful Autumn Plants Virginia Creeper in fall landscapingVirginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

For those seeking a rustic and wild look in their fall landscape, consider Virginia Creeper. This deciduous vine boasts a brilliant display of fiery red foliage in the autumn. It can be trained to climb walls, trellises, or arbors, creating a dramatic and picturesque backdrop for your garden. Be aware that this vine can be quite invasive, so it’s best if it has lots of space to grow, like a long fence line. To contain it cut it back regularly and dig out new root growth.

As the leaves begin to turn and the air grows crisper, there’s no better time to celebrate the beauty of fall foliage in your garden. Whether you opt for the blazing reds of maples and burning bushes, the elegant hues of Japanese maples, or the varied shades and classic charm of chrysanthemums, there’s a wide range of perennials, trees, and shrubs to choose from. With a well-planned selection, your garden can become a stunning tribute to the gorgeous colours of autumn.

As always, if you’re not much of a green thumb or would just like some professional landscaping assistance, contact us to get started.

Fragrant Trees and Shrubs for your Landscape

Fragrant Trees and Shrubs for your Landscape

When choosing trees and shrubs for your home’s landscape you most likely look for varieties that not only look good, but smell nice, too. Fortunately, there are myriad fragrant trees in shrubs for your landscape in Southwestern Ontario.

Crab apple blossoms in spring beautiful smell fragranceIn our region, the climate is perfect for many fragrant trees and shrubs that can be enjoyed throughout the year. In this blog post, we will look at some of the best trees and shrubs that are ideal for fragrance in Southwestern Ontario. Whether you are an experienced gardener or just starting, this post will help you create a beautiful, fragrant oasis in your own backyard.

Fragrant Trees

Ivory Silk Lilac

This gorgeous tree is ideal for adding a pleasant, sweet fragrance to your garden. The ivory silk lilac has creamy white blooms that fill the air with a delightful, heady perfume.

Katsura Tree

Fringe tree flowers smell sweetKatsura trees are unique deciduous trees that emit a refreshing, burnt sugar scent in the fall. They have heart-shaped leaves and attractive yellow flowers in the spring.

Fringe Tree

These beautiful trees add a unique twist of sweetness to your garden. The fringe tree is covered in white, star-shaped blooms with a sweet, citrusy fragrance that lingers in the air.

Magnolia Tree

Magnolia trees – both the Saucer and Star varieties – are renowned for their large, white flowers that emit a sweet, citrusy scent.

Crab Apple TreeFragrant Trees and Shrubs for your Landscape Ornamental cherry tree blooms smell fantastic

Crab apple trees offer a pronounced sweet scent and an attractive display of pink to white flowers in the spring.

Ornamental Cherry Tree

Ornamental cherry trees are renowned for their fragrant, Instagram-worthy pink and white blooms.

Fragrant Shrubs


Honeysuckle smells sweet and attracts hummingbirds

If you’re looking for an intoxicating scent in your garden, then look no further than the honeysuckle. This shrub is best known for its fragrant, pink, white, coral, and/or yellow blossoms that burst with a sweet aroma.

Mock Orange

The Mock Orange has beautiful white blooms with a strong citrus scent that fills the air with its refreshing aroma.


Mock Orange tree white flowers smell sweet and citrusy

The lilac is one of the quintessential fragrant garden shrubs in Southwestern Ontario. These shrubs have dark green leaves and beautiful purple or white blooms that fill the air with their sweet scent in the spring.


Peonies are a timeless favorite for adding fragrance and beauty to any garden. These shrubs have large but delicate, fragrant flowers that come in a variety of colors including white, pink, red, and yellow.

Peonies have a lovely fragrance


Catmint is a great option for gardeners who want to attract cats with their fragrant garden. Unlike catnip though, cats don’t generally roll in or eat catmint, so this small shrub will stay looking beautiful all season long. This herb can be invasive if left unchecked, so best to give it wide berth in a garden or plant it in a container.


Bee balm smells wonderful and attracts pollinatorsLavender is renowned throughout the world for adding fragrance and beauty to any garden. This herb has beautiful purple blooms that fill the air with their calming scent.


Hyssop is a great option for adding an aromatic touch to a garden. This herb has small, bright blue flowers that fill the air with their sweet scent.

Bee Balm

Bee balm is a great option for gardeners who want to attract bees and other pollinators with their fragrant garden. This herb has shaggy, fragrant red or pink flowers that are sure to draw in your buzzing friends!


Primula flowers are fragrant and a great choice for the gardenThis herb has delicate, fragrant flowers in vibrant shades of pink, purple, and white.

These are just a few of the fragrant trees and shrubs that you can use to add a refreshing scent to your garden. Keep in mind, though, that all plants require regular watering and maintenance for optimal health. Be sure to research each type of tree or shrub before planting so you know their individual needs and can provide them with proper care. With a little bit of effort, you’ll have a beautiful, fragrant oasis right outside your door. And of course, if you’d like assistance establishing a fragrant garden that suits your style and lifestyle, contact us!