Three Tips for Making This Year’s Garden Your Best Ever

spring-planting-gardening-tools-garage-storageNow that the temperatures are steadily rising, your thoughts have likely turned to gardening. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts our last date of spring frost for Toronto as May 9th, but how can you be sure your soil is ready to be worked? Take a handful of soil and squeeze. If the soil forms a ball, it’s not quite ready. When the soil crumbles in your hand, it’s go time for gardening. Though you’re probably eager to start planting, to get the best results you must first prep the soil.

Feed and Prep Soil to Maximize Results

Building a rock-solid home begins with laying a solid foundation. Likewise, growing healthy, vibrant plants begins with healthy soil. Dry, sandy or compacted soil isn’t conducive to producing healthy plants. Amend problematic soil by introducing nutrient-rich, organic matter into it at the start of each growing season.

Spread a one to three-inch layer of dark, earthy, finished compost on flower beds and gardens. When used in a vegetable garden, use organic compost or a variety designated for use with edible plants. Work compost into the top six to twelve inches of soil using a shovel, rake or rototiller one to two weeks before planting. Compost adds nutrients to soil and encourages the presence of garden-friendly earth worms.

Compost improves the hardest, toughest soil, creating a nutrient-rich environment where flowers and vegetation can thrive. Strong, healthy plants, grown in a nutrient-rich soil, tend to be more naturally resistant to bugs and diseases.

Deciding What to Plant and Where

You’ve selected the perfect space to plant your garden. Only, it might not be so perfect. For instance, most flowering annuals won’t fare well in the shade. Other plants don’t do well with extended hours of sunlight. Carefully select plants that are optimal for your allocated space.

If the area receives less than six hours of daylight each day, plant vegetation that thrives in shade. Begonias, impatiens, elephant ears, black-eyed Susans and fuchsia do well in shade. If the area gets partial shade, pansies, petunias and snapdragons may be a good choice.Flower beds that receive more than six hours of sunlight daily are ideal for flowering annuals like colourful petunias, geraniums, marigolds, carnations, sunshine impatiens or verbena.

Your annuals will make the most impact if planted in groups of three or more. Each group of flowers should overlap the next to create a powerful punch of colour.

Sunlight should also dictate the makeup and layout of your vegetable garden. Kale, herbs, spinach and scallions can do well with as little as three hours of sunlight each day. Peas, beans and root vegetable require close to five hours of daily sunlight.

While tending to your flowers and garden, don’t forget the perennials. If they aren’t looking as lively and vivacious as they once did, it may be because they’ve overgrown the available space. Divide the plants, relocating some of them. The additional room will allow the plants left to flourish. The rest can be used in another part of your yard. If you don’t have room to plant them elsewhere, consider gifting them.

Once planting is done, give plants a weekly boost by feeding them with a calcium-rich eggshell tea. To create the eggshell tea, store eggshells in a container of water. Allow them to steep for a few days or weeks and continue adding more shells. Water plants with one cup of the eggshell mixture combined with a gallon of water. This calcium-rich mixture will strengthen plants and improve production.

Create a Gardening Space in the Garage

There is no shortage of tools and supplies required to keep your lawn and garden looking their best. Shovels, rakes, hoes, trimmers, hedgers, garden gloves, compost, grass seed and fertilizer can take over your garage during gardening season. Searching for tools amid chaos is frustrating.

slatwall - wall organizers, wood grain, hooks, garden toolsWhen a task becomes frustrating, it’s human nature to avoid it. So make time at the start of the season to take inventory of your gardening tools and supplies and organize them. If there isn’t enough room in the garage for all of your garden tools, consider installing a wall organization or shelving system to create dedicated storage space for each item. A purchased or custom-built garden bench will provide space for repotting plants. However, a repurposed table will achieve the same end.

Once your garden tools are neat and organized, the soil has been fed and you’ve chosen the right plants for your yard, you’re on the way to making this year’s garden your best yet.

Create a Gardening or Craft Station in Your Garage

During summer the typical garage is a hub of activity. In addition to being the primary storage space for most outdoor sporting equipment, your garage also houses gardening tools and supplies.

Many homeowners look forward to working in the yard. After all, gardening can be relaxing and enjoyable. However, hunting through a disorganized garage for gardening supplies is exasperating. Doing so leaves one exhausted before the real work has begun.

Has this ever happened to you?

garage cabinets - rolling workbench, chopping block workstation, slatwall wall organizers, garage windowIf so, you know how frustrating it can be. Locating essential tools and supplies is just the first step. Finding a suitable workspace is quite another. Gardening, bike repair, crafts and hobbies all require a flat work surface. Yet, few garages have dedicated workspace for gardening or other tasks.

Such tasks are handled easily and efficiently in a designated workspace. A reserved workspace also eliminates the need to attempt messy gardening jobs, like planting seeds or re-potting plants, indoors.

A dedicated workspace for gardening and other hobbies can be created in your garage, even when space is at a premium. Like landscaping, it’s a project that homeowners can tackle themselves or hire a professional to handle. A garden workspace can be achieved relatively inexpensively by re-purposing old furniture, cabinetry or reclaimed wood. However, if you require a more comprehensive solution, a garage renovation specialist can help you achieve your vision.

Planning Your Gardening Workspace

after - left corner - workbench, workstation, slatwall organizers, shelving, hooksAs with any project, it’s imperative to have a concrete plan before work begins. Start by assessing your specific needs for a gardening or craft workspace. Ask yourself:

  • What tasks will be performed in the workspace?
  • How much flat surface area is required?
  • What tools and supplies are needed? Where and how will they be stored?
  • How much wall space is necessary to house workspace and supplies?
  • Is the current garage lighting adequate? Is special task lighting required?

If this level of planning is more work than you’re willing to take on, consider hiring a professional to create the space for you. A few of the workspaces Nuvo Garage has created for our clients are pictured. However, if you’re thrilled by the idea of creating your own garage workspace, let’s look at some inexpensive options for doing just that.

Create a Gardening Center in Your Garage

Ultimate Garage Workbench - butcher block top, cabinets & drawersWith your plan in hand, you’ll have an idea of how much wall space is required to create your gardening workspace. Reclaiming this space should be part of an overall garage organization strategy which relies on zones for the storage of related items.

To create a workstation for gardening, or your hobby of choice, you’ll need a flat work surface. Here are a few options for creating one:

  • Get a no-cost work surface by reclaiming an old desk or dining room table taking up space in your attic or garage.
  • Acquire a used table or desk from a garage sale or resale shop.
  • Purchase two relatively inexpensive base cabinets (with doors or drawers for storage). Space them apart. Then lay a flat piece of wood, an old door or a purchased countertop across them to create a flat work surface.
  • Buy a modular or pre-made workbench with space for storage underneath.

Your flat work surface will be the foundation of the space. Next, consult your plan to see what additional storage is necessary.

Workbench for One Car GarageThere are a variety of creative ways to address storage needs. Shelves, baskets and hooks can hold everything from flowerpots and gloves to assorted gardening implements. When coupled with a professional garage wall organization system, shelves, baskets and hooks can be easily moved or adjusted to accommodate any season or craft.

Need to store small items that are easily misplaced? Clear plastic boxes or reclaimed jars provide storage that is easily accessible while keeping contents clean and dry.

All you need is a small space, a well-thought out plan and a few pieces of equipment and accessories to create an organized and highly-functional gardening center in your garage. Creating your own gardening workspace in your garage can be a fun, do-it-yourself weekend project. However, such a space can be part of a larger garage organization and renovation project.

Not quite sure how to make heads or tails of the collection of belongings in your garage? Contact your neighborhood garage renovation specialist for a no-cost, no-obligation estimate.

Organize Your Garage with Dedicated Zones

2 car garage oakville overhead storage platform slatwall organization system hooks camlock baskets tire storage racks afterThis time of year our garages can easily descend into a den of chaos. The kids are digging out the bikes and rollerblades. You’re sifting through sleds, snow shovels and Christmas decorations in search of your garden tools. Meanwhile, one (or both) of your vehicles is stuck outside because there’s never enough room to squeeze it inside the garage.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Creating some level of organization in your garage doesn’t need to be a complicated or costly affair. Optimize the space in your garage by creating related storage zones. Why are dedicated zones essential to a well-organized garage? Let’s reconsider the scenario above.

If your winter tools and sports equipment, holiday decorations and garden tools are all stored in the same area, it makes life difficult, especially when the seasons change. You’ll have to search through the winter items in order to reach the garden tools which are now in the back. This type of system breeds chaos and makes us less inclined to do the yard work.

Now, close your eyes and envision your garage as a well-organized space with separate zones for related items. The effect is similar to what you experience when you go to a hardware store. The shovels and winterization items are in one section. The garden hose and tools are in a separate location. You can easily find either type of item with minimal fuss or confusion. With that in mind, let’s apply that same system to your garage.

Like that hardware store, there are a few basic zones into which the items in a garage can typically be categorized. Let’s examine each zone and what items would best fit there.

Automotive Accessories

Create a small section to store items used to maintain your vehicles. In this zone, organize items like car wax, motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, a bucket and chamois cloths for cleaning the car. Group tools used during winter months, like snow brushes. If you keep an additional set of tires in the garage for the winter weather, these might require a separate tire storage solution.

Household Supplies

Perhaps you keep items like household cleaners and paint thinner (but not paint!) in your garage. First, be sure to safely store household chemicals in your garage. Create a dedicated zone for these items. Use a cabinet or shelf that will keep these items out of the reach of your children and pets.

Garden Tools & Supplies

Homeowners often hire a company to maintain their yard and keep it looking beautiful. Others find great pleasure in maintaining their own yards. Planting flowers and shrubbery requires lots of hard work (and tools). The last thing you want to do before a long day of work in the yard is to spend an hour raking through your garage to find your garden tools.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Instead, create a zone in your garage dedicated to storing your yard essentials: hoes, shovels, trowels, fertilizer, garden gloves, flower pots, potting soil and other yard accessories. Then you’ll be able to put your time and effort into making your yard gorgeous, rather than searching for your gardening tools.

Recycling & Garbage Cans

Garbage cans and recycling bins are frequently stored in the garage. It might be necessary to keep these items in your garage. However, if not stored properly, waste bins are open invitations to vermin. They can also detract from the aesthetics of your garage and cause unpleasant odors.

Keep recycling and garbage cans together in a single zone. Store waste in cans with lids that fit tightly. This discourages smells from escaping and pests and vermin from entering the waste cans.

Tools & Workbenches

The garage is often home to a workbench and a variety of tools. Perhaps you’ve always wanted a workstation in your garage, but don’t believe you have the room for it. Even smaller garages can accommodate a custom-built workbench or workstation. Keeping tools organized is made simple with the right toolbox, pegboard or more sophisticated storage solutions. However, recycled items are also useful. For instance, an old muffin tin makes a good place to store nails, bolts and screws. You’ll be helping the environment and organizing your garage.

Sports Equipment

Most garages are brimming with sports equipment: bikes, skis, kayaks, rollerblades and balls. If you have school-aged children, you know how quickly these items accumulate and overtake the space that was once reserved for your car. When spring comes everyone starts digging out their sports equipment. Any semblance of organization you once had descends into chaos.

That’s why sports equipment requires its own separate zone in the garage. Use hooks, baskets or other organizational tools (which we’ll discuss more next time) to organize sports equipment.

Bicycles are large and bulky, usually requiring a separate storage solution. There are a variety of solutions for bike storage ranging from a traditional school yard-style bike rack to sophisticated overhead pulley systems.

It’s clear why separate zones in your garage make life easier. Now that we’ve reviewed each zone, you might be wondering how to keep the items in each section neatly organized. In the next post we’ll discuss all of the neat solutions that will keep each section of your garage looking its very best.

Do you want an organized garage, but just don’t have the time to do the work yourself? Consider hiring a garage renovation expert to organize your garage.

Baseboards in the Garage, Did You Know?

You may not have considered the baseboards inside your garage. Yet, as you will soon see, these baseboards serve very important functions as well as providing an aesthetic touch.

2 car garage, stouffville, pvc garage floor tiles, punched aluminum baseboardFirst, let’s begin with a working definition of baseboards so everyone is on the same page here.  The baseboard is, in its most general sense, the covering over the lowest part of an interior wall.  You may encounter different terms for this wall covering; everything from skirting board, floor molding, or even a mopboard.  In most cases the baseboard is constructed of wood, no matter which name is used. In your garage, you will find the baseboard (if there is one installed) at the bottom end of the walls at the floor level. Typically, the baseboard is from 4” to 6” in height.

The baseboard in your garage serves a couple of functions.  Perhaps the most important function is that of protection. If your baseboard is installed properly, it protects the interior of your garage from foreign invasion.  To understand why this is important, consider how your garage is built.  You have a vertical wall sitting on top of a concrete floor.  The joint (seam) between the wall and the floor is typically 1/16” to 1/8”. 

1 car garage, markham - hercke upper wall cabinets, punched aluminum wainscoting baseboardIf left unsealed, this joint can become a liability.  For example, no matter how small, insects will consider an unsealed floor joint to be an open invitation to come on in.  Also, depending on the exterior structure of your home, an unsealed floor joint could become a source of water getting inside (water intrusion). The answer of course is to make sure this joint is properly sealed.  During a garage flooring makeover, our professional installation team carefully applies a caulking compound to this joint before any baseboard is installed.

Another function of your garage baseboard is aesthetics.  In other words, with a garage flooring makeover, many homeowners choose to finish the floors with a baseboard trim.

Since the typical garage for a new home does not have baseboards installed, a garage renovation project is the perfect time to look at how baseboards will enhance your garage.  When considering new baseboards in your garage there are a few options you will want to keep in mind.  You will notice that your floor has a slight slope.  This slope is required by the building codes used when your home is built.  This slope angles outwards, towards the exterior of your garage for proper drainage. However, a sloping floor means we need to consider the floor slope when applying a new baseboard. 

There are a few options to think about when you plan for your new baseboard.  Not surprisingly, the first choice you have is material.  Do you want to install a wooden baseboard or are you interested in a different material?  For example, some enthusiasts will install punched aluminum (often referred to as diamond plate).  Others choose to install a wooden baseboard, but they request a specific paint color or finish. 

One option you definitely want to keep in mind is continuing the floor covering all the way up the baseboard.  The polyaspartic coating we use here at Nuvo Garage can be applied directly to your new baseboard.  With this option, you are left with a seamless finish from your garage floor all the way up to the top of the baseboard.

One more choice you have with your new baseboard is how you want the baseboard to look along the floor.  In other words, do you want the baseboard to follow the slope of the floor exactly?  Or, would you prefer it to keep it square and level so that your eye doesn’t notice the natural slope of a garage floor?  Also, as hinted at above, there is always the choice for custom baseboard heights.  Some people choose to have their baseboard extended further up the interior wall to meet the slatwall.  Or, some people choose to install punched aluminum wainscoting which reaches waist height.  The advantage of a custom height, especially with the choice of diamond plate is that your interior walls are much better protected from interior damage from errant tools or toys.  If you enjoy washing your vehicles inside the garage, a punched aluminum wainscoting will protect drywall from getting wet.

As you can see, baseboards serve very useful functions in your garage.  Accordingly, if you are looking to makeover your garage, remember to consider your baseboards.

Can you and your garage pass the squeeze test?

Is your garage causing you stress?

Back right 1 car central toronto garage 190x143 before

Before left wall 1 car garage nov 2011 190w

Thomas transformation 2 car garage beaches 190x143 slatwall organizers hooks garden tools before

As the season changes, many people find themselves faced with an unappetizing item on their plate, namely the garage and what could have been.  During the warm summer months the very best of intentions were always there.  Yet, somehow the task of organizing, of making sense of all that stuff in the garage never seemed to make it to the top of the to-do list.  This chore kept getting put off to the next weekend, the next available Friday afternoon.  Finally now we find the season change is upon us, and the garage is no better than it was at the start of the season.  The summer ended so much faster than anyone planned on.  Now you may very well feel like you have a monster on your hands. 

To help you come to terms with this, your friendly team here at Nuvo Garage put together a 7 point self-evaluation garage organization quiz.  You can use this quiz to help you figure out where you are and what your best options are at this point.  Relax, no one is going to grade this quiz so this is for your eyes only.  This is just a fun way for you to find out how much you can or cannot squeeze into your garage and whether you experience what we affectionately call Seasonal Garage Anxiety Disorder.

1. Do you feel your blood pressure rising if you pause to consider your garage, the things that need to be moved in, the things that need to be moved out, the things that need to be shuffled around to prepare for the upcoming season?

2. Are you embarrassed to open up your garage door in front of your neighbors for the mess that’s readily visible to anyone that takes a peek inside?

3. If your garage door happens to be open and a friend stops by to chat, do you find yourself apologizing for the mess?

 4. Does your car fit in your garage?  Seriously, if you have a one car garage, will one car fit in there at the same time as all your stuff you have strewn about?  Or, if you have a two car garage, can you comfortably park both cars inside without moving some of your stuff to one corner or the other?  Also, whether it’s a one car or a two car garage, if the car(s) are parked in the garage, can you safely get to your car without stumbling over piles of your stuff?

 5. Do truly know where your stuff is?  If you suddenly need a pair of shears to trim the bushes out front, can you locate them without hunting all over the garage?

 6. Do you actually know how much stuff you really have?  You may be surprised to learn that during organization storage solution installations the team here at Nuvo Garage often surprises homeowners.  These homeowners are shocked and amazed to learn there are duplicate or even triplicate tools such as snow shovels, rakes and the like strewn all over the garage.

 7. How much time would you reckon you spend moving piles of stuff around to get to the tools or materials you are looking for at the moment?

 Well, there are your 7 questions.  There is no real score per se, just a self assessment to help you figure out where you are.  As you might imagine, knowing where you are is the first step to moving forward and making a better choice.  So, take a look back at your answers.  Your answers are a big clue for the next step, which as you might have already guessed is better organization. 

 Of course, you are already aware of the value of a proper storage and organization solution since you’ve made it this far and to the end of the quiz.  Now, one last thing, look back to your answers and ask yourself one final question: Is now the time to take some action and get organized?