For the few (but often magnificent) summer days we have in Alberta, we know that nobody wants to be stuck doing yardwork when they could be doing something so much more fun – especially at the cabin. There are so many other reasons to be at the cabin than yard upkeep. Quite often, location and cost make it impossible to hire a professional landscaping company such as us at Mirage, so to keep your days as open as possible, we recommend low-maintenance cabin landscaping.
Before Doing Anything, Check on Local Bylaws
Depending on where your cabin is, local bylaws for landscaping and land development can range from very lenient to quite stringent. In either case, however, you must abide by the maintenance and appearance guidelines set forward by your jurisdiction. Some examples may be height restrictions on trees and shrubs adjacent to roadways, an expectation to control weeds (with the use of approved herbicides), and requirements for certain materials and colours to be used (and definitely not used).
Cabin properties located on a lake often can’t touch the trees located along the waterfront without a permit as well. Doing so can result in a huge fine and the ire of your neighbours. It is also more than likely there are at least a few species that you are not welcome to plant, especially those considered to be invasive. A mistake like this could, again, result in a fine and damage your reputation as a good neighbour.
Then Call Before You Dig
Contacting Alberta One Call before digging for any reason is not only a good idea —it is the law. Although many cabin properties are not served by underground utilities, it never hurts to be sure there’s nothing down there. We always submit a Locate Request before doing anything. Damaging municipal utility lines is a fineable offense, and the aftermath can be very costly as well … and dangerous. It only takes two business days for a locate request to be completed.
Check Power Lines
Cabin landscaping is a bit more tricky than landscaping for a property that usually has residents in it 24/7 because you have to be very aware that things like fallen branches will not be picked up right away. That’s why it’s even more essential to make sure to pay close attention to where the power lines are on your property. It’s very common for homeowners to plants trees too close to power lines, which is a recipe for disaster – especially given Alberta’s high winds.
Keep it Simple
More tips for cabin landscaping include:
- Putting in a larger patio area to reduce the need for mowing
- Keeping grassy areas continuous to one another to be able to mow all in one go
- Cutting down on turf area by planting beds of perennials and shrubs
- Choosing drought-resistant plants and shrubs native to the area
- Considering xeriscaping
- Utilizing evergreens such as pines and spruce to reduce raking time
- Forgetting fussy plants like roses, peonies, hydrangeas, etc.
- Even annuals, although beautiful, can be too much work for the average cabin owner
It goes without saying that we would suggest underground irrigation for cabins, as it is one of the best ways to cut down on time plus save yourself a bit of water – and, subsequently, money! All underground irrigation systems can be created in “zones” to target specific areas of your garden. They can also be place on timers so that you never have to worry about turning them on. Many have rain sensors to automatically turn themselves off when there has been enough moisture, and still others are programmable from anywhere, which adds even more convenience. For those who are a fan of planting in containers, drip irrigation options are available.
We would suggest watering your grass a little less than you would at home to stop it from growing too fast. In fact, since you have used the tenements of cabin landscaping to plant your home-away-from-home, you shouldn’t need to use much water at all to maintain your property.
Mulch is extremely important for beds and gardens, especially if you can’t keep a constant eye out for weeds. And not only does mulch help keep weeds down, it also works as an insulator. All mulches provide a degree of temperature stability. In the winter, mulch helps to protect roots from frost damage and heaving caused by the freeze/thaw cycles we routinely see in the region. Come early thaws or the fullness of spring, mulch will continue to stabilize the soil temperature when the days are warming and the nights are still chilly.
Mulch is also absorbent, and will maintain moisture for long periods of time. This keeps the roots below moist and helps reduce the need for watering.
Are You on a Hill?
For cabins on a hill, which a lot are, retaining walls can be an absolute lifesaver. Retaining walls basically allow for sloped properties to become flat. They provide more level surface area, which, in turn, provides a better opportunity for water to be absorbed properly deep into the ground.
Retaining walls are good for the environment because they can save a lot of water. Instead of moisture running quickly off surfaces, retaining walls create a receptacle for moisture to collect and settle. The best part is that they can be built to direct water away from foundations and straight towards where it is needed the most. The root systems of your shrubs, trees, and perennials. In addition to saving water, one of our most precious resources, retaining walls offer numerous more benefits to property owners.
- They control erosion. Because retaining walls take away the slope of properties, they are also great for controlling erosion. There is far less topsoil to run off when watering or raining. At the same time they also strengthen and reinforce slopes, which in turn strengthens and reinforces properties.
- They allow for a greater variety of plants. Retaining walls can be filled with the best kind of soil for growing the more difficult shrubs and perennials in Calgary. Plus, their structure allows for them to be easily mulched in to protect root systems, and they also provide protection from the elements.
- They just look good. Retaining walls provide an attractive visual element to every yard. Their tiered appearance adds depth and breadth, plus the colourful variety of plants they are able to support does double duty.
Southeast Calgary Commercial and Residential Landscaping Services
Mirage Landscaping’s landscape construction services include landscape design, irrigation installation, and patio and retaining wall construction, as well as sod and tree installation. We specialize in serving the southeast area of Calgary, including the communities of:
Auburn Bay, Chaparral, Chaparral Valley, Copperfield, Cranston, Douglasdale, Heritage Pointe, Lake Bonavista, Mahogany, McKenzie Lake, Mackenzie Towne, Maple Ridge, New Brighton, Odgen/Lynwood/Millican, Parkland, Riverbend, Sundance, Walden, and Willow Park.