Chinook Landscaping and Design – Landscaping Calgary Specialists
Calgary, Alberta
Mon-Fri 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM.
12 Dec 2019

Slippery winter walkways and what not to install.

Walkways are a very important component to your overall landscaping. Not only do they welcome visitors to your front door and create curb appeal but they are also of course used to walk on frequently.  There are many common front walkway ideas  to choose from but there are some very important things to consider when planning what type of walkway you are going to install in order to provide a safe and practical walkway for your friends and family.

The safest and least slippery walkways

The safest and least slippery walkways are without question paving stones, broomed concrete and natural stone. The reason these are the safest and least slippery  is because they have no sealant or clear coat applied to them. You can choose to apply a sealer or clear coat to your paving stones but we DO NOT recommend that. Sealant causes the paving stones to become extremely slippery when there is any moisture from rain or snow on them.  Paving stones are poured and formed out of concrete so they are basically raw concrete with colour and texture in them.  Broomed concrete is the standard walkway that you see at the front of most homes and is also used for city sidewalks.  Natural stone is typically not slippery but again, do not apply a sealant or clear coat to the natural stone.  Also, we do not recommend natural stone for a commonly used walkway because of its irregularities that can be challenging when shovelling snow.

Clear coat sealants can cause problems

Clear coat sealants are often used on walkways and patios.  They create a wet look that is visually appealing but can be very slippery to walk on.  You can consider adding a grit of sand or fine gravel to your sealant to reduce slipping issues but this grit can wear off.  As well, the grit can reduce the visual appeal of your concrete or paving stone walkway.  If at all possible we highly recommend going with the natural look.  Avoid sealants and stick to raw concrete or paving stones for high traffic walkways.

Stamped concrete is very slippery

Stamped concrete is very slippery when there is any rain, snow or moisture of any kind on it.  Stamped concrete patios and walkways require a sealant and it is this sealant that creates the slippery surface.  We have seen some landscaping companies install stamped concrete for front walkways. When winter arrives the homeowner is applying salt everyday or putting down mats or warning signs for pedestrians.  DO not make the mistake of installing stamped concrete where the walkway is going to be used often.  If you are planning on installing stamped concrete around your hot tub then please be aware that it will be very slippery when it gets wet.


02 Jun 2019

Does landscaping fabric really work?

When it comes to weeds and what to do with weeds landscaping fabric can be useful.  But does landscaping fabric really work?  Landscaping fabric is often used in shrub or tree beds to prevent weeds from growing. Landscaping fabric is popular in xeriscaping and we talk about that in how to xeriscape your garden.  There are many landscaping fabric options on the market but many of them are practically useless when it comes from preventing weed growth.  Landscaping fabric does reduce weeds substantially but it will not totally eliminate your weeds.

Remove weeds and roots before applying landscaping fabric

It is very important to completely remove weeds and their root systems before you apply a landscaping fabric.  Tearing off the top of the weeds will not be sufficient if you want to totally stop the particular weed from growing.  Roots and spores lurk below the surface of the soil somethings they can be as deep or deeper than one foot. If you don’t remove these weeds many of them will find their way through the fabric.  The most evasive and persistent weed is quack grass.  It can poke through even the tightest weaved landscaping fabric and spread to other areas of your garden beds.

Persistent unwanted perennials can be a problem

Perennials can be a fantastic addition to your garden bed but if you don’t want them there anymore they can be very difficult to totally eliminate.  Landscaping fabric will help slow down your perennials but if you don’t fully remove the perennial and the root system you may see them return to your garden.  Many homeowners or landscapers in Calgary assume that simply removing perennials from the surface of the soil will get rid of them for good.  Perennials often have extensive root systems, root spores and tubers that will continue germinating and coming back again and again.  The best way to insure your perennials won’t return is to remove all the soil to a depth of 12″ and replace the soil with a high quality, clean garden mix.

Herbicides greatly reduce weed regrowth

If you are not opposed to using herbicides then this can be a very effective way to eliminate your weeds.  Round up used to be know as a safe product that did not have any health effects on humans.  Now, there seems to be conflicting studies and reports that it may be a carcinogen.  If you plan to use Round up or a herbicide that is similar be sure to only spray it on a wind free day.  Any drift will kill your surrounding shrubs and grass.  Also, follow safety precautions and wear protective clothing.  Make sure none of the herbicide contacts your skin and keep children and pets away from the sprayed areas for several weeks,.  Products like Round up are a systemic herbicide.  When you spray it on the leaves the plant takes the herbicide in as it grows and the herbicide will totally kill the weed or perennial within 1-2 weeks.  If you need to eliminate weeds and perennials then spray Round up a few weeks before you plant your new garden,  The weeds and perennials will fully die and you can remove them and their roots from the soil.

Choose the highest quality fabric

It is very important to choose highest quality fabric for your garden beds.  Big box stores typically sell very low end fabric that you can tear with your hand.  This will not work at all to stop or slow down weeds.  Don’t waste your money on this fabric.  Instead purchase a high grade fabric that is as thick as possible.  This thick fabric will help stop and slow down weed growth.  Many professional garden centres and landscape suppliers sell this high quality landscaping fabric.  IT is well worth spending the extra money for good fabric if you want to reduce weed growth in your garden beds.

Don’t expect 100% weed reduction

Once you apply a landscaping fabric you may assume that your garden will be zero maintenance and there will be no need for weeding in the future.  Unfortunately this is not true.  If you have installed your landscaping fabric around trees or shrubs then you there will always be a some bare soil around the base of your plantings,  Weeds will germinate and grow in these areas so you will need to hand pull the weeds that arise here.  Also, weed seeds from grass cuttings, neighbouring properties or parks often blow in to your property and the weed can actually germinate on to of the fabric.  Especially if there is a wood mulch over the landscaping fabric.  The weed roots will then make their way through the fabric and get moisture and nutrients from the soil.  If you have properly removed weeds and roots from the soil before applying the landscaping fabric then you will likely see about a 75% reduction in weeds.  This is significant but it still means hand weeding will be a necessity.  So, the answer to does landscaping fabric really work? is Yes but it does have its limitations.




14 May 2019

What to do with weeds?

Weeds, weeds and more weeds!   Don’t you just love them?  Weeds are a persistent and common issue in Calgary and across the globe for that matter.  As you probably know, weeds are a plant just like other perennials.  They are here because they have evolved to survive and as we all know, weeds will do whatever it takes to survive.  What to do with weeds is one of the most common questions we get from our customers in Calgary.  Landscaping in Calgary is challenging that is for certain and weeds make landscaping here even more challenging.

The most common weeds in Calgary

Calgary has some particularly and very evasive weed varieties with. Choosing the best shrubs for Calgary can help reduce weeds in your garden bed.  Knowing these weed varieties and how to deal with them is important when maintaining your landscaping in Calgary.


Dandelions may taste great in a salad but they can be a real irritant when they invade your beautifully landscaped garden beds.  The City of Calgary has stopped spraying Dandelions in many areas throughout the city.  Up until a few years ago the city sprayed with a chemical called 24D.  This chemical would kill dandelions while not affecting the health of grass.  The City of Calgary would spray this herbicide on city parks and playgrounds.  Now, 24D has been deemed as a carcinogen recently so now it is not used as frequently as it used to be.  What does this have to do with you home garden?  Dandelions are famous for there seed blossoms that occur in a beautiful burst, buried in the soft white and fluffy seed pods.  These seed pods are perfectly designed to float throughout the environment during the smallest of breezes.  The seeds fly away and settle wherever they end up.  The result is a new crop of Dandelions popping up throughout the city.  You are likely used to seeing more Dandelions if you are close to city parks and playground because there seeds can migrate to your garden beds and lawns very easily. Reducing or eliminating Dandelions is possible even if they have invaded your lawn areas.  There are many weed and feed options available at your local garden centre.  These offer a way to reduce your Dandelions while fertilizing you lawns.  Hand digging your Dandelions is effective as well but this will need to be done repeatedly whereas a weed and feed application will only be required every few months during the growing season.  Roundup is very effective at killing dandelions.  But please be sure to wear protective gloves, glasses and clothing and do not spray Roundup if there is any breeze.  Drift from the spray can and will kill neighbouring trees, shrubs and sod.

Quack grass

Quackgrass is the most evasive and persistent weed we have come across.  Just when you think you have a nice clean garden bed that is Quack grass free it pops up again seemingly out of no where. Quackgrass is a super tough native grass that grows wild throughout Alberta.  It is a very tough resilient grass that will invade your lawns and garden in no time if you don’t take the time to fully eliminate it.  Quackgrass in lawns is particularly troublesome when it creeps into your lawn area.  The grass has deeper roots than conventional lawn grass like Kentucky Bluegrass or creeping red fescue grass.  Therefore, rooting out Quackgrass can be a chore to say the least.  Quackgrass making its way into garden beds is a very common problem in Calgary landscaping.  Many homeowners and landscapers make the mistake of simply removing Quackgrass leaves that are showing from the top of the soil.  This is a mistake because Quackgrass will always come back unless you remove Quackgrass at the roots.  Quackgrass has very extensive root systems so in order to make sure they will not continue to evade your garden beds you need to make sure all of the root system is removed.  You need to remove all of the roots and root systems that occur far below the surface of the grass itself.  We often encounter perennial garden beds that are overrun with Quackgrass and in order to eradicate the Quackgrass completely we have to turn the soil at a depth of 16″ or more, remove the root system and replenish the soil with good quality garden mix. Quackgrass is not usually easily killed with herbicides like Round up


Clover is one of the strongest, hardiest weeds in Calgary.  Clover is a super strong plant that has a very extensive root system.  Like Quackgrass, Clover does not respond well to herbicides such as Roundup.  Clover can spread very quickly and it can take over garden areas in no time at all if it is not removed.  Herbicides may slow clover down but removing them completely is the key to eradicating clover.   Clover needs to be removed from the root like most evasive weeds. Established clover is known to have a tap root that can be a foot long or more.  Pulling out these long tap roots can be a real workout for your forearms.  You may be tempted to simply cut out most of the root but these roots will sprout into new clover plants in no time.  So be sure to remove the entire tap root to make sure the clover will not return.

Managing your weed problem

There are many ways to greatly reduce your weed issues.  As we mentioned above, hand weeding is a great way to reduce and eliminate weeds but it has to be done repeatedly in order to insure your weeds will be eliminated.  Here are some ways to reduce your weed problems.

Landscaping fabric and mulch

Landscaping fabric or weed barriers are commonly used in garden beds to slow down weed growth.  Weed barriers are often called landscaping fabric or cloth.  There are many weed barriers sold in big box stores that are essentially useless when it comes to slowing down weeds.  These cheap weed barriers allow lots of light in them so plants will continue to thrive. A professional landscaper will always use a good quality weed barrier.   If you are planning on installing your landscaping yourself then avoid buying you weed barrier from a big box store.  Instead of a big box store, choose a local garden centre or landscape supplier to buy your landscaping fabric or weed barrier.  If you can tear landscaping fabric apart with your hands then it is definitely not a good quality weed barrier.  We recommend a good weed barrier for low maintenance landscaping for Calgary.  Choose a thick and strong landscape fabric that will not allow light through it.  If any light gets through, your weeds will eventually get through too.  Mulch on its own will not reduce your weed problem very much.  Especially if they are very tough weeds like the ones we listed above.  Mulch has other uses such as aesthetics, and helping your soil retain moisture.  If one of the main purposes of your mulch is to prevent weeds then you will need to add a landscape fabric or weed barrier first.  If you are xeriscaping your yard in Calgary you will want to use fabric and mulch for your garden beds.  Mulch comes in many forms including cedar mulch, black mulch, bark mulch and decorative stone mulch. New mulches include rubber mulch.  Read more about how to properly install landscaping fabric by checking out our post Does landscaping fabric really work?


Herbicides are less and less desirable and acceptable these days.  Some of the most effective herbicides like 24D are no longer available.  24D was very effective at killing dandelions in lawns so it was used widely throughout North America.  Companies such as Greendrop can apply a weed and feed solution that is very effective at killing dandelions while fertilizing your lawn.  We have found that this weed and feed solution kills 90% of dandelions in lawns. You can purchase a weed and feed solution at local garden centres such as Greengate  and apply it yourself.  Make sure you do not apply too much of this solution and follow the instructions.  Too much fertilizer or weed killer can be detrimental to your lawn.  There are many spot weed killers like Roundup on the market that are extremely effective at killing weeds.  Roundup has mixed reviews when it comes to health concerns.  There are many studies saying Roundup is not a health risk but other studies say otherwise.  Never spray Roundup like chemicals if there is any breeze at all.  The drift will kill your lawn , trees and shrubs.  Roundup needs to be sprayed directly on the weed only from a very close distance.   If you choose to use a weed killer like Roundup it is best to follow directions, never spray in a breeze and wear protective gloves, glasses and clothing.  So, what to do with weeds?  Ultimately, the best way to reduce your weed problem is to hand weed or use a weed barrier and mulch.


06 May 2019

Modern patio Ideas

Techo bloc modern patio slabs

The landscaping industry has come a long way and now there are more modern patio ideas than ever to choose from. You can choose from pouring concrete slabs. large slab pavers and architectural slab, Composite or hardwood decking or traditional cedar decking.  Paving stones used to be only available in small bricks with very little options for styles and colours.  Now, that has all changed.  Manufacturers are now creating larger and multi sized paving stone patterns that come in a wide variety of styles and colours.

Paving stones and patio slabs

Modern great interlocking patio with rectangular fire pit and flame burning
Dakota paving stones with linear fire pit

Paving stone manufacturers such as Techo Bloc and Rinox are coming up with more and more styles and colours every season.  Many of the new styles of pavers are actually throwbacks to many many years ago yet they are returning as popular landscaping trends in Calgary.  You will see similar paving stones in older European cities such as London, England. You can even find pre cast paving stones that look like natural stone.  Large slab pavers or architectural slabs are also becoming more and more popular for modern patio ideas. Landscaping trends are definitely leaning towards larger paver slabs.  The patio slabs can be installed tightly together to create a solid patio.  They can also be laid out in a linear fashion with either crushed decorative stone in between or inset directly into sod.  This modern patio look goes best with modern homes.  The linear lines really compliment this style of home.  You can also use the patio slabs for walkways to continue the modern look throughout your front or back yard.  We do not recommend installing these patio slabs as a walkway unless they are installed tightly together.  If they are not installed tightly together and there are spaces in-between them, you will find your walkway will not be shovel friendly.

Poured concrete benches and patios.

Using concrete as you main structure for benches and patio will give your patio a very modern look.  Concrete benches can be poured in many shapes and sizes depending on your needs.  The poured concrete look gives your patio a clean and sleek modern feel. The concrete itself can be dyed in various different colours and can even be blended to give you a mix of colour throughout your patio and benches.  Concrete patios are nothing new but there are many different styles that are new.  The California look is based on modern homes in places like Palm Springs.  The California style is lighter concrete that is white or off white.  Traditional concrete patios can be poured using exposed aggregate or stamped concrete.  Stamped is still a good option and there are now more patterns and colours than ever to choose from.  We do not recommend stamped concrete for busy walkways around your home because they can tend to be slippery

Soften your modern patio with wood accents and plantings

warm arbor wood structure
Warm up your patio with a cedar arbor

If you plan on using large slabs or poured concrete for your patios and walkways it is important to soften the look.  Large areas of concrete can tend to look too industrial and cold and although these paver slabs are modern looking this landscaping trend needs to be softened with wood or plantings,  So you can choose to warm these areas up by incorporating warm wood accents.  For example a concrete bench looks fantastic if you add cedar or meranti hardwood seating area.  Adding these wood benches will installing warm up your patio.  You can also choose to add a wood pergola or arbor above or beside your modern patio.  These wood structures will make your patio setting more intimate and cozy.  There is nothing like natural plantings to warm up the cold look of concrete.  You can add plantings to your patio are by using them as border plantings along the permitter.  You can also choose to add cedar planters on top your patio and plant your plantings right into the planters.  If you plan on having concrete benches installed on your patio then you can incorporate planters right into the benches and plant your shrubs, perennials or annuals into the planters.




30 Apr 2019
long stem with colourful blooming purple flowers on top

Best shrubs for Calgary

Choosing the best shrubs for landscaping in Calgary is important.  What is a shrub?  Shrubs retain their woody stems throughout the year unlike perennial plants.  Before we talk about the best shrubs for Calgary we should first explain the difference between a shrub and other perennials plantings.  As you probably know, perennial plants die from the soil up so in spring you are left with nothing above the soil but dead plant growth.  Shrubs lose their leaves but their woody stems are still alive in most cases and will grow new leaves in the spring. If you are unsure about whether your shrub stems or stalks are alive try this easy tip.  Simply take your finger nail and gently scratch off a little of the stems bark or outer layer. If you see green under the bark then the stem is alive and you are will see new growth once spring and summer arrive.

There are a number of great shrubs for Calgary and some of these shrubs include shrubs that are native to Alberta and are therefore a great choice.  There are some beautiful shrubs at your local garden centre but Choosing the right shrub  means you need to be cautious and selective in order to choose a shrub that will survive in our climate. Here are some of Chinook landscaping’s favourite shrubs.

Cherry bomb barberry are the bomb

bright burgundy red globe shaped shrub
Beautiful cherry bomb barberry shrub

The Cherry bomb barberry shrub is one of the best shrubs for Calgary.  Cherry bomb barberry shrubs are a vibrant, burgundy red shrub that has a distinctive look because they maintain a uniform globe shape.  Cherry bomb barberry have an inviting welcoming colour but they have sharp thorns, hence the name barberry.  We use Barberry in groupings and they seem to look better in groups of three. If you have issues with the neighbours dog leaving deposits on your garden bed then a barberry is a great choice. The thorns will definitely encourage dogs and even rabbits to go elsewhere. Cherry bomb barberry are very hardy and can endure Calgary’s harsh freeze and thaw climate.  Other barberry shrubs include Rose glow barberry but they do not retain an attractive globe shape and require more maintenance.

Dwarf Korean Lilac provide perfume for your garden

long stem with colourful blooming purple flowers on top
This is a picture of one of the best shrubs for Calgary, a top grafted dwarf Korean Lilac

The Dwarf Korean lilac is a fantastic choice for a best shrub in Calgary.  Dwarf Korean Lilacs have a beautiful shape and pink to purple blossoms in spring time.  You can get Dwarf Korean lilacs in shrub form or top grafted form.  The top grafted form is a bold and wonderful way to add an anchor shrub to your landscaping in Calgary. This shrubs is very hardy and does well in full to part sun locations.  Along with the vibrant spring flowers comes a warm and subtle scent that invites guests to your home with a sweet spring perfume.  For the best affect, use a top grafted dwarf Korean lilac in areas where an anchor shrub is needed.  These areas include right beside walkways or in corners of your garden beds. Another popular dwarf lilac is the Miss Kim.  Miss Kims are more erratic in their growing patters and will require constant pruning.

Spirea’s are spectacular!

big white blooming flowers cascading downward to the ground
Bridlewreath spirea with beautiful blossoms

Spirea’s are probably one of the most common shrubs you will see in Calgary garden beds.  There are many different varieties of spirea in Calgary.  Some of these include Gold flame, Little princess, Bridlewreath, False spirea and many more.  Spirea are some of the hardiest shrubs you can grow in Calgary.  On our list of best shrubs to grow in Calgary, this is at the top of our list.  Spirea’s not only have great spring colour with their lovely blossoms but they also have great foliage colour.  The birchleaf spirea and bridalwreath spirea are two of our most popular shrubs.  Spirea’s can endure Calgary’s ever changing climate and or somewhat drought tolerant so they can survive when they aren’t pampered. Check out our Calgary shrubs page for more great shrubs that will look great in your Calgary garden.  Spirea come in many different sizes including compact and dwarf.  They are an ideal shrub when you want more than just spring blossom colour because of the many varieties that have vibrant bright foliage colour from spring until fall.

Ninebark makes a nice screening shrub

Bright yellow leaves on a tall bushy shrub
Gold Ninebark

The ninebark shrubs is one of the best shrubs for Calgary if you want a taller anchor shrub or screening around your yard. Ninebark  shrubs are typically a tall growing shrub that can reach heights of 8 feet.  They prune easily in spring and fall so if you want, you can maintain a ninebark shrub at a height of 4-5 feet.  A wonderful shrub that provides colour and texture to your landscape, the Ninebark is extremely hardy and grows very well in Calgary’s climate.  Ninebark varieties include Summer wine, Coppertina and Dart’s Gold ninebark.  Known for its
sharp multi pointed, tree like leaves ninebark are the perfect shrub to fill in those larger empty spaces around your garden beds.  It is important to plan for mature growth when choosing where to plant your Ninebark.  Do not overcrowd them by planting them too close to trees or other plantings.   Once established ninebark will not require a lot of watering so they can be a good choice for xeriscaping your yard in Calgary  Ninebark shrubs come with an added bonus of spring blossoms.  You will not see blossoms or flowers on all Ninebarks however.

Curious about best planting habits for trees and shrubs?  Check out our planting trees and shrubs page




24 Apr 2019
xeriscape yard showing colourful plants and rocks for interest

Xeriscaping your yard in Calgary

Xeriscaping is a fancy word isn’t it? But what does it really mean?  According to Wikipedia “Xeriscaping is the process of landscaping or gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation.”  So, in a nutshell Xeriscaping simply means you will need to water your landscaping very little or none at all.  Can you completely eliminate the need for hand or automated watering for your landscaping in Calgary?  That is the key question.  Xeriscaping your yard in Calgary in the true sense is challenge.  Xersicaping is made much easier in climates where rainfall is more reliable than Calgary.  As well, climates where drought resistant plants thrive and have evolved to survive on very little water are Xersicaping friendly but Calgary is just not in that category.

Plantings are key to Xeriscaping in Calgary

Choosing drought resistant plantings is the key to creating a successful Xeriscape in Calgary.  There are many shrubs and ornamental grasses that are drought resistant and will do well in Calgary’s climate.  Ornamental grasses ideal for Canadian climates are likely your best choice for drought resistant plantings.  Ornamental grasses includes varieties such as Karl Forester feather reed grass, Overland grass, Fescue grass and Blue oat grass.  These ornamental grasses are not only drought resistant but they provide great spring, summer, fall and winter interest and colour.  We have planted these ornamental grasses for years in Calgary.  Over time we have seen that they can go entire summers without water even when our summers have been unusually dry.  Along with ornamental grasses we recommend planting some native shrubs in your garden beds.  Native shrubs include Dogwoods and Saskatoons. Landscaping in Calgary should include Dogwoods are available in a wide variety of leave and branch tones so they can add a lot of colour to your Xeriscape.  Dogwood varieties included Yellow twig dogwood, variegated Dogwood, Red twig dogwood and many more varieties.  Dogwoods are quite drought tolerant but may require some water if the summer season is very dry.  Saskatoons grow wild throughout Alberta and you will see them in areas such as Fish creek and Glenmore park in the SW.  Saskatoons can survive  little or no hand watering and they are a tasty and nutritious snack  IF you want a bountiful Saskatoon crop then you will likely need to water them by hand. Other drought tolerant shrubs you may want to include when xeriscaping your yard in Calgary included Cotoneaster as well as some varieties of junipers and spirea.  It is very important to remember that all of your new plantings will require regular watering when they are first planted.  This is vital for the plant to get properly established.  Once the plant has become established you can reduce watering or eliminate altogether.

Local Perennials are a good choice for Xeriscapes

Using local, hardy perennials for your xeriscaping is a great way to add colour to your property. Perennials can be used as feature plants or as ground cover that will help preserve the moisture in your garden bed soil.  If you plan on using perennials for your xeriscape garden it is important to note that you should not plant perennials where you will be using landscaping fabric or stone or wood mulch.  Perennials need space to sprout in spring so the fabric and rock or mulch will prevent them from putting out their shoots.  We always recommend planting perennials in separate beds away from your shrubs if you plan on using any type of fabric or mulch.  Some great perennials that thrive in Alberta include Limelight Sage or Variegated Mugwort, Kinnikinnick / Bearberry, Silver Brocade, Prairie Smoke Avens, Prairie Crocus, Giant Goat’s Beard, Bunchberry, Silver Mound, Joe Pye Weed, Native Ostrich Fern, Evening Primrose.

Top off your Xeriscape with mulch

Topping off your xeriscape with mulch is a very important step to take in order to have a successful xeriscape garden.  Xeriscaping your yard in Calgary means protecting your plantings from our harsh winter climate. Adding a good quality mulch to you garden beds will help retain the moisture, shade the soil from the sun and preserve water below the surface. You can choose several different type of mulch such as cedar mulch, foothills mulch.  You can also choose a stone mulch such as rundle rock, rainbow rock or pea gravel.  Adding a layer of good quality fabric below the mulch will greatly reduce the amount of evaporation that occurs.  Fabric will protect the soil from drying out by preserving moisture as well as protecting the soil from high winds.  If you want a true xeriscaped garden in Calgary then mulch of some sort is a definite must have.  The mulch and fabric will greatly reduce the amount of weeds in your garden beds.  Weeds if left to grow will sap the soil from nutrients and moisture and put your plantings at risk.  Xeriscaping your yard in Calgary can be a challenge but is definitely worth doing if you want a low maintenance landscape.

23 Apr 2019
Picture of David Abbott on the Marc and Mandy Tv show

Chinook Landscaping and Design on The Marc and Mandy Show

Chinook Landscaping was proud to be part of The Marc and Mandy Show.  The show is airing now on City TV in Calgary.  We shared “Tips from The Pros” and discussed several important ways to improve your landscaping.  You can watch the City TV segment on Youtube here Chinook Landscaping and Design on The Marc and Mandy Show.  Here is a sample of what we discussed on the segment.

How to prevent water from pooling around your walkways.

Preventing water from pooling around your walkways can be a challenge when landscaping in Calgary.  It is one of the most common issues we face as landscapers in Calgary.  Many homeowners or landscaping companies choose to bury their downspouts in order to divert water away from their walkways.  This is not necessarily the best solution.  Burying downspouts can often cause even more issues.  These new issues can arise because the the area that is buried can take longer to thaw in spring time.  Therefore the above ground free flowing water can run into an ice plug underground.  This causes your eavestroughs to overflow or even worse, it can lead to frost heaving under your walkway.  Frost heaves can cause cracks in concrete or high and low spots in your paving stones.  To prevent burying your downspouts we often recommend and arbor be used.  An arbor is a wood structure that can be simple or decorative.  We typically build these arbors from cedar because they look more attractive. Arbors provide drainage solutions by straddling walkways and diverting water away from your walkway.  We simply run the drain pipe over top the arbor and down the other side.  It is a simple solution to what could be a very serious drainage issue. Arbors also provide great curb appeal for your front yard and they are inexpensive to install.

The best way to create curb appeal for your property.

Defining your borders! This is the key to great looking curb appeal.  We discuss watch the video segment of Chinook landscaping and design on the Mark and Mandy show to learn more.  Defining your borders simply means cleaning up those edges around your garden beds. If you check out the TV segment Chinook Landscaping and Design on The Marc and Mandy Show you will see some great examples of how to create great curb appeal.   Overgrown messy garden beds are not attractive and they distract from the overall look of your landscaping in Calgary.  We often see great looking garden beds with a nice selection of shrubs and perennials but the borders are not defined.  Clearly defined borders look great and can be done easily without breaking the bank,  You can define your borders by using a simple spade edge but this needs to be done annually.  A spade edge means digging out sod or perennials around your garden bed in order to create a defined border.  A better way to define your borders is to use mowing pavers or raised stack stone or even a vinyl edge.  Mowing pavers are very practical because they allow you to mow your lawn easily by mowing right over the pavers.  Mowing pavers mean you do not need to trim up against a garden wall or edging.  A raised garden wall is another way to create curb appeal for your property.  Garden walls create a bolder and more obvious defined border than other methods. Raised garden walls are more expensive than mowing pavers.  Unlike mowing pavers, if you have grass bordering your garden wall you will need to trim up against it. You can eliminate the trimming by adding mowing pavers in front of your garden wall.

Watch Chinook Landscaping and Design on The Marc and Mandy Show.  Click here to learn more about Marc and Mandy

21 Apr 2019
wood structure with horizontal boards

Creating privacy in your backyard

Creating privacy in your backyard can be done in several different ways.  Many of our customers ask about creating privacy in their backyards and this includes screening patios, hot tub areas or other locations.  Creating privacy is important, especially in some of Calgary’s newer communities where homes are located very close to each other.  Many properties back right on to neighbouring properties with no back alleys so privacy is very important if this is the case for your home.

Privacy using natural screeningTall lush tree with trembling leaves

Using natural screening is a great method for creating privacy in your backyard.  Natural screening simply means using trees or large shrubs to create a natural screen.  You can use several trees to accomplish a good solid screen or you can choose to install several trees to create more privacy in your backyard.  Swedish columnar Aspens are a very popular tree for landscaping in Calgary and creating privacy in your backyard.  They work well along fence lines or areas where you do not have much room.  Swedish columnar aspens are tall narrow trees that grow very tall but stay narrow at their base. The often don’t exceed five four feet in width so this makes them a great tree for tight areas.  There are other columnar trees such as Columnar crabapples, Columnar blue spruce and multi stemmed Carriganas.  These trees are also a good choice for privacy screens and can be used in narrow areas.  The Columnar spruce will still grow to be quite wide so using it along a back fence is a better choice than between houses. Check some of our top tree species for Calgary
to learn more about privacy trees.  If you have a large open area and you want to use a larger tree species for creating privacy in your back yard, then you could consider trees such as Laurel Leaf willow, Brandon Elm, Colorado blue spruce, Mountain ash, Elm or trembling aspen trees.  All of these trees will give you a lush wide screen and because they are wider you won’t need to plant several trees and that makes this option less costly. Make sure you have your trees installed by a professional landscaping company
and that they include a warranty for their tree installations.

Blue green pyramidal shrub

Shrubs add privacy around hot tubs and fireplaces.

You can use a wide variety of shrubs to create privacy around hot tubs, patios and fireplaces.  Evergreen shrubs such as pyramidal junipers.  Pyramidal junipers include Wichita junipers, Cologreen Junipers and Medora Junipers.  These lush green junipers grow to heights of 8-12 feet over many years.  The not only create great privacy for you but they also provide you with a cozy natural environment.  Planting shrubs around your hot tub and patio gives you a natural and intimate feel.  You can also use a number of other shrubs that grow taller and create lush privacy for you.  These shrubs include Willow, Ninebark, Lilacs, Rose bushes, Mugi pines, Highbush cranberries, Alpine current and many more.  You can visit our shrubs Calgary
page to view may photos of large shrubs that are a perfect fit for creating privacy in your back yard.

Using wood structures to create privacyWood cedar structure with tall beams

The use of wood structures for creating privacy in your back yard is becoming more and more popular for landscaping in Calgary.  Arbors, Pergolas and privacy screens  can all be used for softening your landscaping and at the same time creating privacy.  Arbors can be placed in an area of your patio or garden bed that provides a screening affect from neighbours.  Arbors look great nestled in the corners of lush garden beds especially if the wood material used us cedar or Meranti.    You will have not doubt seen Pergolas around the city of Calgary.  Pergolas often straddle patios or decks.  They are a four post structure with beams running along the top.  We use pergolas quite often for creating privacy as well as some shade over top decks and patios.  Rich wooden privacy screens are a great way to soften your landscaping and warm up your back yard environment.  Privacy screens can be built at the side of decks or patios or fire pit areas.  We often install privacy screens using horizontal slats so it gives you a semi transparent look. Creating privacy in your backyard can easily be done with a small or large privacy screen depending on how large your screen needs to be.  To add more colour to your privacy screen you can plant a selection of colourful shrubs just in front of them.  These shrubs should not be tall growing as they will eventually distract from the beautiful look of your privacy screen.




16 Apr 2019
Bold white flower blossoms on green foliage

Top Tree Species For Calgary

Calgary has a challenging growing climate so choosing hardy trees is important.  Trees can be a big investment for Calgary homeowners so you will want to make sure you choose a tree that is going to survive.  In our previous blog we talked about fruit trees that grow well in Calgary .  For this blog we are focused on non fruiting trees.  We have compiled a list of top tree species for Calgary  These are some of our favourite trees for landscaping in Calgary and the ones we recommend the most because they can withstand Calgary’s harsh weather.

Swedish Columnar AspenTall lush skinny tree with lush leaves

This tall columnar tree is one of the most popular trees in Calgary.  It is very hard and the survival rate is great if the tree is planted in good quality soil.  The swedish columnar aspen is commonly used in areas where a narrow tree is required.  They are very fast growing trees and look best planted in odd numbers.  You can find the Swedish Aspen growing everywhere in Calgary front and back yards.  Again, they are a narrow tree so they are a great choice for beside your driveway or between houses.  Swedish columnar aspens can tolerate moderate drought conditions.

Trembling Aspen

A Trembling aspen is another top tree species for landscaping in Calgary.  Trembling aspens are a multi branched tree that grows much wider than a Swedish columnar aspen.  Their leaves shimmer and tremble hence the name.   These trees are a great choice for areas in your yard where you have more space available.  Trembling aspens look more natural to our environment than some trees and they can often been found planted close to natural areas.

Ohio Buckeye

Ohio Buckeye are not the most common tree in Calgary but they are one of our favourite trees for many reasons. Ohio buckeye has large, compound leaves and can easily identified by its large seed pods.  Ohio buckeye can tolerant full sun or part shade and they are slow growing so they will not take over your property.  Ohio Buckeye have beautiful bright red fall colour that makes them stand out in early – late fall.  Ohio Buckeye needs well drained soil.

Dropmore Linden

The Dropmore Linden tree is a very large tree at mature growth.   Lindens are one of the most attractive ornamental trees because of their symmetrical growth habit. Dropmore Lindens grow at a moderate to fast rate and should not be planted where there are high winds or harsh conditions.  Dropmore Lindens can grow up to 15 meters so they are best planted in an area where there is lots of room for them to grow and spread.  Dropmore linden trees are a better tree to plant than the more popular green ash.  Dropmore trees are fast becoming one of the more popular large trees in Calgary.  A Dropmore linden is a much better choice than a Poplar tree.  There are numerous problems with Poplar trees that Dropmore lindens do not have.

Willow Tree.

There are several good choices when it comes to Willow trees. Willow trees are a top tree species for Calgary because they grow well in moist areas.  Finding a tree that can tolerate wet soil constantly is not always easy.  Willows grow great in low lying areas.  Some great choices for willow trees include Golden willow and Laurel leaf willow.  If you want a very large willow tree then a Laurel leaf willow is a perfect tree species for you.  Laurel leaf willows have shiny vibrant leaves that create a full tree.  The weeping style of this willow tree make it especially attractive and full of character. A great tree for landscaping in Calgary, Golden willows have similar leaves to a Laurel leaf willow and can easily be identified by their golden bark.  They are a smaller tree than the Laurel leaf willow but still a great choice for low lying areas of your property.

Japanese Lilac tree

Bold white flower blossoms on green foliage
Japanese Lilac Tree

You have likely seen lilac bushes growing all over Calgary their beautiful bold blossoms are evident in spring time and they can be seen in front yards and back yards throughout the city.  The Japanese lilac tree is one of our favourite blossoming trees because it is fairly hardy and can grow well in small areas.  A beautiful ornamental tree, the Japanese lilac has bright white blossoms that stay full for a few weeks in spring and early summer.  There are not a lot of great choices for small ornamental trees in Calgary so if you are looking for a small ornamental tree then a Japanese lilac is the tree for you

Maple Tree

If you are from Eastern Canada you will have seen maple trees growing in abundance in most provinces.  Everyone loves a maple tree specially because of their unique maple leaf but also because of their rich red fall colour.  Maple trees are not as hardy in Calgary as they are in other cities to the East. Maple trees need to be taken care of with special attention including well drained soil, annual fertilization and adequate watering.  Some Maple trees that can do well in Calgary are Hot wings Maple, Silver cloud Maple and Autumn blaze Maple.  All of these trees are very slow growing so you won’t have to worry about pruning them for many years.  The smallest of the Maple trees is the Hot wings maple.  The hot wings maple is an ornamental tree that is a perfect choice if you have a smaller space in your yard.

Have a look at our Trees Calgary page for photos of trees that grow well in Calgary.

10 Apr 2019
fruit you can grow - cherry tree with big red berries

Fruit you can grow in Calgary

Calgary is not exactly California when it comes to growing conditions but there are still a number of tasty fruit you can grow here.  When it comes to Fruit you can grow in Calgary you will want to choose plantings that give you the best yield for the area you are using to grow them in.  Also, choosing crops that are native to the prairies is your best option to ensure minimal winter kill.  Here is a list of our favourite fruit you can grow in Calgary.


Growing strawberries in Calgary is actually quite easy if you plant your strawberry beds properly.  Strawberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat and you will commonly see them in most top 10 lists for most nutritious fruits in the world.  Strawberries are tasty when eaten fresh and they freeze will so you can enjoy them year round. Growing strawberries in lush wide mats by letting them runner is a great way to increase yield.  Also, picking the white buds in the first year will help increase plant strength and running of the baby plants.  If you don’t have the space you can grow your strawberries in hanging pots, hay bales or other containers.  Visit our Growing strawberries in Calgary page for more.


Saskatoons are another very healthy fruit that is high in fibre and super nutritious.  Saskatoons do best in areas where there is a lot of sunlight.  They love to soak up the sun and the more sun they have the more sweet the berries will be.  You will need a larger area for your Saskatoon bushes in order to have a lot of plants with high yield.  A good location for
Saskatoons would be at the sides or back of your property where full sun is available. Saskatoons need planting of water and the more you water them the more fruit they will produce.   Saskatoons bushes can grow well as hedges but don’t plant them too close to the street or your neighbours will reap the rewards of all your hard work!

Eating Apples

Eating apple trees are in abundance in Calgary and new varieties from growers means more yield.  Apple trees not only create great eating fruit by they have beautiful spring blossoms for you to enjoy.  Of all the fruit you can grow in Calgary, apple trees will likely be your greatest producer.  You are likely to have plenty of left over apples and these can be used for Apple sauce, Apple pies and many other deserts that can be preserved over winter by freezing them.
There are many great eating apples including the best eating apples to grow in Calgary include Honey Crisp and Parkland.

Haskap Berry

The haskap is incredibly hardy and built for Calgary’s climate.  Often called a Honeyberry, these prairie hardened plants can survive temperatures colder than -50c.  The Haksap berry bush can grow to 7 -9 feet, they produce a lot of fruit and are very high in fibre.  Native to  Europe and Asia, the Haskap is used to very harsh climates.  Haksap berries look similar to oval blueberries.   The berries have their own unique taste that is a cross between blueberries and cranberries.  This is a wonderfully unique fruit that will surprise you with its hardy rich cast.  Like Saskatoons, you will need to find a sunny place in your yard to grow the Haskap bush.

Evans Cherry

If you like semi sweet tart cherries then you will love the Evans Cherry.  These cherry trees have prolific flowers in the spring and produce an abundance of juicy cherries.  Plant your Evans cherry tree in a sunny location to ensure the best yield.  They do not like soil that is overly moist so make sure the chosen location is not on a low area of your yard.  Evans Cherry can be planted in groupings if you have the room for that. They are a wonderful ornamental style tree that will give you beautiful colour in spring and bountiful crops in late summer.  Evans cherry are one of our favourites on the list of fruit you can grow in Calgary.  They are nutritious, plentiful and delicious.


See our article in Avenue Magazine for more information on Fruit you can grow in Calgary.