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

Front Step Ideas

Front step ideas are often not talked about much in the world of landscaping.  You can create a beautiful new landscape but forgetting about your old, cold, concrete steps can make for an eyesore in the middle of your Oasis.

Boring broom concrete is not a pretty site

The term most commonly used for the standard front step in Calgary is broom concrete.  This means a simple grey concrete mixture is poured and then broom finished.  Boring broom concrete is not a pretty site and often the concrete is stained, faded and chipped.  Dressing up your front step does not have to be costly althoughthere are some more expensive front step ideas we will get into later.  There are many inexpensive ways to spruce up your step that should be within the budget of most Calgary homeowners.

Pour dyed concrete over your step

You can choose to pour dyed concrete over your existing step.  The least expensive option of a pour over would be to have the concrete dyed before it is poured.  Concrete dyes for steps are usually some shade of grey.  A darker grey definitely looks better than the traditional light grey concrete look and it will hide stains much better than a light concrete step will.  In order for the new poured concrete to last and not chip or crack you will need to make sure you have at the bare minimum one inch between the existing step and your front door jam.  Any less than one inch and the concrete will chip away in no time and you will be left with no inexpensive options in order to have it repaired.  This is our first choice for front step ideas if you are needing to watch your costs.

A pour over with stamped concrete or exposed aggregate

One of our favourite front step ideas is a pour over with stamped concrete or exposed aggregate.  This is not a very expensive option and it will basically look like you have poured an entirely new step from scratch.  You can choose to have your concrete stamped in many different patterns that imitate natural or modern looking stone work.  A dye is also included with stamped concrete to help give it a rich finished look.  Exposed aggregate is another great option and works especially well if you have existing exposed aggregate walkways.  Exposed aggregate steps also look very good with paving stone walkways or traditional broom finished concrete walkways.  As with the dyed concrete option you will need to make sure you have enough clearance above your existing step in order for a pour over to work and last for many years.

Installing tile over your front step

Of all the front step ideas to choose from installing tile over your front step is one of our top picks. You need less than a half inch of clearance below your door jam for this option so it means you won’t need to break out and haul away your old step.  So, although the costs for tile are higher than a pour over you will at least save on the break out and haul out of your old step. In most cases, unless your step is crumbling you will be able to install tile over top.  You can choose from a vast array of natural stone tile for your front step and most of the natural stone tile is suited for Calgary’s climate.  As well as being suited for our climate, the tile will not be very slippery at all and certainly not more slippery than a traditional concrete step.  Installing tile over your front step should always be done by an experienced tile setter. Tile setting is an art and if you aren’t careful choosing your installer you can end up with poorly installed tile that becomes uneven or cracks over time.  Tile is one of the most costly options for your front step but the finished look is well worth it.  Tile matches very well with patios and walkways of varying styles

Break out the old and bring in the new

Maybe it is time to start from scratch and break out the old and bring in the new. Removing your old concrete step may be the only option if you have limited clearance between your existing step and door jam, making a pour over impossible.  If you want to start from scratch with an entirely new front step you will need to first have the existing concrete jackhammered out and hauled away.    Once that has been done you can choose between the poured stamped concrete or exposed aggregate we talked about earlier in this article.  Or you can choose to have a new step built out of either paving stones or wood.

Paving stones for front steps

Although paving stones inset in stone retaining walls are often used for steps in Calgary this is not an option we typically recommend.  This usually our last choice for front step ideas.  The reason for this is simply because there are more components to this method and therefore the chances of your steps lasting for a very long time are minimized.  Poured concrete of some form is in our opinion the best option for a front step.  Front steps get a lot of use over time and therefore a very solid structure is imperative.  In order to have paving stones as part of front steps retaining walls will have to be built.  These retaining walls will then need to be filled with compacted gravel and then sand and paving stones are installed.  These multiple steps mean there are many areas that can become weak over time.  If your retaining walls settle even a little then your steps will be uneven and start to be a tripping hazard and a headache to shovel.  There is no question that over time a solid poured structure will out last paving stones inset in retaining walls.






10 Mar 2019

The best eating apple trees to grow in Calgary

The best eating apple trees to grow in Calgary

Calgary is a region with its own inimitable expression of weather; experiencing startling winter conditions even after a sunny moment, and not forgetting the notorious chinook. However, and surprisingly enough, many tree species have thrived in such environments. To put this into perspective, tens of thousands of fruit bearing trees have existed in Calgary, blessing folks with the benefits that come with them like edible, healthy-rich fruits.  There are many other fruit trees that grow well in Calgary  but we think an apple trees will give you the largest yield of all fruit trees.  There are a number of apple trees that can thrive in Calgary and become options for homeowners to ponder on. If you enjoy eating apples, here are some of the apple plant trees that do well in Zone 3 climate.

Norland apple

Norland apple tree is a multicolored tree in itself; with its leaves and flowers changing colors on seasons. It is one of the best eating apple trees to grow in Calgary.  At the start of spring, its flower buds blossom in pink and midway, the buds turn into white flowers with pink overtones throughout the branches. Also, in fall, their green pointy leaves become yellow in colour, hence showing you how your yard can’t lack in color and bliss year round.

With the help of pollinators like bees, the deciduous tree bears chartreuse crunchy apples in early fall, which are usually characterized by a red blush when ripe. Inside, the crispy apples are white in color.

Since they are great producers, it is prudent to pick them as early as possible before they ruin the yard and walkways. The Norland apples can also be prematurely picked before ripening as they can be stored well. They can be freshly eaten or cooked.

Notably, when growing the Norland apple treein Calgary, provide sufficient sunlight, space for spreading and a moist condition.

Prairie sensation

The Prairie sensation is a new type of apple available in Calgary. It finds its origin In the University of Saskatoon  where it was developed to endure the severe prairie climate. However, its flowering and foliage characteristics are still similar to that of Norland apple tree.

The also deciduous plant tree produces crispy apples in large amounts between late summer and early fall. The apples are usually red with a crimson, green blush. Inside, they have sweet white juicy flesh. These apples are usually of high quality and perfect for fresh eating, cooking and baking.

The apples produced can be as large as 8.5 cm in diameter. To ensure growth of such large sized apples, pruning and thinning of the tree is important. Also, since they are generously produced, it is wise to pick them and store them before they fully ripen. This will similarly prevent the yard from being messy because of fallen apples.

Since the apple tree is of high maintenance, it requires a second pollinator. When growing in Calgary, it should be provided with full sunlight, moist conditions and space for spreading.

Goodland apples

This is another bountiful apple treethat is great for your orchard in Calgary. Goodland apples have excellent edible qualities being characterized by light green color and round shape.

Sharing the same overtones as the Norland apple tree throughout the seasons, it yields fleshy white apples between late summer and early fall in plenty. The apples are usually of good size (6-8 centimeters in diameter) and can be stored up to 20 weeks in a cool dry place.

The crispy, flavorful Goodland apples can be freshly eaten, cooked or made as apple sauce. In Calgary, they serve as recipes when making sweet side dishes or homemade desserts.

Winter Cheeks

This is another hardy apple that comes to life in mid-September in Calgary. The Winter Cheek Apple tree is a variety that is disease resistant and shares same features as the Norland apple tree all year long.

The winter cheeks apple are red in color. They are also very fleshy, crisp and sweet making them edible when fresh. Furthermore, they can be of use when cooked or baked. Their edible qualities make them idea for such purposes.

Alberta Gold

Going by the name, Alberta Gold apples are usually goldish in color or preferably yellow. If you are a fan of gold-lit thing, this is for you. The Alberta Gold produces crispy apple fruits that taste juicy and sweet to the tongue buds.

The Alberta gold apple can be enjoyed as fresh fruits and can also be cooked. The apples can be picked and stored for 12 weeks under cool and dry conditions.


Though the name may seem techy, this is another natural apple tree that can grow well and produce fruits in Calgary. M360 apples are also juicy and sweet and ideal for desserts such as apple pies.

The M360 apple trees produce fruits that can be stored for as long as six month.


There are many other trees to choose from for the best eating apple trees in Calgary.  If you looking to eat healthy apples year in and year out while keeping the doctor away, consider the apple trees above which well in Calgary. They will also prove worthwhile as attractive features in your garden.  Visit our trees Calgary  gallery to view more trees that grow well in Calgary.


09 Mar 2019

Cedar Privacy Fence

In this video we discuss the unique and beautiful look of a cedar privacy fence.  A cedar privacy fence adds warmth and visual appeal to your property.  Check out the video to learn more.

Horizontal fence boards are key to a cedar privacy fence

Traditional cedar fences or pressure treated fences are often built with their fence boards running vertical.  For our cedar privacy fence we install our fence boards horizontally.  Horizontal fence boards are key to a cedar fence.  This board placement gives your fence a semi transparent look that keeps your landscape backdrop looking light and open.  Traditional vertical fence boards can feel more wall like and less visually attractive.  The cost for installation of this fence will be higher than a traditional fence as the there is more labour involved with this kind of fence project.   This style of fence is a great addition to your modern landscaping project.

4 x 6 fence posts are best for a solid fence.

Using 4 x 6 or even 6 x 6  fence boards for your cedar privacy fence will help give your fence the strength it need to withstand our freeze and thaw temperatures here in Calgary.  Many contractors or homeowners use 4 x 4 posts to build their fences.  The fence post is the spine of your fence and therefore a 4 x 4 post will not be adequate.  We have replaced many fences with 4 x 6 or 6 x 6 fence posts because they were leaning or falling over.  Along with the fence post it is important to add at least two bags of concrete.

Heavy duty gate hardware is a necessity

We are often called to repair gates installed by other contractors.  The number one issue with their gates is the quality of their gate hardware.  Flimsy hinges and latches have to carry the load of a very heavy gate and they will not withstand the stress over time.  Using heavy duty gate hardware is a necessity if you want your gate to stay in position and open and close easily.  If you are going to spend the money on a beautiful fence it is well worth it to spend a few more dollars for proper gate fixtures.

Semi transparent stain protects while still showing off the natural wood

Semi transparent stain is the best stain to use when staining your cedar privacy fence.  There is enough protective coating to give your fence protection against the sun but at the same time it still shows off the natural wood grain of your cedar privacy fence.  A cedar privacy fence is one of the most additions you can make to your Calgary landscaping.  To keep it looking great make sure to stain your fence annually.

There are many styles of fence and deck products to choose from.  Check out our fences and decks page for more.

09 Mar 2019

Modern Landscaping Calgary project

Many of our Calgary clients are looking for more modern landscaping components for their Calgary landscaping.  In this video David Abbott from Chinook Landscaping Calgary discusses some of these components including:

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchens are becoming more and more popular in Calgary.  Even though our winters can be long and cold don’t let that stop you from enjoying outdoor cooking.  For this landscaping project we used a Techo bloc outdoor kitchen The Techo bloc outdoor kitchen is made of precast stone and includes a electrical outlet, double burner and granite counter top.  Granite counter tops are ideal for outdoors in Calgary because they can handle the cold and stay looking great year round.

Kayu hardwood deck

We installed a beautiful kayu hardwood deck next to the outdoor kitchen.  Kayu is a beautiful mahogany type hardwood that is much more durable than cedar.  Natural woods like Kayu can really warm up your outdoor space and are especially important if you have a lot of cold landscaping components like concrete or paving stones.  Placing the deck boards on a forty five degree angle gives your deck a sleek modern look.

Basalt bubbler water feature

Basalt bubbler water features are low maintenance water features that don’t require much for winterizing like ponds or waterfalls.  These subtle yet soothing water features give you a realizing calming element to your landscaping.  The water flow can be adjusted to increase or decrease the amount of water coming out of the top of the basalt bubbler.  This in turn increases or reduces the volume of the feature.

Cedar Pergola

This simple cedar pergola creates a cozy feel to the back yard and compliments the kayu hardwood deck very well.  It is built with basic cross beams that are not too ornate and therefore they don’t take away from the rest of the landscaping.  The cedar pergola provides some shade but not too much to block sunlight to the plantings underneath the Pergola.   Cedar Pergolas are a wonderful addition to any modern landscaping project.  Both the pergola and the deck will require annual staining each spring for fall in order to maintain their rich natural wood tones.

Learn more about our modern landscaping wood structures by visiting Pergolas and arbors .

You can also visit our arbors, pergolas and privacy screens page

Ask us about what components to use for your modern landscaping Calgary project.


07 Mar 2019

Chinook Landscaping Calgary

In this video David Abbott discuss various key components of landscaping in Calgary. Chinook Landscaping and Design has been involved in and created some unique and interesting projects.  Landscaping is our passion and Chinook Landscaping Calgary loves to landscape and it shows!

In this video we discuss:

Front steps, more than just something to step on

Typical concrete front steps are everywhere in Calgary and quite frankly they can be quite boring.  Considering the front step is the entrance to your home it is important to dress it up a little and welcome visitors with something other than boring cold sterile concrete.  The front steps we built for this project were built with tumbled roman Pisa stone.  Inset in the steps are roman euro paving stones.  The front paving stone patio approaching the steps where made with similar matching materials as the steps.

Roman Euro mowing pavers help define your borders.

Using a paving stone border around your garden beds is a great way to define your borders.  Defining your borders is key to a great looking landscape.  Mowing pavers make it easy to mow right over your lawn without the hassle of having to trim around raised border edges.  Our paving stones are installed with a compacted gravel base that helps prevent frost heaves in the winter time.  It is very important to have a proper base under your paving stones or you will end up with uneven pavers in a very short time.  We install polymer sand in-between our mowing pavers to help keep the weeds and grass from growing in between the pavers.

Trafalgar Paving stones make for a great looking paving stone patio

A beautiful paving stone patio is the focal point to most back or front yard landscapes.  Paving stones are more costly than concrete and exposed aggregate but the look is much more attractive.  For this project Chinook Landscaping Calgary installed Trafalgar paving stones and implemented a unique application of cutting the paving stones around the beautiful backyard tree.  The trafalgar paving stones have a classic timeless look that will not become outdated in the future.  Again, we used polymer and in between the paving stones to prevent weed growth.

Fences are the back drop to your landscape.

Many people focus on their landscaping and forget about one of the key components to their landscaping.  The backdrop of your landscaping is your fence so make it a beautiful, long lasting fence that will compliment your existing landscaping.  Most landscaping companies use 4 x 4 fence posts for their fence installations but at Chinook Landscaping Calgary we insist on either 4 x 6 or 6 x 6 posts.  The fence posts are the spine of your fence and installing flimsy 4 x 4 posts will mean you have a weak fence, especially in Calgary’s freeze and thaw climate.  Installing 4 x 6 or 6 x 6 fence posts will insure your fence will stay upright and solid for years to come.  Fences are a very important part of your landscaping both for aesthetics and for security.

Chinook Landscaping Calgary is your one stop for unique, long lasting and beautiful landscapes.  Call us today for your free onsite consultation.  Ph: 403-452-8552 or visit our estimates page.


07 Mar 2019

Arbors and Pergolas for your front or back yard

Wood features are a great way to soften the look of your landscaping.  Arbors and Pergolas can give you that soft touch and arbors and pergolas for your front or back yard can be a practical landscaping feature too.

Whats the difference between an Arbor and Pergola?

Some of our Calgary clients are confused by the difference between an arbor and a pergola.  The differences are quite clear really.  An arbor is typically much smaller than a pergola.  An arbor is often used for a garden accent or as an archway over your front or backyard entrance.  A pergola is normally used over top of a patio or siting area to provide shade and/or privacy.  A pergola normally has numerous large cross beams whereas an arbor may only have a two or three.  Read more about arbors and pergolas for your front or back yard.

Pergolas for shade and More

Pergolas for shade are quite common in Calgary.  They are very useful in blocking much of the sunlight that shines onto your patio or sitting area.  You can choose to have a greenhouse like fibreglass roof on your pergola to keep out the rain and reduce sunlight or you can leave the roof open for partial shade from the cross beams.  Pergolas being used for privacy is another common application.  Often we find that neighbouring homes have high decks that overlook our clients properties so in this case a pergola can provide excellent privacy over top of your patio or hot tub area.

Arbors can aid in drainage solutions

Did you know that arbors can be a great aid for drainage solutions?  We often use cedar arbors to straddle a front or back walkway.  Instead of running your drain pipe underground you can choose to run your drain pipe over top of the arbor and therefore over top the walkway and down the other side of the arbor.  This allows you to avoid underground drainage.  Overland drainage is always preferred over underground drainage because underground drainage can freeze up in spring and cause your eavestrough to over flow.  We can hide the drain pipe in the arbor beams so they are not visible.  You can visit our page on drainage solutions to learn more about using arbors for drainage issues.

Arbors for beautiful landscape accents

Arbors make beautiful landscape accents.  The warm look of cedar can help to soften your landscape while providing an ornate accent to your property.  We can build arbors in a variety of styles and they can be stained or painted according to what matches your landscape best.  The soft look of cedar arbors is particularly helpful when you have a lot of concrete or cold landscape components.

Materials used for building Arbors and Pergolas

Arbors and pergolas are almost always built out of either cedar, Meranti hardwood or pressure treated wood.  If you want a rich wood look for your arbor then cedar or meranti is best.  If you plan on painting your arbor then pressure treated wood be appropriate and is also the least expensive option.  Using arbors or pergolas for your front or back yard are is a great idea regardless of what material you use.

Have a look at our Arbors, Pergolas and privacy screens page for more




06 Mar 2019

Landscaping with Cedar shrubs in Calgary

Many of our clients request cedar shrubs for their landscaping without knowing the negative aspects of landscaping with cedar shrubs in Calgary.  Cedars are a beautiful shrub and there are many different varieties.  The size of cedars can very to small compact globe cedars to tall tree like cedars.

Most Cedars don’t really like our Calgary climate

Most cedar shrubs don’t grow well in Calgary.  They do grow very well in British Columbia or areas where the climate is milder without the very cold winters that Calgary experiences.  Cedars need warm moist and/or humid climates to thrive and Calgary just doesn’t have that kind of weather.  If you visit areas of BC you will see cedars everywhere in shrub and tree form.  They thrive in the rainforest type climate that BC has and some cedar trees there can grow to be huge.  Unfortunately you won’t be able to grow a large cedar tree in Calgary but you may be able to grow some smaller cedar shrubs. Although landscaping with cedar shrubs in Calgary can be challenging there are some cedar options for you to consider.

Some Cedar shrubs do grow well in Calgary if planted in the right areas

Some cedar varieties do grow well here.  The variety that we have had the most luck with is the Holmstrup Cedar.  This is a shrub Cedar and it grows quite will if it is planted in a protected area of your yard.  Holmstrup Cedars particularly like growing next to houses where there roots can enjoy the warmth from the homes foundation.  Once the cedar becomes established it can benefit from the warmth of the foundation as the cedars roots grow deeper into the soil.  The Holmstrup cedar can reach heights of 15′ over a long period of time.

Junipers are a great substitute for Cedars

We are often asked what a good substitute for cedar shrubs are.  We always recommend Junipers in place of cedars because overall they are more hardy and the chance of winter kill is far less than with Cedars.  Cedars look very much like some Junipers especially upright pyramidal cedars.  Some great juniper choices are Moonglow, Wichita, Medora and Skyrocket.  Medora Junipers look most like a cedar because of their dark green foliage.  See our Shrubs-photos page for more shrub ideas

If you are interested in Landscaping with Cedar shrubs in Calgary consider Junipers instead.

Call us today to discuss great planting options for your garden beds.  Ph: 403-452-8552

06 Mar 2019

Chinook Landscaping is now open for spring estimates!

Chinook Landscaping is now open for spring estimates.  We provide free landscaping estimates and consultations to Calgary Homeowners.  The estimate includes a walkthrough of your property and a consultation on your landscaping needs and requirements.  We will also take time to explain our company history to you as well as show you pictures of our work and explain the landscaping process clearly.

We can provide you with an estimate on all of your landscaping needs including:

Landscape Design
Patios and Walkways
Retaining walls
Sod installation and removal
Tree and shrub removal and installation
Paving stones
Fences and Decks
Underground Sprinklers
Landscape Lighting

We love to explore new landscaping ideas with our Calgary clients and take great pride in creating beautiful spaces for your front or back yard.  Visit our estimates page Call us today for your free estimate.  403-452-8552

05 Mar 2019

Chinook Landscaping awarded Best Landscaping Company by Build Magazine

Chinook Landscaping and Design is proud to announce they have been award Best Landscaping Company In Calgary by Build Magazine.  Chinook Landscaping works very hard to make sure all of their clients are completely satisfied with their landscaping.  It is a great honour to be recognized by the industry for this prestigious award. Have a look at other rewards Chinook Landscaping has won.  Landscaping Calgary Awards

22 Feb 2019

Growing Strawberries in Calgary

It is never too early to start planning your summer gardens.  Strawberries are a great addition to any garden in Calgary.  Growing strawberries in Calgary is much more fruitful than it used to be.  There was a time when growing strawberries in Calgary was difficult because there were very few hardy strawberry varieties to choose from but that has all changed in recent years.  Thanks to new varieties primarily from Washington and the East Coast of Canada, hardy, bountiful strawberry varieties are now available.

Many new strawberry varieties to choose from

Older strawberry varieties like Tristar were ever bearing strawberries that would produce fruit throughout the summer.  But the fruit form this variety was sparse with small berries and low yield.  Now new varieties like Kent allow Calgary gardeners to enjoy June bearing strawberries.  The Kent strawberry is a large juicy and very sweet berry that has excellent yield.  Combining a June bearing strawberry with ever bearing strawberries is a great way to produce strawberries from June until October.

Grow your strawberries in the ground or not?

Strawberry gardening is not just limited to in ground plantings anymore.  You can choose to grow strawberries in containers, hanging baskets or even in straw bales.  The highest yield will likely still come from in ground or straw bales but if your growing area is restricted then container gardening is a great choice.

Wider strawberry rows equals more fruit

If you are planning on creating a strawberry garden then don’t just plant single rows of plants.  Instead, plant a single row and then allow the plants to runner.  The runners are shoots that come off the mother plant and eventually these shoots become baby strawberry plants. You can train the runners by hand or hoe and place them in areas where the soil is open and the plants will have room to mature. Be careful not to cut the runners as these long stems provide nutrients to the baby strawberry plants.  Once the runner plants take root they will start to create a wide row of strawberries.  We recommend about a 2-3′ wide mat of plants for high yield.

Strawberries need protection during our cold winters

Wintering you strawberries correctly is very important especially in Calgary’s very cold climate.  In the fall after the frost starts to hit your plantings you can start to cover them up for the winter.  You can choose a variety of covers for the plants protection including wheat straw, leaves or mulch.  Make sure you create a good think protective layer over top your strawberries of at least 8-12″.  This protective covering will insure you have much less winter kill and a much greater yield of fruit come summer time.

Your local Calgary will have a good selection of June bearing and overbearing strawberries plants.  They are typically available in early May.

For more information on growing strawberries in Calgary see these links:

How to grow strawberries in hay bales

Strawberries in Alberta