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How to Throw A Canada Day Party: Prepare the Backyard

June 26, 2017

This is a sponsored post written by me in partnership with Home Depot Canada. All opinions and experiences are 100% my own.

Backyard parties. They are one of my favourite things! There is nothing like relaxing with family and friends on a comfortable patio while enjoying a few sips and bites in the sunshine! Ahhhh! Doesn’t that sound nice?

Over the past two years “J” and I have really upped our backyard game! We built a shed, built a raised garden bed, poured some concrete pads, stained our deck and even built a lovely covered patio…. And you know what? We haven’t even had a spare minute to enjoy it!! Terrible, I know.

This year, however, I fully intend on enjoying my beautiful patio and all it has to offer. And I can’t think of a better way to kick off patio season than with a Canada Day Celebration! This July 1st marks Canada’s 150th Birthday, making for the perfect patio party opportunity. Every day I stop and think how lucky I am to be Canadian and how proud I am to live in a country that is diverse and extraordinarily respectful and welcoming of different religions, immigrants, and refugees. We take care of each other regardless of our cultural background, sexual orientation, gender or social status. This July 1st I am so excited and honoured to be a part of what I am sure will be Canada’s largest display of patriotism in a very long time!

As anyone who has a backyard knows, getting your space into tip-top shape can take a few weeks of primping and priming! From seeding and cutting the grass to adding mulch to the flowerbed and planting new perennials, “J” and I knew there was some work to be done!

Lucky for us Home Depot Canada has everything we need to get our backyard ready for a Canada Day Celebration to remember! Here are some of the most common problem areas in a backyard (or at least in our backyard) and how to fix them:

Strip & Restain The Deck

You might remember that two years ago I went through the process of staining our small deck. Under normal weather conditions the stain should have lasted about 4 years, but with the not-so-normal weather conditions in our backyard (lots of sunshine and lots of snow) the stain on some of the high-traffic surfaces of the deck started to peel and lift.

Unfortunately, with deck stain you can’t just “touch up” the spots that are wearing. If you want the deck to look uniformly coloured then stripping the surfaces and restaining is the way to go! After a quick trip to Home Depot Canada I had everything I needed to tackle the project at hand!

The first step in the restaining process is to strip off any of the old and peeling stain. Using a roller, I generously applied Behr Premium Wood Stain & Finish Stripper to deck. During this application process, it’s important to make sure the stripping solution stays wet, so keep a hose handy to give the deck an occasional mist. In my case, the stain started to lift in 15 minutes.

Using a stiff bristle brush, I scrubbed down each plank of wood. In most cases the stain lifted right off, but in some of the trickier areas I had to reapply some of the Behr Stripper and wait a little longer. All in all, the stain lifted quite nicely! Once the entire deck was stripped and free from old stain, it’s time to give it a good rinse! Most will be tempted to use a power washer or even a high-pressure hose attachment to rinse, however this can damage the wood, so it’s best to simply use a regular ol’ garden hose.

After the deck had dried for 48 hours, I started the staining process, following the same steps as two years ago: clean, dry, stain! Again, I am thrilled with the results, and I know my party guests will appreciate the new finish.

Prepare the Lawn

Did you know your lawn can add to the ambiance of your backyard? Thick, green grass can make your space feel like a lush oasis, enticing you to remove your shoes and take a stroll around!

It’s taken “J” almost 4 years to get the lawn to a state where he is happy with it! (If you want to see a before picture, check out this post! Yikes!). I am honestly convinced it’s his main goal in life to have the best lawn on the block. I am not even kidding. He is literally the only 30-year-old I know in a race (with no one) to have the best lawn! So while I tackle things like painting and staining, “J” handles all of the green stuff like the lawn and gardening!

One of the major upgrades we made this year, in terms of our lawn care and maintenance, was a new lawn mower. Our previous gas-powered push mower was not only old, but took up a lot of space in our garage! While we don’t have what I call a large lawn, it still is a decent size, so switching to a manual mower was out of the question.

We were both pleasantly surprised when Toro came to the rescue offering us their Recycler Smartstow® 22-inch Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower, and it’s a pretty impressive machine! With features like the variable speed font wheel drive, a 22 inch steel deck, mulching capabilities, clipping bag and an easy to use wash out port, this mower should be on every “lawn obsessed” person’s list!

What “J” loves about this lawn mower is the guaranteed to start ready engine! No prime or choke, it literally starts when you need it to! What I love most about the mower is the first-of-its-kind SmartStow feature. Yes, this mower actually folds in half so you can store it upright; drastically reducing the storage footprint up to 70%! And the unique fuel chamber is designed so the engine or fuel doesn’t leak when stored upright! I mean, they really thought of everything! “J’s” only complaint about this mower is that it takes some time to get used to the self-propelled feature; but he does admit it’s much easier than schlepping around our previous mower!

But enough about the mower, let’s talk about how to get your grass ready for the summer! Ideally, your lawn care routine should start in the Fall and Spring with overseeding; this can help to reinvigorate your lawn during a time period that’s optimal for grass growth.

This past Fall “J” did take the time to overseed and fertilize, which made our lawn that much better this Spring. But alas, having a dog can take a toll on your lawn! Dog owners, you know what I mean. Filling in several “burned” spots on our lawn with Vigoro Garden Soil and Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed was easy and oh-so-worth-it!!! Simply cover the burns (or bare spot) in your lawn with a thick layer of garden soil, sprinkle with grass seed, give it a good rake to evenly distribute the seed, and then water! You’ll want to make sure the patches stay moist during hot summer days so the seeds take hold and grass starts to grow. How easy is that!

Now, about those pesky dandelions and weeds… we remove them by hand using this Fiskars weeding tool, however if you have a large lawn that is overtaken by weeds you may want to consider some weed control sprays. Your local Home Depot Canada will carry the brands that are legal in Canada.

Pretty Plants in the Flowerbeds

I’ve always had this fantasy of owning a backyard that is so lush with plants it’s reminiscent of a tropical jungle. Colourful flowers, green plants with large fanning leaves, thick bushes and shrubs… how relaxing! Alas, we live in Canada, so tropical is out of the question! Lucky for us Home Depot Canada’s giant garden center has plenty of options to choose from when it comes to your gardening needs!

If I have one tip for buying plants, trees, and flowers for your backyard it’s to make sure you are conscience of the amount of sunlight they require and how much sunlight your flowerbed receives during the day. Our flowerbed gets sun for 4-5 hours during the middle of the day and is shaded the remainder of the day, which really limited us to only planting “part-sun” plants.

With a wide range of full-sun and part-sun options, “J” and I spent close to an hour in the garden center meticulously selecting our plants. From rhododendron’s and lilies to myrtle and hostas, they all made their way into our cart!

When we got home it was time to get down and dirty! We carefully plotted out the location of each plant before digging the holes and planting them. We wanted to distribute an even mix of heights, colour and texture throughout the garden, so we took the plotting process very seriously! After everything was planted, we continued to water the garden frequently in order to help the plant establish roots.

To clean up the appearance of the garden and minimize the occurrence of weeds, we added a layer of bark garden mulch. While we only needed “top up” the garden this year, in previous years we have ordered a large “bulk delivery bag” of mulch. Not only is it more cost-effective, but it can be delivered right to your driveway!

Since the garden bed is on the other side of our yard, I wanted to bring the same lovely colours and textures onto our patio and deck. While I would have loved nothing more than to take the time to create my own flower planter, I decided convenience was more of a priority, so I picked up two “Drop N Bloom” pre-arranged flower planters. You basically remove the plant from the container and drop it into your pot or urn! Easy right? To ensure my new plants would last the summer I used Miracle Grow’s Quick Start to prevent my new plants from experiencing transplant shock and fertilized them with Miracle Grow’s easy to use Shake ‘N Feed. The process took about 15 minutes, but it looks like I spent hours!! Hey, my guests don’t have to know!! 😉

With all the labour-intensive work complete all that’s left to do is decorate the patio, prepare the food, and welcome my Canada Day guests!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on how to decorate your backyard patio for a Canada Day celebration!

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