Long Lasting Composite Deck

Want a long-lasting deck?

Composite deck boards can last over 30 years. Check out Higher Ground Gardens’ custom deck and cedar fence installation at a local daycare facility in Vancouver. Composite deck boards are made from recycled plastic and reclaimed wood. Looks sharp and is splinter-free for little hands 😉

Custom Trex Composite Deck cedar fence panel

Custom Trex Composite Deck


Get outdoors with a low-maintenance deck in your yard.

You will never have to paint your deck again! Vancouver homeowners have to paint their traditional wood decks every 1-3 years. Save money in the long run with this cost-effective, long-lasting deck and stair solution. Composite decking is a wood alternative. It does not rot. All that is required for cleaning is a scrub brush and a hose. For Vancouver homeowners, composite decking provides a worry-free solution in our high rainfall area. Boards won’t warp, crack or swell in the rain. Decks can withstand extreme temperature ranges, from -60 to +60C.

Ultimate solution for use by children

Trex Deck frame construction Vancouver

Deck frame under construction

Composite decking can be used in daycare playgrounds, as a splinter-free outdoor decking surface. Higher Ground Gardens’ recent installation at a Vancouver daycare passed licensing inspection requirements for use by children, infants and toddlers. Composite decks are installed using hidden clips, so there are no screws or nails sticking out of the top surface of your deck. The deck boards are smooth and splinter-free. Reduce injury and provide children with a safe play area.

Contact Higher Ground Gardens for your free estimate today.

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Tips for Trimming Cedar Hedges

Cedar hedges can grow rather quickly and in order to keep the hedge healthy and looking its best it is advised that you trim the hedge two times per year.

Preparing to trim your cedar hedge

Hedge trimming can be done at the same time of year as your spring garden clean up. Cedars are often filled with branches, dead needles and leaves that have fallen from trees above. Before starting your spring cedar hedge trimming I would advise that you use a blower if you have one on hand. A leaf blower is very helpful for cleaning out the build up of dead debris and needles. Alternatively, you can also shake the individual hedge trees or tap the sides of the hedge with the back of a rake in order to shake the unwanted debris trapped inside the structure of the hedge down to the ground. This first step is often missed but can make a huge improvement to the health and look of your cedar hedge. Removing this internal debris allows light to penetrate and will increase growth of new needles. Once you’ve shaken out the debris, remember to get all the build up of debris at the base of the hedge removed.

Planning the cut

Stand to one side of your cedar hedge and look down the line of the hedge to determine how you will shape the hedge. Cedars can ONLY be trimmed into the green growth. You cannot cut branches beyond the green needles, as it will not grow back. Cutting into old wood where there is no growth is a common mistake. Cedars only hold a few years of growth on the ends of their branches. If you cut beyond this growth area, you will end up with dead branches where there should be a hedge.

If left unkempt, cedar hedging plants such as the popular Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’, or Emerald cedar, will grow to a height of 15-20m after 15 years. Be sure to maintain the shape and size of hedge you want in your yard by trimming at minimum once per year, though ideally twice for a manicured look.

Trimming cedars

Once you have cleaned out the inside of the hedge you can start with the trimming of the cedar hedge. If you are using a gas or electric trimmer make sure that you are wearing safety protection (eye glasses especially) and gloves. I also recommend you wear long sleeves and long pants as cedars can easily cause skin rashes on most people.

Start trimming on the right hand side of the hedge and work your way to the left. Trimming a cedar hedge takes patience, as multiple sweeps with the trimmer may be required in order to cut the leaves at the correct spot. Remember to keep your elbows in to your sides to reduce the stress on your body when you are trimming. If you have a hedge that has grown taller than you feel comfortable trimming yourself you may want to contact a professional hedge trimmer to help you with the project.

When to trim your cedar hedge

Trimming your cedar hedges in May and October is an economical way to keep your hedgerow looking tidy. In spring, after new growth has flushed out, you will maintain your desired shape as well as prevent the hedge from getting too big for your yard. Trimming again in October allows you to cut back any new growth from the summer months, and gives you a neat looking hedge for the duration of winter.

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Snow damaged plants in the garden

This spring will surely be a time of repairing and replacing plants in Vancouver gardens.

Snow damage Juniperus, plant replacement, garden repairVancouver gardeners have experienced an extreme winter to say the least. Several snowfalls brought heavy, wet snow to our landscapes. Following the snow were periods of hard frost. Hedges and shrubs have been visibly hard hit by the weight of snow and, perhaps less visibly, by the effect of freezing weather. This spring will surely be a time of repairing and replacing plants in Vancouver gardens.
In order to repair winter damage to your hedges and shrubs, it will be necessary to prop plants back up, replant uprooted shrubs, tie hedges back together and prune broken branches. Hedges that have been bent into wave-like sculptures will need to be cut back into shape.

Snow damage yew hedge, plant replacement, garden repair, broken hedging

Damaged Yew Hedge

There are several types of hedges that can be cut right back to their framework, and will easily rejuvenate from old wood. These include English laurel, Portuguese laurel, Yew, and Boxwood. Unfortunately cedar and cypress cannot rejuvenate from old wood, they can only be cut into their green growth. If possible on cedars, where the branches are bent and not broken, it is best to use tree ties to secure branches back into an upright position.
Shrubs and plants that have been uprooted will need to be checked carefully for damage to the root system. Is the plant still alive? If so, then prop the plant back into place using a support. Then, cover the root zone all the way out to the drip line with a thin layer of bark mulch. The bark mulch will protect roots from further damage in case of another cold snap in late winter or early spring.

Snow damage California lilac plant replacement garden repair

Califonia Lilac broken at its root base and leaning over

In Vancouver, many gardens feature marginally hardy plants that we have grown accustomed to, and love for their uniqueness. However, in years where the weather is colder than usual and heavy frosts are sustained, there will inevitably be casualties among our shrubs and plants. One example of this is the California lilac, Ceanothus impressus, an evergreen shrub that bears honey-scented lilac coloured blooms in summer. California lilac is classified with a plant hardiness of Zone 8-10. In Zone 8, the lowest temperature range plants can tolerate is between -6.7 to -12.3C, and Zone 10 plants can tolerate low temperatures of +1 to -4C.
It is a good idea to begin working on damaged plant material in your garden now, keeping in mind that there may be more plants that need to be replaced in the spring once growth begins. Sadly, many new plantings that were installed last year may not have established themselves enough to be able to weather the snowy, cold winter. I would recommend getting into your garden often to scope out damage and know your plant replacement needs if you intend on buying new shrubs and perennials. Garden centres will surely be busy providing replacement plants, and there is a limited supply of nursery stock available each year. There has been a glut of hedging plants, especially cedars, since the drought in the summer of 2015. And since numerous local cedar growers have switched to growing blueberries, the supply isn’t what it used to be.

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NEW watering restrictions – as of July 3, 2015

Metro Vancouver has announced that we are at STAGE 2 of the Water Shortage Response Plan. This is because of drier than usual April and May. Please adjust your water use accordingly. Residents of Vancouver are encouraged to reduce their water use by an additional 20%.

Lawn and garden watering restrictions are as follows:

Residential lawn sprinkling
  • Even-numbered addresses: Monday morning only, 4:00am to 9:00am
  • Odd-numbered addresses: Thursday morning only, 4:00am to 9:00am
New (unestablished) residential and commercial lawns, trees, shrubs and flowers Sprinkling outside restricted times allowed only at the City’s discretion and with water exemption permits to be displayed on the lawn
Flowers and vegetable gardens, decorative planters, shrubs, and trees No restrictions

For more information, visit:



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Top 5 Shapes for a Stylish Hedge

Whether cedar, laurel, yew or boxwood hedge, these hedges can all be shaped into distinct styles. Formal, square hedges are commonly found on West Side properties. Recently, we have noticed a trend toward softer looking rounded corners. Rounded hedges are as tidy in appearance while providing another style option. Let’s look at the top shapes for hedges.

formal hedge trimmingFormal Hedges: straight sides and straight, flat top. A Classic shape borrowed from formal French gardens. Straight sides with a rounded top is a softer variation of the squared off formal hedge.

Pyramidal sides can have either a straight, level top or rounded top edge as well. Also considered formal, the advantage of the pyramidal form is that it allows light to hit the bottom edge of the hedge. The narrower top prevents shading of the lower branches.

Informal hedge trimmingInformal hedges take on any shape, yet are easy to keep sheared and tidy. These may be wavy, or follow the natural curves of plants that have grown together over time.

Changing Shapes

In order to change the style of your hedge, please take note. Cedar can only be cut into its green growth, as they just hold 2-3 years worth of needles. This limits the extent to which the shape can be changed.

Yews, English laurel and boxwood will rejuvenate from old wood. Cut a laurel to the ground, and a new hedge will sprout from there. Keep in mind, it can take two to three years for a hedge to fill in after such a hard pruning.

Now you have creative license to get stylish with your hedges.

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Boxwood Blight

There’s a new fungus in town, Clindrocladium pseudonaviculatum, that may affect your boxwoods, Japanese spurge and Himalayan sweetbox shrubs. Boxwood blight affects infected plants rapidly, but there are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the spread of this disease.

boxwood blight infographic



What is the history of boxwood blight in North America?

Since the first confirmed case in the United States in 2011, boxwood blight (caused by Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum) has spread to 10 states and two Canadian provinces. All of the commercial boxwoods that researchers have tested are vulnerable, as well as other plants in the boxwood (Buxus) family, including pachysandra and sweet box (Sarcococca species).

How will my plants be affected?

Although this fungal disease doesn’t typically kill its host plant, it does have a serious impact on the plant’s appearance-often stripping the shrub of its leaves completely. Although the roots remain healthy, infected boxwood looks dead, thanks to its bare branches. With still no cure in sight, the home gardener’s best line of defense is prevention. As you’re buying boxwood this year, be sure to carefully inspect each plant before making a purchase, and don’t ignore the disease’s early symptoms if you spot them in your garden.

What are the Symptoms and Spread?

  •  The pathogen is spread by water splash or wind driven rain, and on contaminated tools, debris and animals.
  •  The spores are very sticky and do not generally travel far in wind currents.
  •  In the nursery, rain splash moves spores from the soil on to lower foliage of the plants. The first symptoms are small, circular leaf spots that are purplish-brown in color and may show zonation. Over time, the spots coalesce and 100% of the foliage can become blighted.
  •  All of the lower leaves will drop on severely infected nursery stock and tufts of green growth will only be present at the end of branches.
  •  Stem cankers are also very common and large amounts of white fungal mycelium will be present on the foliage.
  •  The disease cannot be identified by visual symptoms because there are other pathogens of boxwoods with similar symptoms.

Is There a Control for Boxwood Blight?

  •  The fungicides that were recommended to control the pathogen are not currently registered in Canada for use on nursery stock. Further work is necessary to identify the most effective fungicides and to expand their registration to boxwoods.

What are the Best Practices Used for Controlling the Spread of Boxwood Blight?

  • At Higher Ground Gardens, we are disinfecting all pruning tools using Lysol between each job site we visit.
  • If you plan on adding boxwood, pachysandra or sweet box plants to your garden this year, be sure to inspect plants before bringing them home from the nursery.
  • It is also recommended that you avoid introducing new boxwoods to established boxwood plantings that are doing well in your garden.

The Canada Nursery and Landscape Association is continually updating the horticulture industry on the spread of this disease. We will also keep you up to date with any new information we receive.

This article was written using information from the articles by Kelly Ivors, associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University as well as North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension, the Canadian Landscape and Nursery Association, and Fine Gardening.com

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Hedge Trimming: Service for Vancouver Homeowners

Hedge Trimming: Cedar Hedges, Laurel Hedges, Holly Hedges, Boxwood Hedges, Yew Hedges and more!

If you are in the Vancouver area, then you know that we have fast growing hedges that seem to grow like crazy. If you have decided that trimming your cedar hedge ortrimming a laurel hedge is something best left to a professional, let us help you and be your annual hedge trimming professionals.

The four most common fast-growing hedges in Vancouver are all ones you are probably very familiar with:

 Emerald Cedar – Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’

Cedar hedge

Cedar hedge

Grows to 3 meters tall (10 feet). Solid green colour with quite a narrow shape. Does not have unattractive winter seed pods. One or two trimmings per year to be expected. Plant 2 feet apart. Grows over one foot per year. Does best when oriented north-south. If planted in an east-west line, the north side will be shaded out and get thin over time. Needs sun for best look.


Brown’s yew – Taxus media ‘Brownii’

Yew hedge

Yew hedge

Grows to 2.5 meters (8 feet). Broad columnar tree with upright branches. If you have a shady area this is a great hedge plant option. This male variety does not produce seed pods which are toxic. Requires little maintenance with 1 trimming per year once grown. Plant 1.5 to 2 feet apart.



English LaurelPrunus laurocerasus

English laurel hedge

English laurel hedge

Grows to 5 metres (15 feet) if not trimmed. Deep green colour with shiny, reflective broad leaves. The English Laurel hedge is an excellent option as you can keep the laurel hedge at any height. This fast growing hedge grows in average soils and does well in sun or shade. Considered a fast-growing hedge with up to 2 feet per year of new growth. Plant 1.5 feet apart.


What you get with your Hedge Trimming Service:

  • landscape technician trimming laurel hedgeProfessional service
  • Commercial machines
  • Detailed, tidy clean up of clippings
  • All debris removed from your property
  • Uniformed landscaping staff
  • Trained horticulturists, landscape technicians and certified arborists working on your property


Benefits of Hedge Trimming:

  • Keep your hedges clean, tidy with straight lines
  • Train hedges to grow how you want them
  • Keep unwanted growth away from house walls, eaves and gutters
  • Prevent hedge from getting too wide with regular service

Call 778-323-1502 for a free estimate

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Spring Garden Clean Up: 3 Ways To Get Rid of Moss In Your Landscape.

Three Ways To Get Rid of Moss In Your Landscape.

Moss on the pathways.

As the spring garden clean up season gets under way in Vancouver, after a high rainfall winter with several snowfalls, it’s noticeably slippery on sidewalks, driveways and decks. Professional pressure washing is a service that’s usually done in one day or less for a typical residential lot in Vancouver.  The real bonus of driveway cleaning and sidewalk cleaning is the knowledge that your property is no longer a liability to you. Slippery surfaces can easily lead to falling accidents. Pressure washing is the fastest, easiest and most environmentally friendly way of getting rid of moss and mildew on sidewalks and patios.

Moss in the lawn.

An application of moss killer during your early spring garden clean up will help reduce moss in the lawn and make room for grass to grow. If you want a lush, green lawn, then it is necessary to remove competing moss from turf areas. Changing the pH level of the soil your lawn grows in helps to eliminate moss. Adding lime reduces the acidity of your soil. Choose rapid lime or dolomite lime for fastest results.

Moss in the garden.

Remove patches of moss by lifting out the entire patch using a trowel. Moss propagates quickly when it is chopped up into small pieces and spread about. So don’t be tempted to cultivate it into the soil and rake it around. When moss is growing in the garden beds, it is a sign that the pH level of the soil is on the acidic side. Use moss as an indicator to let you know when you need to add lime, composted bark mulch or composted manure to your garden or lawn. Added lime and nutrients neutralize the soil’s pH level, creating a more hospitable growing environment for plants, not moss.

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Pressure Washing: Tips, Techniques, and Equipment Usage Guide

Simply choosing the right pressure washing equipment is only the start. After receiving proper training in how to use it, all the elements must be put together properly for optimum effect.

Pressure washing: compare paths.

Pressure washing: compare paths. Right path just got pressure washing service..

This article provides information on how to get the most out of your pressure washing equipment.

Two types of pressure washers and how they work

Pressure washing is a lot of fun to do—and rewarding in terms of results—that you’ll be searching for concrete driveways, sidewalks and stairs to clean once you’ve finished your own. You can rent or buy a pressure washer to clean many outdoor surfaces. Discover how to clean concrete safely and efficiently by following the pressure washing tips below.

Pressure washing equipment is either powered by an electric motor or gas engine, runs a pump that pressurizes the water from your garden hose to 1,000 lbs. or more then forces water out through a spray wand. The higher the pressure (measured in pounds per square inch—psi), the tougher the cleaning jobs they can tackle. Both types require a steady, uninterrupted supply of water (in gallons per minute—gpm). Most homeowners will find that pressure washing equipment with a pressure range of 1,300 to 2,400 psi works best for occasional home use.

Electric pressure washers deliver 1,300 to 1,400 psi, require about 1-1/2 gpm and are the best choice for light-duty cleaning like washing cars (Photo 3), outdoor grills and garage floors (Photo 4). They generally cost less and are quieter, lighter in weight and more portable than gas-powered washers. Remember that water flow rates of less than 4 gallons per minute – found on general consumer (homeowner) units – are not high enough to be competitive because of increased cleaning time, which raises labor costs.

Most pressure washing equipment that you’ll find for rent or sale are gas-powered. This type can deliver higher water pressure than the electric kind, some more than 3,000 psi. But gas-powered washers also require more water: 2 to 3 gpm. These washers are the best choice for bigger jobs. You can usually rent one at a tool rental store or home improvement store.

Pressure washing Before photo

Pressure washing Before photo

Commercial contractors generally use 4 to 6/gpm at 1500 to 3,500/psi for most cleaning applications. An exception to this is wood cleaning. Here 500 to 2,000/psi is preferred to reduce any damage of the wood.

Washing Tips and Techniques

  • Always wet the surface with water before pressure washing. Presoaking helps to soften unwanted moss and mildew buildup
  • Hot water is a better solvent than cold water
Pressure washing after photo

Pressure washing after photo

Nozzle Selection

There are two factors that need to be considered when choosing the proper nozzle: the nozzle orifice size and the spray angle. These determine the gallons per minute at a particular pressure of the water flow. To choose your nozzle size you need to know the gallons per minute (GPM) and pounds per square inch (PSI) necessary for the job you are doing.

When the nozzle size increases, the PSI of your pressure washer is reduced while the flow remains the same. By reducing the pressure of your washer with the nozzle, you will decrease both the PSI and GPM. Knowledgeable contractors reduce the PSI of their pressure washers by increasing nozzle size in order to keep the GPM at its maximum.

 Spray Nozzles for Different Tasks

Pressure washers that deliver less than 2,400 psi generally come with a single adjustable spray nozzle that delivers zero to 60-degree fan patterns. Some brands offer accessory “rotating” or “turbo” nozzles that clean more effectively than standard adjustable nozzles because they spin the water stream.

Heavier-duty units generally come with four or five color-coded, individual nozzle tips (three are shown here). They create specific fan patterns: wider (for using detergents), medium (for general cleaning) and narrower (for blasting deep stains).

Important note: Point the spray wand away from people and property when starting the pressure washer.

Understanding PSI (Pounds per Square Inch)

Water pressure from the pressure washing unit is measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. This pressure is the amount of force delivered to the surface being cleaned, and is the critical factor in breaking debris from that surface. PSI is determined by the orifice size of the nozzle tip and the flow rate (GPM). Remember, as nozzle size increases or decreases so will PSI fluctuate accordingly.

Cleaning concrete sidewalks, driveways and stairs

Because of its light colour, concrete can become very unsightly very quickly given the right conditions. Concrete is a porous material and it harbours moisture and dirt promoting the growth of mould. Concrete cleaning for Higher Ground Gardens is straight-forward because we have the right pressure washing equipment. High-powered commercial pressure washing accompanied by the right nozzles are the only sure means of removal.

Request an estimate for your pressure washing service by filling out the form online today. See sidebar. Or call 778-323-1502 to schedule a free estimate now.

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Spring Pruning in the Garden

Hack the Winter Blues Away

If you love to prune, cut and saw your way through the garden, spring is a joyous time. As winter fades, keep shrubs healthy and maximize flowering by hacking the following shrubs down to a simple framework. For example, your Buddleja (butterfly bush) may be a feature plant situated at the back of the garden bed. In this case, cut the plant back to a height that will allow it to grow taller than the surrounding material. It will look like a naked stick when you’re done, but fear not! You will be rewarded with a flower-filled shrub when the warmth of spring speeds up the garden, adding about five to six feet of growth to the butterfly bush.

Shrubs you can prune worry-free

The following shrubs can be cut back in spring to encourage lots of summer growth. Do your pruning before the buds on the plant push out, i.e. while the plant is still dormant. For these plants it is best to remove old branches (the thickest ones) by pruning them out of the plant at the base. You will encourage young new canes to grow in their place.

Japanese angelica tree (Aralia elata)

Common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

St. John’s wort (Hypericum spp.)

Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa)

Spirea (Spiraea—most species and hybrids)

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus var. laevigatus)


Hard prune the list of shrubs below for amazing results. Hard pruning involves cutting back the plant to a fairly small framework as they are vigorous growers that can easily fill out in one season of growth.


Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii)

Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis cvs.)

Bush honeysuckle (Diervilla spp.)

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

Annabelle hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’)

PeeGee hydrangea (H. paniculata ‘Grandiflora’)

Ural false spirea (Sorbaria sorbifolia)

Five stamen tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima)

Quick Cut Backs

Give the garden a quick spruce-up by removing dead branches from shrubs and cutting back ornamental grasses and perennials that were left over winter. The garden will have an instant tidy look.  Perennials can be cut back right to the ground, removing any dead stems of foliage left over from last year’s growth. The simple act of removing dead, diseased or damaged branches from shrubs and small trees can go a long way to improving the overall look and health of the plants. I’m always surprised by this straightforward task and the visual impact it can have. Often just removing the 3 “D’s” (dead, diseased, damaged) is all that is needed to prune a shrub.

Spring Flowering Plants

Spring flowering plants should be left to flower before being pruned. Once they’ve bloomed and flowers are spent is the best time to prune these shrubs and trees. Cutting immediately after flowering allows plants time to set their buds for the following year during the growing season.

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses generally prefer to be cut back in spring. The only grasses to leave alone are Carex, or evergreen sedges. When cutting back grasses, cut them using secateurs into a neat dome shape. Leave three inches of the existing stems above the base of the plant to avoid cutting into the crown of the plant. New growth will sprout from here and fill in rapidly.

Debris Disposal

All of your garden cuttings can be disposed of in your city’s green waste bin, to be hauled away and turned into compost. If you would like to add some woody material to your own compost bin, consider renting a shredder from your local equipment rental shop. A shredder makes quick work of breaking down all your branches and stems and adds a vital layer to the compost pile so it’s not just leaves, grass clippings and herbaceous material.

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