Landscaping Your Newly Purchased Property in Victoria
Have you just purchased an older home in an established neighborhood in Sidney, Saanich or Victoria BC? Chances are you’re dealing with a very established and mature landscape too! Oak Bay, James Bay, Sidney, Deep Cove, North Saanich, West Saanich are all areas with homes that could be well over 50 years old. Purchasing a home with an established and mature landscape can pose unique challenges for a homeowner who might want to make changes to better suit their families use of the property.
Below are a list of different challenges we’ve encountered as professional landscapers working on properties throughout Greater Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula. This post includes information directly from the CRD (Capital Regional District) and The City of Victoria websites pertaining to various landscaping projects a homeowner might wish to take on. If you’ve just purchased a home here and intend to complete a few landscaping projects you might want to bookmark this page as it will be a helpful resource for you and cut down on the amount of searching you’ll need to do.
Landscaping For an Older Home in An Established Neighborhood
The older the home and neighborhood the more “established” and “mature” the landscaping is going to be. This could mean large mature trees, large mature shrubs and hedges and likely garden beds that could be overgrown and out-of-control. There could be existing hardscaped elements such as porches, patios, walkways and retaining walls that are either still in great shape or they could be showing their age and might need to be replaced with more modern materials.
Landscaping for an older home in an established neighborhood usually starts with a good clean up of the property so we have a baseline to move forward from. Trimming and pruning the trees on the property, removing black berry bushes or other intrusive growth, reshaping shrubs and hedges, cleaning out garden beds of debris, mowing the lawns and re-establishing the edges of your landscape around gardens and other elements is an excellent start.
The initial clean up will make a big difference in curb appeal for any Victoria property that hasn’t received this kind of landscaping care in a few years.
So What’s Next After a Good Clean Up…?
Once we’ve cleaned up the property and brought it back into a more manageable state you might just want to stop right there! You’d be surprised at how good a property looks after it’s received a good professional “haircut”!
Moving forward with additional landscaping projects would obviously depend on your particular property and the space you have to work with, your hopes and desires for the property and last but not least the budget you have to work with. Yes, that pesky budget.
Redoing Gardens or Building New Ones
If you’re older home has garden beds that have been neglected for a time they will no doubt be full of overgrown weeds and wildly growing plants and shrubs that will need to be trimmed back into submission or removed entirely. Not too mention your garden beds could have a pile of organic debris like leaves and pine needles if you have large mature trees on the property, which is quite common in Victoria. Large Oak trees, Maple trees, Weeping Willows and others can contribute to more leaves on your property than you could imagine!
Some homeowners do choose to restore the existing garden beds by having all the weeds removed, tilling in some fresh soil, re-planting and laying down a layer of fresh mulch. If the beds aren’t in too bad of shape and were regularly maintained by the previous owners then they could easily be salvageable and this option would be worth while.
Other homeowners prefer to start fresh, removing the existing gardens (usually with a small excavator) and then with their own ideas or the help of a designer (highly recommended) come up with a new plan for the back or front yard for a landscaping team to implement.
Boulder gardens, water gardens, zen gardens, low maintenance gardens, xeriscaped gardens, edible gardens, you name it! Victoria is home to just about every type of garden imaginable and we are fortunate enough to have pristine conditions for gardening and landscaping projects almost year round.
Rebuilding Cracked or Collapsing Retaining Walls
Retaining walls are beautiful additions to any property in Victoria but on older properties it’s not uncommon to find retaining walls that have large cracks, have started to bow in the center or have even collapsed under the weight of the earth they hold back. Most often these problems are the result of poor drainage and the resulting hydrostatic pressure (water pressure) behind the wall causes extreme stress, leading to cracks and collapse.
We see a variety of materials used for retaining walls from railroad ties to formed concrete and if they’ve failed then it’s usually a case of removing it from the property and replacing it with a more modern and appealing retaining wall product like Allan Block or another “lego like” modern retaining wall system.
Retaining Walls & Building Permits in Victoria
In the CRD (Capital Regional District) retaining walls that are over 1.2 meters (3.9ft) in height will require a building permit. In addition any retaining walls over 1.2 meters (3.9ft) in height must be designed and signed off by a geo-technical and structural engineer to ensure the wall is properly constructed for your site conditions. An exception applies to the permit for “terraced or tiered” retaining walls where the distance between terraces is equal to or greater than twice the height of each terrace. This does not account for any covenants that might be on your property.
Replacing Cracked or Sunken Patios
A concrete or brick paver patio that was installed 20+ years ago might not be looking as good as it once did. It’s not uncommon for the ground to settle and shift (often from poor drainage) and for a patio to become uneven or a concrete slab to crack or collapse or even tree roots to cause damage.
Repairing a concrete or paver patio is not as easy as many homeowners think and a repair is only a temporary fix if the patio is no longer level. Quite often an old patio or concrete slab will need to be replaced rather than repaired.
This is a labor intensive process as the old concrete or pavers will need to be removed first, usually with a jack hammer and a small machine like a skid steer or mini excavator. After your old patio or concrete has been removed the bare land can then be regraded, prepped with proper drainage (to help prevent this problem from happening again) and a new patio can be installed. This is a fairly involved project but it afflicts many Victoria area homes, especially those in established neighborhoods where the homes are 30-100 years old.
Removing Dangerous Trees
Tree removal is a sticky subject in Greater Victoria as there are some fairly strict rules when it comes to what can or can’t be removed from a property. A permit from the city is required to prune, remove or alter any protected tree. This also includes trees which are dead, dying or hazardous.
If you have a tree on your Victoria property that you’d like to remove you will need to have a ISA certified arborist come out to look at the tree and file a report.
From The City of Victoria Website
The following native species are protected Over 50 cm in height:
- Garry Oak Quercus garryana
- Arbutus Arbutus menziesii
- Pacific Dogwood Cornus nuttalii
- Pacific Yew Taxus brevifolia
Over 60 cm in diameter at breast height
- Western Red Cedar Thuja plicata
- Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii
- Big Leaf Maple Acer macrophyllum
Any tree on private property with a trunk over 80 cm in diameter at breast height is also protected. Any tree growing on a steep slope, or within 15 metres of a watercourse or trees identified as significant are also protected.
Replacing The Lawn With Sod, Seed or Syn-Lawn
If the lawn on your older property was unkept and not taken care of over the years then replacement is usually the fastest way to a beautiful lawn. Whether you choose to go with sod (turf) or seed it really depends on your budget and how fast you’d like to enjoy your new lawn. With sod, you have a lawn in 2 weeks. With seed it can take quite a bit longer.
Another option we’re starting to see our customers request is synthetic lawn. It looks like a real lawn but you’ll never have to water it or mow it again! You won’t need to store your lawn mower anymore and you won’t need an expensive irrigation system either, unless you have some gardens or hedges you need watered.
There is some additional prep work required for the installation of a synthetic lawn but the finished product looks fantastic.
Installing An Irrigation System
Without an irrigation system in place your lawns and gardens are going to be at the mercy of mother nature and you, if you plan to water on your own. From a professional standpoint, this rarely ever works out to the benefit of the landscape! Regular and consistent watering is key to a healthy and thriving landscape, yard and garden. This poses a problem for those hooked up to city water where during the summer months there are usually strict regulations in place.
With a properly installed and setup irrigation system you’ll be delivering precise amounts of water to each area of your property (called zones). If you have a garden or area of your property that requires more water than another, this can be programmed right into the irrigation controller for hands free operation.
Stage 1 of the Water Conservation Bylaw Use Schedule is in effect May 1 through September 30, each and every year, unless more stringent water conservation measures are required.
Read More on Watering Schedules
Working With a Landscape Designer
There are many benefits to working with a landscape designer if your project is quite large and ambitious. You’ll get the benefit of their experience in designing other landscapes in the area, their knowledge of local and native plants and their perspective on the latest landscaping trends.
Yes, it’s not cheap to work with a professional landscape designer, you can expect to add $600 – $5000+ to your project cost but the reward is a beautifully designed space that you might not have even thought of if it were left up to you.
A designer will spend time getting to know how you intend to use the property and what you’d like to see in your landscape. Will your children or grandchildren play on the property? Do you have pets? Do you like to entertain guests frequently? Do you just want a peaceful place to relax and read on a sunday morning?
If you’re doing the landscaping on your own there are several garden centers in the Victoria area that provide free landscape design services for customers who are buying plants and other landscaping supplies.
Island Pro Mowing and Landscaping Specializes in Landscaping For Newly Purchased Homes in Established Neighborhoods.
If you’ve just purchased a home in an established neighborhood in Victoria or the surrounding area and you want to complete some landscaping work you’ve literally got dozens and dozens of companies to choose from. We know this…
We just want you to know that when you choose Island Pro Mowing and Landscaping you are partnering with a small, locally owned and operated landscaping company that is big enough to handle your toughest landscaping projects yet small enough to still care about your individual needs as our customer.
If you would like to have a consultation and estimate for some landscaping projects on your Victoria property please give us a call 250-812-4676 or fill out our contact form and we’ll get right back to you so we can schedule an appropriate time.