The Best Paint Colours For Selling Your Home

If you’re in the process of selling your home, you’re probably busy with projects that will make your home more appealing to potential buyers. While a new coat of paint is a great way to freshen things up, you need to be smart in your colour choices. The wrong colour in a particular room can actually cause your home to sell for less. Take a look at the best paint colours for selling your home and which ones you should avoid.


Best Colour = Light Blue

On average, homes with light blue bathrooms tend to sell for $2000-$4000 more than any other colour. Why? It has to do with how colours make us feel. Light blue is fresh and airy, it reminds us of the sky or the ocean. Calm and soothing light blue walls can make your bathroom feel like an oasis retreat if done right. If you’re looking for the right shade of blue for your bathroom, opt for something with grey tones or even a periwinkle.

Colour to Avoid = White

While you may be surprised to read this, there’s a good reason why white does not always work in bathrooms. White walls show dirt easier and can make a room look boring. If your bathroom doesn’t get a lot of natural light or is cramped, the white walls will make it look flat and uninviting. While you want to create a blank slate for potential buyers, you don’t want to strip the room completely of personality. According to a study done by Zillow, white walls in a bathroom could lower your selling price by up to $4000.

Dining Room

Best Colour = Dark Blue

Another room that loves blue is the dining room. Homeowners who painted their dining rooms slate or navy blue found that their homes sold for almost $2000 more as compared to dining rooms with white walls. This could be due to the dark blues creating an inviting atmosphere that reminds us of fine restaurants with all the comforts of home. What potential buyer wouldn’t want that?

Colour to Avoid = Brown

Terracotta, oat, and sandy browns are all colours that should stay out of the dining room. According to research by Zillow, homes with dining rooms painted brown sold for $1600 less on average. The reason for the aversion to brown has to do with its undertones. Red is associated with aggression and orange is one of the least-liked colours in the world. Put those two together in a dark brown room and you’ll have unhappy diners on your hands.


Best Colour = Blue

You’re probably starting to notice a trend here, Blue is the most popular colour in the world, so it’s no surprise it has the widest appeal to potential buyers. Blue is calming and soothing in a room that can sometimes be hectic when cooking a large family meal or entertaining guests. Painting your kitchen a soft grey-blue can increase your selling price by up to $1800. Tuxedo kitchen cabinets (upper and lower cabinets painted in two different colours) in particular saw an increase of up to $1500. Try pairing dark blue lower cabinets with fresh white cabinets up top for a look potential buyers will love.

Colour to Avoid = Yellow

This goes to show you need to do your colour research before you sell. In 2016, yellow was found to be the go-to colour for kitchens. Now in 2018, no one wants a yellow kitchen. This could be due to the fact that yellow is a tricky colour to get right. If your yellow is too bright, it can be off-putting and in some cases even cause anxiety. Causing potential buyers stress as they walk through your home is something you want to avoid at all costs. If your kitchen is an overpowering yellow colour, you may want to reconsider before you list your home.

Living Room

Best Colour = Beige or Taupe

Neutral colour lovers rejoice! This is the one room in your house where you can go as plain as possible with your colour. From beige to taupe or oatmeal, living rooms with neutral walls tend to sell for $1800 more than those with white walls. The reason why? The living room is one of the easiest rooms to visualize with your own stuff. This means that potential buyers want to see a blank slate where they can envision their own couch and artwork on the walls. Keeping it neutral is best for both you and potential buyers.

Colour to Avoid = Blue

The living room appears to be the one room in the house where blue will negatively affect the selling price. If you thought you could get away with painting your entire home blue, think again. For whatever reason, a blue living room leaves potential buyers feeling lukewarm and not in a mood to buy. While blue is a popular colour for almost every room, your living room will benefit from a neutral coat of paint instead.


How To Make Moving Easier

Moving is all at once an exciting and hectic time. While you’re excited about a fresh start in a new place, you have to somehow manage to live your day to day life while packing it all up. If you’re lucky enough to be getting ready to move, then you’ll want to read these moving tips that will make packing up your home easier leading up to and on the big day.

How To Make Moving Easier

1 month before

If you haven’t already started, now is the time to purge your home. The last thing you want to do is move unwanted items from your old place to the new one. Take the time now to donate and give away anything that’s in good condition and you no longer use. Throw out anything that’s half broken and worn out. It’s finally time to part with your broken microwave and running shoes from college.

One month before the move is also a good time to get boxes and start packing the things that you can live without over the next month. Things like holiday decorations, books, and family pictures can all be boxed up and set aside. There’s no need to pack up everyday items like plates and cutlery, but your fine China and special occasion flatware can be boxed up now.

Another way to prepare for your move is to designate a room in the house for packed boxes. Not only will it keep things organized so you won’t forget a box, it will be a big help for the movers on moving day.

Bonus packing tips:

Buy boxes that are all the same size. This way you can easily stack them on top of each other, making storage until the move and then loading into the moving van on moving day, much easier.
Label the boxes by name and room – this way you know where the box is going and who it belongs to. This is especially helpful if you have kids.
While on the subject of labeling, make sure to label both sides of the boxes. This way no matter which side of the box is showing, you know who the box belongs to and where it goes.

1 week before

By now you should have a majority of your items packed up. One week before the move is the time to kick it into high gear and pack away the weekly used items. A great way to help you decide what is not really every day necessary is to pack as if you’re going on a week long trip. Take out your suitcase and put in enough clothes for the next week and your toiletries. If there’s anything else you absolutely cannot live without this next week, you can pack that in your suitcase too.

Prepare a bag full of things you’ll need your first few days there. This includes scissors or a knife to open your boxes and garbage bags to throw out any packing materials. It’s also a good idea to pack a box with some snacks, glasses or mugs so you can have a drink while unpacking, and some dishes and cutlery. Pack some paper towel, hand and dish soap, and cleaning supplies as you’ll definitely want to clean up the new place. Think of anything you might need on moving day and add it to this “day of” box.

1 day before

The day has finally come and you’re moving tomorrow! Set aside some empty boxes and tape for last minute items you may have forgotten to pack. You’ll want to do one final walk through of your place to make sure you haven’t accidentally left something on a shelf or in a drawer. Make sure all boxes have been moved into the main room that you designated a month ago, that way you won’t forget a box and leave it behind.

Make sure you have laid out your moving clothes for the next day and have comfortable footwear on as you’ll likely be running back and forth.


When to Hire a General Contractor

If you’re planning a major home renovation, you’ve probably heard the term General Contractor come up. You may be curious as to what a general contractor does and if you really need to hire one. Before you begin your next project, take some time to read through this article to find out why and when you should hire a general contractor. It may end up saving you a lot of stress, time and money.

What is a General Contractor?

Most simply put, a general contractor is the person in charge of getting your project done. There are both commercial and residential general contractors, but we will be focusing on residential general contractors as they are the kind you would be hiring for any home improvement project.

A residential general contractor is the person who executes larger home projects and organizes all of the trades involved with the project. If you’re planning a kitchen renovation, this will require the work of several trades or subcontractors as they’re sometimes referred to. A general contractor will find and hire these subcontractors, work out the administrative duties involved, and ensure your kitchen renovation is completed on time and on budget. They oversee all aspects of the project so you don’t have to worry about it.

What Does a General Contractor Do?

A general contractor will oversee your entire project and make sure it is done to your satisfaction. Let’s imagine you’re getting ready for a full kitchen renovation. You may not realize that a kitchen renovation involves several kinds of subcontractors, all performing different tasks at different times. For one kitchen reno, you may need the help of an electrician, a plumber, a countertop manufacturer, a cabinet contractor, a flooring specialist, painters, and finally someone to install your new appliances. That’s a long list of people for you to be in charge of!

Hiring a general contractor will ensure that the proper trades are hired and the work gets done. General contractors know how to hire, coordinate and schedule all the subcontractors so you don’t have to. They also have an advantage over the average homeowner because they know pricing and good quality work when they see it.

Another thing your general contractor will take care of for you is all administrative tasks. From ensuring all subcontractors are paid, to getting building permits, to securing insurance for all workers. Your general contractor will have the appropriate liability insurance and workers compensation should anything go wrong. Often times basic homeowner insurance will not be sufficient enough for a renovation project.

Hiring a general contractor also comes with a warranty of at least one year. This means that if anything should go wrong with your newly renovated kitchen, you can simply call your general contractor to fix it. They will either take care of the issue themselves or get in touch with the original subcontractor to make the repair. If you do not have a general contractor, you will be the one trying to track down the plumber you hired. You will also have to pay for any repairs or touch ups out of pocket if you act as your own general contractor.

Why Do You Need a General Contractor?

A general contractor will take much of the stress out of your renovation experience. You will not have to worry about working out confusing schedules or having the right permit. Your general contractor will take care of all of that for you — that’s why you hired them.

Another benefit of having a general contractor on your project is that they will always be the single point of contract. Should anything go wrong with your project, or there is a disagreement between trades, your general contractor will be able to step in and sort it all out. General contractors have seen it all, and will know how to handle any problem should it come along.

General contractors come with a wealth of knowledge and experience that is invaluable to your project. They understand how homes are constructed and know the sequence that projects should be carried out. They also understand building codes and other legislation so you don’t have to.

When Should You Hire a General Contractor?

Hiring a residential general contractor is not always necessary. In fact, there are many jobs that will only require you to work with a subcontractor directly. If you’re unsure of whether you need one or not, keep these tips in mind. You should hire a general contractor if…

The job will take longer than a week
The job requires several different subcontractors
The job requires permits
If you are simply having your living room repainted or your shower drain fixed, you do not need to hire a general contractor. If you are having a major renovation done, such as your bathroom, kitchen, or basement, it’s a good idea to invest in a general contractor.

How Much Does a General Contractor Cost?

The cost of a general contractor depends on the price of the overall completed project. Some will charge a flat fee but it is more common that you will end up paying a percentage of the overall project to the general contractor. In general, they charge between 10 and 20 percent of the total job cost. This price includes all of the total cost of materials, permits, and subcontractors. Keep in mind the countless hours of stress and planning a general contractor will take away from you. Paying someone else to oversee all details is well worth the money.


Common Electrical Hazards You Probably Don’t Know About

You don’t need to be an expert electrician to keep your home safe from electrical hazards. Learning how to spot a potential electrical hazard is the best way to prevent an accident or major fire from happening in your home. Read through this list to find out the most common electrical hazards you probably don’t know about and how to prevent them.

1. Old or Outdated Wiring

Old or outdated wiring can pose a number of risks, including an increased chance of an electrical fire, power surges, and other serious issues. This is why it is so important that you do not try to DIY electrical work. One way to ensure that your wiring is up to date and safe is to have it inspected by a licensed electrician every few years. If the wiring in your home is over 30 years old, you should have it inspected annually.

If the wiring in your home is damaged, cracked or worn out, this can increase the chance of electrical related accidents. Some hazards to look out for include:

Overheated wires and cords
Frayed appliance or extension cords
Damaged electrical appliances
Pinched or pierced cords caused by heavy objects on top
Cracked wire insulation caused by heat, age or bending
Wires chewed by rodents

You should call an electrician immediately if you notice the lights in your home tend to dim or flicker for no reason. Other signs of poor wiring include your breakers repeatedly tripping or if your outlets feel warm or let out big sparks. These are signs you probably need to repair the wiring throughout your home.

2. Outlets and Appliances Close to Water

This should go without saying, but electricity and water do not mix. Water conducts electricity, so by keeping your outlets away from water, you are greatly reducing the risk of a shock. This is why outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and other rooms with water sources should be installed a good distance away from the source of water.

You should never use any electrical device near a source of water. This means blow drying your hair while in the bathtub, or bringing a radio into the pool. As a general rule, keep this in mind: if it needs to be plugged in, it shouldn’t go near water. Even having wet hands and operating a plugged-in appliance can run the risk of a shock.

To reduce the risk of shocks, always unplug appliances when you’re not using them. If a plugged-in appliance accidentally does get wet, be sure not to unplug it. Instead, go to your electrical panel box and turn off the power source that the appliance is plugged into. Only then is it safe to unplug the appliance. If you’re concerned about the safety of the appliance, have a qualified electrician or appliance repair specialist take a look.

3. Using Water on Electrical Fires

Our natural human instinct is to pour water on fire when we see it. While this is fine for many types of fires, it’s something you should never do to put out an electrical fire. Pouring water on an electrical fire will further fuel the flames and could result in electrocution. If an electrical fire happens in your home, use a fire extinguisher. If you do not have one, turn off your power and evacuate your home. Call the fire department and have the professionals take on the fire.

4. Curious Children

Young children are curious about the world around them. An exposed outlet can cause serious harm to a child who may stick their fingers or a toy into it. Prevention is key to avoid any kind of accident.

You have a couple of options to protect your children from electrical outlets. The easiest fix is to add plastic closures or covers to any unused outlets within their reach. You can also have your outlets replaced with extra-safe powerpoints. They will replace your normal powerpoints and help to prevent objects and fingers from going into an outlet. If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, you can install child safety wall plates. These plates have built-in outlet covers that automatically snap shut place when the outlet is not in use.

5. Misuse of Extension Cords and Power Bars

Extension cords and power bars make it easier for us to use our electronics and appliances, but they also come with their own safety concerns. Make sure that when using an extension cord that it is not in the way of where people walk and that it cannot be tripped on. Never put an extension cord under a carpet or rug or anything else that could cause it to heat up too much. It’s also important that you use the right extension cord for the job. If you’re running a cord outside, be sure to use one designed to withstand the outdoors.

When it comes to power bars, make sure you are not overloading and plugging too many things in at once. Doing so can cause many issues including sparks, shocks, electrical fires and ruining the items plugged into the power bar. Do not plug a power bar into the outlet of another power bar. Plugging two power bars together can result in an overload.

Before you plug anything into an extension cord or power bar, ensure it is in good working condition. If you find you’re constantly using an extension cord or power bar in the same area of your home, consider having additional electrical outlets installed by an electrician.

6. Lightbulbs

You’ve probably never considered lightbulbs to be dangerous, but they too have the potential for shocks or an electrical fire. The potential for hazards increases when lightbulbs are kept near flammable materials such as beds, drapes, plastics, and upholstery.

You should always turn off a light before replacing the bulb. Never attempt to replace a bulb with wet hands as this could result in a shock or worse. When replacing bulbs, make sure they are the correct wattage for the lamp. If you’re concerned, it’s always safer to go a little lower with the wattage than higher. If you need a brighter light, buy a new lamp that can handle a higher wattage.


Common Mistakes That Ruin Your Plumbing

The ease of modern day plumbing is something we can take for granted until something goes wrong. The good news is that many of the common problems we experience are largely preventable. To ensure your plumbing continues to work smoothly, avoid these common mistakes that can end up ruining your plumbing and costing you time and money.

1. Your Toilet is Not a Trash Can

This is something many of us are guilty of. How many times have you tossed something into your toilet without stopping to think if it should really go in there? If you’ve been treating your toilet like a trash can, this is something you should stop doing immediately. Ideally only natural waste and toilet paper should go in your toilet and nothing else.

Many homeowners make the mistake of throwing things like food scraps, coffee grounds, and even cat litter in their toilets. These items can overflow the toilet, cause clogged pipes, and lead to expensive repairs. Besides these issues, every clog weakens your pipes and shortens their lifespan, meaning you’ll need to replace them sooner than you once expected.

As an added reminder, only liquids should go down your drains. Keep these items out of your toilet:

Coffee grounds
Oils, fats, grease
Cat litter
Paper towels
Cotton balls
2. Stop Putting Grease Down the Drain

This is another common mistake that is detrimental to your plumbing. If you’ve been throwing away your weekend brunch bacon grease down the toilet or kitchen sink drain for years, now is the time to stop. The grease is not simply washed away once you run the tap. Instead, it hardens inside your pipes and can create a clog so severe only a plumber will be able to remove it.

Instead, allow grease to solidify and then dispose of it in the garbage. Some households will use old coffee cans to store grease and throw it out in one large batch as opposed to a little bit in the garbage here and there.

3. Attempting DIY Repairs

Unless you’re a licensed plumber, you should hold off on attempting to repair your own plumbing issues. A seemingly easy to repair problem could end up being much more difficult and involved than you thought. The last thing you want to do is create a bigger problem that will end up costing you more money. If you’re at all unsure of what the problem is, be safe and contact a licensed plumber first. Not only will you save yourself the hassle, you will also save time and money in the long run.

4. Crowding Pipes

This is something that might not have been entirely up to you, but is something you can correct if you see it. When installing a new bathroom, there should be ample space between the plumbing, fixtures, and walls. If your toilet and sink are crowded too closely together, this can result in a number of issues, including being uncomfortable and bumping into things in an odd layout.

The same is true for the kitchen. Make sure there is enough space around the dishwasher and that it is far enough away from the sink so that both can function properly. If your kitchen or bathroom has any spacing issues, a plumber will be able to asses the situation and make the necessary changes.

5. Too Many Appliances

Do you constantly have low water pressure in your home? This could be due to having too many appliances in your home that use water. For example, if you have a dishwasher, washing machine, and several 3 piece bathrooms throughout your home, it’s very likely that you could experience low water pressure.

One way to fix this issue is to be conscious of when you run each appliance. If you’re the kind of person who likes to multitask, doing your dishes, laundry and showering all at the same time could be negatively impacting all three tasks. Instead, set aside designated times to perform each task when you know the others aren’t happening. If this doesn’t help with your water pressure, consider hiring a plumber to take a closer look.


Removing Tree Stumps

If you have an unsightly tree stump in your yard that’s getting in the way, you’ve probably thought about having it removed. While you can always hire a professional to take care of it for you, for those who want to give it a shot on their own, we’ve found 5 ways to remove tree stumps.

1. Burn the Stump

For this method, you will be creating a small fire to burn the stump out of the ground. This is a relatively easy method that requires some time and supervision.


Chopped wood to burn
Matches or lighter


Before you can begin, it’s important to know if you’re allowed to have a fire on your property. There may be restrictions in your area especially if you live where draughts area concern. You can check online or give your local fire department a call to check.
Once you have the okay to go ahead, you will need to build a small fire around and on top of the stump. The stump should be at the centre of the fire.
Light the fire and keep it burning. Burning the stump to the ground will take several hours so it’s important you have the time set aside to keep an eye on it and add more wood.
Once the stump is gone you will need to shovel out the ash and discard it.
You can then fill the hole with sawdust. You may need to add some sawdust to refill the hole every few months as the ground naturally settles.

2. Chemical Stump Remover

This method is a bit more involved than burning the stump, but it works just as well. You will need to put in a bit more effort and the wait time is longer for the stump to be completely gone.


1 can of tree stump removal powder
Axe or shovel
Lighter or matches


Using a drill with a large bit, drill holes into the top of the stump. The holes should be evenly spaced out and the number of holes will depend on how big your stump is. Space them out a few inches and drill down about 12 inches deep.
Take your stump removal powder and add it to the holes. Be sure to read and follow the stump removal powder instructions as products can vary.
Stump removal powder is made up of potassium nitrate which causes the wood to soften and rot. It’s very important you keep any pets or children away from the stump while the powder is working.
The powder will take a few weeks to work. Keep an eye on the stump and when it looks soft enough to remove it’s time to remove it for good.
Use an axe or shovel to chop up the softened stump into pieces and throw them away. Keep removing the stump until it is as close to level as you can get it.
Burn the remaining bit of the stump using the method above.
Once the stump is gone, you can shovel out the remaining ash and fill the hole with sawdust.

3. Dig Out the Stump

This method is best for smaller trees with roots that are not very deep or large. If you have a very large tree stump you may want to consider a different removal method for it.


Root saw
Grub hoe


Use your shovel to dig around the circumference of the stump. Keep digging until the roots are exposed and easy to see. You want to expose them as much as possible so removal is easier.
Now that you can see the roots, it’s time to chop them up and pull them out of the ground. Try to clear as much of the roots as possible. You will need to use a root saw to do this. A regular axe will not work as it can shatter if it hits a rock. Be careful when using tools you’re unfamiliar with.
Using a tool called a grub hoe, you can then dig out the remaining roots.
Now that most of the roots are gone, you can use a shovel to remove the rest of the stump. You may need to dig a little more to get it free, but it should come out easily by this point.
Remember to fill in the empty hole with sawdust or another filler.

4. Grinding the Stump

This is the most advanced and difficult method. You will need to borrow or rent a stump grinder for this method. Make sure you are comfortable using one before you consider going forward.


Stump grinder
Safety glasses
Ear protectors


A stump grinder is a machine that looks similar to a lawnmower but it is used exclusively to grind up stumps and their roots. The stump grinder will reach about a foot beneath the ground. Be sure to wear safety gloves, glasses and ear protectors.
Follow the instructions that come with the stump grinder and begin grinding. You will need to move the stump grinder around the circumference so that all the roots are ground as well.
Once the stump is gone, you will need to shovel out the leftover bits of ground-up wood.
Fill the hole with sawdust to finish the project.


How to Best Prepare Your Home For a Blackout

You never know when a blackout may happen. You’re minding your own business, going about your day and then suddenly, you’re in the dark. Don’t panic: while a blackout may cause fear, there’s no need to be worried if you’re properly prepared. Take the time now to get your home ready for a blackout while there’s still light to see what you’re doing.

Prevention and Pruning

Blackouts can happen anytime, but they’re usually caused by weather-related issues. The best way to prepare for a blackout is to help prevent it in the first place. Take a look around your property for any hazards that could fall onto power lines and knock out the power for your entire neighbourhood. Make sure you keep the trees on your property well pruned, especially if they’re close to power lines. If your trees need some maintenance, you can find a tree specialist by clicking here.

Gather Your Supplies

When the power goes out, you won’t have time to wander around your house looking for useful items. Instead, have a box set aside that’s easily accessible with all the materials you might need. Items to include:

Extra batteries for flashlight
Battery powered phone charger
Battery-operated radio
First aid kit
If you live in a place that may experience blackouts that last for several days, it’s a good idea to include these items as well:

Canned food
Bottled water
Extra gas for your car
Analog alarm clock
If you have young children, prepare a bag with their supplies as well. This could include things like diapers, formula and other baby items.

Once you have all of your supplies gathered, put them into a box or container and place it in an easily accessible part of your home. Under the kitchen sink or in a linen closet are good spots. Do not put your blackout supplies somewhere like the attic or garage, as these areas of your home may be difficult to access with no power.

Safety Tips During a Blackout

There’s a couple of things to determine when a blackout happens. First you need to find out the source — is it inside or outside of your home? Check your fuse box to see if it’s just your home being affected. You can also check with your neighbours by asking them or looking outside to see if their power is out as well. Listen to the radio for updates on cause and duration of the blackout.

Remember to not leave lit candles unattended. Many people prefer to use other sources of light because of the potential fire hazard.

Make a list of emergency contact numbers. This list should include numbers for things like the police, your local fire station, and ambulances. You should also add phone numbers of close family members who you may need to get in contact with. Do not rely on your smartphone’s list of contacts as your phone battery may be dead. Remember that you should not call 9-1-1 unless it’s a true emergency.


Obviously you won’t be able to use your computer or t.v. until the power comes back on. If your electronics are not currently plugged into surge protectors, go around your home and unplug your electronics. Doing this will help prevent a surge and will also help to reduce the demand when the power comes back on. If your home does not have surge protectors, be sure to pick some up or order them online.

Freezer and Fridge

It’s important to keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible during a blackout. This will ensure the cold air stays inside and keeps your food cool for longer. The more ice you have in your freezer the better, as this will help keep things cool. If you have the space for it, consider keeping a cooler on hand for items that must remain cold.

The amount of time your fridge and freezer will stay cool depends on a couple of factors. The fuller the unit, the longer it will be able to keep things cold. Of course the condition and age of your units will affect how long things will last. Generally, a full freezer should last up to 48 hours and a half full unit will stay cool for around 24. Fridges cannot last as long and will be warm in about 5 hours.

If your blackout happens during the winter, you can store your items either directly in the snow, or fill your cooler with snow. Whichever method you use, be sure to check your food with a food thermometer before cooking. If your food has been in a fridge for days with no power, it’s better to be safe and toss your perishable food items.

Lights On

Once the power is back on, wait a little bit before you start plugging in all your electronics and turning on every light in your home. The electrical demand will be high and waiting a bit before you start using your electricity will help ensure there are no surges on the system. This waiting period also allows you to figure out if the power is here to stay or still having issues.

Once you’ve been given the okay to turn things back on, go around your home and plug in your electronics. Start with the bigger and more important items first like your fridge and freezer.


Protecting Your Home from Raccoons

Raccoons are smarter than the average pest, and their little hands can make a lot of mess for us humans. Whether they’re making your house their home or helping themselves to your garbage for dinner, one thing’s for sure, they’ve got to go. Follow these tips to ensure your home doesn’t look too inviting to a family of raccoons and learn how to prevent them from doing any further damage.

Signs You’ve Got Raccoons

Besides actually seeing a raccoon on your property or in your home, there are some subtle signs they’ve arrived. Knowing the signs will help you better assess the situation and figure out if it’s raccoons you have or another pest.

Most raccoon damage will be found in the attic as this is where they like to make dens.
Look out for damage to your eavestroughs and gutters, this could indicate a raccoon is using them to climb into your home.
Torn roof shingles near vents could be a sign of entry.
Droppings in a central location on the roof or inside the attic are sure signs of raccoons.
Check to see if your attic insulation or wiring has been chewed or torn apart. Raccoons are not picky when it comes to their diet and will eat almost anything.
Listen for rustling or cooing in the walls. There could be a baby raccoon hiding between studs.

Preventative Raccoon Measures

The best way to prevent a family of raccoons from moving in is to make your home as uninviting as possible for them. Racoons don’t want to live in your home, but if it looks like a more appealing place to raise their young, or if there’s easy access to food, they might consider making the move. Try these tips to keep them away.

No Food In Sight

While you may not think much about your garbage after putting it on the curb on garbage day, this is the day raccoons wait all week for. Raccoons love garbage. They love picking through it, eating it, and then throwing it across your front lawn. To ensure this doesn’t happen, be sure your garbage is not easily accessible. Many homeowners have built raccoon proof shelters for their garbage cans. Not only will this help keep pests away, it’s an attractive way to store your bins.

If building an enclosure is not an option for you, make sure your garbage bin has a thick lid and has something on top of it to keep it closed. Thin lids can easily be chewed through and many raccoons are smart enough to figure out tricky locking systems. Take a look at your local hardware store to see if they sell garbage cans made especially for raccoons.

Raccoons will also eat food you put out for other animals. If you have bird or squirrel feeders, consider bringing them in at night. Or install baffles on them to prevent raccoons from climbing up them. If you leave cat or dog food outside overnight, consider stopping this. Not only will it attract local raccoons, but skunks, mice and rats could show up too!

Landscaping Matters

As we’ve mentioned, raccoons are smart and they’re always coming up with new ways to make their surroundings work for them. Raccoons can easily climb trees, so make sure your trees are not close enough to your house that a raccoon could use it as a ladder and jump right on to your roof. Experts recommend keeping your trees trimmed back 6 to 8 feet away from your home.

If you’re concerned about raccoons climbing up the side of your home and getting in that way, there’s a solution for that. Metal flashing can be installed on wooden beams or on the corners of your home to prevent raccoons climbing up. You can also install motion lights on the side of your home that will stop raccoons in their tracks.

While raccoons have a palate for garbage, they will gladly eat out of your garden as well. To stop them from doing this, try sprinkling a variety of herbs and spices, such as cayenne pepper, garlic, and chili flakes in your garden bed to help keep raccoons and other critters away.


The 5 Best Trees for Canadian Backyards

Trees are an important part of our environment. They provide us with shade, privacy, and beauty, and are a great addition to any backyard. Besides the aesthetic value they provide, trees also contribute to our health and the health of our planet. If you’re thinking about adding some to your property, take a look at the 5 best trees for Canadian backyards.

Things to Consider Before Planting

Adding trees to your backyard requires more than just picking a tree and planting it. You need to consider the climate you live in, what kind of soil is in your backyard, and the size and shape the tree will eventually mature to. You also need to consider the location of the tree within your landscape.

Before you start picking out what particular kind of tree you want, be sure to think about where this tree will go. That will help narrow down the size and shape of tree you can fit in your backyard. Be conscious of how tall and wide the tree will grow to. Will it eventually get caught in power lines? Will it block your bedroom window? Be sure to look these things up when planning where your new tree will go.

Consider when you plan to plant as well. Generally, the best time to plant trees is in the early Spring or Fall (early August to late October).

The 5 Best Trees for Canadian Backyards

Manitoba Maple

An obvious choice for any Canadian home is a maple tree. There are many kinds of maple, but a common one is the Manitoba Maple. It’s the largest maple tree native to the Prairies, but also can be found in Southern Ontario and in the Northwest from Kenora to Thunder Bay. In the Prairies, these trees are tapped to make maple syrup.

Manitoba Maples grow quickly and at full maturity will be about 10-20 meters tall and 8 meters wide. They prefer full sun and can adapt to a wide variety of soils. They can grow erratically, so you need to stay on top of pruning for best results.

Bur Oak

Oak trees in general are very popular across Canada. Bur Oak trees are a favourite simply because of how beautiful they are. With their massive tank and deeply furrowed bark, bur oak trees are a great addition if you have plenty of space to fill. Think suburban yards or a very large backyard property.

Bur Oak trees can grow to be 14 meters tall and up to 7 meters wide. They grow best with deep, moist soils and exposure to full sun. While they are slow to grow, they are strong and sturdy (they can even withstand Chinook conditions!) meaning once planted they will be around for a long time to come.

Common Lilac

Lilac trees are beautiful and smell amazing. A true sign that Spring has arrived is the smell of flowering lilacs in the air. While not native to Canada, lilac trees can be found across our country. This is due to the fact they are hardy, easy to grow and require low maintenance.

They can vary in size and colour, but will usually grow anywhere from 1 to 5 meters tall. As an added bonus, the flowers can be cut and spread throughout your home, and are also known to attract butterflies.

When planning where to plant your lilac tree, make sure it’s in a spot with lots of sun. Ideally, your tree should get about 6 hours of sunlight per day. In terms of soil, lilacs do best in humus-rich, well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil.


There are many kinds of cedar trees, but they are all coniferous and evergreen. Smaller cedar trees or shrubs are commonly used to create privacy barriers in our backyards. They grow fast and are found in a wide range of climates. While not hard to grow, they do take a little bit of prep work and upkeep to get them going. Be sure to do your research ahead of time if you are set on adding cedar trees.

Cedar trees can grow to be very large, anywhere from 15 to 30 meters tall. Ideally, you should have a large space if you want to add a full-size cedar tree to your backyard. For smaller yards, consider going with shrubs instead.

Black Ash

A smaller and more narrow choice, black ash trees can be a great addition to your backyard. These trees have a light grey bark that is soft and almost cork-like when they’re young. As they age the bark becomes scaly. The leaves are a beautiful deep green that will drop in the fall.

Black ash trees are a great choice if you live in a wet or swampy climate, although they can grow almost anywhere (except the Far North). They’re most commonly found throughout Ontario, eastern Manitoba and as far east as Newfoundland.


Plants that Repel Insects

Plants that Repel Insects

If there’s one thing that can quickly turn a pleasant afternoon spent in the backyard into one that has you running for the indoors, it’s an influx of insects buzzing around and biting at you. Take back your outdoor space and try adding these plants that repel insects. As an added bonus you won’t need to cover yourself in bug-spray or douse your lawn in harsh chemicals.



Who doesn’t love a bit of fresh basil in their food? While not only delicious, basil has the ability to actually kill mosquito eggs and house flies. Plant basil in containers and place them by your house doors and near areas where you’ll be entertaining. This way you and your guest will be bug-free and you can easily reach over and add some basil to your meal or a cocktail.


While us humans tend to love the smell of lavender, insects hate it! Adding lavender to your backyard will help ward off insects such as flies, moths, fleas and mosquitoes. You can add cut lavender to the inside of your home to keep houseflies out. Be sure you have a sunny spot to plant your lavender if you want to add it to your garden.


Another delicious herb that does double duty as an insect repellent. Did you know citronella comes from lemongrass? Citronella is the natural oil that is produced from the plant and is often found in mosquito repellent products. Plant some lemongrass in your garden and watch it grow as much as 4 feet tall in one season!


It’s recommended that you grow mint in a pot rather than in the ground because it spreads quickly and aggressively. You don’t want to trade in a bug problem for a mint infestation. This pleasant smelling plant will help to repel biting insects such as mosquitoes. Keep it in a small planter on a patio table so you can easily reach out and add some to your summer beverage of choice.


We’ve listed a few double-duty herbs, but what about one that does triple duty? Rosemary is fragrant and delicious, repels mosquitoes and actually helps protect your vegetable plants from infestation. If you’re not already growing rosemary in your garden, what are you waiting for? Rosemary can be planted in the ground or put into planters for easy access when cooking.



Petunias have been called nature’s pesticide and there’s a good reason for it. These brightly coloured flowers can help to repel aphids, squash bugs, beetles, leafhoppers and tomato hornworms. Petunias are easy to grow and care for but do require a fair amount of sun. Because of this, try planting them near your vegetable garden or in a window box facing a window that gets plenty of sun.


Another super flower when it comes to repelling bugs. In fact, a compound found in chrysanthemums called pyrethrins is used in many commercial insect repellents. Due to this compound, chrysanthemums can ward off mosquitoes, beetles, roaches, silverfish, ticks, lice, fleas, mites, spiders and even bedbugs! That’s a lot of bugs for one beautiful flower! Try growing some for yourself in your garden this summer.


The scent of these pretty flowers is enough to keep aphids and mosquitoes out of your yard. Marigolds are often used by farmers to keep pests away (including rabbits!). Marigolds do best in sunny spots, so consider their location before you plant.


If you’re looking for a beautiful flower that will help protect your vegetable garden, then we’ve got just the plant for you. Nasturtiums can be planted next to tomatoes in your garden to help keep whiteflies, aphids, beetles and squash bugs away from your plants. If you’re growing cabbage, add some nasturtiums as insects known as cabbage loopers will lay their eggs on the flowers instead of your cabbage.

Now that you know some beautiful and delicious options when it comes to plants that repel insects, all that’s left to do is pick which ones to add to your garden!