Using Resources to Recharge Your Batteries (plus degree days & property values...)

November-December 2009

THE LONG, DARK DAYS OF WINTER are upon us and I’m really feeling it this year. I never used to understand what people meant by seasonal affective disorder until more recently. I have friends who have those special lamps that they sit under; others who escape to a sunny place for a few days. Personally, I try to get through it with vitamin D, flannel pajamas and a good book. Okay, okay and a glass of wine/beer.

This is the time of year when you look at your finances, reflect on your successes, and gain some knowledge and inspiration from learning opportunities. We have the always-educational ISA Ontario annual conference in February with this year’s "Getting Back to Our Roots" theme. I’m pretty excited about experiencing the Drum Café at the banquet dinner.

Landscape Ontario (LO) offers a series of diverse professional development seminars over the fall and winter months. Topics include arboriculture, business management, equipment, landscape construction and design, IPM, irrigation and more. I will be leading a workshop on IPM for woody plants on March 11 at LO headquarters in Milton. You can check out their website at

Another online resource is Dave Cheung’s "Digital Guide to Common Nursery and Landscape Pests." The online guide will be posted by April 1, 2010 and will be available on the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification’s website for FREE. You may have noticed many of Dave’s stunning photographs featured in this column in recent issues.

In terms of book resources, OMAFRA’s Nursery-Landscape Plant Production and IPM Guide (order no. 383) has just been updated and is available online ( or by calling 1-800-668-9938. The price did not increase; it remains a deal at just $20.

Tracking Your Own Growing Degree Days
More and more horticulturalists have been asking me where to obtain growing degree day data (GDD) for the various locations that they work in. Some are tracking weather from year to year. Some are using the data to compare with growing degree day models for pest emergence as a tool to direct their monitoring program. Some are trying to collect monitoring data and come up with their own models for plant phenology and pest emergence (which is brilliant by the way!). Whatever your motivation is, you can find this data – with the only cost being your time – online at Environment Canada web page entitled “National Climate Data and Information Archive at

Select the link for “Climate Data Online.” From there you will be able to select your province and after that, you can select your city. You will also need to select “data interval” on the right hand side. I use “daily” since I need daily max/min average to calculate GDDs. Another option is to select “customized search” from the “Climate Data Online” page. This option will list all of the weather stations in the province you selected. It might be a better way to look for the weather station nearest you. For example, did you know that Environment Canada uses more than one weather station in Hamilton?

You can then enter the daily “mean” (average) temperature for that location into a spreadsheet and subtract off the base temperature you are working in. As an example, a mean daily recorded temperature of 18ºC can be used in the following GDD calculation: 18ºC – 10 GDD Base 10ºC = 8 GDD Base 10ºC. Simply add these daily GDD’s together and you will get a cumulative number that you can update when you want. I usually start tracking in February – in case there is a late winter warm spell. Precipitation (rain and snow) data is also listed. You can go back several years for data. Have fun!

Landscaping Does Increase Property Value
I was flipping through the March edition of the Journal of Environmental Horticulture earlier this year and found a great article on the “Impact of Improved Landscape Quality and Tree Cover on the Price of Single-Family Homes” (Stigarll and Elam, J. Environ. Hort. 27(1):24-30). I immediately alerted some of the retail/consumer-based horticulture magazines about the article and hoped they would put something about it in their publications.

Canadian Garden Centre and Nursery did in their mid-May online edition and I hope it was passed on several times over.

The study found that homes that improved landscaping from average quality to good quality increased selling price by 5.7%. Those that increased landscaping from average to excellent quality increased selling price by 10.8% (wow, eh?). Approximately 30% of the increase in sale value was accounted for by added tree cover. The results show that each $1 invested in upgrading an average landscape to excellent quality returns $1.35 in added property value.

Now, these are really nice statistics to have rolling off your tongue when you are drumming up business this winter. Use them well. Can I share with you a little story of my own? In the late 1990s my sister was trying to sell her house in Pickering. Suffice it to say, it didn’t have a lot of curb appeal – it was a starter home. So, my brother-in-law and I took a long weekend and we landscaped the entire backyard. We put in a couple of very simple, raised beds to add interest along the fence. We used lots of annuals to give colour in between the young woody plants. They sold their home in 24 hours. We are talking from the sign on the front lawn to the “offer to purchase” in their hands. I have more similar stories and I’m sure you do too. Pass them on to your customers.

Contact Information

This column is written by Jen Llewellyn, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Nursery Crops Specialist

Email any questions you have directly to Jen and we'll publish her response.

P: 519-824-4120 ext. 52671 • F: 519-767-0755

OMAF website:

Nursery Landscape Agriphone: 1-888-290-4441

Our mission is to enhance and promote the care and benefit of trees for present and future generations in Ontario through education, research and awareness.