We’ve enjoyed some unexpected benefits from spending so much more time at home. You may have discovered—or at least considered—your thumb is far greener than you ever thought. 

You’re not alone as nearly half of Canadians turned soil to grow their own food in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that it’s time to start planning for the next growing season, let’s take a look at why a DIY greenhouse could be the perfect thing to kick your gardening efforts up a notch.

exterior shot of a greenhouse in a backyardImage via hsvall, Pixabay

Why a greenhouse?

The Canadian growing season is short, especially farther north, and a greenhouse is the perfect way to start plants that need extra time to establish before planting them outside in the ground. It also provides protection to seedlings so pesky squirrels, slugs, and other insects don’t get to eat the fruits of your labour before you do—making it an outstanding alternative to an open air garden altogether. A greenhouse opens up more options for produce that would not normally thrive in our temperate climate. Plus, if you take the extra steps with a heated four-season greenhouse, you can grow year-round and add to your winter landscape.

exterior shot of a tented greenhouse with planters around itImage via DanielSjostrand, Pixabay

Can I really build my own?

You may question whether or not this is something you can do on your own with little or no building experience. Fortunately, there are many ways to accomplish this project. If you prefer a turn-key solution, there are plenty of kits of all sizes out there. 

If you prefer to build your own from scratch, then you may find the perfect set of plans in this epic list compiled by Morning Chores. For you expert builders, that list makes a good starting point to inspire your own design!

When planning for a greenhouse, one of the most common issues growers encounter is running out of space too quickly. Always plan a little larger than you think you might need (if space allows). There are also ways to make the most of your space like layering, increasing your surface area, or staggering crops.

a greenhouse box with rows of lettuce growing insideImage via titosoft, Pixabay

Although most kits are small, a building permit may be required to construct larger or more complex greenhouses, especially if your goal is a heated three-to-four season setup. Check with your municipality to ensure you’re following building codes and to apply for a permit if necessary.

To give some insight into what it’s like to build from scratch, check out the accounts from three Quebec residents, what they did, how they use them, and what was involved to accomplish their projects.

a row of seedlings in soil inside a greenhouseImage via jag2020, Pixabay

Plants for the beginner

If you’re just starting out, sticking to species that are easy to grow is an excellent way to build confidence and gain experience to succeed in this endeavour. Here are some veggies and herbs that can thrive under the most basic of conditions and care.

rows of tomato plants in orange pots with popsicle sticksImage via jag2020, Pixabay


Tomatoes can be remarkably easy to grow, and can produce loads of fruit through the late summer and into the fall. 

a close-up of a zucchini plant with flowersImage via ajcespedes, Pixabay


This delicious squash variety is perfect for the beginner gardener and will continue to flower and produce fruit right up until the first frost. Just make sure to harvest them every few days so they don’t get too big.

a close up of a pile of spinachImage via millenialab, Pixabay


Spinach is delicious and versatile, easily fitting into many raw and cooked dishes.

a close up of red and green heads of lettuceImage via blende12, Pixabay


From red and green leaf lettuce to juicy romaine or iceberg, your salad game will be spot-on with these easy-to-grow greens.

a pile of picked cucumbersImage via krzys16, Pixabay


Cucumber varieties are relatively easy to grow, and perfect for both raw and pickling applications. Like zucchini you need to keep an eye on their size once they start to ripen.

a pile of carrots freshly pulled from the groundImage via rauschenberger, Pixabay


These delicious and popular root vegetables are a breeze to plant and maintain in a greenhouse setting.

 stacks of green onions tied upImage via ArmbrustAnna, Pixabay

Green (spring) onions

A staple for salads, omelettes or garnish for stir-frygreen onions are super easy to grow. You can even start them from leftovers you bought at the grocery store as long as they still have their roots. You can also continually harvest them by snipping off the tops as needed and leaving the rest to re-grow.

strawberries growing off the plantImage via Bytran2710, Pixabay


This sweet, delicious early summer fruit is surprisingly simple to grow, and there are even varieties that produce continually as long as the ambient temperature remains moderate.

close up of multiple basil plantsImage via fabersam, Pixabay

Many herbs grow quite well in Canada’s climate, and will thrive in a greenhouse setting. If you’re planting outside, be aware most herbs are perennial and will come back each year. Varieties like mint, lemon balm, chives, and parsley spread quickly (keep an eye on them if you are planting outside). Here are a few must-haves:

  • Parsley;
  • Sage;
  • Summer Savoury;
  • Oregano;
  • Basil;
  • Thyme;
  • Dill;
  • Fennel;
  • Mint;
  • Cilantro;
  • Lemon Balm; and
  • Chives.

For more ideas on what can easily be grown in your greenhouse, this comprehensive list has you covered.

an outdoor greenhouseImage via EME, Pixabay

Two important considerations

Because the sun can be quite piercing and glass windows can amplify its heat and intensity, it may be necessary to take additional steps to moderate the temperature and light penetration, like employing a shade or enabling ventilation.

While some plants require little-to-no help with pollination, if you plan to grow in a fully enclosed greenhouse for the duration of your plants’ life cycles, some assistance may be necessary to ensure a healthy crop.

a basket full of fresh vegetablesImage via JillWellington, Pixabay

Building a greenhouse to grow your own produce is an amazing hobby with benefits to your health beyond just the expected fresh and nutritious harvest. It’s a great—even cost-friendly—way to learn new skills, relieve stress, build confidence, and make opportunities for valuable family time—even for the most timid of green thumbs.




Since the pandemic hit, more homeowners have been staying put. Many continue to invest money into their properties, especially their outdoor space, so they can entertain friends and families safely. That means deck-building companies have been very busy.

“The industry has absolutely exploded, with so many customers wanting to build decks,” says Justin Szekely, owner and co-founder of Ace of Decks, which designs and builds custom decks in BeaconsfieldQuebec.

Thinking of improving your outdoor living area by putting in a fabulous new deck? Here are Szekely’s top tips to get the right space for your lifestyle and budget.

View from a deck overlooking the water

Choose the right contractor

“A lot of companies claim to be able to do just about anything under the sun, and they’ll take jobs they’re not used to doing, so make sure your contractor is very comfortable installing the specific products you’re hiring them to build with,” says Szekely. “With products like composite decking, each manufacturer has very specific installation techniques, and if the contractors aren’t familiar with that product, they may install it wrong and void your warranty.”

Also, because municipalities have bylaws and permit processes that vary, you’ll want a contractor who’s familiar with your area. And don’t forget to ask for references and check out their work by inspecting the decks they’ve already built, if possible.

Image via Ace of Decks

Decide which materials match your lifestyle

Probably the biggest deck decision is cost  versus maintenance. A composite deck typically costs twice as much as treated wood, but it lasts at least twice as long, explains Szekely. 

“And while you own that deck, you’ll never spend any money or time maintaining it, so for that reason, the cost of ownership is actually less for a composite deck,” he says.

However, if you’re not planning to stay in your house for long, you might not want to invest in composite.

One more thing: Composite decks get a lot warmer in the sun than wood. 

“If the deck is being built near a pool where everyone will be barefoot, we recommend either wood or a lighter-coloured composite, because a dark-coloured composite can burn your feet,” says Szekely.

treated wood deck, big enough for a barbecue, a table and chairsImage via Ace of Decks

Select a deck size that makes sense and fits your budget

A treated wood deck, big enough for a barbecue, a table and chairs starts at about $3,000-$4,000. More elaborate projects run as high as $80,000-$100,000, says Szekely.

On paper–and on TV–multi-level decks look pretty awesome. But there’s no point building something without lots of usable space.

“Think about whether you need space for a four- or eight-person table and if you want a couch there or lighting? These decisions will forecast how big of a deck you need, but we recommend 12-x-24 feet as the smallest size that makes sense for a multi-level deck.”

Check with your city to see how close your deck can encroach onto your property line. Even if you have enough space for a massive deck, you may not be allowed to build it. 

“Privacy is always important, too. A big deck can quickly become a big stage for your neighbours,” explains Szekely.

deck being constructedImage via Ace of Decks

Get an early start

Believe it or not, now’s the perfect time to plan for your new deck. 

“You can build the deck anytime you want, as long as there’s no snow in the way; we start working in March, and we’re already booked until the end of May right now,” says Szekely.

The pandemic has also meant some construction materials are on back-order, so the earlier you start, the better. 

If you request a permit to build a deck now, you’ll probably get one within a week or two, adds Szekely. But if you wait until May, it could take up to two months. Booking early means there’s less chance your project will be delayed.  

“You also have to think about safety; the city won’t grant a permit for any project missing the proper railing requirements.”

Treated wood deck

If you want wood, be prepared for the upkeep

Treated wood decks are affordable and beautiful, but be aware that you’ll be committing yourself to maintaining it, says Skekely.

“Upkeep depends on how much sun your deck is exposed to, what product you put on there and just how critical you are of that product fading a little bit,” he explains. 

“If you put on an opaque paint, that’s going to be super high-maintenance, because the second a piece chips off, you’ll see it right away. And once you go with the opaque, you’re stuck with it, unless you’re going to sand and strip it all off, which is a huge job.”

If you use a clear oil or a stain that soaks into the wood, you won’t notice it deteriorating and it leaves a rustic patina. 

No matter what type of deck you choose, it will definitely boost enjoyment in your backyard for years to come, so it’s an investment you can feel good about.


Source: Scott's Blog

Most empty nesters have to face this decision at some point or another – to keep the family home or downsize to something smaller. Deciding to move from the home where you raised your kids can be an emotional process. For some, it’s sad, while for others it’s an exciting new chapter. Whatever you may be feeling, don’t let your emotions get in the way of making a smart decision. Like any real estate investment, there are a lot of things that need to be considered when downsizing to a smaller home. Here are a few downsizing tips to consider.

Why Downsize?

The first thing to figure out is why you’re downsizing. Some people choose to leave because the family home has become too much to manage, for some it feels too empty without the kids in the house, and for others it’s because they desire a lifestyle change. Whatever the reason it’s important to understand why you’re downsizing so you can determine the needs of your new home.

What Matters To You?

Before you settle on your new digs you have to determine what matters and what doesn’t. The best way to start is to make a list of the best and worst features of your current home. Do you love your big family-style kitchen? Will you miss it if you move to a tiny condo? What about the backyard? If outdoor entertaining is important to you a small bungalow with a yard might be a better option than a condo. While compromises will always have to be made, there’s no point in moving to a place that lacks the things you love.

Scott McGillivray Collection

Size Matters

Downsizing to a one or two-bedroom condo can be a tempting prospect for people who don’t want to deal with a lot of upkeep, but make sure the space can accommodate your lifestyle. Do you host a lot of holiday get-togethers? Make sure you can fit your loved ones in the space. Do family and friends come for overnight visits on a regular basis? In that case, a guest room is a must. And keep in mind that your kids may have moved out of the family home, but that doesn’t mean they might not come back! If this is something you want to encourage make sure there’s somewhere for them to stay.

Consider the Location

Location is as important when downsizing as it is at any other time, and the area you move to will affect your cost of living. While moving from a big home to a condo might seem like a money-saving venture, cutting square footage might not save you money if you move to a prime real estate location. And keep in mind that condos come with maintenance fees that must be budgeted for. When deciding on a location you also need to think about what’s important to you now and in the future. Staying close to family is very important for some people while being close to specific amenities is important to others.

Special Considerations

As an empty nester, you need to think about the needs of tomorrow as well as today. Townhouses can be great in terms of size and upkeep, but they tend to have a lot of stairs, which can become difficult as you get older. Other elements of universal design are also worthwhile to keep in mind. When looking for downsizing tips, think about things like curbless showers, door handles instead of knobs and under-counter appliances. While these things might not be a concern now, they could be important in the future.

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