How to Design a Family Garden

family friendly gardens.jpg

A garden can cater to the needs of every family member—there’s no reason for play areas to dominate. With an integrated design, grown-ups can enjoy more sophisticated pursuits while still keeping an eye on the children.

The first step in designing a safe family area is securing the boundaries to keep out potential hazards. Lock away tools and chemicals, and remove poisonous or thorny plants.

Children also need the freedom to run around or play ball games, so choose a hard-wearing lawn mix. Make pathways smooth and spacious for pedaling tricycles or scooters, and provide “secret” areas where they can build forts, let their imaginations take flight, or lose themselves in nature. Pebble fountains are a great way to add a child-friendly bit of water, and a bog garden gives the illusion of water but is also very safe.

A raised patio or deck creates a vantage point for adults and doubles as a sanctuary for relaxing or family dining, perhaps given extra protection with a pergola and trellis panels. Separate the lawn from the seating area using a stylish border of tall, dense plants.

Key Design Elements for a Family Garden

  • Raised beds:Lifting plants above ground level helps to protect them during play and keeps toy trucks and race cars on the right track. If you have dogs, growing vegetables in a raised bed deters trampling or eliminating.
  • Hard-wearing lawns:Choose durable grass seed or turf mix that contains rye grass. Aerate and resow thin patches, and move play equipment to aid recovery. Mixes are available for problem areas such as shade or poor soils.
  • Play spaces:Consider children’s ages before investing in play equipment—look for adaptability: a sand pit could later be converted to a raised bed or pool. Swings have lasting appeal and can be adjusted over time.
  • Wide paths:For easy pedaling, keep paths wide with gentle inclines rather than steps. This arrangement helps protect plants that cascade over the edge of borders, and reduces the wear on grass pathways.
  • Casual seating:Dot benches around the garden, especially in wilder parts where children can connect with nature. Introduce swings, hammocks, or outdoor bean bags. Keep cushions handy for walls and steps.
  • Built-in storage:Stow toys and equipment away so that they don’t clutter the garden. Keep them within easy reach in waterproof cupboards concealed in purpose-built screened storage areas or fitted under hinged seats.
  • Private corners:Adults may prefer a gazebo, but for children, any simple shelter will do, whether a tent, a living willow teepee, or an old shed. Raised platforms and treehouses provide an exciting lookout point.

Other Additions to Consider:

  • Wet-weather play:Include a sheltered area where children can be out of the house no matter the weather.
  • Nature ramble:Wind narrow paths through wildflowers, or build a zigzag boardwalk over a bog garden.
  • Kids' blooms:Grow plants that attract butterflies and bees and are fragrant, colorful, or oversized.
Posted on January 3, 2014 .

47 Skills You Need to Survive Homeownership

Don't get caught with your toolbelt down—learn these techniques and tackle any household emergency with ease

What Do I Do Now?

Too bad a house doesn't come with an owner's manual. And a week-long seminar where you learn what every button, switch, and wire is for. Alas, the keys to the castle come with no troubleshooting guide to dog-ear—and, we're betting, no wise master to unlock the mysteries of the place you call home.

Click on the link below to continue reading the article.,,20434090,00.html

Posted on January 3, 2014 .


Have you had enough of the cold weather, short days, and heavy shoveling for the season? With the first official day of spring on the horizon, and recent weather enticing Canadians out of their winter hiding spots, homeowners are beginning to plan and prepare their homes so the outside once again looks as good as the inside. Seeing as the exterior of your home is the first thing potential buyers will notice, RE/MAX and Landscape Ontario would like to share five easy steps that will enhance your curb appeal.

First of all, it is important to start with anything that may need to be repaired or replaced after the harsh winter. This includes any patios, decks, fences, or walkways and should be tended to promptly as they could be a safety hazard to people passing by. As leaves once again begin to show on trees, it becomes clear that trees are a huge asset to any property and are a great way to add value. Make sure that all limbs are well maintained and healthy and living up to their full potential. Similarly to overgrown trees, it is important to stay on top of any flowering shrubs and perennials. By maintaining, dividing and replacing anything that needs it, homeowners can eliminate the threat of having something unappealing take the spotlight off their home. Taking a close look at your lawn with a critical eye is also important so you can tend to any open spaces that may have seen some wear and tear over the winter.

To complete the transformation, the last thing you will need to do is accessorize! Properly planted containers, pots and window boxes will add to the appeal of your home and will make a huge difference to potential buyers. It is these finishing touches that will create the most impact and make your home the envy of the neighbourhood.

Posted on January 3, 2014 .

Get Curbalicious with Landscape Ontario, courtesy of RE/MAX

Curbalicious Contest!!! 

Help your home get noticed with Get Curbalicious! RE/MAX and Landscape Ontario want to help one lucky winner update the curb appeal of their home with custom designed landscaping.

Whether you're looking to sell your home in the next few months or in a few years, the RE/MAX Get Curbalicious contest will get your house the offers it deserves!

Posted on January 3, 2014 .

First-time buyers in major Canadian markets move to get in ahead of higher interest rates, says RE/MAX

Driven by the threat of higher interest rates down the road, first-time buyers are contributing to strong upward momentum in residential housing markets across the country, according to a report released today by RE/MAX.

The RE/MAX First-Time Buyers Report, highlighting trends and developments in nineteen major Canadian centres, found that low interest rates and balanced market conditions have provided
significant impetus in 2011, particularly at lower price points. Just over 30 per cent of markets are reporting sales in excess of 2010 levels as a result, while almost 70 per cent have experienced an
upswing in average price. Leading the country in terms of percentage increases in the number of homes sold are Western Canadian markets, including Saskatoon (up close to 15 per cent), Greater Vancouver (up close to 12 per cent), and Winnipeg (up just over 11 per cent). With an average price hike of close to
20 per cent year-to-date (February), Greater Vancouver continues to show unprecedented strength, followed by Hamilton-Burlington (eight per cent), Quebec City (seven per cent), Winnipeg (close to
seven per cent), Greater Toronto (five per cent), and Greater Montreal (five per cent).

“Despite homeownership rates approaching 70 per cent, there is clearly room for growth as entry-level buyers make their moves from coast-to-coast, undeterred by higher housing values and changes to lending criteria” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

“Many purchasers intent on realizing homeownership are scaling back on expectations or are willing to sacrifice location, quality and/or size to make their dream a reality – not unlike generations before them.”

Inventory levels, while tight in several larger centres, are more balanced overall, giving first-time buyers a good selection of housing product from which to choose. Not surprisingly, condominium apartments and town homes have become the first step for many entry-level purchasers, especially in Greater
Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, London-St. Thomas, Hamilton-Burlington, Greater Toronto, the Island of Montreal, and Halifax-Dartmouth where average prices have risen unabated in recent years.

“With the Canadian economy on firmer footing overall, residential real estate is well-positioned moving into the traditionally busy spring market,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “Consumer confidence is climbing in conjunction with economic performance, and concerns over a secondary recession fade with each passing day. The mood is cautiously optimistic, as first-time buyers enter the market.”

Changes to recent financing criteria have not created the anticipated run up in activity in most markets. From a financial standpoint, most rookie home buyers remain quite prudent. Those making the leap are not doing it lightly, buying within their means. While this most recent round of policy tightening will likely have a negligible effect on demand, the message is getting across.

Affordability remains a growing concern in most markets, and—aside from first-time purchasers—no one is more in tune with that than housing planners and developers. In fact, the growing demand for reasonably-priced product is creating a shift in the country’s housing mix. That trend is expected to gain traction in coming years, as builders look to create greater options for those seeking to realize homeownership. In recent years, builders have helped ease the move to homeownership by concentrating on intensification—condominium buildings with smaller suites and small-lot subdivisions offering detached, compact homes at a fraction of the cost of a traditional single-family home. On the
flip side, the affordability factor is also breathing new life into tired older neighbourhoods, and that, in turn, is contributing to rising values.

As prices escalate, first-time buyers are indeed spending more—some out of necessity, but others are simply in a position to do so. Unlike in years past—a greater percentage of today’s first-time buyer pool is comprised of dual-income, college or university-educated couples with solid earnings. They’re spending close to average price or slightly more to secure—in most cases—a better location or a home that will grow with them. Yet, the fact remains that those on a tighter budget can get in for considerably less, with reasonable choices in every major market across the country. While some may feel discouraged by eroding affordability levels, the underlying confidence in the concept of homeownership is rising.

“While market conditions are one thing that influences first-time buyers, few things trump the fundamental belief in homeownership,” says Sylvain Dansereau, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Quebec. “Today’s entry-level buyers are steadfast in their mindset. They know they have to live
somewhere, but they simply don’t want to pay someone else’s mortgage. Savvy or practical, they remain a driving force. The bottom line is that the demand for entry-level product will remain steady. The role of starter homes in the marketplace is becoming ever more vital.”

RE/MAX is Canada’s leading real estate organization with over 18,000 sales associates situated throughout its more than 690 independently-owned and operated offices in Canada. The RE/MAX network, now in its 38th year, is a global real estate system operating in 80 countries, with over 6,300
independently-owned offices and over 92,000 member sales associates. RE/MAX realtors lead the industry in professional designations, experience and production while providing real estate services in residential, commercial, referral, and asset management. For more information, visit:

For more information:
Christine Martysiewicz
RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada

Posted on January 3, 2014 .

May 2010 Newsletter


A few basic elements that can make the difference in selling your home.

Every homeowner has a list of little repairs that never quite get done. Now's the time. Fix the screens, oil squeaky doors, patch the cracks, paint the trim.

Too much stuff makes rooms look smaller and focuses buyers' attention on your possessions rather than the home you're trying to sell. Some home stagers recommend removing as much as a third of your things to better show off rooms and closets.

Pack away your family photos, collections and just about anything else that says 'you'. Streamline your artwork and consider toiining down bold decorating statements. That means neutral shades if you need to repaint walls or replace carpets.

Take a moment and step back to look at each room, what is the focal point, and use furniture placement to highlight that. Remove any extraneous pieces of furniture or move them to another room.

Keeping them spotless won't help if they're dated, worn or impossibly stained. You shouldn't spend a fortune installing hardwood or tile, though, since you're unlikely to recoup the cost. 
Carpets should be steam cleaned.

You probably realize that you should tidy your gardens, trim the hedges, plant a few flowers. First impressions are lasting impressions.


Mortgage Rates from DLC First Capital 
April 21st
6 months 3.60%
1 year 2.44%
2 year 3.15%

3 year 4.09%
5 year 4.09%
VRM closed 1.75% (prime -0.50%)
LOC 3.15% (prime +0.90%)


Coming Events

St. Marys Farmers' Market
May 22nd - October 30th
The Farmers' Market takes place on Saturdays across from the Canadian Tire parking lot in beautiful St. Marys. The pancake breakfasts will be on June 19th, July 10th, August 7th and September 11th. The Souper-Douper Saturday will be held on 
October 16th, 2010

Victoria Day Open House
May 24th
1:30pm - 4:00pm
Join the St. Marys Museum in celebrating the birthday of Queen Victoria! Tea and Victorian treats will be served. Games and activities for the whole family!
Please contact the St. Marys Museum for more information at (519) 284-3556 or by e-mail at

MG Car Show - Spring Fling 2010
May 29th
12:00pm - 2:30pm
The MG Car Club of Toronto chose to host this annual event in our glorious region of Perth County. Visit Milt Dunnell Field to view all of the MG's that will be on display.
Location: Milt Dunnell Field
Contact: Please contact Peter Mittler for more information at (416) 283-7554 or by e-mail at
Poster: Spring Fling 2010

Once Upon a Thames Storytelling Festival
June 4th & 5th
Storytellers include La'Ron Williams, Jim May, Dan Yashinsky, Marta Singh, Jan Andrews, Jennifer Cayley & Mike Ford.
Contact: For more information please e-mail

Posted on January 3, 2014 .

Reader’s Digest names RE/MAX ‘Most Trusted Residential Real Estate Brand in Canada’

12/05/2010 15:41

 Mississauga, ON (May 3, 2010) ‐‐ Dedication, skill, and professionalism earned RE/MAX realtors the designation of Most Trusted Residential REALTOR in Canada by Reader’s Digest magazine. Reader’s Digest will unveil its “Most Trusted Brands” list in its May 2010 issue. The magazine commissioned independent third party Harris/Decima to conduct 1,500 online surveys among a random sample of its panel members from October 2 – 15, 2009.

“The results of the survey are proof positive that our sales associates are the best in the business,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Ontario‐Atlantic Canada. “We’ve built a solid reputation based on consistent results. RE/MAX associates sell one in every three homes in Canada and carry more professional designations than any other realtor in Canada. We’re specialists in all niches from residential, recreational, and commercial properties to luxury homes. Our focus has always been service excellence, which includes a serious emphasis on professional development and education. The status quo may work for some, but after almost 40 years in the business, we’re not content to rest on our laurels. “

Reader’s Digest looked at 28 different product categories ‐‐ ranging from cereal to residential real estate – and allowed consumers to select the brands that they trusted the most. RE/MAX joins leading brands such as RBC Royal Bank, TD Canada Trust, Air Canada, and Blackberry.

“Our commitment to the communities in which we live and work also runs deep,” says Polzler. “I
think that’s something that has always set RE/MAX apart. We’ve been involved in charitable giving long before the terms ‘corporate philanthropy’ and ‘cause marketing’ were common. RE/MAX realtors participate in countless vital programs and causes each year that help the most vulnerable members of our society and strengthen the foundation of neigbhourhoods from coast to coast. Their enthusiasm, spirit and dedication to others never fails to inspire.”

Charitable giving is woven into the fabric of the RE/MAX organization. The company and its sales force has demonstrated a strong desire to give back, exceptionally active in both corporate and local charities. Close to $40 million has been raised in support of Children’s Miracle Network since 1992 – which funds research and development, outreach programs and upgrades to equipment and facilities at children’s hospitals and foundations across the country. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is also a cause close to the hearts of RE/MAX associates—one that RE/MAX continues to support through its popular Sold on a Cure Program and the annual Yard Sale for the Cure.

RE/MAX is Canada’s leading real estate organization with over 17,500 sales associates situated
throughout its more than 680 independently‐owned and operated offices across the country. The RE/MAX franchise network, now in its 37th year, is a global real estate system operating in 80 countries. Over 6,450 independently‐owned offices engage over 92,000 member sales associates who lead the industry in professional designations, experience, and production, while providing real estate services in residential, commercial, referral, and asset management. For more information, visit:

For more information:
Christine Martysiewicz Eva Blay/Charlene McAdam
RE/MAX Ontario‐Atlantic Canada Point Blank Communications
905.542.2400 416.781.3911

Posted on January 3, 2014 .

Maggie Whitcroft Welcomes You to Real Estate in St.Marys & Area


Thanks for viewing my blog and I hope I can be of service to you in your real estate needs. Please bookmark this site for future reference.

My goal is to be your single source for superior real estate services in the St. Marys, Stratford and areas, and to make you feel as important as the decision to buy or sell your property is.

The choice of your Realtor is vital to a successful and pleasant real estate experience! I have been servicing this market since 2007, and I absolutely love my job. I take my profession seriously, and as a true full time professional Realtor, you can expect the following from me:

  • Knowledge of the current market conditions
  • Excellent listening and communication skills
  • Access to extensive resources and networking opportunities
  • The ability to actively market, manage and negotiate the sale of your property

 Being a licensed Re/Max Sales Representative with the Huron Perth Real Estate Board, I have access to the MLS system. It's very important to work with a Realtor who is well educated and on top of today's technology, which is why I firmly believe in offering one-on-one service with integrity, combined with current up-to-date knowledge of social media, networking and technology.

More about me

St. Marys has been my home since 2003 when I moved here from Toronto. I was raised in Lucknow and attended high school in Wingham so I have both an understanding of living in a small community and the complexities of a large city.

 A satisfied client myself, after having purchased several properties with Re/Max St. Marys, I came on board as part of The Reid Dundas Team in 2007 and with over 17 years experience in television and print media I am excited to bring my skills from the news team to the real estate team.

Outside the office I can be found taking an interest in my community by volunteering for school committees or hanging out with my daughter or friends around town.

I’d love to help make your next real estate experience as successful and pleasurable as possible! I am regularly in the office and would like to hear from you, drop by for a visit or I can easily be reached at:

Maggie Whitcroft, Sales Representative

Re/Max a-b realty ltd. Brokerage

Each Office Independently Owned & Operated

194 Queen St. W., St. Marys, ON N4X 1A4


519-301-6771 Mobile

519-284-4720 Office

877-367-7355 Toll Free

519-284-4761 Fax

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Posted on January 3, 2014 .