Smart Irrigation Month Part 3: Recycling and Harvesting Water

800px-Decorative_Watering_Can_(6320014343)The most efficient way to conserve water is to harvest or recycle it, which entails capturing rainwater or reusing water for the purpose of irrigating a lawn and/or garden. One inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof can collect approximately 600 gallons. Harvesting systems can be complex or simple depending on how much water is desired and what sort of investment the homeowner is willing to make. Fortunately, harvesting and recycling water is a very simple concept and anyone can start doing it with little or no investment at all.

Ways to Recycle and Harvest Water

The easiest way to recycle water is to reuse water that you would normally dump down the drain. Any water that you cook with, such as pasta water or water to blanch veggies can be used in the garden or in potted plants once it has cooled. If you turn on hot water and wait for it to heat up, save the cooler water that comes out first in a pitcher or receptacle. It can even be as simple as watering plants with glasses or bottles of water left out.

A greywater system captures water that is used in the home from sinks and showers to be used later in irrigation. These systems can be expensive depending on their size and how complex the filtration system is. Greywater systems also require only certain types of soaps and cleaners be used in the home, so are usually best left to the most serious water conservationists.

Harvesting water from rainfall is another way to use what is available. These systems can be as simple as a barrel at the base of the gutter spout or a complex series of holding vessels, filters and pumps. It all depends on what the water will be used for. If it is to be used for irrigating a garden, a covered can or barrel will suffice. There are ready made containers or you can easily build one yourself.

Make the Choice to Save Water

Whether you go for a complex rain harvesting and irrigation system or simply use the spaghetti water to feed the window herb garden, being conscious of water usage can go a long way in helping to save money and resources. If you would like to chat about water saving ideas for your home and are curious about how All Oregon Landscaping can help, feel free to send us an email. For other water-saving ideas see our previous Smart Irrigation Month posts:

Smart Irrigation Month Part 2: Irrigation Systems

In celebration of Smart Irrigation Month, today we’ll talk about installing irrigation systems. Installing an irrigation system is a great way to save money, conserve natural resources and ensure that your yard and garden are adequately watered, whether you’re there or not. An irrigation system also adds to and helps maintain value of a home by keeping the exterior appealing and fresh. It can be a big undertaking, but the benefits are long-lasting and satisfying for those who wish to keep their yard and garden healthy and yet still do their part for the environment.

Types of Irrigation Systems

"Sprinkler04". Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sprinkler04.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Sprinkler04.jpg
“Sprinkler04”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sprinkler04.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Sprinkler04.jpg

There are two primary types of irrigation systems used for landscaping: drip and sprinkler.

  • A drip system delivers water directly to the base of the plant in a slow, steady trickle. These systems are great for beds and vegetation with established root systems and vegetable gardens. Different emitters offer different rates of flow for different plants.
  • A sprinkler system simulates rain and spreads water over a large area. This type is necessary for lawns but is not ideal for flower beds where extra water can evaporate or not reach the plants.

Depending on what kind of vegetation is present, one type of irrigation system may be more useful than the other. Often a combination of the two is the most efficient.

To DIY or Not to DIY?

Installing an irrigation system is no small task and will likely take several days from planning to execution. If you are considering doing it yourself, be sure you take plenty of time to prepare for the project.

Check with your local municipal and be sure to research any watering ordinances and building codes in your area. Call 811 to find out where pipes, lines and cables are located underground on your property. Find out what your home’s water pressure, GPM (gallons per minute), water meter size, and service line size is and draw up a detailed and to-scale map of the area to be irrigated. A layout of pipes and sprinklers is also necessary to determine what components are needed for the system. Once the design is finished, the location of the lines and sprinklers will need to be laid out with stakes and string, trenches will need to be dug, components assembled, the system tested and trenches filled again. If this sounds overwhelming, well, it often is.

Irrigation Systems by All Oregon Landscaping

If you don’t feel up to the task or don’t have the time to install your own irrigation system, the All Oregon Landscaping team are experts in everything landscaping. We will design the perfect irrigation system for your landscape and are happy to provide a free quote anytime. We work with other irrigation experts like Rain Bird, to be sure to provide top-notch systems for our customers. This month we’ve dedicated our blog to Smart Irrigation Month, so for other tips and tricks, check out our past posts:

Smart Irrigation Month Part 1: Save Water and Money

800px-Garden_hose_pistolJuly is Smart Irrigation Month, and whether the motivation is to help the environment or the pocket book, both will benefit from using less water in a smart way. If you are looking to save water but don’t have the time or budget to install an irrigation system, here are five easy tricks you can do to start conserving now.

Five Simple Ways to Conserve Water

  1. Rise and Shine Watering – The best time to water, especially on hot days, is in the early morning. Watering in the afternoon requires more water because much of it can evaporate before it reaches the roots. Watering plants in the evening can promote fungus and mildew growth.
  2. Mulch is Your Friend – The benefits of mulch are three-fold: it helps water retention, helps control weeds, and as it breaks down adds nutrients to the soil. Mulch comes in many forms, the most recognizable is bark dust or wood chips. Other forms of mulch include; nut shells, straw, pine needles as well as some non-organic materials such as lava rock and rubber mulch. In Oregon, we have plenty of options when it comes to mulch, so let us know if you need help determining the best type for your landscape.
  3. Over-Watering is the Enemy – Watering in the morning and mulching helps but a lot of water is wasted by just letting the sprinkler run. A programmable timer that hooks up to a hose is an easy and effective way to water just enough at the right time without having to think about it. Be sure to shut it off if the weather report predicts some summer rain.
  4. Native Plants Need Less – When choosing plants, look for drought-tolerant species that can survive with minimal watering. Native plants are a good choice since they have had ages to become accustomed to the natural weather cycle in your area. If you like native plants, we’ve also published a past post about attracting hummingbirds to your landscape.
  5. Weeds are the Worst – Weeds are certainly undesirable for aesthetic reasons but they also use up the valuable resources in the soil, especially water. Mulch does help but it will still take a bit of elbow grease to keep weeds from invading the space and drinking the water that is intended for your plants.

Other Ways to Conserve Water

Just doing these simple things will help save water with minimal investment and are a great start. If you are looking for a more comprehensive way to conserve water, consider an irrigation and or a water-harvesting system. All Oregon Landscaping has experts in landscape design and implementation. We are happy to answer any questions you have and help you determine what the best options are for you. We work with only the best in irrigation and are happy to provide customers with customized irrigation plans fit for their landscape. Smart Irrigation Month is the perfect opportunity to start saving water and money. We work anywhere in the Portland area including; Lake Oswego, Beaverton, Hillsboro, West Linn, Oregon City, Gresham, Vancouver, Sherwood, and more.

If you’ve got questions on irrigation, feel free to give us a ring or shoot us an email.

How to Protect Patio Furniture from Sun Damage

1960016_750624268289163_429737739_nPatio furniture is meant to be in the sun. Most individuals who have patio furniture understand the importance of protecting it from rain and inclement weather in order to keep it in great shape for many seasons. Though often the very thing that the furniture helps us enjoy, the sun, can cause as much damage to the furniture as moisture. Protecting your favorite outdoor furnishings from the sun is important to keep the items looking and feeling new for many years.

Types of Patio furniture and Ways to Protect Them

Although it does take a little time and effort when properly protecting patio furniture, the results can add life and beauty to your outdoor living space. How long it takes to prep the items and how labor intensive it is depends on a few factors including the current condition of the furniture and what type of material it is. Start by making sure it is sound and worth protecting, then thoroughly clean each piece.

Fabric –  If your furniture has outdoor upholstery components, follow the instructions for washing and make sure it dries completely to prevent mold and mildew. Once it is dry, apply an outdoor fabric protector that will keep it safe from fading, spills, spotting and general weathering.

Wood – Clean any wooden sections with an appropriate wood cleaner, a bucket and rag. Avoid soaking the furniture with a hose and allowing it to become overly wet, especially if it hasn’t been properly sealed. If it’s untreated or hasn’t been in some time, too much water can draw out the natural oils and cause splitting when it does dry. The best way to protect wood is with paint, which acts as a barrier to moisture and light. If you prefer the natural wood look, find a waterproof sealer that has UV protection to give you all-weather protection and won’t discolor or crack with sun exposure.

Metal – Aluminium and steel furniture provide a durable and easy to clean surface for outdoor use. They can be hosed off and are easy to paint and retouch when the color chips or fades. If your furniture is made from steel, it will be prone to rust where the protective coating comes off, requiring sanding prior to a touch up. A fantastic and long-lasting option for metal furniture and frames is powder coating. While this is not usually a DIY project, the benefits come in the form of durability and longevity and can last years, so pick a color you will be sure to like for a long time.

Prevention is Key to Protecting Patio Furniture

No matter what materials you have in your outdoor living space, the best way to protect patio furniture from the sun is to store or cover it when it’s not in use. Many retailers offer covers designed for general shapes or for specific sets. If you can’t find the cover for your set, the manufacturer should be able to point you in the right direction. One of our partners, Outdoor Kitchens NW, also carries a full line of outdoor coverings and furniture to enhance your outdoor living space.

All Oregon specializes in landscape design, installation and we love finding solutions for outdoor living. Take a look at our posts 2014 Yard, Garden, and Patio Show Photo Review and The 2014 Yard, Garden, and Patio Show is Here!  to see how we’ve been inspired this year. If you have any questions feel free to give us a ring or visit us on Facebook.

What to Know About Container Plants Part 2

Welcome to the second post in our 3 part series on container plants. Container plants are stylish, and sometimes necessary in smaller, intimate outdoor spaces and today we’ll cover what container plants are most likely to thrive in the Portland, Oregon area.

Some Notes on Soil for Container Plants

It turns out there is a lot of myth surrounding the soil you should use in containers. Research proves that potting soil or planter mix is the best option, despite other theories. Potting soil is designed to be very course as opposed to gardening mix which is very fine. The coarse texture of potting soil provides the best drainage to your potted plants, while too fine of particles can clog up drainage paths, killing roots, and ultimately resulting in insufficient air, AKA: dead plants. Don’t go overboard with coarse materials either, it is ill-advised to add a layer of rocks or pebbles to the bottom of planters. This practice in facts inhibits drainage, not supports it. When it comes to soil, using a potting mix is best practice for potted plants.

Best Plants to Grow in Containers

The following is a recommended list of container plants from the Oregon State University Extension Service. Almost anything can be grown in a container, but if you are a beginner, any of the following are great place to start.

peppers are a great choice for container plants in Oregon
Black Pearl Peppers

Veggies 

  • Bush cucumbers
  • Chard
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

Annuals

  • Alyssum
  • Begonia
  • Dianthus
  • Dwarf Zinnia
  • Fuchsia
  • Lobelia
  • Marigold
  • Nicotiana
  • Pansy and viola
  • Petunia
  • Salvia
  • Verbena

Perennials

  • Aster
  • Bulbs
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coreopsis
  • Dahlia
  • Fern
  • Geranium
  • Herbs

    Dahlia make great flowers for container gardens in Portland, Oregon
    Dahlia
  • Lamium
  • Sedum
  • Sweet William

Shrubs and Small Trees

  • Acuba
  • Barberry
  • Boxwood
  • Conifers
  • Fatsia
  • Grecian Bay Tree
  • Hebe
  • Hydrangea
  • Rose
  • Skimmia

All Oregon Designs Intimate Space in Portland

Have some ideas on what you might grow in your containers? Need to know about picking the best pots? read our previous post, What to Know About Container Plants Part 1. If you think you need help choosing the right pots or plants for your container garden, give us a ring and let our landscape designers Carl and Elida “wow” you with their colorful and creative intimate space designs.

Plant Onions Now for the Biggest Bulbs

Throughout the food world, Oregonians are known as what are called “localvores”. The term “localvore” refers to a people who prefer to eat locally sourced foods as opposed to seeking out labels like “all natural” or “organic”. It explains why our Oregon Farmer’s Markets are so popular and why a lot of Oregonians have produce gardens in their yards. All Oregon Landscaping clients often want vegetable gardens or herb gardens to coincide with their fabulously designed outdoor kitchens and cooking areas. We do our best to meet every need, including helping to jump start the perfect vegetable garden for a client. Now that it is spring, there is a lot of hub bub going around about what to plant and when to plant it. The bottom line when it comes to the best onions in Oregon? Plant them now for the best results.

Plant Onions in April for the Biggest Bulbs

growing onions in oregonAlright, here is your plant word of the day, “photoperiodic”. Photoperiodic refers to plants that have lifecycles that are sensitive to day length. Onions are photoperiodic and usually begin bulbing when the amount of sunlight per day reaches around 14 hours. By planting your onions in April, the plants will be fairly large by the time the days reach 14 hours of sunlight, resulting in larger onions. Onions can be grown in almost any type of soil. Just make sure it has good fertility, drainage and tilth. Onions respond well to both compost and commercial fertilizers. Plant onion seeds a half inch deep at a rate of one to five seeds per inch. Thin seedlings after they are established. For large dry onions, thin seedlings to two to three inches apart, and for boilers and green onions, plant about a half-inch to an inch. The key to getting good seed establishment is to keep soil moist so it doesn’t form a hard crust over the top.

Best Varietals to grow In Oregon

The following are the best onion varietals to grow in Oregon according to the Oregon State University Extension Center.

  • Yellow: Copra, Prince, First Edition, Millennium, Fiesta, Frontier, New York Early
  • Overwintering: Buffalo, Walla Walla Sweet
  • Red: Red Wing, Benny’s Red
  • White: White Sweet Spanish, Superstar, Blanco Duro
  • Green bunching: Ishikura, Tokyo Long White, Hishiko

Other Landscaping Questions?

Have landscaping questions that are about more than growing the best onions? We can help. We’ve got landscape inspiration on our blog, tips, advice and more. We are gearing up for a big season this year and are happy to meet with you to discuss your biggest or smallest landscaping needs. Contact us about your garden, pool, water feature, custom outdoor kitchens, pergola, or patio ideas anytime. We work throughout the Portland area including Beaverton, Gresham, Lake Oswego, Hillsboro, Tualatin, Sherwood, West Linn, Oregon City, and more.

Patio Tips From Patio Experts at All Oregon Landscaping

Patio season is here. The sun is blazing (at least today), and everyone is ready to get outside, turn on the grill, and invite friends over. Well, that is…if you have a patio to host them. Patios are the best when it comes to outdoor entertaining. All Oregon Landscaping can help you design the best patio for both your yard and budget. We have worked on patios in small intimate spaces, as well as spacious outdoor kitchens. Whatever you need, All Oregon Landscaping can get the job done in time for you to really enjoy BBQ season in Oregon this summer.

patio tips and patio design advice

Top Patio Design Tips from All Oregon Landscaping

  1. A good design is key. You never want to start building  a patio without a plan. That will leave you with an nonfunctional patio that you will regret spending money on sooner rather than later. We sit down with customers to brainstorm all the ways in which they imagine using their patio and then work to address each aspect in accordance to their budget. Be sure to tell the designer everything! Even if you think an outdoor pizza oven is way too expensive for your budget, tell the designer what your ideal patio looks like anyways. This will let the designer be as creative as they can be and incorporate as many of your wants as they can. If an outdoor pizza oven seems out of the question, there may be something that you weren’t thinking of. Landscaping companies often have great relationships with suppliers, so they may be able to get you a great deal on a coveted pizza oven. For example, All Oregon Landscaping is a dealer for some of the best pizza ovens in the world, Forno Bravo. We have a plethora of deals to pass onto our customers to really help make their patio dreams come true!
  2. Have a budget. If you do not determine a budget before you start, you will end up spending more money than you want to. A solid budget will also help patio designers decide where the money you have set aside is best spent.
  3. Choose finishes that match your existing home and landscape. Not only with this keep costs down in most cases, it will allow your patio to become an outdoor extension of your home. Seamless integration of the patio will lead to the most comfortable atmosphere in your outdoor space.
  4. When on a tight budget, choose on big ticket item. After your brainstorming, choose one item as the splurge item on the patio. Ending up with a fire pit (if that is your ideal item) will make you happier in the long run, than spreading that money over more expensive pavers or expensive outdoor lighting.
  5. Choose the right patio designer. Good communication between you and the landscaping designer is imperative. If you have hesitation from the start, trust your gut! Do not assume things will get better after a plan is put into action. That can lead to a lot of disappointment and wasted money. Find a reliable designer and contractor that you trust to build your patio.

All Oregon Landscaping Designs Patios for Homes, Restaurants, and Businesses

patio tips from All Oregon Landscaping in Portland

Look no further for great patio designers. Our expert designers have the knowledge you need to turn your dull outdoor space into a vibrant patio at your home or restaurant.

View some of our previous work involving outdoor kitchens from the following posts:

Outdoor Kitchen Design Tips

 All Oregon Wins Award From Yard, Garden, and Patio Show With Stunning Outdoor Kitchen and Living Room

No matter what your patio ideas entail, All Oregon Landscaping can help. We work all throughout the Portland area, including Lake Oswego, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tualatin, West Linn, Sherwood, Oregon City, Happy Valley, Gresham, Vancouver, Camas, and more. Call today for a free quote on your patio design. Summer is here now, so don’t wait!

 

Outdoor Kitchen Design Tips

By mid-February, summer is creeping into minds all over Portland, so I thought we could bring “summer” to the landscaping blog by dishing out some design tips for outdoor kitchens. There is no question that outdoor kitchens have gained momentous popularity in the last few years, and All Oregon Landscaping is proud to have won, “Best in Show” and “Best Use of Color” at the 2011 Yard, Garden, and Patio Show in Portland for our elaborate outdoor kitchen design. Outdoor kitchen designs are a fun challenge for All Oregon Landscaping; combining the elements that make a great kitchen with the elements that make a great yard and landscape. There are a few factors homeowners should pay particular attention to when working on an outdoor kitchen design.

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Tips For Designing an Outdoor Kitchen

  1. Exposure to the elements is often the biggest difference between an indoor and outdoor kitchen design. This is particularly important when considering what will need waterproofing (especially here in Portland), as well as what materials you will choose for flooring, countertops, and appliances. In general, you want to find materials that will not be slippery when wet, are durable, and easy to clean. 
  2. Consider the maintenance your kitchen design will need. We find that the less maintenance needed to take care of an outdoor kitchen, the more apt the homeowner is to use and enjoy their investment. Materials like high quality stainless steel are a great low maintenance choice.
  3. Think about flow. Ask yourself, “How will people walk through and use this space?”. Flow in the outdoor kitchen space is important, but so is how the outdoor kitchen flows with the rest of the yard and other areas like a pool, garden, outdoor living room or other space. If you plan to use the space for entertaining guests, also consider how you will use both the indoor and outdoor kitchen at the same time. The outdoor kitchen design should be reflective of how you plan to use the space.
  4. In Portland, the rainy season can be really long. Don’t limit the use of your outdoor kitchen to a few months a year. Heating elements and shelter from the rain can lengthen the amount of time you can spend in your outdoor kitchen. Pergolas and awnings can cover the main preparation and seating areas, but you will probably want to leave the space about the grill open to let smoke escape. Natural gas patio heaters will make a big difference in damp Portland winter.
  5. Adequate lighting will ensure that your kitchen is usable after dark as well as on gray days. Task lighting and ambient lighting can be achieved by using a dimmer system. At All Oregon Landscaping, we love to recommend LED lights because the are more efficient than traditional lighting.

All Oregon Landscaping

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All Oregon Landscaping is a premiere Portland company focusing on outdoor kitchen design, pergolas, awnings, outdoor lighting, water features, outdoor fireplaces, intimate spaces, and more. Call us anytime to discuss your yard needs, questions, or concerns. We work in Portland, Oregon and surrounding areas and are happy to help you transform your yard into something you love!

Cast Stone Vs. Natural Stone

Whether to use cast stone or natural stone can be a big debate for landscape designers and homeowners who are looking to drastically alter the architectural elements of their yard. There are pros and cons to both cast stone  and natural stone, so today we would like to help you determine which option is the best for your landscape design or yard renovation. There are benefits and drawbacks to each choice, which are outlined below.

Cast Stone

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Also known as cultured stone, cast stone is man made from cement. Pigments and crushed natural stone are incorporated to give it a natural stone appeal. It is molded and formed to look like natural stone. It is widely accepted as a great replacement for sandstone, brownstone, limestone, granite, slate, coral rock, and many other types of natural stone.

Pros of Using Cast Stone

  • Versatility. Because cast stone is man made, the only limits for color and style are the imagination.  A plethora of options are available.
  • Time. It is usually much quicker to install cast stone (as long as it is ready from the supplier).
  • Cast stone is generally, although not always, significantly cheaper than natural stone.

Cons of Using Cast Stone

  • The look of cast stone is fabricated and may not appear as unique  or detailed as natural stone.
  • Some claim it is less durable. Much of this depends on  the quality of cast stone you use.
  • Over time, the coloring may change.

Natural Stone

naturalstone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural stone refers to any stone found in the earth, quarried, and then processed for use in landscapes, water features, sculptures, and gardens. We like to work with Mutual Materials for many of our landscape projects, and some of our favorite natural stone choices are the Camas Ledgestone, Iron Mountain Flagstone, Lavender Flagstone, Oregon Rive Rock, and Rainbow River Cobbles. The Pacific Northwest offers some great options for color and style in natural stone.

Pros of Using Natural Stone

  • The durability of natural stone is not in question. It will last forever and does not really incite the same debate as cast stone.
  • Each stone has its own unique texture, veining, patterning and color, ensuring a distinct look for each project.

Cons of Using Natural Stone

  • Natural stone can cost quite a bit more than cast stone. It requires a lot more labor by a skilled professional to hand shape pieces.
  • It can take a lot longer to install due to the hand crafted nature.

Overall, the most important thing to pay attention to is the exact nature of the product you will be using. If using cast stone, know the  durability and technical specifications are so that there are no surprises later. Generally, cast stone is around $10-$20 cheaper per square foot. At All Oregon Landscaping we only use high quality products, regardless of whether it is natural stone or cast stone.

All Oregon Landscaping Works With Both Cast Stone and Natural Stone

If you need experts in working with either cast stone or natural stone; you’ve found the right place. We work throughout Oregon, in Portland, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Sherwood, Tualatin, Hillsboro, Wilsonville, Gresham, Happy Valley, Oregon City, Molalla and more. Contact us today with questions about your outdoor space renovation. We specialize in water features, outdoor kitchens, intimate spaces, retaining walls, trellises, pergolas, and more. With the help of All Oregon Landscaping, you could be enjoying your yard to its fullest this summer, so don’t hesitate to contact us soon!

 

All Oregon Landscaping Hosts Niagara Parks School of Horticulture

Recently, All Oregon Landscaping hosted a group from the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. The renowned horticulture school came all the way from Ontario, Canada to tour one of Portland Oregon’s top landscaping companies.

The tour was conducted by the owner of All Oregon Landscaping, Craig Prunty. He showed the enthusiastic and burgeoning landscapers his company’s Sherwood, Oregon facility. During the tour, Craig shared his 30 years of experience in landscape design and his vast knowledge of the industry.

Of course the main attraction of tour was All Oregon’s 20-acre, private nursery that contains more than 8,000 different plants.

The horticulture students got a rare and priceless tour of one of the most successful landscaping companies in the Portland metro area. All Oregon Landscaping is a family owned business that has been transforming average yards into work of arts for more than 23 years. Their work has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in Sunset Magazine, and at local lawn and garden shows.

An outsider may ask why a company as big and successful as All Oregon would spend their valuable time showing a bunch of students around their campus. After all, All Oregon tackles multimillion dollar projects; their design and project management teams have over a century of experience; and the company has a staff of 20 skilled and dedicated individuals.

Well, All Oregon Landscaping is more than just a landscaping company. They care about their industry and the next wave of landscapers. They want to give back and there’s no better way to do that than spending some quality time “talking shop” with students from a renowned horticulture school.

Niagara Parks School of Horticulture
The Niagara Parks School of Horticulture is located in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Accepted applicants not only undergo academic instruction but they receive hands-on training at the world Famous Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. A 3-year diploma from the school carries a lot of weight within the industry. If you’re looking for a career in gardens, and want a practical alternative to college, then you should definitely enroll in Niagara Parks School of Horticulture.