OTTAWA -- Consistent warmer weather is only weeks away and that means it's time to start organizing your back yard.

For many people, that starts with the greenery.

Plants are flying off the shelves at garden centres across Ottawa, including Ritchie Feed and Seed.

“Vegetables are very popular right now,” says store manager Michael Ritchie. “If it’s anything like last year, which is kind of the first year of the pandemic, a lot more people were gardening.”

Spending time in the back yard will be on many to-do lists this summer, and planting fresh fruits and veggies is something Ritchie says the whole family can enjoy.

“Starting beans from seed and let it grow and when you have it outside you can plant it in the garden and see it make something you can actually eat. It’s a lot of fun for kids. And it’s educational a bit too, without being too educational,” he says.

Most people shopping at Ritchie’s on Monday were getting a head start on their gardening, and for good reason.

“I’m looking for this tree, weeping caragana,” says gardener Aero Selfridge. “Last year when I went to the garden centre early on, everything was picked over quite quickly. I assume its going to be the same this year, so I’m starting early.”

Others are just looking for an excuse to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

“We’re going to buy a red maple,” says gardener Valeri Nogaev. “Let’s us relax. More time outside of our house.”

Gardening has become one of the most popular pastimes for people in their backyard during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s not the only thing you can do.

Turning your backyard into a place you look forward to using every night is as simple as a few new additions says Lowe's assistant store manager Bernie Car.

Gazebo patio

Two of the most popular things are outdoor fireplaces and gazebos.

“Roast marshmallows. Cook hotdogs with the kids outside,” says Car. “Anything outside that can bring you a little bit of fresh air, a little bit of a different ambiance, a different atmosphere with the fire going. It’s what they're looking for.”

And no backyard is complete without the single most important item. The barbecue.

“People have a little bit more time on their hands at home, so a six or eight hour smoke job on a smoker at home? Fantastic,” says Car.

If you’re thinking about a new grill, patio set, or just want to start a new hobby, now just might be the best time to try it.

“Trying and experimenting,” says Ritchie, when it comes to gardening, “and not getting to crazy about making sure it’s perfect. That’s what I usually say to most people who are starting.”