• Paul Mascard

Painting the Perfect Garden

In Canada, our springs are not easy for starting gardens. Mother Nature seems to be a bit ahead of schedule this year, but gardeners want to be careful not to jump the gun per se since we are still a few weeks away from the Victoria Day long weekend, which is the traditional barometer to start planting. However, many are inspired by the signs of spring and want to get outside. So where do you start? Below is a great list of tips from gardening professionals across Canada:

Start With a Plan. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish with your garden: Do you want to do a complete renovation? Create some space for your kids? Design a place to entertain? Consider these goals before you start any planting.

Be Prepared. Many people begin to think about their gardening tools and other garden necessities on the day they want to begin. Use the days leading up to gardening season effectively by ensuring all your tools are in good order and working properly.

Start With A Clean Slate. After pruning, the rest of the yard can be cleaned of debris that has accumulated over the winter. This includes removing leaves that were spread out to protect gardens, and burlap covers from shrubs and trees.

Go Slow. Now is the time to start sowing your seeds indoors. Find a sunny window and let the plants warm up to the spring weather in the comfort of your living room. These can be both vegetables and flowers and can stay indoors until the frost has completely gone.

Only the Best Will Do. Prepare your soil with lots of organic matter, as most gardens’ success revolves around this preparation. Plants will actually take care of themselves; you just need to feed the soil. Add compost and triple mix, especially if the soil is poor to begin with, and let the soil support the plants.

Mix and Match. Once plants are ready for the outdoors, make sure each one has its needs matched to the environment. Shade-loving plants go in the shade; sun worshippers go in the sun. Watch out for aggressive plants- only choose ones that you know you can keep at bay.

Lessen the Workload. Choose native plants like Echinacea to round out your space. They reduce your water usage and lighten the maintenance required.

Patio Party. For those with condo patios or house decks, containers are essential. Buy good quality container soil and don’t use old earth from last year (take it to a nearby park and spread it there). Make sure your containers have drainage access and use a slow release fertilizer, like a “once-in-a-season,” that you only have to apply at the beginning of spring.

Behave Yourself. Or rather, pick plants that behave themselves. Aggressive plants can create more work than you have time for. Ornamental grasses, for example, are big right now: the travellers, which move mostly by root through the garden, are very invasive, yet the clumpers tend to stay in their place and won’t take over your garden. Choose the latter.

Stay Away from Chemicals. An easy way to prevent weeds from growing is to overseed your lawn, with fresh quality grass seed. The quality of the grass seed in the bag determines the pedigree of your lawn tomorrow. Buy quality grass seed and you won’t regret it.

Keep Weeds at Bay. A low maintenance (and natural) way to reduce weeds in your garden is to add finely ground mulch about 5 cm thick. This insulates the soil so that evaporation doesn’t take place as fast. Sun can’t reach down there, so the weeds won’t push through, eliminating the majority of your weeding problems within the first year.


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