Gardening: So many decisions when getting the yard ready

Spring put in a late but sudden appearance this year which has resulted in gardeners trying to get their yards ready in a couple weeks as opposed to a month. The challenge is to know what to do first.

Lawns benefit from a good rake or brush to remove excess thatch. A thick thatch attracts the worms where they burrow forming humps. Aerating, taking out plugs, loosens the soil making it easier for grass roots to spread quickly producing healthier plants and a healthier lawn. While leaving the plugs on top of the soil looks messy they are rich in micro-organisms which speed up the decomposition of dead leaves.

Fertilizer is essential in producing an evenly green lawn. Organic fertilizer is available but it is usually bulker and contains fewer nutrients than chemical fertilizer. In the spring start with a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, the first number, as it will encourage top growth. Later in the season, use a fertilizer with more phosphorous and potash, second and third number, as it encourages root and seed growth. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the container. Every fertilizer is trialed enabling companies to tell clients how to get the most out of their product. A well thought out fertilizer program encourages the grass to grow and inhibit the weeds.

Clean the flowerbeds by removing the old growth. Do not be surprised to find new growth emerging under dead tops and leaves. Not all plants emerge at the same time. If one is missing give it till mid-June to emerge before digging in the spot and replacing it.

Topdressing flowerbeds with a thin layer of clean compost or manure will insure that the plants have a supply of nutrients and the soil structure will be improved. Sprinkling bone meal or a low nutrient fertilizer around the plants is an alternative way to provide the plants with nutrients but it does not improve the soil structure. The process of making fertilizer available to plants uses organic matter. Without it, the nutrients are tied up and not available for the plants use. Do not use the same fertilizer on perennials as the lawn as excess nitrogen will encourage weak top growth that often topples over.

Keep an eye on the moisture levels of the soil. Cultivated areas and beds along the south side of buildings and fences dry out quickly. When checking moisture levels in the ground, dig down to the same level as the plant roots, 4 – 6 inches.(10-15 cm)

If seeds were seeded into wet or moist soil, keep the soil moist to allow the seeds to continue to germinate and start to grow. Seeds that start to swell and then dry out often die.

Annuals bought as bedding out plants make an instant garden. Annuals that are seeded into the ground germinate and usually start blooming at the end of July the first part of August. They continue until the first hard frost. Some varieties such as bachelor Buttons and poppies will self-seed, and provide color for a number of years.

Garden Centers are busy at this time of year. Try to visit at an unpopular time or be prepared to wait. Remember, this is Alberta. If tender plants have been placed outside, be prepared to cover them in the chance that the weather turns colder.

Linda Tomlinson, a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com

Just Posted

CP Rail talks set to resume in Calgary after unions reject railway offer

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. is resuming contract talks with its train operators… Continue reading

No indication Mississauga restaurant blast was terrorism, hate crime: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police say there is no indication an explosion that… Continue reading

For CEOs, $11.7 million a year is just middle of the pack

NEW YORK — Chief executives at the biggest public companies got an… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer walks to reduce stigma associated with schizophrenia

First annual Strides for Hope walk takes place across Alberta

Waterline work closes 48th Avenue in Red Deer this weekend

Drivers can expect a major closure in downtown Red Deer this weekend.… Continue reading

Stettler police looking for alleged shoplifter who stole shoes

Stettler Mounties are looking for a woman they say stole a pair… Continue reading

Teamsters union members vote 98.1 per cent to reject CP Rail final offer

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference says its members at Canadian Pacific Railway… Continue reading

Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps to 1,600 hectares overnight

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 1,600 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Referendum in Ireland would repeal strict ban on abortion

DUBLIN — Ireland’s referendum Friday represented more than a vote on whether… Continue reading

Tesla in Autopilot mode sped up before crashing

SALT LAKE CITY — A Tesla that crashed while in Autopilot mode… Continue reading

Harvey Weinstein turns himself in to face sex crime charges

NEW YORK — Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to police Friday morning… Continue reading

NFL players, coaches grapple with new anthem policy

RENTON, Wash. — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wanted to be talking about… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month