If you have taken on the task of building your own bed, you should keep in mind to have at least 12” of top soil. This will be optimal for your plants root systems to grow and flourish. Be sure you use “Garden Mix” and not just loam to help your plants the proper nutrients for the transition from pots to the ground. Raised beds are recommended because they look beautiful and a good edger will help prevent annoying grass from growing in your beds.
Now that the frost is slowing coming out of the soil, it is time to start thinking about fertilizing your lawn.
How often you fertilize a home lawn depends on your soil type. Most of Calgary has very rich clay soil. Clay based soils hold nutrients very well, unlike sandy soils that naturally leach fertilizers. Properties in the river valleys tend to have sandy soils.
Ideally lawns in Calgary should be fertilized 2 to 3 times a year. The regimen for two applications a year, is late spring and early fall. The greenest lawns are the ones that had a early September fertilizer application. It is a common mistake to fertilize in early April rather than the fall. If you have missed the fall application it is best for the turf to wait until late May.
If you choose to do 3 applications a year, the first should be in late summer. The next application should be late fall, followed by a May application.
If a lawn is in need of repair from neglect or weed problems, 4 applications a year can be used. The first application should be late summer, followed by a late fall application. The third amount would be late spring and the final fertilizer is added in early summer. Add a cool day and irrigation to these application dates and success shall be yours.
There are a lot of variables when it comes to weed growth but we will start simple. In the spring, around the same time as your first mow, you should start off by feeding your grass with a good fertilizer like Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Fertilizer. (be sure to mow higher in the spring to encourage healthy roots I would recommend over 2″) If your grass is healthy and well fed, then weeds will have a harder time taking over. Once you do see a weed pop up, you may want to spot-kill them with something like Ortho Weed-B-Gon MAX® Weed Killer For Lawns. And if they have already become a big problem for you, you could try something like Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed. Be sure you calibrate your fertilizer spreader correctly, usually there are instructions on the back of the fertilizer bag. Don’t forget to give your grass a good watering after to prevent a burnt lawn too. Watering your lawn very well 1-2 times per week will encourage lawn health and keep your weeds at bay!
When you build a home, you know that you are going to be putting in a kitchen, living room, bedrooms and bathrooms. Often people get so caught up on the interior, they forget about the exterior. Your backyard is truly an extension of your home (a phrase you will hear me say over and over again) and it should be treated as another space. Would you forget to put couches in your living room? A counter in your kitchen?
Now what you can add to your outdoor space will depend on your needs and budget. A general rule of thumb is your backyard budget should be 10% of the value of your home. If you entertain often, an outdoor kitchen and large patio is a good choice. If you have a hectic work schedule and enjoy your time alone, a small work area, zen garden and a hammock would be an idea. If you are a nature lover fill your yard with tall trees, privacy screens and beautiful gardens to fully benefit from your yard. A yard is as unique as your home and it should reflect you and your family.
The long winter seems to finally be waning! Time to pull out the camping gear and figure out spring plantings. The big question is, “when do I start to harden off my spring plantings?” Albertans have traditionally been told the long weekend in May but it is really safest to wait a little longer. Annual plants can be planted the first week in June. If frost warnings come later, cover plants with a breathable covering. Pansies and other biennials easily handle a couple of degrees of frost without any damage. Most biennials can be planted in early May. Perennial plants are the most adaptable and can be planted at any time the soil is workable. Green house grown plants should be left in shady areas and gradually introduced in sunny areas to avoid sunburned leaves. Loosen root balls on your plants prior to planting and water annuals and biennial daily until established. Happy planting!
Some people are worried about paying extra money to get a landscape design. Would you buy a house without a drawing? Landscape designs are necessary unless you are just laying sod. The wow factor comes with planning exactly where to put something, what the grade will be, the materials, and perfectly fitting everything you want into a space. This allows you to see your yard BEFORE it is built, and make the changes you need at that time. I believe a landscape design will end up saving you money in the end, instead of dealing with the costly changes mid-project for something that you could have foreseen with a plan.