Easy Maintenance Tips to Protect Your Landscape

Craig Hutchinson, President of Lawrence Park Complete Garden Care, recently contributed an article to Neighbours of Lawrence Park South Magazine about choosing a landscape designer. Here’s his article as it appears.

A beautiful lawn and garden all starts with a proper spring cleanup, when lawns should be properly dethatched and fertilized, and gardens get their first pruning and fertilizing for the season. This is a mistake that homeowners and untrained gardeners often make, leaving winterkilled grass and then over-fertilizing their lawns with high nitrogen fertilizers that ultimately lead to weak summer lawns and unhappy homeowners.

Roses and rhododendrons are beautiful but costly to replace if the maintenance of protecting them for the winter is not done properly. Be careful to remove their protection at the right time, and that fertilizing and rose pruning in the spring are done by a knowledgeable set of hands.

When daytime temperatures reach 16 degrees Celsius and aren’t below 7 degrees Celsius at night, it’s the right time to consider seeding your lawn. If you have hired a professional, ask for a slit seed, which is by far the most effective way to ensure that your seed not only germinates, but also establishes decent roots. Also consider aerating which combined with slit seeding can make an average-looking lawn great! Lightly throwing seed over your lawn and then covering it will work too, but much of seed can wash away with the next rainfall and is more likely to be eaten by birds.

Routine watering for your lawn and garden is recommended throughout the gardening season. If you already have an in-ground irrigation system, that’s all the better. Three times per week with 40 minutes for your lawn and 20 minutes for your gardens is a good start. This will have to be adjusted depending on the season and the conditions of your garden. Don’t forget about your urns and planters! They will often need less water but more frequent applications.

Homeowners often ask about how to manage pests and disease in their gardens. There are some great organic products that can be used safely and effectively to guard your garden against these frustrating infestations. Talk to your local garden center or your expert gardener about issues that you may have had in your garden in the past. There is usually a well-timed treatment that can be applied to help protect your landscape investment.

Gardens do need amending from time to time, often just to top up soil levels or by adding compost to help improve the growing conditions. Your plants are no different than agricultural crops, needing the right set of conditions to grow to look their best. Consider using only compost that comes from gardens like well- rotted leaves, plants, and grass as opposed to traditional cow, sheep, or mushroom manure. This alleviates the concern of introducing foreign agents to your garden that could be a possible concern.

Sometime after the initial growth of your garden, which happens typically in June or July, many of your hedges and shrubs will need their summer prune. Your more formal plants can be trimmed, but be careful not to trim your plants that require hand pruning as you may destroy the aesthetic value of your prized plants and compromise their long-term health. You and your landscape professional should also be aware of when certain plants flower and whether they flower on this year’s or last year’s growth so your shrub’s flowers don’t get removed.

Fall is also a great time to plan for the next season, whether it be spring bulbs that are planted in October thru November or even working on a refreshed plan or formal design. It is also another great time to seed your lawn when the conditions are right, or add more compost when the leaves are raked and the gardens are prepared for the winter.

Again, proper maintenance should always include protecting your sensitive plants for the winter using either straw, leaves, or soil depending on the type of your plants. Be sure to wrap, tie, or screen certain plants that may be burned by winter winds, salt, reflected sun, or heavy snow,

All of this should help protect your landscape investment, keep your garden thriving, and hopefully keep you smiling!

Craig Hutchinson is the owner of Lawrence Park Complete Garden Care Ltd. You can reach him at 416-481-1888 or email [email protected]