Gardening 101: Terms and Techniques

Gardening 101: Terms and Techniques

Gardening 101: Terms and Techniques

If you’re new to the world of gardening, remember that all good landscapers in Calgary were once beginners too. Gardening can seem daunting to newcomers, but like anything else, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Before you get started, though, you need to know some basic terms and techniques that help you dig in, so to speak.

Basic Gardening Techniques from Landscapers in Calgary
Many landscaping experts divide the basics of gardening into five topics: starting a garden, choosing plants, designing the garden, tool selection and garden maintenance. Having a good working understanding of each of these topics will make your first gardening season easier and more successful:

  • Starting a garden. Here, the first step is to select the right area in which to place your garden. In addition to selecting a site that gets a lot of sunshine on sunny days and lies directly in the path of rainfall, you should also perform an assessment of the soil to see how suitable it is for growing plants. Gardens need the right balance of acidic and basic elements and plenty of nutrients. You’ll have to create these conditions if they don’t naturally exist in your yard.
  • Choosing plants. Here in Calgary, we have a relatively short growing season compared with most of North America. Thus, you’ll need to choose plants capable of withstanding lower temperatures and unsettled conditions, as cool days and nights can occur in Calgary even in summer. In addition to plant hardiness, you should also consider whether you want to grow annuals (which die in the late autumn) or perennials (which blossom back to life each spring). Finally, consider the colors of the flowers as well as their flowering patterns.
  • Garden design. Key elements of garden design include confining the garden to a dedicated, demarcated space, as well as a creating a central focal point and providing variations of color, plant type, plant height and plant form. Start simple and move into more complex designs as you gain experience.
  • Garden tools. As a general rule, you’ll need a hoe, trowel, shovel, wheelbarrow, watering can and a set of pruning shears to get started. Choose tools with good ergonomics to reduce the strain on your body, and consider investing in a comfortable pair of gardening knee pads if you plan to create a flower garden, which will need a lot of personal attention.
  • Maintaining your garden. You will need to regularly weed your garden, ensure pests don’t gain a foothold, maintain the right level of nutrients in the soil, and ensure your plants are getting enough sunshine and water. Don’t worry too much if you make some mistakes in your first garden; errors are bound to happen, and you can learn a lot by making them.

Important Terms All Gardeners and Landscapers in Calgary Should Know
As you choose your plans, design your garden and work on maintaining it, you’re going to encounter a lot of new and unfamiliar terms. Here is a list of terms that every beginner should know:

  • Alkaline: Soil with pH levels in excess of 7
  • Alpine: Plants which prefer the kind of alpine climate we have here in the Calgary area
  • Annual: Plants with a life cycle one year long
  • Biennial: Plants with a two-year life cycle
  • Bud: The beginning stage of the flowering process, in which immature flowers are contained in small nodules on the plant’s stem
  • Compost: Soil made from organic materials
  • Coniferous: Plants which produce cones
  • Deciduous: Plants which lose their leaves in fall and regrow them in spring
  • Dormancy: A temporary period of slow growth or no growth, as part of a normal growing cycle
  • Fertilizer: Nutritive material that promotes plant growth
  • Hardiness zone: Refers to local growing conditions; in Calgary, we are in hardiness zone 2b-3a
  • Insecticide: Chemicals or compounds which kill or repel insects
  • Mulch: Organic material which helps trap moisture and protect roots from frost damage
  • Neutral: A pH balance of exactly 7
  • Perennial: Plants which blossom back to life year after year
  • Perlite: An aluminum silicate additive found in commercially prepared compost
  • pH: The relative level of alkaline or acidity in growing soil
  • Pruning: Removing dead or unneeded parts of a plant to promote healthier growth

If these terms are in your vocabulary, you’ll have an easier time finding what you’re looking for at your local garden centre and benefitting from the advice of more experienced landscapers in Calgary.

At Mirage Landscaping, we are proud to employ one of the most accomplished teams of landscapers in Calgary. Offering a complete range of services from garden design and landscape maintenance to fall and spring cleanup, we’ll keep your property in ship shape, increasing its appeal and adding to its value. To learn more, or to request price quotes for any of our services, please contact us.

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