Though it is coming in fits and starts, spring is arriving. Eventually, the overcast skies will clear and the nighttime lows will quit dip towards freezing. Our tough winter will become a distant memory and soon we will solidly be into the growing season. The question is will your perennial plant beds and shrubs be ready to benefit when sun finally arrives full time?
At Mirage Landscaping, your premier commercial and residential landscaping design and maintenance firm in Calgary, we know timing is everything during the spring. That timing starts with a good spring cleaning. Depending on how your personal winter went that cleaning could be a very big job. If you are looking out into your yards and your view is one of fallen twigs and branches, stray leaves, needles, pine cones, and other organic matter, you may just want to call us for a free quote. We will come and power rake your yards to rid them of thatch, clean out all of your plant beds, edge and rake around your trees, and better yet, haul all of the debris and trimmings away for you.
However, if you insist on getting a jump start on getting your green spaces ready for spring all by yourself, we have some handy advice for you:
Early Spring—Time to Control Weeds and Pests
Is there a hardier perennial than the dandelion? Weeds may be the first fully blooming plants you see this spring. Whether dandelions, crabgrass, or something else, weeds are nothing if not survivors. Luckily, most unwanted greens are easy to identify in their early growth stages and easily controlled if you are vigilant. Be especially careful to weed any newly broken ground being made ready for new ornamentals, especially flowers. Weeds are great competitors, and letting a dandelion to go to seed will make for a far more widespread problem.
By that same token, as a Calgarian, especially those living on the outskirts of the city, or in the suburbs proper, you know that both deer and rabbits can wreak havoc on unprotected plant beds, shrubs, and young trees. If you rely on pest barriers to protect your plantings, now is the time to inspect, repair, and replace any such installations. The “pest” wildlife will never be hungrier than right now and your green spaces could be on the menu.
The easy rule on pruning shrubs is this: winter killed wood on shrubs can be pruned away at any time of your choosing. Just ensure that you aren’t clipping away any healthy growth unless you know in advance whether the shrub is a flowering one, and if so when it blooms.
It is beyond the scope of this article to go into when to prune every type of flowering shrub as there are just too many varieties. That said, there is some common sense you can employ. On flowering shrubs, if there are already buds appearing on last year’s growth, you have an early blooming shrub. If you trim away such branches for shaping effects, you will lose the blooms with the buds. If you don’t have any early buds appearing, then it is usually the case that you can shape the shrub and buds will later appear on the new growth towards May and June.
A Word of Caution
Soil compaction is a real danger this time of year, particularly if you have clay substrate soils. If you go tromping around your planting beds and shrubs before the ground firms up, you may find your soils eventually drying into a consistency close to hardened concrete.
You have to take advantage of any sun breaks to see if the soil has firmed up on its own and get to work dead heading and shaping shrubs. If you feel that you have compacted the soil, take a few minutes turning the soil with a trowel and lightly aerate it without exposing or damaging any root systems.
If you feel the need to feed your beds and shrubs after you weed and prune, this early in the season, you would be well advised to stick to compost or mulch unless you know exactly what you are doing with the time release inorganic fertilizers. The time release factor is moisture driven and if we have a wetter than average spring you could burn your plants.
Contact Mirage Landscaping
We can take all of the guesswork out of spring gardening. As always, we offer free quotes on any size job.