It’s been a positively delightful September in Calgary so far, and all signs are pointing to several more weeks of mild weather. Even though the main growth period of lawns and gardens may be over, there are still plenty of reasons to get out and putter around in the yard. Being outdoors is good for you, as we all know, and small fall landscaping tasks can make a big difference come spring.
Fix your soil
Fall is a great time to do some testing and amend your soil for optimum growing conditions. Soil in Calgary naturally has a basic or high pH, which classifies it as alkaline. The problem with alkaline soil is that valuable nutrients such as iron, zinc, copper, and manganese are reduced. Plants tend to prefer slightly more acidic conditions with a pH of 6.5, and so natural soil in Calgary may require treatment in order to get the best results.
Garden centres carry simple and accurate tests for pH levels. You will need to dig a small hole of about two to four inches deep and clear away any branches, stones, roots, and other debris. Then fill the hole with distilled water, which has a neutral pH and will not skew the test results. Insert the probe and wait the allotted amount of time. A pH value of 7.0 is neutral. Higher values indicate alkaline soil, and lower values indicate more acidic soil.
There are several ways to improve the pH content of soil, including adding peat sphagnum or acidifying fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, or sulfur-coated urea. Be sure to inquire about proper use.
Compost will also improve soil quality, but may not change its pH level. The City of Calgary provides free compost each year. Watch here for availability dates.
Reseed the lawn
Bolster the strength of your lawn with a good seeding before winter. Fall landscaping seeding tends to work best after a hard rake that loosens thatch and the top layer of soil. A good aeration and the proper fertilizer is also beneficial for seed. Generally, about three pounds of seed is needed for every 1,000 square feet of land.
Sprinkle the grass seed evenly by hand over prepared spots and lightly mix it in with the disturbed soil. New grass seed needs a lot of water to germinate. Follow the instructions carefully, but be prepared to water deeply at least once a day to keep the top inch of soil moist. This will allow new sprouts to take root.
Mix and add mulch
Mulch is your garden’s warm’s winter coat. It stabilizes temperatures in the soil by becoming a direct layer of insulation for your plants. In the winter, mulch helps to protect roots from frost damage and heaving caused by the freeze/thaw cycles we routinely see. Come early thaws or the fullness of spring, mulch will continue to stabilize the soil temperature when the days are warming and the nights are still chilly.
Give your existing mulch a good turn to give it a fresh new look and to also disturb any sections that may have become too compact. Looser mulch allows moisture to reach plants’ roots and reduces the chance for bad insects to thrive.
Free mulch is available at the East Calgary landfill all year round. You will need to bring a shovel, tarps, and containers, and have some way to transport the mulch safely
Clean your patios and walkways
Fall landscaping means taking care of your hardscaping too. Rent, borrow, or buy a pressure washer to give your patios, sidewalks, and pathways a nice cleaning. You can also (carefully) clean your fence, house, and soffits. Fall is also a great time to fill in and repair any cracks with a sealant to prevent further damage.
Tend to your tools
Clean and prep your garden tools for next year, and why not organize your shed while you’re at it? It will be a pleasant surprise come spring to have everything perfectly ready for you to get going on your yardwork.
Use a wire brush to remove dirt and debris from the surfaces of our garden tools. A little bit of warm and soapy water can help speed up the process. Remove lawn mower blades (be sure to disconnect the spark plug first) to have them sharpened professionally. Replace spark plugs, fuel filters, and worn-down parts before putting your power tools in storage. It’s also a good idea to lubricate them now, and again in the spring. Disconnect all hoses, drain them, and coil them up according to manufacturer guidelines.
Plan your spring landscaping project
Start dreaming up your spring landscaping project now so you can ensure to be ready at the earliest opportunity as soon as the weather warms up. Mirage Landscaping provides complete landscape design, construction, and maintenance services. We have experienced landscape designers who can help bring your vision to reality, as well as skilled masons, woodworkers, and brick workers who can design and build anything made out of wood, concrete, brick, or stones. Our landscape maintenance packages include a customizable monthly plan that will ensure your commercial or residential property is always looking its best. Contact us for a free quote to see what we can do for you.