An Article Written by Vito M. Pirri for the Senior's Review in April / May 2008
Managing Your Gardens:
Vito M. Pirri
April and May is a gorgeous time of the year. After some cold winter days and long dark evenings, new energy is in the air, everyone has spring fever. By now you would have chosen, or considered choosing a “Gardener”, for this spring, summer and fall. Consider bringing your indoor living space outdoors this spring. Enjoy your patio, porch or deck, barbequing and entertaining, or just even relaxing and taking it a bit easy, enjoying the sunshine, and extended hours of daylight.
While sitting and relaxing on your patio, visualize as to how pleasing you would like your gardens to look, not only with your new gardens, but also with existing gardens adding to your homes “Curb Appeal”. If you haven’t planned your gardens yet, ask your gardener for some advice and assistance. An experienced landscaper is well versed about all aspects of horticulture.
Your landscaper can be of great assistance with your planning of trees, shrubs, bushes, roses, annuals and perennials, for both sun and shade.
Your landscaper will explain how to prepare your soil; it is not just digging it and turning it over! He or She should also be versed in how to fertilize plantings and grass areas. Your gardener will even do the strenuous work of planting if needed. Make sure that you communicate with your gardener, what plants you would like to see in your yard, and what colors you prefer.
Would you like a vegetable garden? Would you care to incorporate different grasses in your garden? Would you like annuals and perennials in your garden, or both? Would you like English Roses with wonderful scents? Do you want T-roses, climbing roses, floribunda, grandiflora or bush roses? Are you thinking of a groundcover?
Would you like your gardens to be “Low Maintenance”, mounded with a bed of prepared quad mix horticulture soil, landscape fabric and mulch?
Have you asked your gardener to prune your existing bushes and shrubs, or even re-design and plant a new garden bed? Ask your gardener to do a major spring clean up at this time of the year?
The Art of Pruning
The spring clean up can include: pruning, turning your soil: topping soil up by including manure, compost and a quality quad-mix. Would you like to see new garden beds designed and installed adding more “Curb Appeal” to your existing yard? Do you require any hardscapes (stone work) around your sculptured garden beds this year, or even a new patio? Great “Curb Appeal” means added real estate value!
I would recommend that you use a “Dormant Kit”, containing Dormant Oil and Liquid Lime Sulphur in early April, before the buds show up on the green tips of your bushes, fruit trees, roses or deciduous ornamentals. This formula will control over wintering insects, insect eggs and diseases.
Lawn Maintenance is crucial in early spring. When applying fertilizer, use a fertilizer spreader, read instructions carefully, not to damage or burn your lawn. Not only should you apply fertilizer, but consider what types of weeds you need to control. If you had crabgrass last summer, you should have applied Crabgrass Preventer in late March or early April.
If crabgrass were not evident last summer, I would recommend using a turf fertilizer with high nitrogen, to keep your lawn green and plush.
Pests could be a problem as May approaches. Use rose dust to control aphids on your roses. Purchase plant food at your local garden centre. Different formulas are available for evergreens, flowers, and vegetable plants Etc. Be sure to purchase the right fertilizer. Read the labels on all chemicals closely. They can be as harmful as helpful.
A quality landscaper is well versed in horticulture. It is very important to make the proper decision when hiring a gardener or landscaper. He or she can make the difference in your yards appeal and resulting in your “Curb Appeal”. Remember the old saying, “You Get What You Pay For”.
If you are a container gardener, you should fill your empty containers with a peat moss based growing mix, especially formulated for a wide variety of plant species grown in hanging baskets, large containers, and outdoor planters. It has excellent water-holding capacity for plants that require high amounts of water or subject to hot, sunny conditions. This formula contains a slow release fertilizer. You can purchase this container soil at your local garden centre. For the best results planting your mixed planters, herbs or even tomato plants in containers, use this container soil.
Planting hedges, will add to your homes ”Curb Appeal”. Consider a boxwood or privet hedge, in a desirable location. A hedge along side a driveway to separate you and your neighbour’s property can be used to define your property line.
Prior to planting, you or your landscaper should always check your city’s by-law to be aware of maximum height restrictions and if there are other restrictions extending to the boulevard in front of your home.
If you are considering a yard makeover, this is the time of the year to plant. You should budget up to 10% of your homes value, to renovate an established properties yard and gardens. If you keep your expenses within range, your landscaping efforts are most likely to boost the value of your home due to the “Curb Appeal”.
I will end this month’s article with a note on “Clay Soil”. The use of horticultural lime works well. By adding lime to your garden, it will assist in breaking up the clay, by aggregating the clay particles and make the clay more open and permeable.