It was a bit of a wild winter in Ottawa. We had a warm, green Christmas, but set snowfall records in February. We measured temperatures in the -40° range, yet due to warm weather we had the shortest Rideau Canal skating season in history. Ottawa residents had to endure this weird, inconsistent weather – and so did lawns and gardens throughout the region. Here’s a quick guide to preparing your lawn and garden in the early spring for lush green success down the road:
Evaluate the Winter Damage
Now that the temperature is starting to warm and the snow has (almost) melted away, it’s time to take a look at how your lawn was affected by the winter season. Do you see any signs of common issues like dead patches or soil compaction. Or if you’re particularly unlucky, you may find signs of grey or pink snow mould. You can do spot repairs if the damage is minimal. If your lawn needs more extensive repairs, sod installation may be your best choice.
Clean Up Debris
Now that the damage is assessed, it’s time to start clearing debris. Winter winds carry rocks, branches, and neighbourhood debris (newspapers, plastic bottles etc.) onto your lawn and garden. Pick up larger items by hand and rake up smaller items. Remember, you can rake up any leftover leaves and organic debris from the fall and use it as mulch in your garden! Since weeds have shallow roots at this time of year, there’s no better time to weed your garden.
Work in the Garden
Spring is the best time to plant hardy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, radish, and kale. Semi-hardy vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, and lettuce are also suitable for planting at this time of year, as long as the temperatures stay consistently above freezing. Though they won’t bloom until next spring, now is the time to plant dahlias and canna lily flower bulbs. Last but not least, don’t forget to divide your perennials. Dividing perennials lowers the risk of insect infestations and fungal disease and keeps the plants bountiful and healthy.
Work in the Lawn
Core aerate your lawn to create small holes that allow air, water, and topdressing nutrients to better reach the grass roots. Aeration is most effective when the temperatures are cool but not cold, which is why early spring is a great time to aerate your lawn. Evaluate the thatch on your lawn. A thin layer is important to insulate the soil, but if it’s too thick it stops the grass from growing at full health. You can use a regular garden rake or buy/borrow a thatching rake.
Follow these four steps, and your lawn will be ready for the spring ahead! For more spring gardening tips, don’t forget to attend our very own Ed Hansen’s presentation “The Value of Landscaping in Your Home Investment” at the Ottawa Home & Garden Show, March 26, 12:00-1:00 PM. The Hansen team has also put together the “Living Landscapes,” so come visit us in the garden!