Spring is already here, the snow is clearing, your lawn is finally visible beneath the melting snow and you’re ready to make your annual trip to your local Garden Centre. Getting your yard back to its former glory -- or better -- after it has been literally on ice for the past six months means putting in some work.
Here are some tips from our Garden Centre on easy ways to prepare your garden for summer:
1. Plan, plan and plan some more
If you’re giving your yard a fresh look for summer, it’s important to plan it out. Head down to the Lakeland Co-op Home Centre to see what’s on offer (and check out our E-flyer for deals). Think about the garden you want to see in June or July and work back from there.
We’ve seen some of our customers come into our Garden Centre with a full hand-drawn or digital blueprint of what they want to do with their garden. In fact, drawing out a plan can be a great way to plan your Garden Centre trip and achieve your dream!
2. Tool up
With your ideal garden planned out, think about the tools that are going to get you there. Again, our Home Centre has a great selection. Make sure that the tools you currently have are in good condition: test your electronic or motorized tools to make sure that they work and sharpen your shears and other cutting tools.
Here are the essential tools you’ll need to stock in your garden bag:
- A couple pairs of gloves
- Hand rake
- Handle weeder
- Garden clippers
- Plant tags
3. Start your plants early
By starting a small indoor greenhouse you can get a head start and ensure that your plants make the most of our short growing season. Fill flower pots with good quality potting soil, plant, keep them watered, and voila--you’re good to go! Pick a warm room with plenty of sunlight - and pet owners, make sure that you know if any of your plants are poisonous to animals.
4. Clean up
Once the snow and ice has cleared up you’ll be able to see the damage that six months in deep freeze has done to your yard. You may have dead plants in your flowerbeds and discoloured patches of grass. If you picked quality perennials from your Garden Centre last year many of those plants should spring back to life, so make sure that you know how to tell if a plant is really dead—or just dormant--before you pull it. You’ll also probably have dead leaves that need to be raked to get your lawn and flower beds looking their best.
5. Pest control
Pests like slugs, snails and root-eating vine weevils shelter during the winter and re-emerge during the spring to undo all the work you’ve done to get your garden looking good. Learn from other gardeners or our Home Centre staff what parasites are common in our area and how to spot them, then find a way to remove them without harming your plants. One little tip: coffee grounds mixed into soil deter a whole range of pests while also being good fertilizer- and it’s free!
Speaking of fertilizer, this is where gardening becomes less an art and more a science. You’ll need to test your soil with a soil test kit to determine its characteristics, then compensate for those characteristics with a regime of fertilizing with the nutrients and chemicals you need to balance the soil. From there it’s just a matter of digging the top 6-12 inches of existing soil, mixing in what your soil needs and raking until it’s all level
Unfortunately you won’t be able to dig up your entire lawn to fertilize it, so to get a great lawn this summer you’ll have to aerate. You can get tow-behind aerators for riding mowers, some that you can push by hand and others that spread fertilizer or seeds as they are used. Aerators create holes in the soil that improve drainage, allow fertilizers to reach the roots of the grass and creates space for animals like worms to get into the soil and work to improve it naturally.
8. Start your own compost
Buying a compost bin, particularly the vermiculture type that uses earthworms to create compost, is an amazing addition to your garden. Put kitchen and garden waste in this bin and leave it- a few weeks or months later you’ll have perfectly nutritionally balanced compost for your garden or flower beds.
9. Calibrate and automate
Gardening can be a lot of fun, but if you don’t have the time or desire to maintain your yard then there are ways to design and automate it to reduce the amount of upkeep it will need. Sprinkler systems are one obvious way, but there are now wireless soil-monitoring systems that can alert you if your soil quality dips. You can also design systems like drip irrigation which means that you won’t have to do any watering. If you really want to have a maintenance-free garden you can re-create your yard as a rock garden—but if that’s the case you won’t need the tips above!
Lakeland Co-op Garden Centre | You’re At Home Here
The Garden Centre at your local Lakeland Co-op Home Centre can provide you the tools and consumables for every one of the tasks above. More importantly, we have knowledgeable staff who can give you advice on how to get the garden you want for this summer.