Airdrie gardening

Ready, set, grow!

Now that spring is near, it’s time to get your hands dirty

Although it’s too early to plant outdoors, there is still plenty that Airdrians can do to ensure their garden is ready for the coming season.

The first step is to clean up. Clear and compost old dead stalks of perennials, leaves and any debris that may be in your flower beds, as dead organic matter may harbour disease.

Trees and shrubs can be pruned, as long as they haven’t budded, according to Crystal Bazar, urban forestry technician with the City of Airdrie. She suggests removing branches that cross, diseased and dead wood, and anomalies. Trees and shrubs should also be well watered before they come out of dormancy.

“A slow trickle of water just outside the drip line of the tree is ideal,” says Bazar, noting those who wish to fertilize their trees should do so before they bud. She recommends a well-balanced fertilizer including micronutrients, such as 10-10-10.

If your lawn is snow-free, give it a good rake to remove debris and consider aerating it to allow oxygen to reach the roots.

According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, birdhouses and feeders should also be given a good scrub – to avoid diseases, pests, bacteria and moulds – in preparation for returning feathery friends.

If you compost, now is a good time to turn over your pile. If the ground is thawed, add well-composted material (either your own or purchased) or manure to the soil to add the nutrients needed to support growth.

If you are expanding existing flowerbeds or creating new ones, now is a good time to dig out those areas and add compost or manure to improve the soil.

Although you may be itching to get your green thumbs dirty, take the time to plan this year’s garden. Researching which vegetables, flowers, trees and shrubs suit Airdrie’s growing conditions may help ensure a more successful growing season. Be sure to mix perennials and annuals for all-season colour.

If you are unsure of what plants are suitable, visit a garden centre or ask an experienced friend for help in choosing. Consider learning about plants native to the region (but be wary of invasive species) and adding them to your garden.

Finally, watch for your spring bulbs to make their appearance.

If you were lucky enough to plant Canada 150 bulbs, also known as the Maple Leaf Tulip, last fall, those tulips will soon be appearing alongside other spring-flowering varieties. According to Bazar, residents will notice those elegant red-and-white tulips – selectively bred to resemble the Canadian flag – appearing in beds around the city in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

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