Now is the time to clean up your yard. If you haven’t already done so, remove mulch from around your perennials and shrubs, and cut them back. Most perennials should be cut back to ground level. Some shrubs should have their dead flower heads removed, others should be cut back to 6 to 8 inches above ground level. Be careful not to prune shrubs in which flower buds are set in the fall, or you won’t have any flowers this season.
As soon as the soil is dry enough to work, you can prepare your flower beds. It’s a great idea to add organic material such as peat moss, compost, manure to your beds to help loosen the soil. Similarly, the addition of fertilizer, such as bone meal, gives your plants the boost they need in the spring.
After the snow has melted, the lawn can be raked to clear off debris accumulated during the winter. To promote early greening of the lawn when the lawn is dry enough use the mower to cut off the dead leaf blades. We recommend fertilizing your lawn in mid-May with a slow release fertilizer such as 34-15-0. Come to the store and ask our experts for lawn advice tailored to our unique Yukon climate.
May is also a great time to plant a new lawn. Begin by grading your subsoil to provide a smooth base that slopes away from your house at about 2%. After grading, loosen the subsoil and add a layer of topsoil and peat moss (about 20cm) over the entire area. Rake the soil to work out all the depressions.
Select a quality seed mixture and sow the seed in 2 directions – north and south, and then east and west – to ensure good coverage. Water gently for the first 4 to 6 weeks and fertilize immediately with a turf starter fertilizer. Once the lawn reaches 8cm in height it should be mowed to 5cm.
Watering and fertilizing your evergreens is important. If you find that your evergreens are green in the fall and brown in the spring, the problem is winter injury. Winter injury is caused by the sun reflecting off buildings and snow, giving your plants a ‘sun burn,’ worsened by strong winds that dry out your plants. Proper watering and fertilizing helps prevent winter injury. We recommended that you water regularly from May to the end of August. Fertilize by mixing 3 to 4 gallons of water soluble fertilizer (30-10-10) and applying weekly for the months of May and June.
If you have mugo pines in your shrub beds and you would like to control their size, pinch back their new growth (referred to as candles) as it begins to form.
If you haven’t already purchased your spring bulbs, you may want to consider planting gladiolas, canna and calla lilies, or dahlias for colour later in the season. Planting these in a pot indoors and later transplanting outside or to deck pots later is ideal.
Annuals and Gardens
May is the time for planting your annuals and vegetable gardens. You can plant your pansies into the ground first thing in May as they can handle cooler weather. The general rule of thumb for planting your garden and the rest of your annuals is the weekend after the May long weekend.
There are many beautiful shrubs that do well in the the Yukon. To have colour all summer, plant shrubs that have different blooming times; an example lilac, double flowering almonds, roses and potentilla. This selection will supply you with blooms right into early fall.
Plants need regular watering and efficient watering is very important. Here are some great tips to make the most of your water:
- Mulch plants with rock or bark. This will help keep the moisture in and the weeds out! A mulch of about 1” is all you need to help with moisture and to look aesthetically pleasing. Bark mulch will slowly break down over time and add nutrients to your soil.
- Rain barrels are a great way to collect water to use around the yard.
- Divert rain spouts to flower beds, shrubs or trees. This will not only cut down on water, it will cut down on your time as well.
- When mowing, remove only the top 3rd of the blade and keep grass blades on the long side. Leave grass clippings on the lawn. The clippings will act as mulch, retaining moisture and also adding nutrients into the soil.
- Try planting plants that are more drought resistant, such as Lilacs, Potentillas, or Oak Trees.
- The best way to water plants is by using drip irrigation or soaker hoses. These methods not only get the water to where the plants need it most but also deters water loss to evaporation.
- Watering earlier in the day or later in the evenings helps prevent the loss of water to evaporation.
Remember, when it comes to conservation – every little bit helps! Hopefully these tips will help your water conservation efforts and to save on your water bill as well.
Despite popular belief, fall is an excellent time to plant – in fact you can plant right up until the end of September or early October! Although the plants won’t do much in the fall, once spring hits they’ve got a head start on their first growing season! Here are some tips to fall planting:
- Dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the size of the pot that you are planting. Mix in peat moss and compost or manure with your soil. This way the roots of the plant will have a nice barrier of fresh, nutrient rich soil in which to grow.
- Water, water, water. Make sure to water your plant right up until the ground freezes. Ideally the plant will go into winter with its roots in a chunk of ice. This keeps the roots at a constant temperature and prevents winter kill.
- Another great idea is to mulch around the bottom of the plant. Using bark mulch is great however for a more inexpensive route, choose dead leaves or grass clippings from your yard.
- Remember to plant the root ball about 2 inches deeper than it is planted in the pot. The exact distance varies but you want to make sure that you get the root nice and deep. If you are unsure, feel free to ask one of our experts.
Not only is fall planting easy on the plants, it’s also easy on the pocket book – come in and see what we’ve got on special!
Over-wintering Newly Planted Shrubs
Although your newly planted shrub may be hardy for our zone, it is a nice idea to give it a little bit of extra care during its first winter in the ground. Here are a few tips to help:
- Mulch the roots of the plant. A mound of grass clippings or leaves of about 6-12” is a great idea.
- Water the plant right up until the ground freezes. This makes sure that it is fully watered and then in the spring all the ice will melt and give a nice drink right when it needs it.
- Covering smaller shrubs in snow helps to keep the plant insulated, as well as keeping the roots of the plant at a constant temperature.
- Doing these few little things will help your new plants thrive during their first Yukon winter.