So, it’s early April and temperatures have already been to summer and back. When this happens, many of us instinctively head out to tend to our gardens, lawns and trees… but should we? Some say it’s too early, while others suggest ‘winter is over, have at it’.
We decided to speak to Frank Ferragine, AKA “Frankie Flowers”, passionate Garden Specialist and Weather Anchor from Toronto’s Breakfast Television morning show. Frank is also the resident Garden Expert on CityLine, and has recently published his second book designed to get you growing.
While raking leftover leaves and debris is generally fine, Frankie says “Do not rake your lawn if it’s wet and soggy underfoot. You will do more harm than help by creating compaction.” However a general cleanup is recommended, including pruning any dead wood or broken stems of trees and shrubs. Mister Flowers also suggests you “apply Corn Gluten to prevent the germination of Crabgrass seed, but don’t reseed your lawn unless soil temperatures are 15°C, as seed will not germinate if it’s cooler.”
He also reminds us not to plant tender annuals like impatiens just yet, and “It’s too cold to plant tomatoes”. Further to this, Frankie says we should “only start fertilizing when plants are actively growing.”
Have local aeration service providers already begun knocking at your door? Are you, like many of us, unclear as to what this really does for your turf? Frank explains, “Aerating your lawn improves the movement of water and nutrients down to your lawns roots. Simply put, it reduces compaction of the soil and will improve the overall health of your lawn. It should be done if your lawn has a ton of traffic (kids), and if your lawn feels very firm – almost like concrete when walking on it – as clay soils do. I recommend having this treatment every second year, though it can be done yearly.”
And what are Frankie Flowers’s Top 5 Tips, for the beginner gardener, in creating low maintenance curb appeal?
#5 – Look for plants that are healthy, and provide long bloom periods and all-season garden interest.
#4 – Select plants thatare drought tolerant and disease resistant.
#3 – Select the right plant for the right place, paying attention to light requirements and soil type.
#2 – Mulching your garden cuts down on weeds and watering.
#1 – Your best investment is your soil -- Improve your soil, improve the health of your plants.