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Spring Lawn Prep in Calgary

Photo of a crocus flower in spring with overlaid text that reads preparing your Calgary lawn and garden for spring

If anybody knows how to properly prep a Calgary lawn for spring, it’s Superyards. Our years of experience in providing lawn care services to Calgarians gives us special insight into what it takes to make a Calgary yard look fantastic, despite our unique climate.

So if you’re looking for some good spring garden and lawn prep pointers specifically for Calgary’s climate then this blog post is for you!

Springtime Gardening in Calgary

Believe it or not, spring is on its way!

Every year, we talk to many Calgarians who wonder what they can do to prepare their lawns and garden beds for spring and the upcoming growing season. There is no shortage of advice for getting your lawn and garden beds ready for spring and summer, and if you listened to every tip and trick then your garden would be your full-time job.

But how much of this advice is geared for Calgary’s “unique” weather and geography? And do you really need to do everything these helpful tipsters suggest you to do?

Here at Superyards, we specialize in lawn care for Calgary’s climate. And we know what we’re doing. What follows is a short list of our top Calgary-specific lawn care tips, but if you have any questions or want to chat with an expert about your lawn’s care and maintenance then get in touch with us. We are always happy to help!

#1: Identify Standing Water Spots.

Standing water is one of the most overlooked aspects of good lawn care, both for our residential and commercial lawn care clients. But it can also be one of the easiest to deal with.

In the spring, as the snow and ice melts, take a look to see where the melted water is collecting on your lawn and how long it takes for it to go away. Any pooling water on your lawn that sticks around longer than 24 hours after the rain and melt has stopped is very likely a problem spot.

Photo of a golden retriever resting in a puddle of dirty water
One of many reasons to deal with standing water spots.

The good news is that you don’t need to totally level your lawn to get rid of standing water spots (unless you want to). Standing water spots are a symptom of poor soil drainage in your lawn, usually due to compacted soil and/or a significant amount of clay under your lawn’s surface – this is especially true in certain Calgary communities.

There are some easy solutions for ridding your lawn of standing water spots, with one of the easiest fixes being to de-thatch your ground cover and aerate your soil.

De-thatching and aerating our lawns is a seasonal best practice and many gardeners do this every spring. However, some lawn owners prefer not to do this every year. If your lawn hasn’t had this treatment in the past year or two then this is a good first step to addressing your standing water spot(s).

Other remedies for standing water spots include:

  • Extending your downspouts to redirect water flow away from standing water spots.
  • Installing a French drain to reroute water.
  • Re-grading your landscape so that it slopes downward towards designated drainage areas like a ditch or gutter.

And, our personal favourite:

#2: Prune Trees and Shrubbery.

Giving your foliage a good trim during the colder months allows for fresher, healthier growth come springtime.

Winter is a good time to trim back any dead patches on your bushes and straggly twigs from your trees; early spring is the time to do some heavier pruning to encourage new growth.

Photo od pruning shears cutting a dead tree branch

Trimming your bushes and trees in the cold months of winter and early spring reduces the likelihood of diseases and pest infestations, and lets your foliage heal faster thanks to a reduction in sap during the winter months.

#3: Pull Address Dead and/or Unwanted Plants.

Chances are you’ll have some dead annuals and other unwanted flora in your garden beds and planters. Early spring (or even a good, prolonged Chinook) is the perfect time to pluck these from your soil and chuck them in the compost.

Pro tip: Loosen, replenish, and fortify your garden’s soil when you’re cleaning it out. This gives your garden time to build extra nutrients that, in turn, give you healthier and happier plants!

Leaving dead plants in your garden bed isn’t just an eyesore – it can also be bad for the plants you want keep. Dead plant matter can spread fungus and other diseases that harm your beds’ next blooms, while an excess of dead roots can hinder the expansion of new root systems.

That said, there are a growing number of gardeners (pun intended) who choose to keep their old, dead plants in order to foster a healthy haven for eco-diversity.

So while tidying up your garden bed of dead plants and deceased roots is still a good idea to maintain its health, you don’t have to be obsessive about it. If you want to support your garden’s beneficial insect population then consider:

  • Removing just the dead plants that show signs of fungus and disease, or

    Photo of 2 ladybugs on a dried leaf
    Ladybugs hibernate, mate, and often shelter in the dried out leaves and branches of your garden’s plants. Help out our ladybug buddies by giving them space to do their thing!
  • Creating a “mess patch” in your garden where you loosely pile what you’ve pulled and pruned and then just leave it alone. This allows any nesting wild bees, ladybugs, butterflies, and other beneficial bugs and organisms to survive your spring garden tidy and safely emerge from their winter slumbers. (Learn more about creating garden space for beneficial bugs here.)

#4: Damage from Salt and De-icers.

Nothing destroys a lovely lawn or gorgeous garden like salt.

Here in Calgary, we use a lot of salt on our icy sidewalks and walkways. While effective in dealing with ice, sidewalk salt also wreaks destruction on any grass and/or garden beds that border the salted walkways.

Photo of a sidewalk with dead grass caused by sidewalk salt
If you live in Calgary then you have seen this seasonal natural disaster many times.

Whether shoveled on your grass, layer-by-layer, throughout the course of an average Calgary winter, or melted into a concentrated run-off at the start of spring, sidewalk salt and de-icers will seriously harm almost any plant they settle on.

The two most important things to do with dead lawn patches from sidewalk salt are:

1. Repair.

2. Prevention.

Repairing sidewalk salt damage on your lawn involves flooding the area with water to wash residue away, and then cutting away all the dead grass to reveal the soil underneath.

When you have exposed the underneath soil, amend it with some high-quality, fresh dirt. We recommend pelletized gypsum soil because the calcium sulfate (AKA: “gypsum”) will replace the remaining de-icing salt with sulfur and calcium – both of which are good for your lawn.

Once you’ve fixed the soil, you can either seed it with grass or wildflower seeds, or use sod to get some instant green gratification.

Preventing future damage can be done a few ways. You can cover the impacted grass or garden with burlap before the first snowfall, or you can use sand or neutral kitty litter on icy walkways instead of salt or chemical de-icers. Also consider strategically shoveling salt-infused snow to ensure that snow and de-icing agents don’t pile up in one or a few concentrated spots.

There are many more measures Calgary gardeners can take to prep their gardens for spring, but these are the top four we most recommend.

At the end of the season though, it’s important to remember that your lawn is a small eco-system of its own and its success depends on biodiversity and careful stewardship over the long term. Populating your gardens with grasses and plants that are native to our area and/or suited for plant hardiness zone 4a is a great recipe for a truly successful yard.

Want to make your yard a Superyard? Then give us a call and talk to us about how we can help you make your lawn and garden the envy of your neighbourhood! We offer seasonal lawn care service packages, as well as a variety of other options to help your yard be its very best.