October 01, 2013
Prevention is your best medicine
- You don’t have to be an expert to have a healthy lawn: just work with nature.
- Create the right conditions for your grass, and it will grow strong and stay healthy. A healthy lawn can defend itself from weeds, disease, and insect pests.
- Set realistic weed and pest control goals for your lawn. Think of lawn care as a preventive health care program, like one you would follow to stay healthy yourself. The goal is to prevent problems from starting in the first place.
Ongoing pest problems mean that your lawn is not getting what it needs to stay healthy. Pests can be a symptom of an underlying problem, and you’ll need to correct any core problems to reduce the chances of pests reappearing.
Keeping your garden healthy
- Select seeds and plants that are hardy for your zone. The right seeds and plants for your garden are more likely to produce mature plants that don't need pesticides. Visit the Agriculture Canada website to find your zone. Staff at your local garden centre or your landscaper can also help you choose.
- Alternate rows of different kinds of plants.
If your garden is large, plant seeds in alternate rows.
Pests that prefer one type of vegetable (like carrots) might not spread to all of your carrot plants if you plant other vegetables in the neighbouring rows.
Don't plant the same crop in the same spot year after year. (Planting the same crop in the same place makes your plants more vulnerable to pests that survive the winter.)
- Make sure your garden plot has good drainage.
Raised beds will improve drainage, especially with clay soils.
If heavy clay soil becomes solid, it won't let air and water to get to the roots and the plant will struggle to grow. Use a tiller break up the dirt and turn it over. This will loosen the compacted soil and create air spaces so that water and nutrients can reach the roots.
- Add sand and organic matter to enrich the soil before you plant.
A good source of organic matter is the Region of Peel category "A" unrestricted use compost which is available for sale at the Community Recycling Centres located in Mississauga, Brampton and Bolton.
- Test the soil once in a while.
Test the soil periodically to see if you need to add more organic matter or adjust the pH (acidity/alkalinity) balance by adding lime or sulphur.
Soil pH can differ from one side of the street to the other, so it's best to have your own soil tested. You can purchase soil testing kits at your local garden centre.
- Mulch your garden.
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Mulch your garden, trees and shrubs with leaves, hay, grass clippings, shredded/chipped bark, or seaweed. Placing a thin layer of mulch (2-3 inches) around the base of plants, shrubs, and trees to will conserve water, manage weeds, and enrich the soil.
Mulches also reduce the likelihood of soil-borne diseases. Landscape fabric, available at garden centres, will eliminate weeds in new planting beds. Make sure the
doesn't touch the tree-trunks.
- Hand-pull weeds.
Hand-pulling is your first line of defence against weeds.
If you're persistent for several years about removing weeds before they go to seed, their numbers will decrease.
Hand-pull weeds when the soil is moist and the roots will pull out much easier. While you can hand-pull annual weeds, you have to dig out perennials. (Perennial weeds have extensive underground structures that may be left behind if they're pulled.)
Hoeing is another way to remove weeds from your garden. It also lets more air and water penetrate the plant by loosening the top layer of soil.
A Landscape Guide for Canadian Homes is available by calling
1-800-668-2642 or by ordering from CMHC.
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October 01, 2013