Confused about watering and fertilizing trees and plants in Calgary’s climate (Zone 3a/3b)? To shed some ‘light’ on this from my expertise, like humans, greenery needs to be nourished. Without food (fertilization) and regular water, the immune system can be compromised allowing an otherwise healthy tree or plant to show signs of stress. Without proper year-round monitoring, disease can set in and cause death in as little as 1 month! At Evergreen Lawn Services, we recommend protecting your urban oasis and allowing bees (pollinators) and other wildlife to enjoy your space as much as you do.
Tree of all Trades Video (article continues below)
Here are our recommendations for keeping your trees, plants, and other shrubs looking green and feeling healthy.
Watering - Too Much? Too Little? Just Right!
As the snow melts, keep your trees and plants covered with moisture. This will prevent drying out and subsequent damage to roots, which can be exasperated by Calgary chinooks. Roses, cedars, boxwoods, and showy perennials are often the first plants to show signs of struggle, or even die from regular changes in our climate. Once the snow has melted and ground has thawed, you need to increase the frequency of watering. When watering, be careful not to flood a plant with water as this can disrupt the root system and lead to beneficial nutrients washing away. So how do you know how much to water? A drip system will perfectly time water for your plants, and can be installed by a reputable irrigation company, or you can fit a hose with timers. You can get timers from a Garden Centre like Canadian Tire. Watering should be done twice per day; once in the early morning and again in the evening. Plants require small amounts of water whereas trees and shrubs require more. You can check this by inserting a finger into the soil or purchasing a watering meter. Soil should be moist at the surface but not to the point where there is a puddle. Frequency can be adjusted depending on the amount of rainfall and drought conditions in the Summer. Come October, the frequency should be increased to 3 times daily to prepare root systems for the winter (hardening off). This will provide an insulative ‘coat’ around the plant preventing root damage over the winter and with Chinooks in the Spring.
Fertilized Plants are Happy Plants
You should fertilize plants, trees and lawns twice a year. Try to fertilize your plants when the ground has thawed completely in late May, and then again come mid to late September. Your fertilizer should be free from synthetic additives, which often contain added salt which can both dry out the roots and disrupt a healthy soil ecosystem. Instead of Miracle Gro, try a healthy Organic Kelp alternative. This will prevent root damage and supplement your plants with a broad spectrum of nutrients that are required in smaller amounts, often missing from synthetic products. Applications can be in liquid form or granular forms. Both have benefits and drawbacks- for example, liquid form can increase the health in a shorter period but requires an increased frequency of application, whereas granular application requires more time to see visible health signs ‘slow release’ but application frequency is reduced. A proactive fertilization approach will prevent disease in your yard and help you avoid costly treatments . For more advice or to book an expert consultation, get in touch with the horticultural experts at Evergreen Lawn Services Ltd. Call ahead to keep your urban oasis lush and healthy year-round!