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YardSmart - Gardening and landscaping

Starting in May, the City of Calgary and the Horticultural Society are offering multi-day workshops to help you create a well-planned, functional yard.

Plan Your YardSmart Yard

Less watering, less weeding and less fertilizing means you could have more time to enjoy your yard - and enjoy the savings on your water bill.

Planning your YardSmart yard

  1. Draw a diagram of your yard and map out areas of sun, shade, dry and wet.
  2. Plot specific places for things like play areas, dining and entertainment, composting, gardening and rain barrels.
  3. Make a note of where water runs or pools; additionally, group plants with similar water needs together.
  4. Slope your flowerbeds and place plants that need the most water at the lowest part.
  5. Shape your beds so sprinklers and soaker hoses can easily accommodate them.

Design for water conservation

Select native or well adapted vegetation
Opt for either native plants or plants that have proven the test of time to be low water-users that thrive in Calgary's climate. See our list of recommended hardy, water-friendly trees and shrubs, and annuals and perennials.

Reduce your lawn
Wherever possible, replace portions of your lawn with tiered gardens, rock gardens, low water-use shrubs or flowering trees and groundcover. These garden features use less water and act as wonderful filters and sponges to help absorb rainwater. Find more information on how to save water while taking care of your lawn.

Barks, wood chips, or stones will reduce the evaporation from the soil, inhibit weed growth, and minimize soil erosion. Learn more about mulching.

Get more in tips in our brochures:


Planning your yard

Creating a YardSmart

Elements of a YardSmart yard

Smarty Plants

More tips for building a YardSmart yard

Consider timelines
If you’re creating a lawn from seed, or adding new sod, you will need to factor in germination and establishment timelines. Don’t forget – you don’t have to do everything at once! Set realistic goals that you can achieve each season. The best time to start your new projects is in the spring.

Improve your soil
A base of at least eight inches of good-quality soil is recommended for a healthy garden or lawn. Visit Top Soil Calculator to determine how much soil you need for a project. Heavy-clay soils drain slowly while sandy or stony soils drain too quickly. Add compost to improve the absorption and water-holding capacity or the drainage of your soil. Learn more about how to begin composting.

Start a lawn from scratch
Level your ground properly and ensure you have at least six inches of good compost. You can choose to start your lawn with new seeds or new sod. New seeds will take up to three weeks to germinate whereas new sod will be much quicker. Be sure you are selecting the correct seed blend or sod type. It is important that you maintain a consistent watering schedule until established.

Know your pests
Everything that creeps, crawls, wriggles and squirms isn't neccessarily nasty. In fact, many of the creatures in the gardens of Calgary are harmless and even useful. They work hard to prevent pests and diseases from getting out of hand. Learn which insects are beneficial and which can cause harm.

Dispose of diseased weeds, trees and shrubs
If overhauling your yard involves the removal of diseased trees and shrubs, or noxious or invasive weeds remember to check out What Goes Where for information on their proper disposal.