Backyard gardening tips

With the warmer weather, being outdoors is a great way to be social, active and relieve stress. Having a YardSmart yard gives you more time to enjoy your garden with less maintenance. Not only will you feel good about the savings on your water bill, but you’ll be helping the environment.

Safety

Remember to practice social distancing even in your own backyard. You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Creating an area in your garden where people can sit at a safe distance
  • Keep your 2m distance when talking with your neighbours
  • If you need to visit a garden centre, try shopping at less busy times, order online or do curbside pick-up
  • Enjoy gardening tips and tricks with online training and tours

Lawn care

You can keep your lawn looking healthy while reducing your watering needs by following these few tips.

Mowing

  • Mow regularly and keep your grass 3” long. This helps retain moisture and keep the roots cool to better handle drought.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn to increase soil health and discourage weeds.
  • The best time to mow your lawn is when it's dry and not in the heat of the day
  • Keep your mower's blades sharp (clean cuts promote better grass health)
  • Stay informed, see current Water Restrictions or get tips from the online Watering guides for established or new yards.

Aeration

  • Lawns see heavy use over time, which compacts the soil. Aerating (removing small soil plugs) in the spring or fall helps grass roots get the oxygen, nutrients and water needed to grow.
  • Aerate before spreading grass seed or fertilizer over the lawn.
  • Spring and fall are the best times to aerate.

Dethatching

  • Remove thatch (dead stems and roots above the surface of the soil) in the spring to help your lawn absorb nutrients.
  • You can manually dethatch your lawn with a rake or rent a power dethatcher.
  • Don’t dethatch a young or wet lawn. But do make sure to provide extra water afterwards.

Fertilizing

  • Early summer and fall are the best times to fertilize to give your lawn nutrients to help it grow.
  • Established lawns don’t need fertilizing.
  • A slow-release fertilizer is recommended, 23-3-3 ratio of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium.

Seeding or sodding

  • If your lawn is a little thin, overseeding may be needed to increase its density (sodding is a quicker alternative).
  • Grass high in "Fescue content" (60% or more) requires less irrigation and maintenance, will thrive under varying soil conditions and will be stronger in our climate.

Mulch & compost

  • The City of Calgary offers free mulch at the East Calgary Landfill. Check for updates on free compost.
  • Compost improves the health of lawns, flower beds and gardens by improving the soil structure, nutrients and moisture retention. You can mix the compost into your soil or as a top dressing like mulch.
  • Mulch is larger branches cut into smaller wood chips spread (2-3 inch layer) under trees or in garden beds to help with water retention and weed control. Mulch is acidic and may affect annuals plants and flowers (consult your local garden center before using).

Rain barrels

  • Conserve water and save 30% of your water bill while keeping your plants healthy with non-chlorinated water. There are many style and price ranges for rain barrels, Green Calgary is one option that offers home delivery.
  • YardSmart Yard videos provide tips on how to set up your rain barrel or how to connect them in a series.
  • Make sure you cover the entry hole with fine mesh. Rinse as needed to remove algae growth and organic material. Use the rainwater regularly so there is space to refill.
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