Ask An Expert

Q: What are the water requirements for a healthy, green lawn?

A: Lawn programs recognize that water is a valuable and scarce resource, especially in summer. Naturally cared for lawns have reduced watering requirements because: grass cared for naturally is cut longer to encourage deeper roots and improve the grass’ ability to access water. grass in a natural lawn is a blend of grass species including types requiring less water. mulched clippings, which are 90% water themselves, have been left on the lawn to cool the crowns of the grass, provide nitrogen and help conserve moisture. When it is necessary to water your lawn, ensure that

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Q How can I keep my annuals looking good without a dose of 20-20-20 synthetic fertilizer?

best fertilizers for annuals gardens

A Try one of several available types of fish emulsion fertilizers and you can use a blood meal – bone meal mixture. When planting your annuals in late May make sure they are started off with fresh compost. To contribute to soil health diversify your annual garden by including colourful perennials. Follow companion planting guidelines to improve your annuals.

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Q: Can insects be controlled by Companion Planting?

purple sage

A: Yes. Included is a partial listing of specific controls: Plant basil against flies and mosquitoes; borage against tomato worms; garlic against Japanese beetles, aphis, weevils, fruit tree borers, and spider mites; horseradish against potato bugs; lavender against clothes moths; marigolds against Mexican bean beetles, nematodes and many other insects; mint against white cabbage moths (use dried against clothes moths); nasturtium against aphids, squash bugs, striped pumpkin beetles, wooly aphids and white flies; pennyroyal against ants, mosquito, plant lice; petunias against beetles;

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Q: What plants act as natural mosquito repellants?

get rid of mosquitos in backyard

A:  Garlic-based oil is effective in killing mosquito larva in ponds as will derris root or tuba. Myristicin, a compound found in parsnips, is also effective as a selective insecticide against mosquito larva as is BT (bacillus thuringiensis).  The leaves of molasses grass and sassafras are mosquito repellants. American pennyroyal, sometimes called squaw mint is a natural insect repellant. (A handful crushed and rubbed onto skin emits a pleasant smell and repels mosquitoes). American pennyroyal is a native American plant not to be confused with the European pennyroyal.

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Q: Can you provide us with some tips on mowing our lawn?

mowing and lawn care tips

A: Nothing is more important to the health of your lawn than proper mowing. There are five simple rules that will make a big difference. –  Cut your lawn to a height of about 7.5 cms. (3 inches). This is especially important in the heat of the summer and for shade lawns. This longer height encourages deep root growth and creates shade that inhibits weed seed germination. The shade from taller grass is very important. Studies have shown that a dense grass canopy mowed at 7.5 cms. can control crabgrass populations by 80%. Short mowing

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Q: What is de-thatching and its purpose?

A: De-thatching is a process that removes thatch from a lawn. Thatch is a layer of dead and decaying organic matter located where the grass emerges from the ground. If it becomes too thick, it will not break down and forms a dense layer that tends to be impermeable to water. [singlepic id=204 w=320 h=240 float=right]A thin layer of decomposing plant material in a lawn is considered healthy as it protects the crown of the grass and helps control the temperature of the grass. This thin layer is sometimes called the “mat”. Thatch – not

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Q: What are grubs and chinch bugs?

get rid of grubs naturally

A:  Grubs and chinch bugs are insects that can cause damage to the roots, crowns or blades of your urban lawn depending upon the lifecycle stage of the insect, time of year and quality of the lawn.  Usually the damage is seen as a dying area of grass with characteristic brown patches.  It is very important to diagnose the problem accurately since dog spots, over fertilization and diseases can all create the tell-tale brown patches.  Identifying the insect and the damage it is doing is important before deciding upon a specific course of action.

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Q: What is Pruning; why is it necessary and when do I prune?

pruning services ottawa

A:  Pruning is an important part of plant and shrub care that is performed for both aesthetic reasons and for plant health.  Pruning is the cutting away of unwanted parts of a plant for more fruitful growth and shaping.   You should prune a plant or shrub to remove crossed, damaged or diseased branches which will stress the plant.  Pruning also improves air flow through the plant and can encourage better branch distribution which results in a healthier, more vigorous plant that is more disease tolerant.  Post-bloom pruning maximizes the blooms for the following season. 

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Q: Do I need to fertilize my lawn? If, so when should this be done?

lawn fertilization ottawa

A: Healthy soil provides nourishment to grow healthy grass. The soil itself needs to replenish its nutrients so it can continue to keep your lawn healthy. Keeping your soil healthy with the addition of the necessary nutritional elements is called fertilization. All fertilizers provide three main nutrients for the grass, which are listed by percentage weight on fertilizer packages. These are: nitrogen (N) which is necessary for stem and leaf growth; phosphorous (P) which promotes root, fruit and flower growth; and potassium (K) which assists other nutrients to function well within the plant. The ratio

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Q: What is over-seeding? Why is it important to lawn care? When and with what?

overseeding lawn services and tips

Jeannette Cross answers your questions about over-seeding, why it’s important, and when and how to go about properly over-seeding your lawn in her Ask an Expert series. A: Over-seeding is applying a suitable blend of grass seeds to an existing lawn to replenish grass cover to create thick grass that will crowd out weeds. In the spring one should check for dying grass and repair it with over-seeding and top dressing. Weed seeds are very opportunistic and will establish themselves wherever bare soil exists. Top dressing is the addition of organic material such as compost

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Q: What is Core Aeration and its purpose?

harmony gardens core aeration services

A: Aeration is the process of removing plugs of soil from the lawn. Its purpose is to increase oxygen flow around the root zone of the grass, stimulate microbial activity and to improve soil structure and water flow. Aeration is particularly beneficial for clay-based and compacted soil. Aeration is best done when

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Q: How can I create healthy, good quality soil for my flowerbeds?

creating healthy soil for plants and gardens

A: Healthy soil provides the water, air and nutrients needed to grow healthy plants. All soils can be improved with the addition of certain materials, a process that is often referred to as “amending” the soil. A soil amendment is different than a fertilizer as it changes the structure of the soil and possibly its pH, but may or may not add to its nutrient content. Fertilizers add to nutrient content. Soil structure is an important part of healthy soil as it influences water flow, nutrient uptake and air flow all of which are necessary

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Q: What is key in planning for a natural lawn and garden?

natural gardening tips attract butterflies

Answer: Natural gardening starts at the planning stage. Everything from selecting the most appropriate plants for the location to the physical layout of the garden is important to growing healthy plants and grass. Before planting grass, plants and trees consider the following: Soil is the foundation. You need healthy, fertile soil to grow healthy grass, plants and trees. The main challenge for the urban gardener is that the soil under urban lawns often has low organic content.

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