/ Insights

Spring Into Action: Essential Landscaping Tips for Spring Clean-Up

Understanding Ottawa’s Spring Climate

Spring planting is just around the corner, and it’s time to start garden bed preparation and designing your 2024 garden. Paying attention to frost warnings, heavy rain and other weather events to make sure that you’re on schedule and not planting too early. 

Typically the growing season in Ottawa starts on May 6th and runs until early October, totalling 152 days in the season. 

Here are Top Grade Enterprises Landcaping Tips for Spring Clean-Up tips to get your garden ready for planting. 

Preparing Your Ottawa Garden 

Removing Debris (Fallen Leaves, Broken Branches)

Spring cleanup is vital for a healthy garden. Start by removing any debris accumulated over the winter, including fallen leaves and broken branches. This not only tidies up your garden but also minimizes hiding spots for pests and diseases. Leaves and small twigs can be composted, but any diseased plant material needs to be pulled to prevent the spread of infection.

Cleanup is crucial for disease and pest management. Many pests and diseases overwinter in plant debris. By cleaning up fallen leaves and dead foliage, you can reduce pests and the likelihood of disease outbreaks in the spring and summer months. This simple step can lead to a healthier, more vibrant garden.

Soil Preparation

Before planting new additions to your garden, it’s important to test the soil pH and nutrient levels. Soil pH can affect plant growth and nutrient availability. Kits are available at most garden centers or through local extension services. Ideally, your garden soil should have a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, although some plants prefer more acidic or alkaline conditions.

Amending your soil with compost or other organic matter can improve soil structure, nutrient content, and water retention. Spread a generous layer of compost over your garden beds and gently work it into the top few inches of soil. This will not only enrich the soil but also introduce beneficial microorganisms that help plant roots thrive. For sandy soils, compost helps retain moisture, and for clay soils, it improves drainage.

Pruning and Trimming

Pruning is essential for removing dead or diseased wood and encouraging healthy growth. For deciduous shrubs and trees, the best time to prune is late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Always use sharp, clean tools to make precise cuts. Cut back to a healthy bud or branch to promote new growth. Avoid heavy pruning late in the season, as it can stimulate new growth that might not harden off before winter.

The Right Time to Cut Back Perennials 

Perennials benefit from pruning in spring to encourage vigorous, healthy growth. As a general rule, wait until the threat of frost has passed and you see new growth starting at the base of the plant. Cutting back perennials to ground level removes old, dead growth and helps direct the plant’s energy into producing fresh, new foliage. 

Planning and Planting

Choosing the Right Plants

Incorporating native plants into your Ottawa garden not only supports local ecosystems but also tends to be lower maintenance, as these plants thrive in the local climate and soil conditions. Some excellent native plants for Ottawa gardens include:

  • Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis): A beautiful, early-spring bloomer that attracts hummingbirds.
  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta): Offers vibrant, yellow flowers that bloom from late summer into fall, attracting pollinators.
  • Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa): A bright orange-flowered plant that is essential for monarch butterflies.
  • Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis): Features white flowers and is great for ground cover in wetter areas.
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) A native shrub or small tree that produces white spring flowers followed by edible berries and stunning fall foliage.

Selecting Plants for Different Garden Areas

When selecting plants, consider the specific conditions of different areas in your garden: 

  • For Sunny Areas: Look for plants that thrive in full sun, such as Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.) and Black-Eyed Susans.
  • For Shaded Areas: Choose shade-tolerant plants like Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia).
  • For Wet Areas: Incorporate plants that can handle more moisture, such as Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.) and Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).

Planting Techniques 

Proper planting is crucial for the health and success of your garden:

  • Timing: Plant in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat of the day, which can stress plants.
  • Hole Size Dig a hole twice as wide as the plant’s root ball but no deeper. This allows roots to spread easily.
  • Soil Contact: Remove the plant from its container and gently tease out the roots. Place it in the hole, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. 
  • Watering: Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around the roots and eliminate air pockets.

Transplanting or Dividing Perennials

Transplanting or dividing perennials helps to rejuvenate overgrown plants and spread beauty throughout your garden: 

Transplanting Perennials Best Practices: 

  • Best Time: The best time for transplanting or dividing is early spring or early fall when temperatures are cooler.
  • Dividing: Carefully lift the plant from the ground with a shovel. Use a knife or spade to divide the root ball, ensuring each section has several shoots and a portion of the root system. 
  • Replanting: Replant divisions as soon as possible to prevent root drying. Follow the planting best practices mentioned above for each division.

Incorporating these practices into your garden planning and planting process will ensure a healthier and more vibrant garden. Tailoring plant choices to your specific garden conditions and following proper planting techniques are key steps in creating a sustainable and beautiful outdoor space. 

Choosing the Right Mulch and Fertilizer

  • Organic Mulches: Wood chips, straw, and leaf litter are great choices, offering soil health benefits in addition to moisture retention and weed suppression
  • Inorganic Mulches: You can place stones or landscape fabric in certain areas, but they do not improve soil health over time. 
  • Fertilizers: Select a fertilizer based on your soil test results. Organic options like compost, fish emulsion, or well-composted manure provide nutrients slowly and improve soil health.

Enhancing Your Garden with Professional Design

The Value of Professional Landscaping Design

A professional landscape designer can transform your garden into a cohesive, beautiful outdoor space that reflects your personal style and fits your lifestyle. They can:

  • Create a Master Plan: Landscape Designers can develop a comprehensive plan that addresses all aspects of your landscape, from plant selection to hardscaping.
  • Solve Landscape Problems: Professionals can offer solutions for common issues like poor drainage, erosion, or lack of privacy.
  • Increase Property Value: Well-designed landscapes can enhance curb appeal and increase property value.

Choosing the Right Landscaping Company

When selecting a landscaping design company, consider:

  • Experience and Portfolio: Look for a company with experience in projects similar to yours and ask to see examples of their work.
  • References and Reviews: Check references and online reviews to view past client satisfaction.
  • Services Offered: Ensure the company offers the services you need, from design to installation and maintenance.

Working with Your Designer

To get the most out of your relationship with your landscape designer:

  • Communicate Your Vision: Share your preferences, lifestyle needs, and any specific requests or concerns you have.
  • Be Open to Ideas: Professional designers can offer creative solutions and plant choices you might not have considered.
  • Understand the Process: Familiarize yourself with the design and installation process, timelines, and what to expect along the way. 

As the snow melts and the days grow longer, spring emerges as a season of renewal and rejuvenation in Ottawa. 

Embracing the work that comes with Spring Clean-Up, your garden is prepared for a year of growth and beauty and deepens your connection to the natural world around you. 

Sometimes the vision we have for our outdoor spaces surpasses our expertise or time. No matter what you’re looking for in your gardens, professional guidance can transform that dream into reality. This is where the expertise of Top Grade Enterprises can help. 

Contact Us For Design Services 

If you’re ready to elevate your Ottawa garden beyond the ordinary, consider partnering with Top Grade Enterprises. 

We’ve been crafting outdoor spaces that thrive in our unique climate for over 20 years. 

From concept to final planting, Top Grade Enterprises can handle your garden transformation. We work with our clients, ensuring your outdoor space looks stunning and is sustainable and harmonious with Ottawa’s ecosystem. 

Contact Top Grade Enterprises today to start your journey toward a garden that captivates, inspires, and flourishes. 

Take the first step toward your ideal outdoor sanctuary. Visit Top Grade Enterprises’ website, explore their services, and schedule a consultation. Your dream garden awaits.