Calgary can be a very challenging environment for home gardeners and landscapers. Calgary’s climate is classified as Zone 3. The growing season is short, winters are cold and windy, and there is very little snow cover to provide protection for plants.
The Challenge of Chinooks
To make things even more difficult, frequent chinooks cause snow to melt and can trick plants into coming out of dormancy so they begin to take up water and nutrients. When cold weather returns a few days later, plants are very vulnerable to injury and frost damage.
Within Calgary there are areas that are better for growing certain types of plants than others. The farther away from the foothills you get, the longer the growing season. Thus, neighborhoods in the west and northwest parts of Calgary have tougher growing conditions and the choice of plants that will grow well in those areas is more limited. The east side has a longer growing season so residents who live there have a wider selection of plants that they can grow. The longest growing season of all is found in the “banana belt” of downtown Calgary.
Things you can do to help cedars survive in Calgary’s climate
Cedars grow well in the Zone 4 environments typically found in British Columbia. If you are determined to grow cedars rather than the similar but hardier junipers, there are a few things you can do to help them to survive and thrive in Calgary’s climate.
- Plant cedars in sheltered areas away from the wind. Hot winds in summer and cold winter winds can quickly kill off cedars.
- Cedars do better when planted against houses.
- Cedars do not make good hedges or borders because it exposes them to the elements.
- During the summer, cedars need a lot of water. If the tips of the foliage start to turn brown, they’re already beginning to die off. In the fall, give cedars a thorough watering to prepare them for winter.
- If you can’t live without cedars, the hardiest variety is the Holmstrap cedar.
For more information on the types of plants and shrubs that will grow best in Calgary’s climate, contact the landscaping professionals at Five Star Landscaping.
Flooding is a common springtime occurrence in Canada but it can also happen after a particularly heavy summer rain storm. After a serious flood like the one that devastated Calgary and surrounding area this June, you might wonder if the landscaping that you’ve invested so much time and money in will ever look the same.
While some common landscaping plants won’t survive immersion or saturated roots, many can survive after being submerged for up to a week. There are a few things that you can do to give your plants and shrubs a fighting chance for survival after a flood.
Let the ground dry out
Wait for the ground to dry out before you start your yard cleanup. Working when the ground is too wet can lead to soil compaction which makes it harder for lawns and plants to recover.
Clean your plants
Most deciduous plants will lose their leaves after a flood. You can help them to recover by spraying them with fresh water followed by a cleaning solution of one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid mixed with four liters of water. Leave the cleaning solution on for a minute and then rinse off with fresh water. Definitely don’t pressure wash silt covered plants.
Resist the urge to fertilize
While you might be tempted to add fertilizer to the soil, it might do more damage than good to plants that have gone dormant. Waterlogged soils also have a tendency to become acidic. Before adding anything to your soil, you should have it tested first by the experts at 5 Star Landscaping to determine the nitrogen and acidity levels.
Most lawns can survive up to four days under water. Let the lawn dry before you begin work on it to prevent compaction. If there is less than 20 mm of silt on the surface, simply use a rake to spread it evenly and break up the crust. Keep the silt layer loose and well aerated by regular raking. If more than 20 mm of silt has been deposited on the lawn, it must be removed and whatever is left behind raked regularly for aeration.
If the lawn does not show signs of recovery after a few weeks, it will have to be tilled under and a new lawn established.
The Calgary flood of 2013 caused an incredible amount of damage to landscaping and gardens. It’s comforting to know that if it happens again, with a little elbow grease and patience, you can save a lot of the hard work and money you’ve invested in beautifying your yard.