Work the garden bed to a depth of 1 foot (30cm) and add 4 inches (10cm) of compost and manure to the soil, mixing it well. If your soil is acidic (a soil test will tell) add some dolomitic lime, unless you are planting acid loving plants, such as Rhododendron, Azalea, Heath. Planting perennials, shrubs and trees, dig your planting hole, the depth of the container and twice the width. Add some bonemeal in the planting hole and plant your shrub or tree. Fill in the rest of the hole with your amended soil and firm around the plant. Water well and keep it well watered, on a regular basis. How often depends on the season and the weather conditions. A mid-Summer planting will require more watering than a Spring or Fall planting. A layer of mulch around the plants will help retain the moisture in the soil and keep the weeds out.
Pruning Flowering Shrubs
Prune Spring flowering shrubs immediately after they flower. Removing the spent flowers will prevent them from setting seed. Summer flowering shrubs, such as Hydrangea, Potentilla, Spirea and Roses should be pruned in early Spring before the new growth appears. Again, remove the spent flowers after blooming. This may even encourage a second blooming later on in the season.
Pyramidal Cedars and Junipers can be pruned in early Spring to remove any winterkill. Again in the middle of June till the end of July, more pruning can be done as the warmer weather produces new growth. Spruce and Fir should be pruned towards the end of June. New growth can be pruned by one half, to encourage dormant buds to break. New buds will be set at the cut. This will encourage a denser foliage. Pines only have buds along the tips, called candles. Half of this growth can be removed before the end of June.
Winterizing Your Plants
Yews and Alberta Spruce are the most susceptible to winter wind and sunburn. It is advisable to wrap these plants in late Fall with burlap. Upright evergreens can suffer damage from the weight of the snow, which can make them unsightly the following year. They also benefit from wrapping. If the snow from the roof is likely to fall on top of them, it is best to create a wooden structure over them. Rhododendrons and Azaleas are very susceptible to winter wind, sun and snow damage. Mulch the root area and build a shelter around each plant and cover with burlap to keep out the wind and sun.
Attracting Birds to Your Garden
Providing a birdfeeder and birdbath will certainly attract birds to your garden. You can also hang birdhouses for your feathered friends to give them shelter. Birds love seeds and fruits. The following plants will attract birds to your garden.
Chokecherry, Crabapple, Pagoda Dogwood, Honeysuckle, Elder, Sumac, Blueberries, Winterberry, Highbush Cranberry, Virginia Creeper, Boston Ivy, Bittersweet, Coneflowers. You can also leave some of your annuals to go to seed, such as Zinnias, Marigolds, Sunflowers. Don’t cut your ornamental grasses back in the Fall, leave them over winter and they provide seeds fr the birds and they are decorative over the Winter months as well.
Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies
Hummingbirds love colorful plants with lots of nectar. They are especially attracted to the colours red, pink, orange and purple and they love flowers with a tubular shape or bell shaped blossoms. Butterflies are attracted to the smell of the flowers, rather than the colour. To attract Hummingbirds, consider adding some of the following plants to your garden: Weigela, Lilac, Flowering Quince, Butterfly Bush, Honeysuckle, Fuchsia, Nasturtium, Snapdragons, Petunias, Beebalm, Cardinal Flower, Liatris, Hibiscus, Evening Primrose, Beardtongue, Jewelweed, Lupins, Columbine, Great Blue Lobelia. To attract both Hummingbirds and Butterflies, pick the ones from the list that are both colourful and have a strong fragrance, such as Butterfly Bush, Honeysuckle, Lilac.
Making Your Own Deer Repellent
Several commercial products are available, but why not try making your own. In your blender, mix 2 raw eggs with 1 cup of water and mix at high speed. Add up to 2 liters of water to a handheld sprayer and add the blender mix. You can spray this mixture on your plants and it will deter the deer from munching on your favorite plants. Make sure to spray any new growth that appears and to re-spray after rain.
Getting Rid of Aphids
You can buy a ready made insecticidal soap or make up your own. Mix water and natural dish soap in a concentration of 40 parts water to 1 part soap. Spray on the plants, making sure to soak the leaves well, also the underside of the leaves. Repeat after 1 week. This mixture can be used on houseplants as well as it is totally safe.
Remove egg masses of the tent caterpillars, the gypsy moth a.o. after the Winter months, before the eggs hatch. This will greatly reduce the numbers of caterpillars on your plants and you won’t have to resort to the use of chemicals.