9 Garden Maintenance Tips

By Paul O’Harau

Blue Oak Native Landscapes


1. Learn About Invasive Species

  1. Learn to recognize and rout out invasive species in your garden like garlic mustard, dog-strangling vine, Tatarian honeysuckle, European buckthorn and Norway maple. 

The City of Hamilton is a hotspot for some of the most problematic invasive species in Ontario, and many of these species are still sold in the nursery trade. Below is a list of invasive species and other garden plants that you should avoid planting and/or control on your property.

From https://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/invasive-plants/species

2. Don't Over Tidy

  1. Don’t be overly tidy in the garden and leave the leaves. Decaying leaf matter protects over-wintering plants and insects and helps to build healthy soils. Furthermore, many native birds forage for insects in leaf litter.

3. Let Dried Perennial Stems Stand Over the Winter. 

Many beneficial garden insects over-winter in hollow perennial stems. Cut back stems in the spring after daytime temperatures are consistently over 10C to give insects time to wake up and move out of those stems. Cut back perennial stems with hedge shears (from the top-down) into 10-15cm pieces and let them fall and compost in the garden to help nourish your soils.

4. Resist Using Fertilizers

Do not spray or fertilize your plants. The decaying leaf and plant matter is enough to keep your soils healthy.

5. Edge Your Garden

Keep your garden edges sharp by investing in an edging tool. Sharp garden edges help to make your garden design pop.

6. Give Your Lawn Some Love

For lawns, put a stiff rake through it in spring to remove thatch, or rent a de-thatcher from your local hardware store. Top dress with compost and seed bare patches with a high-quality grass seed mix.

7. Learn How to Prune

Learn proper pruning techniques for your woody plants. Cutting stems too flush will damage the natural healing tissues in the collar of the stem. Leaving cut stems too long will incite rot. There are lots of correct pruning videos on YouTube.

8. Don't Over Water

  1. Be careful not to over-water your garden, especially with new gardens. Over-watered gardens do not encourage new plants to dig in their roots to search for moisture. Check the soil moisture with your hand at a depth of 3-5 inches (not by looking at the surface of your garden). Water your garden if the soil is dry. Wait another week (and check the soil moisture again) if the soil is moist.

9. Install a Light Source

  1. Put security lights on motion sensors. Outdoor lights kill nocturnal moths.