Pest control essentials
- Collect blackspot-affected leaves from around roses before spring rains reintroduce disease spores.
- Collect leaves infected with apple scab from under crabapple trees to avoid a new outbreak.
- Before leaf buds break, spray still-dormant roses, magnolias and woody shrubs (except yews, and Japanese and sugar maples) with dormant oil to smother scale insects. Apply spray in the morning when a very cold night is not expected.
Pre-summer lawn care
- As soon as the earth is firm, use a leaf rake to remove light thatch and leaf debris from all lawn areas. For areas of deep thatch, use a special prong-type thatch rake. Put the removed organic material under shrubs and hedges as a mulch to conserve moisture and insulate the roots from summer heat.
- Once soil is no longer waterlogged, aerate lawns with a core aerator machine that removes five-centimetre-long plugs of soil to improve oxygen access to the root zone.
- Top-dress lawns before they begin growing with a mixture of aged manure, peat moss, shredded leaves (if available) or purchased triple mix in a 2.5-centimetre layer.
Tools and equipment basics
- Take lawn mower blades to a professional sharpening service. Dull blades make ragged cuts and invite turfgrass diseases. Also sharpen snub-nosed spades and round shovels.
- Check tires of wheelbarrows and repair wheel punctures, add air to flat tires and tighten nuts and bolts.
- Clean the cutting blades of pruners with steel wool to remove dried sap.
- Test the pond pump in a bucket of water to be sure it works properly after winter storage.
- Brush out clinging soil from containers and terra-cotta pots, then soak them for 30 minutes in a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water to eliminate pathogens.