Growing a garden of your own in Vancouver is one great perk you can enjoy when you live in a laneway house. You don’t have to confine your green thumb to a rooftop or a few flower pots in our laneway homes because Smallworks is a big fan of incorporating garden space into our small house designs.
If you have outdoor space, here are some gardening tips for cleaning it up and preparing for the new spring season.
1. Start by clearing out last year’s remains.
Clean up debris and broken branches, cut down stems and twiggy growth, and trim dead pieces off your bushes and perennials. Be sure to use small pruners on more delicate plants. Doing this will promote healthier growth during the next year’s growing season.
2. Get rid of weeds.
You will be able to pull some weeds out by hand and uproot most of them with a few passes of a hoe. Remove them now before they have a chance to take hold and start spreading seeds. When you’re done, spread at least 2 to 3 inches of mulch on them to keep future weeds out and help retain moisture over the hot summer months.
3. Spread and work in a good layer of composted material to the soil
To make you own organic compost, you can either build a holding area in a corner of your yard, or buy a compost bin. Composters are available from the City of Vancouver for $25
4. Divide late summer or fall flowering perennials that have grown too large and are not performing well.
If you move or divide a perennial later in the season when it’s big and bushy, always cut back the foliage by at least half to prevent serious wilting. This will help keep the leaf mass in proportion to the reduced number of roots.
5. Clean up the last bits of debris.
Use a rake to clear up the rest of your lawn, but be sure to wait until your lawn is completely dry so you don’t end up damaging it. Bring a tarp or old sheet with you that you can rake all your debris onto so that you can dispose of it in one go rather than trying to pick it up by the armful when you are done.
6. Fill in bare or dead patches.
Grass seed grows well in the cooler months of April and May as well as early autumn.
7. Salvage accidentally uprooted plants.
Inspect the debris and make sure you haven’t inadvertently raked up a plant that was uprooted by frost pushing it up from below during the winter (a phenomena known as frost heave). Gently tuck any uprooted plants you find back into the soil, and they could possibly grow and flower again. Plants can be very resilient.
8. Plant trees and new shrubs.
They can withstand the cooler temperatures, and will get a head start on growing.
9. Prune your plants.
Some woody plants and vines need to be cut down to the ground so they don’t grow uncontrollably. To know which ones to cut, look for those that are no longer as brilliantly coloured as the younger ones. Remove those and any dull twigs or dead twigs and branches you find. You could also cut off plant limbs that head toward the center of the shrub, or that cross each other so that you open up the entire shrub for better light and air circulation.
10. Take your pots and flowerboxes out of storage.
Note that nutrients will have depleted from the soil if you left the pots outside for the winter with their soil intact, so be sure to remove and replace all or at least two thirds of the old soil if you want your new plants to perform well.
Remember that at this stage, you will think you have more space in your garden than you really have. Don’t try to cram too much in, because plants can get much larger once they bloom.
If you’re living in a laneway house, you can really reap the benefits of having your own outdoor space. Share a mini-community garden with your lot-mates and you can enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs, or breathe in the scent of beautiful flowers.
It’s possible to have affordable housing in Vancouver and a garden too!