Gardening 101 For Calgary

Now that the long weekend is over it is officially gardening season! The April showers can now reveal the long awaited May flowers. Gardening can be a great hobby and also adds to the curb appeal of your home.

Never gardened before or want to add to the longevity and see your garden flourish? These tips should help!


Before you begin your gardening excursion it is important to evaluate your soil. It is a good idea to routinely loosen the soil a couple times a year before planting to mix up the contents. Adding organic matter will improve your soil’s condition and add any nutrients it may be lacking.

When choosing topsoil to mix in it is important that it includes organic matter such as:

  • Compost
  • Seaweed
  • Manure or mushroom compost
  • Bat Guano
  • Bone Meal
  • Soybean Meal
  • Soft Rock Phosphate
  • Greensand
  • Fish Meal
  • Blood meal/ worm castings etc!

Miracle Gro, PRO MIX, Garden Pro and Gardeners are some good brands sold in Calgary, that make Organic soil mixes that do not contain chemicals or harmful substances for your garden.

Front Garden-2

Photo: My Fotolog-tumblr

Types of Plants

Annuals: are plants that color and bloom throughout the summer months and complete their life in one growing season.

Perennials: are good investments, as they are plants that thrive and flourish in your garden year after year.

Bulbs and Bare Root Plants: are to be planted in the fall season so that you will get a spring bloom!

Climbers/ Vines: are plants that cover a trellis with greenery or flowers- can be annuals or perennials

Shrubs: perennial greenery/ flowers that act as a hedge or accent, adding visual interest and texture to your garden

Seeds: allow you to grow your plants as seeds and watch them flourish. It is ideal to use seeds when planting a vegetable garden or when growing different types of produce

Trees: there are many varieties and options of trees out there, they add visual interest, height and shade to your yard

Tips For Choosing The Right Plants to fit your Garden

  • Create a plan of your garden before going shopping. This will allow you to map out the growing conditions of the different sections of your garden and figure out the size and quantity of plants that you will need.
  • Avoid plants that are: wilted, mushy or have spots on their leaves (could mean they are diseased)
  • It is important to check to make sure the soil under the plant does not contain insects or bugs
  • Plants with smooth pale roots are ideal- not tangled and growing out the bottom

Modern Garden

Photo: Eatsleepdecorate

Watering Your Plants- Important!

Once your plants are in the soil it is important to keep them well moisturized at all times. If you see the soil starting to look or feel dry it is time to bring out the watering can!

Water Conservation

As important as watering your plants is, it is also important to make sure you are conserving the water and not wasting it. Some ways to reduce your water output are to use:

  • A Rain Barrel: In Calgary this will not take long to fill! Get yours at Green Calgary.
  • Drip Irrigation: see the Who to Call Blog on Sustainability 
  • Grouping plants with similar watering needs together can make parts of your garden less water dependent

Mulch/ or Peat Moss

These products are also a way to conserve the water and nutrients going to your plants. Mixing with topsoil makes your soil spongier, more water absorbent and conserves the moisture within the soil. It also prevents soil from the extreme weather conditions that Calgary can sometimes be privy to, erosion and attracts those friendly natural soil builders- earthworms! Good mulch contains:

  • Shredded bark
  • Chopped leaves
  • Compost

Premier and Scotts Nature Scapes are both good organic sources of mulch for your garden.

Front Lighting Garden

Photo: DIY Network

Feeding Your Plants


It is important to keep your plants well fed. Fertilizer replenishes the nutrients that are being used up by your plants and keeps them looking full and colorful! Miracle Gro provides an organic fertilizer that will nourish your plants without harming them with harmful chemicals.


This is a free way to nourish your plants in the most organic way possible, as you have full control as to what goes into it! Ingredients such as yard waste, scraps from the kitchen, old soil, grass clippings, leaves and twigs make for a great meal for your plants. Get your compost bin from Green Calgary!

Just Natural organic compost is also a good brand you can buy in local stores if you do not have a compost bin.

Tips for Preventing Insects, Pests and Diseases

  • Look for discoloration or holes in the leaves of your plants
  • Don’t over crowd your garden, give your plants a bit of room to breath
  • Homemade insecticide: mix together garlic cloves, hot peppers, castile oil and water- let sit for 2 days, drain and spray on plants
  • Some other methods can be to use a seaweed mulch spray, build up organic soil and clear your garden of weak plants, debris or weeds, as they provide a home for unwanted guests!

Flower Garden


When going shopping for products or plants some good places to start at in Calgary are Sunnyside, Plantation, Home Depot and Lowes Garden Centers. They all contain organic locally grown products that your plants will thank you for!




Alana Kitchen
Alana Kitchen
Alana Kitchen, founder of Who To Call Inc. Taking care of a house with three boys I always needed a good drywaller on speed dial. When I moved to Calgary I quickly discovered it was an Olympic sport to find home service businesses that provided the quality service and advice I was looking for. This experience inspired Who To Call – a website dedicated to helping Calgarians find quality home service repair companies. Sign up to post your project and find quality companies today!
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