Gardening Basics For Canadians For Dummies
Gardening in Canada presents specific challenges due to our cold climate and short growing season. This cheat sheet offers tips for getting the most out of your Canadian garden. Start by checking the frost dates in your region and consult some of the many online gardening resources that are available. Protect your perennials through the winter and choose the best grasses for Canada’s climate to maintain a beautiful, thriving lawn and garden year after year. Read on to see how.
Canadian Gardening Frost Dates by Region
Canadian gardeners need to know when the growing season in their area begins and ends so they can avoid losing plants to frost. This chart provides frost dates across Canada. To be extra careful, plant or transplant temperature-sensitive plants ten days after the dates below. For more Canadian locations, go to tdc’s FarmGate.
|Location||Last Frost Date||First Frost Date||Typical Number of Frost-Free Days|
|St. John’s||June 2||October 12||132|
|Halifax||May 6||October 20||167|
|Montreal||May 3||October 7||157|
|Toronto||May 9||October 6||150|
|Winnipeg||May 25||September 22||120|
|Regina||May 21||September 10||112|
|Calgary||May 23||September 15||115|
|Yellowknife||May 27||September 15||111|
|Whitehorse||June 11||August 25||75|
|Vancouver||March 28||November 5||222|
|Victoria||March 1||December 1||275|
Online Resources for Gardening in Canada
If you’re looking for reliable Canadian gardening Web sites, you’ve come to the right spot. The following sites offer interesting Canadian gardening blogs, excellent gardening tips, Canadian gardening communities, upcoming regional gardening events, and more.
Preparing Perennials for Cold Canadian Winters
In Canada, tender perennials like geraniums, impatiens, and gerbera need to be kept alive with good winter protection — otherwise they become one-hit wonders. To overwinter your tender perennial plants during Canada’s cold winter months, follow these steps:
Dig up the roots or entire plant.
Bring them indoors to a nonfreezing spot for the next few months (where they will become dormant or semidormant houseplants).
Pot the plants in any good soil, and grow them in a cool (5°C-10°C, or 40°F-50°F) and bright area.
Keep them barely moist through the winter, just keeping them alive.
Once replanted in the spring, they’ll spring back to life with the help of warmer temperatures and brighter light.
You can also trim and prune your perennials and use mulch to protect them through the winter.
The Best Grasses to Plant in Canada
Growing and maintaining a lush green lawn in Canada can be a challenge. It starts with choosing the best type of grass. The best types of grasses to grow in Canada are cool-season grasses because our summers are short and our winters are cold – and usually snowy. Cool-season grasses grow actively in spring and fall, slow down in summer, and go dormant in the winter. They do best at temperatures between 16°C and 27°C (60°F and 80°F) and can survive freezing winter temperatures. The following cool-season grasses thrive in Canada’s cooler climate.
|Type of Grass||Appearance||Ideal Mow-to Height||Description and Care|
|Kentucky bluegrass||Fine to medium texture
|6 to 8 cm||Hardy but not drought-tolerant so water generously
Needs more fertilizer
Shallow roots make it a good showpiece lawn but unsuitable for heavy foot traffic
|Fescues, fine and tall||Fine texture
|6 to 8 cm||Water deeply and infrequently (do not soak or make soggy)
Tolerates foot traffic very well
Can perform well in poor soil
Is often mixed with other grasses
|Bent grass||Fine texture
Blades begin to bends at a couple of centimeters tall (hence the name)
|3 to 4 cm||Needs generous watering (weekly during the height of the
Cut regularly to avoid stems from forming thick mats and thatching
Popular for golf and tennis courses
Use a mower with very sharp blades
|Perennial ryegrass||Fine texture
|6 to 8 cm||Has shallow roots, likes consistent water
Tolerates foot traffic well
Nice in full sun or shade (but not reliably hardy)
Germinates and grows quickly and is often used in blends