Community Stories

We ‘dig’ garden season!

April 28, 2020

With the sun shining and the snow melted, many of us are getting that itch to clean up our gardens in preparation for the warmer months ahead.

While we cleanup last fall’s dead leaves, plants and grass, consider helping out the pollinators who are starting to wake up from their winter slumber.

Pollinators are responsible for much of the food, medicine, fibre and beauty that we rely on and enjoy daily. More than 75 per cent of the flowering plants on earth rely on the services provided by pollinators. Fruit trees need pollinators to produce the sweet treats we enjoy, as do many of our garden crops to make vegetables.

To make your yard and garden a place for pollinators to flourish this growing season, consider these tips:

  • Wait until warmer weather is consistent to clean up dead leaves in your yard to not disturb the insects that may still waking up from the winter season.         
  • Hollowed out plant stems are a nesting ground for hibernating pollinators, take great care when removing them this spring. Cut stems, bundle them and place in a loose pile in an unused corner of your yard until warmer weather is consistent. This helps butterflies since brush piles and dried stems of perennials, grasses and other plants are where moths (cocoons) and butterflies (chrysalis) spend the winter.
  • Don’t add soil just yet - by maintaining undisturbed bare soil areas it will enable ground nesting pollinators to emerge and provide a place to burrow throughout the season.

When planting your yard, remember that pollinators are drawn to flowers in their search of nectar and pollen. In your planting try to provide diversity in flower colour and size, flowering times, and plant structure (small and tall, ground cover to tree canopy). A greater diversity of pollinator friendly plants and habitat features will ultimately give you a more resilient landscape and will attract more pollinators.

Another thing to be mindful of is hardiness zone when planting, but also pay attention to microclimates in your yard. For example, an apple tree will be happier if it sat in a well-drained sunny area of your yard rather than being planted it in a swampy shady area where ferns thrive. Be sure to work in some native plants as they are well adapted to this climate and to the pollinators that live here.    

As you work to clean up your yard this spring, remember that this year, Free Yard Waste Week has become Free Yard Waste Month from May 4 to May 30. Find out more on The City's website.

Residents are reminded that they should avoid unnecessary trips to the Waste Management Facility and that they can use their Green Carts for the yard waste generated during spring yard clean-up. Once the Green Cart is full, extra yard waste can be set out for collection, by placing it in a paper yard waste bag, loose in a garbage can or by bundling small branches and tying with string – but make sure to place any extra yard waste at least one meter away from any carts. Guidelines for yard waste set out are on The City’s website.

Happy gardening, Red Deer!