Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Spring Gardening After a Hard Winter

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Pruning small trees and shrubs in February, during the dormant period, is a safe time to make cuts. Avoid pruning shrubs that are about to flower, as you will lose the buds. Use your handsaw and secateurs to improve access, shape, or remove branches broken by snow loads. Cut back any of last year’s perennials that were left for winter interest such as coneflowers or ornamental grasses. Cut to within an inch of the crown of the plant.

Damage and Debris Removal
In winter or early spring remove fallen leaves, branches, breakage from snow, and dead portions of Chafer grub damaged lawns. Rake up debris from the lawn and garden beds and dispose of as much possible in the green bin. Note that homeowners can call 311 and request the largest green bin available or order a second bin. Piles of debris left on the lawn will kill the emerging spring grass beneath it and becomes a nesting site for slugs and insect pests.

Add Composted Mulch
With spring on its way, a layer of composted mulch installed on the planting bed will help to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and moderate soil temperature. If your soil is light brown or yellowish in colour, this is a telltale sign that you need to use bark mulch as a top-dressing to add vital nutrients to your garden.

2017 is the year of ‘Soundscaping.’ Plant trees or shrubs that have dense lower branches in order to buffer your garden space from urban noise. Leaves, trunks and branches serve to disperse sound waves. It’s no surprise that trees are once again in the spotlight for their health benefits.

Jessica Salvador is a Certified Landscape Horticulturist. She is Co-Owner of Higher Ground Gardens with Christian Kessner, a Certified Landscape Technician

Top Shapes for a Stylish Hedge

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Whether cedar, laurel, yew or boxwood hedge, these hedges can all be shaped into distinct styles. Formal, square hedges are commonly found on West Side properties. Recently, we have noticed a trend toward softer looking rounded corners. Rounded hedges are as tidy in appearance while providing another style option. Let’s look at the top shapes for hedges.

Formal Hedges: straight sides and straight, flat top. A Classic shape borrowed from formal French gardens. Straight sides with a rounded top is a softer variation of the squared off formal hedge.

Pyramidal sides can have either a straight, level top or rounded top edge as well. Also considered formal, the advantage of the pyramidal form is that it allows light to hit the bottom edge of the hedge. The narrower top prevents shading of the lower branches.

Informal hedges take on any shape, yet are easy to keep sheared and tidy. These may be wavy, or follow the natural curves of plants that have grown together over time.

Changing Shapes
In order to change the style of your hedge, please take note. Cedar can only be cut into its green growth, as they just hold 2-3 years worth of needles. This limits the extent to which the shape can be changed.

Yews, English laurel and boxwood will rejuvenate from old wood. Cut a laurel to the ground, and a new hedge will sprout from there. Keep in mind, it can take two to three years for a hedge to fill in after such a hard pruning.

Now you have creative license to get stylish with your hedges.

Jessica Salvador is a Certified Landscape Horticulturist. She runs Higher Ground Gardens with her husband Christian, a Certified Landscape Technician.
Higher Ground Gardens, 778-323-1502

Easy Spring Gardening Techniques

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

GardenQuick Cut Backs

Give the garden a spruce-up by removing dead branches from shrubs and cutting back ornamental grasses and perennials that were left over winter. The garden will have an instant tidy look. Ornamental grasses prefer to be cut back in spring. The only grasses to leave alone are Carex, or evergreen sedges.

Garden Fertilizer
We never use fertilizer in the garden beds! After years of testing and amazing results, using shredded, composted bark mulch on garden beds is all you need. This wonderful bi-product of the local forestry industry decomposes into rich compost.

Dig Out Weeds … With A Kitchen Knife
The straight blade of an old kitchen knife digs straight down around tap roots. Cut a small square into the ground around a dandelion root to loosen soil and pop the entire root out easily. This works lawn areas as well.

Hack the Winter Blues Away
If you love to prune, cut and saw your way through the garden, spring is a joyous time. Keep shrubs healthy and maximize flowering by hacking down to a simple framework. Buddleja (butterfly bush), Cotinus (smoke bush), Cornus (dogwood), Spiraea (Bridal wreath), and Salix (willow) benefit most.

2014 is the year to end Nature Deficiency Disorder. Get out there, get dirty and get the kids and grandkids involved. Make mistakes and watch the garden recover. Grow some food and keep the neighbourhood gorgeous.

Jessica Salvador is a Certified Landscape Horticulturist.
She runs Higher Ground Gardens with her husband Christian, a Certified Landscape Technician

Higher Ground Gardens



Keeping Your Gardens Clean & Green

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Six Best Lawn Improvement Practices:

1. Aeration and De-thatching: Early Spring
Lawn compaction impedes air, water and nutrient access to turf roots. Lawn aeration reduces soil compaction by punching holes in the soil with a coring machine. Thatch is a build-up of debris in the area between the soil surface and the blades of grass. De-thatching rakes up the top layer of unwanted thatch in the lawn.
2. Liming: Spring (When Rainfall Decreases)
Lime is used on lawns to get a desirable pH, (6.0 – 7.0). Lime conditions the soil and will improve the growth of turf by reducing nutrient loss.
3. Moss Control: Spring
Great success is achieved using lawn sand for moss control. Expect to see moss turn black and die almost immediately.
4. Regular Fertilizing Program: Spring
(When The Weather Warms Up)
Fertilizers provide nutrients for healthy colour, root and foliage growth. A fertilizer high in Phosphorus is used in spring to help turf establish strong roots. Nitrogen is used once it warms up to make grass grow lush green blades. Potassium is used in fall to help withstand stress, disease and winter temperatures. A fertilized lawn is stronger and better, by being more resistant to weeds and disease.
5. Proper Mowing Practices:
Properly mowed lawns are more tolerant of heat and drought. Only 1/3 of the grass height should be removed at one time. Healthy lawns are kept at a height of 2” – 3”. If cut too short, part of the root system can die back, causing weeds to overtake the lawn.
6. Top Dressing and Over-seeding:
Spring or Early Fall
Lawns that lack a basic level of nutrients are best served by a top dressing of nutrient-rich organic matter. For lawns that require new growth it is ideal to over-seed with the correct grass seed mix. The three best types for Vancouver are Perennial Ryegrass, Fescues and Kentucky Bluegrass. The ideal lawn has a combination of all 3 types. Shady lawns perform better with a higher percentage of Fine Fescue in the seed blend.
Jessica Salvador is a Certified Landscape Horticulturist. Higher Ground Gardens is a family-run business she owns with her husband Christian Kessner, a certified landscape technician.  Higher Ground Gardens, 778-323-1502.

Dunbar Little League

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The crack of the bat, the smell of the leather glove and the welcoming sun on your face. Baseball season is here again.

I have fond memories of playing for Dunbar Little League (DLL) as a child where I spent many hours at the park with family and friends. We ate Dickie Dee Ice Cream, dads coached, and I played right field frequently. Not much has changed since then but those memories never prepared me for my experience as a DLL parent.

This, my friend, is a whole new ball game.To most, Dunbar Little League represents community, friendships, sportsmanship and a rite of childhood passage. DLL is all those things and more to the parents and the players.

The journey usually starts with Blastball, a lighthearted introduction to the game where players have a blast and parents are just happy to be out of the house.

Then you work your way up to T-Ball and things start to make sense, players are eager, and parents are happy to see the baseball “light” of inspiration click on.

Next is the big leap into Minor B, where it is all about the pitching machine and the shock of players when they actually can strike out. Up to this point, three strikes and you’re out was just a dark rumour whispered in the dug out.

Minor A is the ultimate separation of fact from fiction. There is a pitcher on the mound and he or she is actually trying to strike you out. The kids at bat are making contact and the fielders are making plays. It is amazing to watch the transformation. Players develop, parents become more invested and before you know it, we are playing the game of baseball.

DLL’s Majors division is all of those great things and more. Not only do you get to sit back and enjoy the exciting ‘after school special’ entertainment, you become part of the whole production.

As with most children’s organized sports, parent volunteers are essential, but no one can prepare a parent for his or her first day working a concession shift. The math alone is terrifying. But nothing says bonding like burgers grilled for the love of the game and the kids playing it.

Dunbar Little League means many things to many people. Here are my Top 10 highlights and observations:

  • It is a true neighbourhood game. The catchment is so small that kids often play against their neighbours, classmates, friends, and sometimes even against their own brother or sister.
  • The season is short but intense.
  • Games played at the same location means not having to drive all over the Lower Mainland.
  • The promise of sunshine and the relief of rain cancellations.
  • Concession – feeding a family of five for only $25, trying the Umpire Burger and liking it, 50-cent candy bags buy you an hour of peace, eating more hot dogs and hamburgers in an eight week span than you normally do in a whole year.
  • Working at the concession – grill masters who bring their own aprons, parents having a hard time with math, cooking more for the community in a couple of hours than you can for your own family during the season. Getting to know the parents on your team and enjoying a good laugh.
  • A Majors scorekeeping rookie mistake, forgetting to change the scoreboard or worse, not keeping proper pitch count.
  • Dunbar stadium seating discussions with fellow parents include dreams of custom seat cushions and heated wind protection.
  • Siblings being dragged to their brother or sister’s game only to realize they are having a 2-3 hour playdate with the neighbourhood kids. Throw in a hot dog and a candy bag or two for dinner, and this becomes the highlight of their week!
  • Later bed times and homework gone by the wayside in exchange for less screen time and great sleeps. Note: pace your candy bag accordingly.

Dunbar Little League is a treasured neighbourhood institution that has stood the test of time. This positive imprint in our neighbourhood would not be possible if it wasn’t for the dedication of our DLL families, volunteers, sponsors and support from our community.

Hope to see you at the diamond!

by Nicole Wong Koroluk

Dunbar Little League is one of the first leagues in Canada and started in 1958. The league is known and respected throughout Canada for its spirit of fair play and offering boys and girls, regardless of their level of skill, the opportunity to play baseball, learn some skills and have fun. Most of the league’s games are played at Memorial Park located at Dunbar Street and West 33rd Avenue, however Minor B games are played at Balaclava Park.

Discover the Rewards of Spring Gardening

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Early spring gardening saves you time in the summer and keeps plants and lawns healthy, growing and gorgeous.

Mulching magic
Applying a layer of mulch to garden beds in early spring is gardening efficiency at its best. Not only does mulch help conserve moisture during the drought months in summer, it breaks down gradually and adds nutrients to the soil and suppresses weed growth. It’s a true triple threat in the garden. Start by picking out all the weeds in the garden beds then layer the gardens with a three to four inch deep layer of decomposed bark mulch.

Lawn Care Tricks
There are two main tasks that will ensure a healthy lawn come mid-spring: removing the thatch layer of dead grass blades from the lawn and letting air get to the roots of your turf by removing plugs of soil using an aeration tool. Once the rain subsides somewhat in mid-spring you can then add lime – to reduce the acidity of the soil caused by heavy rainfall – and a spring fertilizer.

Dig and Divide
Love that solitary hosta you have growing in a corner? Spring is the perfect time to dig it out, cut the root mass into two or three segments, and plant them back exactly where you want them. Many perennials benefit from being divided every 3 years, or when they look like they’ve outgrown the space they’re in. Dividing and moving plants during their dormancy – through winter until new growth appears – will give you the best results.

by Jessica Salvador
Jessica has spent over ten years in the landscaping industry. She graduated from the horticulture program at Capilano University as a Certified Landscape Horticulturist. Higher Ground Gardens, a family-run residential gardening business for homeowners on Vancouver’s West Side, was founded in 2008 with her husband, a certified landscape technician.

Young Farmers Camps 2012 – Southlands Country Farm

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Southlands Country Farm is offering three different Young Farmers camps this year divided loosely by maturity and experience.

Young Farmers I:  for ages 6-9 this camp is an ideal fun introduction to the farm. You will do a little bit of everything and get comfortable in the farm environment.
Young Farmers II: for ages 10-12 this camp provides an introduction to general farm life and more responsibility and hands on work.

Farmhands new!
Farmhands is a farming and food course designed for youth who have already spent a summer at the farm or those who wish a more advanced, skills-based experience. Ages 9+. This course is also a training program for youth who want to work at Southlands Farm, or on other urban farms in Vancouver! Campers will receive a certificate upon completion of this program.

$195 per camp. Ask about deals for full day registrations.

Full Day Option For a full day experience campers can register for the PonyMeadows horse riding summer camp from 9am till 12, and YoungFarmers summer camp from 1 till 4 pm (or viseversa!). Both camps are located on the same property. A fee of $25 will be charged for lunch time supervision from 12 till 1pm.

More Details
The camp runs from 9am to noon or from 1pm to 4pm during the summer weeks and is managed and instructed by passionate and enthusiastic staff with training in agroecology, education, or the sciences. Instructors have first aid certificates and criminal record background checks. They try to keep a low ratio of instructors to campers  so they can maintain a safe environment and cater to different interests and learning styles. (They try for a 5:1 ratio)

More About the Camp
An understanding of “Where does my food come from, and how is it grown?” will be the outcome of this fun and educational program for children ages 6 to 12.

Campers will discover the wonder of life on the farm while learning basic skills such as: caring for hens, goats, horses, honey bees, ducks and other mysterious farm fauna, germinating seeds and growing, harvesting and preparing seasonal foods. Campers will also take part in farm fun  activities, wild-crafting, and hands-on science experiments.

Because the season is always changing, the activities in each camp will vary.
Words of Caution
•Campers will be in contact with many animals and plants.
•Campers will be cooking and eating foods in an outdoor wood-fired oven.
•Campers may have the option of seeing a working honey bee hive close up.

•Campers will probably get dirty and come home tired!

Southlands Farm

6767 Balaclava Street on W 51st. Avenue, Vancouver

604 261 1295


More info: