OTTAWA -- If you don’t know your hostas from your hydrangea or your leaf rake from your leaf blower, you need a bit of time with Carson Arthur.

Arthur is the grounded, knowledgeable, animated garden-guy who can take lots of credit for how we now use our outdoor spaces.  He’s also created many "green thumbs."

His advice for this first weekend of spring may surprise you; too much too soon is not good for the garden. 

Keeners keep calm!

"Warmer weather is all around and everyone is waking up, excited to get outside and do things…but you need to SLOW DOWN!" says Arthur.

Instead channel your efforts into prep and planning.  

Arthur’s enthusiasm about vegetable and flower gardening is more nourishing than your organic fertilizer. 

While he wants you to 'dig in', you have to know what you are digging into. 

The garden guy has a reputation for instilling a confidence in new gardeners and introducing longtime gardeners to new tips and trends.

Long before the pandemic, Arthur predicted many of us would get back to the simple and abundant pleasures of growing our own food.

"Vegetables, Chickens & Bees: An Honest Guide to Growing Your Own Food Anywhere" is a colourful and inspirational primer.

In it, he offers tips on how to have growing success on the smallest balcony or the most expansive backyard.

Carson Arthur

You may have seen the rugged and buoyant TV host at The Ottawa Spring Home and Garden Show, where he is a perennial presenter.

Arthur starred on countless HGTV programs and has put all of his landscape and garden creativity on display in Prince Edward County where he and his partner have put down roots. 

Carson’s Garden and Market is all about teaching and growing: trees, fruits and vegetables, flowers and house plants.

It’s too soon to plant but not too early to dream or prepare. 

Carson shared these tips for those "early spring" jobs for this first weekend of spring.

Outside spring House cleaning

Time to clean the mold:

"Mold stains on the garage should be removed now before the spores start getting active and tracking into the home. Pretreat with a mold inhibitor and spray with a pressure washer," said Arthur.

"Mold stains on the deck should ONLY be removed with a scrub brush and a product designed for wood.  Never use a pressure washer as it strips the fine fibres, allowing more damage from the elements.” 

Carson says it’s important to clean your planters: “You should remove soil from pots and scrub them to prevent lingering fungal infections (that fungi stays in the soil)."

 He says impatiens over the past few years were prone to fungus.

Carson Arthur

Garden/Lawn clean up

Time to rake?

Grass versus garden beds

"Spring is the perfect time to rake the debris off the lawn but never from the garden. Beneficial pollinators are sound asleep under the leaves and need those leaves to protect them," said Arthur.

"Avoid aerating now too!  Anything that is heavy on a wet lawn will compact the soil and cause problems for the lawn."

Leave the leaves for pollinators


What to prune and what to leave alone?

  • You can prune evergreens

"If it flowers don’t prune it now.  The only time to prune a flowering tree or shrub (lilac for example) is three weeks after it flowers. After that the plant is starting buds for the next year.  So, if you prune you are essentially cutting off your flowers."


Is it time? No. Plants absorb fertilizer at the active growth stage.  It’s too soon!

"Nope.  Wait to fertilize the lawn and the gardens until night time temperatures are above 4C. This allows the soil to warm up and roots to actively absorb nutrients," said Arthur.

And if you try to fertilize too soon that nitrogen (the first ingredient in fertilizer) isn’t absorbed by the plant and goes into our water supply, contributing to algae blooms in streams and rivers.

"Go Organic: Remember to go organic whenever you can!  It's better for the planet, and for your yard," said Arthur.

The big spring no, no!

"No mulch now. Adding mulch too soon traps cold moisture in the soil delaying the emergence of plants.  It also prevents the soil from drying out."

Bottom line:  Enjoy the weather out there but slow and steady—keeners keep calm.