Meet Mark Cullen

Canada's best known gardening personality, Mark Cullen believes that Canadians of all ages need to play more - preferably in the dirt. A best-selling author with over 400,000 books in print, Mark reaches over one million Canadians every week through various media outlets. He is Home Hardware's horticultural spokesperson and regularly contributes to various magazines, gardening shows and newsletters. With a familiar style that people can relate to, he delivers a message that is compelling, fun, informative and inspirational - all based on his organic approach to gardening. In his spare time Mark enjoys driving his Ford Model A - and of course he loves to garden.

Give Dad the Best Lawn on the Block!

It is just about that time of year when your lawn begins to look a bit shop-worn. The tremendous bust of green growth that occurred early in spring is waning and soon ‘the bloom is off the rose’ to use a metaphor from another part of the garden.

Here is a suggestion: give your Dad a great looking lawn this Fathers Day June 20! Yea – a ‘kit’ of lawn stuff that will help him to produce the great looking lawn that he dreams of. And believe me, he DOES dream of these things. I know: I am one.

Your ‘lawn care package’ could include any of the following:

- A bag of the best lawn seed in the business. Weeds? Compete them out of existence by spreading good quality grass seed over the areas that are thin. I use Golfgreen grass seed because it is virtually weed free, contains excellent quality grass seed varieties and is produced here in Canada. Keep in mind that one kg spreads over about 100 sq. meters (one pound over 400 sq. feet). Cost: $12 to $15 bag.

- Several bags of triple mix. You cannot just spread grass seed over your lawn and expect it to grow new grass plants. It has to have somewhere to put down some new roots. That is where triple mix comes in – it is a combination of equal parts top soil, compost and peat moss. Together, these ingredients provide a quality base for your new lawn or the thickening of an old one. Cost: $3 to $5 per 20 kg bag.

- A good lawn sprinkler. There are lots of lawn sprinklers on the market. Not all are created equal. Look for a sprinkler that produces a fine spray: these water droplets will penetrate the soil quickly and get to the root zone of your grass plants more efficiently. Look for a great line up of Rainforest sprinklers that are inexpensive, designed and made in Canada. They work under 5 pounds of pressure and up to 45 pounds. Go to or for my own exclusive version of their product for more information. (Hint: they make the Mark’s Choice brand). Cost: $7 to $40 depending on model.

- Fertilizer. O.k., so Dad fertilized the lawn early in the spring. If he used a good quality brand like So Green, Golfgreen or Vigoro, he would be well advised to re-apply after 8 or 10 weeks. Why? #1 to thicken up his lawn and #2 to keep it healthy. A healthy lawn is more resistant to disease and insect problems. If concern about the environment is an issue, the new formula of Golfgreen is phosphate free. Slow release nitrogen, found in good quality lawn fertilizers, only releases as the temperature rises, rain falls and microbial activity takes place in the soil. In other words: only when the lawn needs it.
Cost: $18 to $25 for an average sized lawn.

Still looking for Dad gifts?

How bout a push lawn mower.

Lots of Canadians are embracing the idea of cutting the lawn the ‘old fashioned way’ with a manual, reel lawn mower. The new ones are much lighter weight and hold an edge much longer than the ones he will remember from his youth.

Also for Dad:
A new pair of hand pruners (get good ones as the cheap ones are, well, you can finish the sentence….. in fact using them over a long period of time is like a sentence!!)
Gardening gloves – look for reinforced finger tips: the gloves will last up to 4 times longer!
Tree loppers and shears (see last week’s blog).

Noticeable by their absence in this column are power tools….. leaf blowers, chain saws, power trimmers/weed whackers etc. There is a reason for this. I hate them all. Not the tools but the noise and the pollution that 2 cycle engines produce. However, if he is into this kind of thing, get a good quality brand and ask your retailer about the noise levels produced by each product as they do vary a lot from brand to brand. Your neighbours will thank you.

Power Lawn Mowers

As for lawn mowers – you would do your Dad a great favour if you replaced his old 2 cycle (the kind that you mix oil and gas together...) with a cleaner burning 4 cycle. The brands to look for are Honda and MTD if you are concerned about air pollution and noise levels. These two brands have proven to be the most efficient where emissions are concerned.

Here is a novel idea... Buy Dad some flowers!
There was a day when this was for sissies.
No longer.
Today men are much more confident in their masculinity than they were a generation ago. There is not a man on the face of the earth that would not put a smile on his own face with the gift of flowers. Fresh cut flowers from the florist, your own garden, potted gift flowers, flowering plants for his garden or a shrub that flowers each year on Fathers Day …. Test this one out and let me know if I am wrong here.

Dads love flowers.

By the way, some great flowering shrubs and perennials that will bloom reliably in mid June include: Japanese tree lilac, Preston lilac, German/Bearded Iris, water iris, Gaillardia, Veronica (Speedwell) and climbing clematis. Check the hardiness zone of each plant with the hardiness zone at your Dad’s place. Go to for the Canadian Zonal map.

Happy shopping!

Keep your knees dirty,