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.

Let It Snow

~ December 14, 2011

Looking for the best insulater in the business for plants – one that is free? I have it for you – Snow. It acts as an insulator and protects your garden from the cold and frost. It is important to remember that a heavy snowfall can also cause branches to break and damage delicate plants. A few simple steps will help protect your yard against snow damage.

* Shake excess snow from the branches of trees, shrubs and hedges. This will ensure that your plants keep their desired shape.
Wrap conifers with string to support branches. Once a branch has been stretched out of shape it will not return to its original form.

* Avoid walking on your lawn when it is snow-covered. This can damage the grass and leave marks on the lawn which become visible in the spring. Driving across the lawn or walking on it during the winter can also encourage fungal growth leading to disease problems.
Be careful when clearing the snow from driveways and walkways. If you pile snow against your trees, shrubs or hedges it can cause further damage. The weight of the snow leaning against your plants can break branches or bend them out of shape.

Clearing snow and ice from your driveway and walkways can be a lot of work. Many municipalities have by-laws which state snow must be cleared within 24 hours following a snowfall. Consider these suggestions the next time you are faced with the daunting task of snow removal around your home. Avoid shoveling heavy snow by clearing the snow early and often.

If you are home during a snow storm it is a good idea to begin shoveling when a light covering of snow is on the ground. This will help you avoid moving heavy, packed snow.Warm up before you start snow removal to help reduce muscle strain or injury.Invest in a great snow shovel which is designed for 'pushing' snow rather than 'lifting'. Pushing the snow puts less stress on your body. If you must lift heavy snow make sure you use your legs. Lifting with your legs will keep the stress off your back muscles. Lift small amounts and through straight forward. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or sideways. Twisting motions will also stress your back muscles.

* Use Alaskan ice melter to clear ice and prevent ‘salt’ damage to your precious garden plants.
Salt can be a gardener's nightmare. It can cause winter injury and dieback. Salt spray can desiccate foliage and runoff can injure roots. Salt runoff can also be absorbed by the plant and cause further damage to the foliage. Burlap barriers provide some protection against salt spray damage. Alaskan® Ice Melter is safe for use near vegetation when used as directed. It contains an environmentally inert TrueBlue marker that marks where the ice melter has been applied. The blue colour marker protects against over-application and allows you to see where you have placed the product to avoid contact with your plants.