Starters Guide to Sustainable Gardening


When creating sustainable landscapes you need to reduce energy use going into the garden. These are some basic principles to follow when creating a sustainable landscape:
 Soil carbon locking

   To do this you need to lock carbon up in your soil by adding additional organic matter to your soil.

 Compost
    Making your own compost is another necessary tool if you want to be self sustained.
 Grow food not lawns
    A few other tools are to remove your lawn and grow food instead. It is important to understand the climate of the yard you are designing for.



 climate (micro climate)

      Is your yard wet, or dry? Once you know this decide what should be planted in the space and what materials to use.



• Rain garden or alpine garden?

 Choosing sustainable materials.
      Use wood, recycled products, and reused landscape materials (brick).
      Sustainable fences or screening materials

 Eco friendly plants:
      Native species
      Variety of bloom times to attract pollinators throughout the growing season
      Eco friendly annuals such as Lobularia maritima
      Eco friendly perennials such as Iris sibirica
      Eco friendly shrubs such as Cotoneaster
      Eco friendly trees such as Sorbus aucuparia
      Eco friendly vegetables such as Potatoes, and Carrots.
      Eco friendly fruit trees such as Ribes rubrum
      Eco friendly herbs such as Chives

 Water
      Living walls, and green roofs
      Rain garden
      Permeable pavers are a great way to soak up rainwater

These are all great ways to help get you started on sustainable landscape practices.

Edmonton Tree Pest Watch Edition #3

leaf-rust-on-ash-tree leaf-rust-on-rose-leaves
Ash Leaf Rust, Leaves, petioles and green twigs become infected during May and June. When infection is severe premature defoliation can occur. The spores retreat to marshlands during the winter and then infect the trees in early spring. Planting such trees near infected marshlands is not suggested. The disease is rarely lethal though consecutive severe infection, especially on young trees can lead to increased stress and eventually death. Especially in young less established urban trees.

What you need to know, Aside from proper plant selection for your specific micro climate there is little that can be done to protect your Ash trees from this disease.

How to Treat your Infected Ash, First one must consider the condition and location of the tree planting an alternative species may be the best course of action. When the tree is still young there are a few things you can do.

Spray the tree with an approved fungicide during early spring.

Fertilize appropriately. 

Mulch to control soil temperatures and moisture which will help strength the tree.

Deep root water during drought periods.


Edmonton Tree Pest Watch Edition #2

Black Knott Classic FormBehold, Black Knot in it’s typical form portrayed on a Schubert Choke Cherry from one of our commercial clients. Due to industry negligence many home owners and landscapers have grossly over planted the Prunus genus leading to widespread infection of this fungus. Due to the warm winters of 2016 this could be one of the worst years for Black Knot yet. Before you consider planting anything in the Prunus genus please consult an educated professional and if you already have Prunus trees such as Schubert Choke Cherry and Maydays then now is the time to inspect and treat for signs of the fungus.

Inspect your trees, it generally begins on twigs, branches and fruit spurs. Trunks can also be infected. Infections usually start on young tissue. abnormal growth starts as light brown swellings that later enlarge, rupture and become black. During the second year, the growth continues to elongate along the branch and encircles it. Several knots may merge to make a large knot. In the second year the fungus in the knot dies except at the margins. The black knot is then invaded by secondary fungi that may change the color to a whitish or pinkish color. Insects frequently colonize older galls. With time and the spread of the disease, the tree loses vigor and dies

Weather dependent February – May is the most important time to inspect and treat Black Knot. However it does not stop there, when caught early the fungus can be eliminated however reinfection during this time is highly probably therefore continued attention is required throughout this period and until the following winter arrives. 
The fungus must be removed, with sanitized and sharp tools. During the dormant season is most beneficial though any signs should be removed during the growing season. Make a proper pruning cut 12” – 24” inches below the infected area at the best available branch axis depending on size of infected area. Repeat inspections and treatment yearly.

Edmonton Tree Pest Watch Edition #1

It’s January and the winter hump is over, if your Aspens or Tower poplars still have leaves on them then you should read further and inspect your trees and or consult a professional before spring time.
Bronze leaf disease is a fungal infection that is relatively new to Alberta but has the potential to inflict severe devastation. We encourage you to treat it with extreme vigilance. It can infect various poplar species and hybrids but is mainly found in trembling aspen, Swedish columnar aspens and tower poplars. There are currently no known chemical treatments, early detection and proper pruning is the only proven method. Two thirds of our surrounding woodlands are susceptible to this fungus therefore the city has asked anyone who notices the following symptoms on susceptible hosts located on public lands to call the city and report it for professional inspection. The symptoms almost always start at the base of the tree working its way upward from branch to branch. The symptoms are most active in late summer, infected trees tend to hold onto their leaves through the winter till spring. It is important to remove the infected areas before springtime as they will release new spores and spread. All material should be taken to your local landfill and must not be kept for compost or firewood.  Infected branches will have distinctive chocolate brown leaves, the main veins will turn from bright green to black before death.

bronze-leafSevere infection Death will soon follow

Attracting Winter Birds

Winter Birds

Seven Simple steps

1. Know their tastes

Winter birds such as cardinals, woodpeckers, finches, nuthatches, and blue jays all love particular seeds. These seeds would include black sunflower seed, thistle seeds, and safflower seed. You can find these seeds by the pound at most home and garden stores or retail stores. Not only are they tasty to the birds, but they are full of healthy oils that the birds need to survive the winter.

2. Hang your feeders
When you hang feeders, you discourage animals such as squirrels and raccoons from getting to them. This will help the birds feel safer as well, and allow them to approach the feeder easily. Try hanging feeders from hooks, branches, or other pole devices built for bird feeders.

3. Try some suet
Suet is a fatty substance sometimes sprinkled with seed that birds love. It gives them energy and helps them build fat, which they need to stay warm during the winter. Suet is inexpensive making it a great option if on a budget. Hang it from a tree for easy pickings, or, hang it from a feeder in a suet feeder.

4. Keep the feeders filled
It is important that the birds can count on the feeders. If they know your yard is a reliable source of food, they will continue to visit daily. This consistency is also the best way to build a yearly following.

5. Provide water
Water freezes easily in the winter, so birds can go thirsty quick. Provide fresh water as often as possible for your birds, either in bowls or a bird bath. You can also purchase devices, like aBirdbath De-Icer to keep bird baths from freezing, which may be something you wish to invest in.

6. Provide housing scraps
Toss some string, fabric scraps, hay, and other items that could be used for nesting around the food. Birds will love being able to take their pick of building materials! It will help them build warm homes right in the area.

7. Shelter is great
If you can, put up a simple bird house or two. It is a great way for birds to beat the rough elements that winter brings.

If you wish to attract birds this winter, give these tips for attracting winter birds a try. You are sure to see some great results!

Six Healthy Lawn Tips – Edmonton

  1.  Leave the cores on your lawn!    Uneducated self proclaimed professionals are spreading the misconception that the cores need to be removed after aerating. This is not true, in fact it is best to leave them. They will quickly decompose and disappear, especially with a mow and a little rain. The first few inches of soil are the most nutritious and important. Constantly removing the cores will change the soil composition and eventually decrease the fertility. Unless there is an unusual amount of organic build up over the years we highly recommend leaving the cores.
  2.  Water your lawn deeply and less often! Turning on the hose or sprinkler for frequent light watering will decrease your root depth which reduces the nutrient uptake and drought resistance. This practice also results in higher evaporation levels. For a healthy green lawn you will need one inch of water once a week. More or less water may cause problems.
  3. Grass cycle your clippings! This means that when you mow your lawn you leave the clippings instead of bagging them.  The clippings will quickly decompose and return needed nutrients to the soil. The grass clippings also act as a natural mulch, helping your grass to retain water. We recommend doing this every second mow. If the clippings are two large and numerous this may not be a good thing to do. If the clippings create dense patches or rows then they should be removed. The best way to do this is invest in a good mower that thoroughly mulches the clippings.
  4. Mow to the proper height!  Never cut your lawn lower than two inches and never cut more than a third of the blade of grass at a time. If neglected and grown long you should only cut a third off at a time until you have returned the grass to it’s usual mowing height. Giving at least two days between each mow.
  5. Keep your Blades Sharp and clean! This is often overlooked but is very important. A clean cut goes a long way. So sharpen those blades at least once a year and try to keep the rust and oil free.
  6. Avoid over fertilizing and fertilizing at the wrong times  Okay this is a huge problem on many levels and unfortunately many companies out there are more concerned with selling you a service rather than they are about doing it properly. Unfortunately this is an entire topic on it’s own that we will have to write about in the near future. In the meantime don’t be fooled! Ask questions and do your research. As a general rule (which I hate to do) your lawn should not be fertilized more than twice a year. Stay tuned for more info on fertilization or feel free to contact us for help and advice.Sincerely,
    Mother Nature’s Contractor

Lawn Aeration & Power Raking

Mother Nature’s Spring Special! $180 for Mow/Trim Power Rake,  Aeration & Fertilization of lawns under 3000 square feet! Only During May

       How Often? 

Generally speaking ( which as a professional I hate to do ) the average lawn only needs to be aerated every four years unless you’re a school sports field. However this all depends on a few factors. It is not uncommon for someone with heavy traffic who wants the best possible lawn to aerate every couple of years but this is generally not necessary. Some of these factors include.

  •  Amount of traffic
  •  Soil Composition
  •  Mowing Habits
  •  Type of yard equipment used
  •  Type of Traffic
  • Drainage issues


To prevent compacted soil which affects air circulation, water drainage, nutrient absorption and microbial activity. Correcting these problems will result in a healthier and more beautiful lawn that has a higher resistance to drought, disease and pests. Ignoring them may result in flooding or pooling, increased growth of mold, fungus, disease, and stunted or sloppy growth.


In our climate you can aerate from May- mid June and again between September and mid October depending on weather. You should never aerate during the summer months!

       Why the Yearly Pressure?

We can not speculate for sure why others try to pressure you into yearly aerating but we do believe lack of landscape related education and economic greed are major factors.

       What about Power Raking?

Power Raking by hand or by machine should be done on a yearly basis as soon as the weather permits. The benefits are relatively the same except for reducing compaction and increasing aeration.

Closing Statement

Hopefully this clears a few things up and prevents unnecessary spending.  If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment Mother Nature’s Contractor is at your service.

Last Years Testimonies

I hired an arborist to remove an overgrown tree. After three months, I
still had a tree and had not heard anything from that company. A
colleague of mine refereed me to Mother Nature’s. They were
working on a project near by and was able to come by that evening and
give me a quote. His in depth knowledge and professionalism impressed
me. He provided me with some useful information regarding my yard and
then emailed me a list of replacement trees that he suggested and why
they were an appropriate pick for my yard. The job was soon completed
according to plan. I will hire Mother Nature’s Contractor in the
future for yearly maintenance.

Sincerely Wendy Dale

Danny and his crew performed a drastic restoration to a property that
I recently purchased. He communicated a number of ideas and options
with me through emails and phone calls for a couple weeks before I
decided on a course of action. I was pleased with all his suggestions
and completion of work. It was a pleasant experience that I suggest to
anyone who needs a outdoor makeover.

Travis J

I hired Mother Nature’s Contractor to raise and regrade beside my
house, replacing the window well and bringing the grade up
approximately 4inches. We had water in our basement and needed the
work done quickly and Danny and his team delivered, Danny came out to
provide a quote on a Thursday evening an by the following Wednesday
the work was complete, on time and on budget. Danny and his team were
very professional and approachable, willing to answer questions and
adjust the plans on the fly, I wouldn’t hesitate to hire Mother
Nature’s Contractor again.

Marcel Lerminiaux

Disease, pests and pathogens.

Winter is the best time to inspect trees for problems since there is no foliage in the way of your view. I would like to take a quick moment to talk about Black Knot. The fungus seen in the image.

Black Knot spreads best in warm wet conditions and is destroying our trees at an alarming rate. Pest problems come and go in cycles. We are definitely entering into a costly cycle with this one.

It is up to all of us to curb the problem. I strongly encourage you all to inspect your trees for Black Knot. If you spot this in your tree or tress don’t hesitate, send us an email for treatment solutions or stay tuned to our site for regular updates and tips. Detection is the first step and it can easily start with you.

How to detect
All trees in the Prunus genus are susceptible to this fungus. It is most prevalent in our Schubert chokecherries and Maydays. Which are popular residential trees. The fungus is a rough, black, warty swelling that slowly swallows smaller branches. Successful treatment relies on early detection so laced up, brave the cold and start a relationship with your trees before it takes a chunk out of your wallet.

This spreads aggressively from yard to yard, so don’t be the host be part of the solution.

For professional assistance don’t wait, call today, improve tomorrow.