Green thumbs beware: Hot dry weather continues in Calgary

Click to play video 'Hot dry weather continues in Calgary' Hot dry weather continues in Calgary
WATCH ABOVE: Tony Tighe investigates how this dry spell may affect our garden and lawns, as the lack of moisture is being describe as desert like conditions – Apr 6, 2016

You don’t normally hear power rakes and lawn mowers around Calgary in the first week of April, but landscaping companies are getting to work about a month early this year thanks to dry, warm weather.

This is the earliest ULS Maintenance and Landscaping has begun yard work in 20 years.

The head start is good for business but the lack of moisture is a big concern.

Higher than normal temperatures, below average precipitation and Calgary’s high altitude all combine to puts plants and trees at risk.

“They’re very stressed right now from lack of water so if you can get them hydrated and feeling good, they have a better chance of killing off disease and any insect infestation,” Steve Wheatcroft of ULS Maintenance and Landscaping said. “Lawns can usually tolerate quite a bit of drought – they’ll just go dormant – but some of the plants could definitely suffer.”

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But just how much water to give them is a balancing act.

Too much watering this early in the spring could backfire.

“I really don’t think that everyone should pull out your sprinklers and start saturating our gardens and our lawns,” Wheatcroft said. “If there are certain things that are looking like they’re coming and maybe need some water, or the soil feels very dry, it’s good to do some hand watering.”

Too much, however, will encourage growth and with more snow and freezing temperatures still possible, plants could take on even more damage.

“We don’t really want to be encouraging everything because we still have the potential to get snow and we still have the potential to get really cold nighttime temperatures,” Robin Yeast at Plantation Garden Centre said. “That’s what’s going to do any damage with all the stuff that’s leafed out early.”

And while it’s tempting, experts warn it’ still too early to plant annuals in the garden.

You can buy them and start them in pots, but not in the ground.

Dry weather has also sparked a warning from the fire department.

They are asking residents to take extra caution with backyard fires and cigarette butts which are the number one cause of outdoor fires.

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“Cigarettes smoulder for a long time, especially if they’re put in flower pots, flower beds and mulchy grassy areas,” Carole Henke said. “It’s very, very dangerous.”

Temperatures in Calgary are forecast to reach 24 degrees Celsius Friday.

Temperatures in Calgary are forecast to reach 24 degrees Celsius Friday.