“Always remember the beauty of the garden, for there is peace.”
– Author Unknown

One of the problems frequently seen in Cree communities is the lack of proper landscaping or lawn management. Not surprising considering Crees were hunter-gathers rather than farmers. A shortage of housing also meant that resources went to putting them up rather than making the lawn look nice. Perfectly understandable given the overcrowding that continues to this day even in the existing houses.

In some places the lack of lawns has even contributed to health problems. So what do we do about it?

Make a lawn, of course. Below are some tips. I also received some from my mother who I would like to thank.

New lawns can be made almost any time during the growing season, though spring and fall are preferred, with fall considered the best season in northern sections of the country such as the Cree territory. However, no matter when you make a new lawn, there are certain steps that must be followed if you want a deep root system and a thick, healthy top growth. This will cut down on erosion and give your children a nice place to play.

1. SPADE DEEPLY: Soil should be spaded to a depth of at least 6 inches. Drive the spade straight down with your foot and break each spadeful of earth as it is turned over. Don’t spade when the ground is too wet. Soil is just right when you can crumble each spadeful with a slap of the spade.

2. PULVERIZE THE SOIL THOROUGHLY: If necessary, work in humus material (such as peat moss), sawdust or sand to condition the soil. In a lot of places your place is usually sand. Then you must reverse the process and add black earth to it. You can get peatmoss and the peat to add to it. They are chock-full of the materials plants need. Usually a steel-tooth rake will break up the soil lumps and give you a fine, lump-free seedbed.

3. PUT ON THREE POUNDS OF FERTILZER for each 100 square feet of area and work it into the top inch or two of the seedbeds. This assures an ample supply of all the elements grass must get from the soil. Be sure to apply the fertilizer evenly.

4. SEED WITH GOOD GRASS SEED: To get a good lawn started quickly, you need a carefully cleared seed, low in weed content and high in germination; fresh, live stolons or plugs in the case of grasses are more favourably established in this way. Sow seed at the rate of 4 to 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet of area. Plant stolons or sprigs at approximately 1 bu. to 300 sq. ft. If sowing by hand, sow half lengthwise and half crosswise. Rake the seed lightly into the soil.

5. ROLL THE LAWN: Roll to imbed seed and assure perfect contact between seed and soil. A tamper or wide board is used on small areas when roller is not available. A roller can be made with a 10-gallon drum. Just fill, wash clean of gas or oil, tip it over and push it over your lawn area. This step is essential and should not be omitted.

6. WATER WITH A FINE SPRAY: Water thoroughly, using a very fine spray. Continue to water dally until seed germination is complete or ‘sprigs, stolons or plugs take new root. This is about three to four weeks. Then water as needed but always thoroughly.

A seed is an embryo plant and contains within itself virtually all the materials and energy to start off a new plant. To get the most from one’s seeds it is good to understand a little about their needs, so just the right conditions can be given for successful growth.
One of the most usual causes of failure with seed is sowing too deeply; a seed has only enough food within itself for a limited period of growth and a tiny seed sown too deeply soon expends that energy and dies before it can reach the surface. A seed guide states the optimum depth at which each type of seed should be sown.

Another common cause of failures is watering. Seeds need a supply of moisture and air in the soil around them. Keeping the soil too wet drives out the air and the seed quickly rots, whereas insufficient water causes the tender seedling to dry out and die. This is why you use a fine mist to water. Do it only until the soil glistens.

Want to make your own soil energizer tonic? It’s simple. Take 1 can of beer, 1 cup of liquid dish soap, 1 cup of listerine, 1 /4 teaspoon instant tea, 1 cup of cola (not diet). Mix them together and spray on area.

Pest control: It always seems there’s someone out there to get you when you’re a plant. Here are some tips on that. Insects are all over your trees and plants. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 /4 teaspoon liquid dish soap and 1 gallon of water. Spray on affected areas.

Want more flowers or leaves on your trees? Just take a pliable stick or section of water hose and whack the tree or bush all around the bark. Becareful not to break the bark though. The whacking stimulates the tree as if it has been injured, but if there’s no injury it just stimulates more growth.

Tree root soaking is important when you transplant a tree into your lawn. Take an old sock and tie to the end of your hose. Turn it on and soak thoroughly. Another method is to take a 1-gallon jug (i.e. 2-litre store-bought water container is just dandy). Using a knife, punch a hole in the bottom. Put hose in the jug and turn on. This is a gentle way of soaking the tree and it needs it. Happy Gardening!