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2024 Marks 10 Years in Business

organic landcare
2024 marks 10 years in business

2024 marks 10 years in business – The first job.

2024 marks 10 years in business
2024 marks 10 years in business

Where I’m at now…sort of..

2024 marks 10 years in business

Now, check out the rest of the website and subscribe to my YouTube channel for all kinds of organic urban landcare ideas and other stuff.

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Changing How We Look At Plants

nectar providing plants spring  Changing How We Look At Plants

Changing How We Look At Plants – People often scoff at me when I ask them why they hate the Dandelions (Taraxacum) so much. The most common reason is just that they are everywhere. Most people still want a green carpet of lawn, or a garden with no “weeds”.

I try to enlighten them about how the first Europeans brought the Dandelion here as an herb in their gardens. How every part is edible and quite good for you actually. By this point they are usually laughing out loud at me.

forehead scratcher guy

Even if they get it, they still want them out of their lawns. Are dandelions going anywhere? Not anytime soon. Not that long ago they were the most hated plant in the city. Now, with some education, there is a growing appreciation for the first flowers to come out in the city. The first food source for early pollinators, a group the Dandelion is a part of. The elimination of the Dandelion now, would be very detrimental to early urban pollinators.

Yet, it is still a billion dollar industry.

What I have learned about many of these pioneering plants, is they grow in Calcium deficient soils. Compacted soils, and/or degraded soils. The dandelion especially. So my approach has been, (thanks to things I have learned through Gaia college) to improve the Calcium level in the soil. Through natural amendments. Understanding that everything needs to be in a balance, so not just adding straight Calcium.

Changing How We Look At Plants

Changing How We Look At Plants

My belief is that if we help the pioneering plants do their job, then they can move along. Pioneer somewhere else.

In an urban setting, there is no going back to a “native” landscape. Even if we wanted to demolish all the buildings and tear up the roads, the Earth has changed. The natural settings around have changed. The weather patterns have changed. So, that is not an option. But, I’m not suggesting we throw in the towel on the whole thing just yet.

Plants are just plants. They have no malice towards us, as far as we can tell anyway. They don’t see our political borders. Nor garden signs that say what is supposed to grow in a certain spot either. If the conditions are right, the seed will sprout. If the conditions remain good, a population will flourish. Instead of being mad at the plants “invading”, we should be mad at the people that allowed the conditions of the land to become so degraded. Mother Nature had to call in some pioneering species of plants to fix the damage caused. Bad human!

In residential urban gardens, the biggest threat to local ecosystems is seeds of non-native plants dispersed by the wind and animals. Along with the chemicals used to control them once they are established. Chemicals aside, the seed dispersal itself is not really the issue. It is when those seeds hit a place with the right conditions to sprout and flourish, and its not where we want it to grow. If the seeds are just “kind of” non-native, meaning they are native to an area not that far away, its not so bad.

Like the migration of many plants over time (Neo-natives).

If the seeds are really not native whatsoever, only from a similar latitude if that, that can be bad. For both the native fauna, and the “alien” plant. Having said that, if the “alien” plant is that foreign, the likely hood of it finding that perfect spot on it’s own is small.

If we import plants from other parts of our own continent (especially imports travelling toward the poles), that might not be as bad as importing a plant from the other side of the planet. We may be helping an insect that has moved in preemptively by giving it a much needed food source. Making that insect available as food for a song bird perhaps. The plant could be filling in as a food source for an existing animal loosing a traditional food source that is migrating north. Therefore possibly changing genetically, faster than the animal can keep up.

Plants could be the Earths’ method of communicating with us.

Changing How We Look At Plants

Changing How We Look At Plants – If only certain plants will grow in a certain place. Then perhaps, when a “non-native” plant shows up and “takes over” an area. An overused field, or a forestry cut-block for example. Maybe it’s Mother Earth finally finding the words to say something. The Earth knows there is a build up of a certain element, mineral, or something in one area. It could be useful in another area, but there is no way of getting it there. We may see it as a bunch of seeds just happened to land somewhere.

Actually, the wind was intentional, the seed placement was exactly where it was needed. This new plant, the “weed”, the “alien”, or the “invasive plant”, is the Earth shouting to the biology around. “Finally I have a way to transport this (whatever it is). Come and get it!!”. It is just spoken in a language we cannot hear.

Mother Earth is not talking to us. (can you blame her).

And, the Earth is not on the same clock as we are. 1000 years is a heartbeat. So we can help her by understanding what plants could help. Planting a species of plant from say 300 km away, that is used to a more dry climate, to make up for one, of a similar but different species, that grew in a wetland that is no longer there, could be helpful. Filling that former wetland with asphalt and then planting trees from the other side of the planet is like feeding a patient a poison apple.

Changing How We Look At Plants – I’m not sure the answer.

EMS logos

Going forward though, I think the answer is we need to think about what we are planting. Where it is from genetically, and not define local as just how far the greenhouse is from the garden. Stop imports of plants from the other side of the Earth all together. Even if they are native plants here and grown there for sale here. It’s too far, and we cannot stop the microbiology from coming and going with the plants. In any non-chemical heavy way at least. We should also make it easier for people to find local alternatives for shape and colour of flower. What most people are concerned with. Maybe make it a standard that a certain percentage of your garden space has to be native species. I’m thinking 90%, but that’s me.

Cutting down and removing large, established invasive plants and groups of plants or trees, should also be done with the same careful thought process. It may not be the right answer. It may be better let them live out their life, not let them reproduce. Do better going forward by replacing them with the proper native plant for the location once they die.

SOUL logo Organic Urban Land Care  Changing How We Look At Plants
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Plant Relatives

Plant relatives

We are not that far from being plants

Plant relatives can mean a lot of things. What I am talking about is the thought, or theory, that we are just plants with more complex emotions. Sounds funny I know. But, when you think about it, and learn more about how plants interact with their environment. We can draw some pretty similar comparisons.

No feelings

Plant relatives

Before I start in on this, I need to point out one thing. I am talking about humans as an organism. On an ecological level. Nature doesn’t really have feelings. If it’s our time to “feed the soil”, Mother Nature deems us just another pile of organic matter, in need of some decomposers to start the process.

Plant relatives – Offspring

Its not news that plants have offspring. Research has shown though, that many plants can recognize their own offspring over plants in the area, even of the same species. They will favour those plants over others.

Plant relatives

They (plants) also communicate with some other organisms (bees, as obvious example) outside their immediate family (or species), more than others. When something new is added to the garden, it takes some time for the flowers, roots and leaves to form relationships with the surrounding beings in the garden. The more foreign the origin of the new addition, the more time it takes to form those relationships, in the new garden. But, over time, most things (plants in the garden) will form relationships with at least some neighbours (insects, bacteria, fungi, other plants, etc.,) in the garden. And sometimes, more often than one might think actually, there is never a “good” relationship with the new addition to the garden. (Think misplaced plants, like trying to plant a cactus by a swamp). This sounds pretty similar to when someone new moves into the neighbourhood, doesn’t it?

Plant relatives – Things out to get ya!

As humans, most of us do not have to deal with predatory animals like lions and snakes. Most of us. For the vast majority, the “humanivores” are much smaller, microscopic in most cases. Why? Perhaps because Mother Nature knows the best attack is the one they cant see coming. We can guard against big cats. Bacteria and viruses are a little harder. They are Mother Nature’s population control for us.

Our plant relatives have to deal with diseases, bacteria, and viruses. In the garden, the damaging entities, be they insect, bacteria, or anything else, always go after the weak, sick, and old plants first. In the “human garden”. The same is true. Like it or not these things attack us the same way as a field of grass, or a tree orchard. They are Mother Natures way of keeping our population in check. We have tried, and continue to try, everything in our power to fight these things off. We are even sending messages in to space, to other humans outside of our garden (Earth) asking for help. Plants will send signals asking for help from neighboring allies. They are hoping help is out there, just like we are.

Helping our plant relatives & Helping ourselves

If you want your plants to avoid the attacks of herbivorous organisms, then you must keep your plants healthy. Not with chemically artificial fertilizers. With the everyday, nutrients and minerals that are available, for free, in the soil. Healthy soil that is. Soil that you are adding organic matter too in the form of compost, or plant matter for the native microorganisms to then convert to compost for you, in the garden. If our plants do not get the adequate water, sunlight and a steady supply of all the nutrients they need. They will not be able to fight off the herbivorous bacteria that just landed on it. Also, without the relationships to the neighboring organisms, the fight is much harder for the plant as well. Sort of like your neighbor bringing you some chicken soup, when they know your sick.

If we want our humans to avoid “humanivorous” organisms, then we must keep our humans healthy. Not with chemically artificial “fertilizers”. With everyday, nutrients and minerals that are available, for free, in the soil. Healthy soil that is. Sound familiar yet? We are not that different.

Plant relatives – Mother

If we could possibly trace our lineages as beings on the Earth. Both us and plants. And, yes there are people working on it. We will see, we all come from the same Mother. Mother Earth. We come from the soil. We take in our nutrients from the soil our whole lives, rather you realize it or not. Then, when we die, we return to the soil. The only real difference between us and plants is that we can walk around. We have more in common than different. Click the pictures below for more information.

organic landcare
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Grounding / Earthing – Literally Our Connection

Grounding / Earthing is literally our connection to the Earth

I Had An Epiphany!

surprised worm

The other night I watched a film about Grounding, or Earthing, that made me realize something.

Since I started down the path of Organic Urban Land Care (and kind of the reason I started in the first place). I have noticed that the people that tend to their garden with a more natural (dare I say organic) mentality, seem to be the ones that enjoy their time working in the garden. They are also the more “laid back” population of gardeners and land care people, it would seem.

I used to attribute this to just personality differences. Then I thought it was chemicals absorbed from traditional landscape practices that made some people uptight, and worried about the bottom line. Because of the money they spent of the chemicals no doubt. Now I think the difference is grounding.

I have also noticed in my own experience. The days that I feel achy and sore, but spend some time in the garden. I improve quickly. When I am walking on grass or soil, my back doesn’t hurt nearly as much as when I’m on concrete or asphalt. I have always been a barefoot walker, and big proponent of it. My kids are often barefoot, and not because I have told them too. They just do it. I thought it was the fresh air, my country upbringing, maybe some acupressure. Now I’m wondering…

grounding / earthing

There has been a Grounding / Earthing Disconnect

2 really.

I have trying to figure out what is the ONE thing that connects us all in the importance of organic urban land care.

Some people do not want to grow their own food.

And, some people do not want to plant all native plants.

Some people are deathly allergic to bees, or generally hate bugs, no matter how important they know they are to the ecosystem and the planet.

grounding / earthing

A great population live in high rise apartments in downtowns.

And so on.

The second disconnection is between us and the planet. Literally, our connection..

rock mulch garden

Our cells are held together by electromagnetic forces. Elements and particles pass from one thing to another by positive and negative forces. The synapses in our brain, and our heart beat. Controlled by electrical pulses. These pulses and electrical reactions all need to be grounded. Just like a television set or computer screen. If it’s not properly grounded it will work, but it will have static. In our bodies, that static is in the form of inflammation. That can cause all sorts of other health issues, if left unchecked.

I’ll only mention the cell phones, Wi-Fi, radio waves, and the Earths own electromagnetic properties that we are surrounded by everyday. We are bombarded with charged particles constantly.

Traditionally Grounding / Earthing would happen naturally.

In order to rid yourself of those extra electrons, you need to be in direct contact with the Earth. Something we are surprisingly, not doing enough of. Or at least, get rid of the electrical insulation between our body and the Earth. Rubber soles, as an example, insulate us electrically from the Earth as we walk. The easiest way to become grounded is to walk barefoot on the ground. On a regular basis. Hang out on the grass. On a regular basis.

The Grounding / Earthing – Organic Urban Land Care Connection

Where the importance of Organic / Regenerative Urban Land Care practices comes into the picture is when we consider our feet. The soles of our feet (and palms of our hands) do not produce the waxy protective coating of sebum the rest of our skin does. So, as our extra electrons are draining, we are absorbing things through our feet. This is what keeps most people from walking barefoot I think. If we didn’t have to worry about the chemicals being absorbed, we could focus on the energy transfer happening.

organic landcare

So no matter who, or where.

Grounding / Earthing is something we all need to do. And, we need to be able to do it in an environment that we only absorb good things through our skin.

New Online Learning Opportunity

Contact me or check out the front page of the website for the new online learning opportunities. I will explain the importance of organic urban land care. And, go through the seasons with tips and ideas for what we can do to bring balance back to the garden.

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Organic Lawn Rejuvenations


Organic Lawn Rejuvenations

Every year, at some point in the spring or summer, the doorbell will ring, and someone from a lawn “care” company will be there offering a “safe, simple, & inexpensive” chemical spray application program for your lawn. They will come multiple times a year to fertilize your grass, and kill whatever isn’t grass. Then, tell you it is the only way to keep your grass green.

What they don’t tell you is…

Chemical sprays lead to deteriorating soil conditions, which leads to more sprays and more expenses over time. An organic lawn requires less work and less expenses over time.

There is another way. A way that does not include chemicals. Here is how it works.

Organic Lawn Rejuvenations*

*Prices based on the average urban property. Watering can be completed as extra

Organic Lawn Rejuvenations

Step 1 Initial Unwanted Vegetation Removal

As an initial step. Any large unwanted plants like dandelions, lambs quarters, and the like are removed by hand.

Charged at $55.00 per hour per person. Capped at 2 hours unless otherwise agreed ahead of visit. (For larger or more hurting lawns)

Step 2 Core Aeration (if required)

Starting at $75.00. Recommended for only the most compacted areas, & prior to compost application. Completed by hand except for very large areas where a mechanical option may be more efficient.

Step 3 Organic Compost Top Dress

$120.00 per half yard. Organic, aged, weed-free compost, delivered. 1 half yard is usually enough for the average urban property.

Organic Lawn Rejuvenations

Step 4 Overseed Lawn Areas

Starting at $40.00. Specially selected grass seed for the area required. (sun/shade/high traffic etc.,).

Organic Lawn Rejuvenations

Organic Lawn Rejuvenations follow-up steps.

Step 5 3 Compost Tea Applications

$120 total. Application dates will depend on the time of year and the progress of lawn.

Organic Lawn Rejuvenations

Step 6 3 mos. Monthly Unwanted Vegetation Removal

$150.00 total. 3 monthly follow up visits in order to remove unwanted vegetation that persists and check on progress.

Organic Lawn Rejuvenations

Full Package – $615.00 (2 hours initial plant removal, and aeration options included)

Custom packages available. Contact me for a free consultation and assessment.

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Neem Oil Garden Spray

YouTube player

How-to mix Neem oil & Castile soap for a garden spray

Visit for more on mixing your own Neem oil garden spray.

Oyster shell scale is rampant in the Calgary area. I took this video while mixing up some neem oil garden spray. I wanted to add the extra to the tea tree essential oil garden spray, that I use all the time, to clean my pruning tools between properties.

A little while ago I took some pictures of oyster shell scale from a Jasmin plant. Not what I expected, but have a look below. The male turns into a little white fly, which is how they travel. As well as on pruning tools when not properly cleaned.

close up of oyster shell scale for neem oil garden spray
Close up of bark covered in scale
Close up of oyster shell scale for neem oil garden spray
Adult Female Scale

Tea tree oil is anti-bacterial & anti-fungal, however, the oyster shell scale is a little insect, so I wanted to take an added precaution. It is hard to get rid of once you have scale, and rare to see a property with out it in Calgary.

The mixture for the essential oils garden spray is the same ratio. Exchanging the Neem oil for drops of the essential oil specific to your garden issue. Neem oil is an insecticide though, so tread lightly. It will go after the good bugs as well as the problem ones.

On the other hand, Neem oil is used in natural skin care products, and has beneficial qualities for us. Contact me for more info.

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The Lawn

Natural lawn rehab

Love them or hate them, the lawn is a part of our communities. For those that love them, they are a little park of our very own. A place to gather with others. A place for the kids to play. For those that hate them, they are a constant source of work and frustration.

For years people have been fed the story that we need to aerate and power rake in the spring and spray weed killer & lawn feed, or some other chemical, on our grass. Then we cut the grass as short as possible to give it the “manicured look” all summer, and water it everyday with municipally treated water. In the spring, the dandelions come up first before the grass is green. We do it all over again.


organically maintained lawn


There are many varieties of grasses and they all have different characteristics. The grass on your lawn can not be just cut shorter to create a golf course green. (Something I have been asked by a couple of people about over the years.) Golf courses use specific species of grasses and a strict mowing schedule to create what they do.

The ideal height for the standard residential lawn is 2 ½ – 3”. Only annual bluegrass (which is considered a weed in most places) and bent-grass (which is what they use on golf course greens) can tolerate being mowed lower than 1″

We should not cut more than 1/3 of the shoot height either. So if your lawn is 3” high, you can cut off 1” to a height of 2”. If your lawn is 4 ½” high you can cut off 1 ½” to a height of 3”.

Don’t cut it down below 2”!

‘Told you to get your mower fixed.’

Mowing at the optimal height leaves the plants with sufficient photosynthetic capacity to maintain a strong root system, and still leaves the lawn thick and strong enough to support foot traffic without flopping over. The longer leaves or tillers cushion the crowns, and create a dense canopy that prevents water evaporation from the soil surface. It also provides a lot of surface area to catch the morning dew – which is an important source of water in the summer.

Lawn Mowing Frequency:

In late spring and early summer, when the grass is growing quickly, mowing every 3rd or 4th day may be advisable. When the grass is dormant during mid summer, we don’t have to mow at all. The mowing schedule should be determined by how fast the grass grows, not by the calendar or pocketbook.

How The Lawn Grows:

growth cycle of grass

Without getting too deep into Rhizomes and Stolons and the intercalary meristem, there is a few things to keep in mind for the average lawn.

Grass has a crown.

Cut above the crown, plant survives. Cut below and the plant dies. The lower the crown to the soil surface, the shorter you can cut the lawn. Crowns are also the grass plants major storage organ. The healthier the crown, the more tillers / leaves it will have. The more tillers, the denser the turf. This is not only more beautiful, it also protects the crown better from injury, reduces the evaporation of water from the soil, and shades out germinating weed seeds

manual reel mower spring fever sale


By late spring, leaf production outpaces root growth, which peaks in early summer. As the temperature rises, leaf production drops. The grasses in the lawn will remain green, as long as they have sufficient water. As the weather gets cooler again, leaf production increases until it peaks again in early fall. Then it quickly drops once more, until the grass goes dormant for the winter.

If the summer heat is coupled with drought, some cool season grasses can enter into complete dormancy. In this case, the plants withdraw their energy into their crowns. They allow the foliage, and many of the roots, to die. The size and vitality of the crowns will determine the length of drought an individual plant can withstand. During an extended drought a good proportion of the weaker plants die, resulting in a thinner turf than before the drought.

The absolutely worst thing we can do is to force the plants in the lawn to do something they are not naturally supposed too. Cutting the lawn very short, and fertilizing with synthetic nitrogen fertilizers direct too much energy to the leaves in the early spring. These activities stimulate immediate shoot growth to replace the photosynthetic capacity at the expense of root growth, which is what the plants are supposed to be growing in the early spring. This results in a shorter root system, less drought tolerance, and increased irrigation needs during the summer, as the upper layers of soil dry out.

Sack of Cash

Creating a lot of unnecessary and counterproductive work. Which is bad enough when you do it on your own. If your lawn care providers are charging you for all of these steps……….it is counterproductive and expensive.

Let’s rethink how we take care of our properties.

I haven’t even talked about the pesticides and how they get carried into your homes and spread through the air ducts….Yet.

SOUL logo Organic Urban Land Care

Also, check out the Canadian Society for Organic Urban Land Care. Click the logo to follow the link.

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Essential Oils for the Garden

Essential oils for the garden.

The weather is warming up and things are beginning to awaken from their winter slumber. Many of us are wanting to get out and start making our property beautiful again. While the first buds are sprouting, and the insects are staring to buzz around the warm corners of buildings, now is the time to finish preparing for the outdoor season.

Although each garden is different. Many of the insects pest that wreck havoc on our peaceful places are similar. Organic Land Care teaches us how plants deal with these pests. We can aid in their processes without releasing a toxic cloud of chemicals that drift through our neighbourhoods. When the balance is off in the soil and the plants become weak, insect populations may explode overnight. When that happens, it is time to step in to help.

Before you run to the hardware store or garden centre for chemical sprays and powders. Have a look below for DIY garden sprays for the most common garden pests. Sprays will work to keep the pests away in the short term, but the plants need to be healthy to keep them away for good.

The mixtures can work out to less than $2 a bottle, and are only harmful to the specific insects. They all have benefits for us in different ways.

Check out to learn more and purchase top quality essential oils.

essential oil pic

All Purpose Essential Oil Pest Spray

In 1 Litre of Water add 10 – 15 drops each of

Rosemary Essential Oil,

Peppermint Essential Oil,

Clove Essential Oil,

& Thyme Essential Oil,


1 Tablespoon of Castile Soap

Mix all the ingredients into a spray bottle (preferably glass if you are going to leave the mix in the bottle for an extended period of time) & spray liberally to the effected plants and surrounding soil.

essential oil bottles spring fever

Peppermint Spray for Aphids

In 1 Litre of Water add

15 drops of Essential Oil

1 Tablespoon Castile Soap

Mix the ingredients into a spray bottle & apply liberally to the effected plants.

Substitute Different Oils For Different Pests

Ants – Peppermint

Aphids – Peppermint, Sandalwood, or White Fir

Beetles – Peppermint, or Thyme

Caterpillars – Peppermint

Chiggers – Geranium, Lavender, Lemongrass, or Thyme

Cutworm – Thyme

Fleas – Lavender, Lemongrass , or Peppermint

Flies – Basil, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, or Geranium

Gnats – Patchouli

Mice – Peppermint

Mosquitos – Geranium, Lavender, or Lemongrass

Moths – Lavender, Peppermint, or Geranium

Plant Lice – Peppermint

Scorpions – Basil

Slugs – Fir, or Cedarwood

Snails – Patchouli, or Fir

Spiders – Peppermint

Ticks – Lavender, Lemongrass, or Thyme

Weevils – Patchouli, Sandalwood, or Cedarwood

EMS logo for Terms and conditions page
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Indicator Plants (a.k.a weeds)

indicator plants

Now that the snow has seemingly slowed for the foreseeable future. At least where we are here, south of Calgary, Alberta. We can start to think about growing things in our gardens again. The first thing for many people, especially in urban settings, is the lawn. Grass being one of the first things to turn green and make us think about summer and being outside…..6 feet from everyone else of course.

As the new green shoots of grass come up through last years brown. The broader leaved plants begin to show up as well. This is the time to spend looking at what is growing around your yard. The plants that will do the best are the plants growing in soil that is suited for them, in an area of light that follows suit.

By identifying what plants are growing, we can then decide what we need to do to either, enhance their growing, or changing something to deter them from growing, and encourage something else to grow.

Some indicator plants that are common in our lawns & gardens are listed below with a few things that they may indicate about the soil. I also included some benefits that these plants actually bring to the soil.

They are there doing a job after all. If we remove them, we now have to do that job. Best to know what the job is.

White Clover

white clover insecticidal plants indicator plants

Indications: High Magnesium & Chlorine levels. Good drainage. Compacted soil

Benefits: Fixes Nitrogen in the soil, helps to loosen compaction, suppresses other plants from growing, edible plant and flower


dandelions indicator plants

Indications: Very low Calcium level. High Potassium and Chlorine levels. Compacted soil with low hummus levels.

Benefits: Puts Calcium in the soil, helps to loosen compaction, some of the first food sources for pollinators in the spring, edible plant, flower, and root.


toadflax indicator plants

Indications: Low Calcium level. Low hummus levels and very little bacteria in the soil.

Benefits: Though some species are invasive, they bring nutrients and ground cover to bare and discarded land. Medicinal uses and the bees love them.


plantain indicator plants

Indications: Low Calcium except broadleaf variety which indicates a high Calcium level. High nutrient levels but low hummus and moisture levels.

Benefits: Brings nutrients to the soil and provides ground cover, helps to loosen compaction, many medicinal uses as well.


chickweed indicator plants

Indications: Low Calcium levels but high Magnesium. Low hummus levels and sandy soil.

Benefits: Helps to loosen compaction, improves soil fertility, provides ground cover and erosion control, edible plant and flower.

Leafy Spurge

leafy spurge

Indications: Very low Calcium and Phosphorus levels. High in Magnesium and and Potassium. Low hummus in sandy soil. High Aluminum level.

Benefits: Though considered invasive in many places, it will grow where most other things won’t, provides erosion control, ground cover and brings nutrients to bare soil.

Common Tansy

Tansy indicator plants

Indications: Low Calcium and hummus levels. High magnesium level. Low soil porosity, bacteria levels, and poor drainage.

Benefits: considered noxious in some places, the scent will confuse insects away from vegetable crops, accumulates potassium in soil, many medicinal uses as well.


knotweed indicator plants

Indications: Low in Calcium but high in Magnesium. Anaerobic, compacted soil with poor drainage.

Benefits: Helps loosen compacted soil, good for wind protection and erosion control, it will grow anywhere and can be very invasive. This plant will grow through a crack in concrete or asphalt.

Ox-Eye Daisy

ox-eye daisy indicator plants

Indications: Low Calcium but very high Magnesium levels. Low hummus and bacterial activity.

Benefits: Great food for pollinators, brings nutrients and ground cover to depleted soil, many medicinal uses as well. Considered noxious in some places.



Indications: Low Calcium but very high Magnesium levels. Low hummus levels with poor drainage.

Benefits: Provides ground cover to bare, salt damaged, degraded soil. Will grow where most plants won’t.

Quack grass


Indications: Low Calcium but very high Magnesium levels. Low hummus level. Anaerobic, compacted, sandy soil.

Benefits: Helps control soil erosion, Provides ground cover to bare, salt damaged, degraded soil. Will grow where most plants won’t.

Perennial Sow-Thistle

perennial sow thistle

Indications: Very low Calcium but high Magnesium levels. Low hummus level but good drainage.

Benefits: Brings a number of nutrients into the soil including Calcium, and Potassium. Provides ground cover to bare soil, many medicinal uses as well.

Lamb’s Quarters

Lamb's quarter

Indications: Low Potassium and Phosphorous levels in particular but, degraded soil.

Benefits: A dynamic nutrient accumulator and nitrogen fixer. Provides ground cover to bare, degraded soil, edible leaves and many medicinal uses as well.

Many of these indicator plants have other benefits not listed above. Every plant can be an indicator, as they will grow best in soils and locations best suited for them. The healthier the plant, the better the conditions are for it. This is true for plants we want to grow as well as those we do not. Check out some of theses pages as well.

Ground cover plants

Insectary plants

Insecticidal plants

Plants that perform double duty

Plants deer do not like

Aromatic pest repelling plants

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Aerating & Power Raking


Aerating is the process in which plugs, or cores, are removed from the soil. This increases the soils air supply and can aid the plants respiratory actions. Carefully timed in the spring, just as the grasses are starting to grow roots, aerating can be very beneficial to an urban lawn. Primarily if the soil is compacted, or low in beneficial microorganisms.

Having said that, cutting cores out of the soil does deliberate damage to the root systems of the plants. If not kept in check, over-aerating or aerating too often, with big heavy machines, will have a detrimental effect on the soil. Really, aerating should be an occasional thing to relieve compaction. It can also be a means to inoculate the soil with beneficial microorganisms. Annual or semi-annual aerating is not only unnecessary, but will damage the soil in the long run.

At Eat MY Shrubs, we recommend to aerate in the early spring. Only if the soil really needs it. While the holes are open, top-dress with a good quality compost, or a compost soil mix, compost tea, or effective microorganisms.

*Special note* compost tea and effective microorganisms do not really like strong ultra violet rays. So, if going that route, best do it on a cloudy day, or late in the day. This will avoid killing everything you are adding to the soil, before they can take cover under the surface.

Power Raking

Power raking on the other hand, is not necessary and WILL damage your soil in a very short time. It is non-discriminate. The power rake tears up both dead and living plant material. By cutting, ripping, or generally disturbing living roots, it effectively kills more grass. Power raking begets more power raking. Don’t do it. If really necessary in a localized area of the lawn, a hand thatch rake can be used.

To much thatch in a lawn can be an issue as far as water and air getting to the soil. But, if there is an overgrowth of thatch in the lawn, that is telling us there is not enough microbial activity in the soil. The thatch on the soil surface, made up from dead plant material, should be broken down, eaten, and decomposed by these microbes and other small creatures. Therefore, returning all those nutrients back to the soil.

I recommend aerating in this scenario. While the holes are open, top-dress with a really good quality compost, and take every effort to ensure it gets into the holes. There are also specific microbes that you can add to your compost that especially consumes thatch. If you really wanted to go the extra step I would time it so that the final stages of cleaning up happen as a light rain starts.

compost tea into aeration hole

Use a sprinkler that aerates the water as much as possible, and gives the water as much time in the air to allow the chlorine to escape.

If you are using a municipal water supply remember that chlorine will kill all the microorganisms in the compost.

Collect rainwater people! If for no other reason but to irrigate your property. You will be less likely to need aerating and power raking in the future