How can you evaluate information you find on the Internet? If you have a solid understanding of how plants and soil function, it's relatively simple to dismiss the really unusual advice but sometimes it's not so easy to tell what is reliable. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Consider location: Advice that comes from geographic areas with different soils and climates may not work well on the Prairies.
- Consider the source: Has the information been researched and tested? Is the information from informed subject experts? If searching the Internet, add the terms “.edu” or “.gov” to your search term to find research-based sources. Be wary of sources that offer lifestyle suggestions as sometimes they give advice that may not be the most efficient or effective.
- Consider the audience: Is the information intended for commercial growers or for home gardeners? The needs of commercial growers differ from home gardeners.
- Consider local research: Contact your nearest university, horticultural association, or local experts for information and advice.
Below you'll find some of our favorite resources. If you have some you'd like to share with us, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources useful for everyone
For most applications, you'll need to know the square footage of your space. You can either measure it and calculate it, which we recommend for smaller spaces such as flower beds, or you can use a GIS mapping application, zoom in on a satellite image of your space and let the software do it for you. Either way, if you're going for an accurate lawn area, make sure you subtract the area the home and outbuildings occupy for an accurate assessment.
Canadian Forest Service Publications for catalogue of tree diseases and disorders
International Society of Arboriculture Tree Owner Information for detailed tree care information. The best are pulled below:
- Buying Quality Trees
- Recognizing Tree Risk - assessing how safe your tree is
- Proper Mulching
- Mature Tree Care
- Pruning Young Trees and Mature Trees
Iowa State Interactive Tree Identification Key note not all trees are hardy here but it should get you close
North Dakota State University Key to Diagnosing Tree Problems Using Injury Symptoms similar hardiness zones to Canadian Prairies
Northern Ontario Plant Database for a list of Northern Ontario Tree Descriptions
The Western Nursery Grower's Group Prairie Tested Trees for a list of tested, Prairie hardy tree cultivars
USDA: The Tree Owner's Manual - comprehensive information
Guelph Turfgrass Institute Fact Sheets pertaining to lawncare in Ontario
Kansas State University Turfgrass Problem Solver - not all issues are relevant here but the majority are
These are all pretty extensive sites so grab a cup of tea and start digging in!
Colorado State University Extension - flip through the publications and websites tabs to find information
Kew Gardens - not tecnically an extension site but similar education mandate, more useful for houseplants
Agriculture Canada's Ferns and Fern Allies technical document, key starts page 15
USDA Interactive Plant ID Keys - includes grasses