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Frequently asked questions


This section has been designed to answer the most frequently asked questions about Fafard and its products.
For more details, please contact our customer service at: sac@fafard.ca.









Is the potting soil can ignite?

Over the last several years, fire departments throughout North America have reported a higher than average number of fires caused by potting soil catching fire. This accidental fires has two root causes:
  1. Careless disposal of smoking materials: Today, smoking is only permitted outdoors where there are often insufficient ashtrays or receptacles for cigarette butts. Consequently, smokers often butt out in any available container, such as a patio planter.
  2. Spontaneous combustion: There are also anecdotal reports of fires where potting soil has self-ignited. This can happen if a planter is left in direct sun, neglected and allowed to completely dry out.
Potting soil poses such a fire risk because it contains a high amount of inorganic material that may ignite easily. Today’s potting mixes sold in garden stores contain little soil. Instead, they contain a blend of materials designed to absorb and retain water and aerate the soil, such as:
  • sphagnum peat moss
  • perlite
  • aged composted forest products such as shredded wood or bark
  • fertilizer
Many people tend to their planters in early spring and may forget about them as the summer season advances. If allowed to dry out, the potting materials act as heat absorbers. When combined with temperature build-up from bacterial decomposition, the right mix of heat and humidity and the presence of fertilizer, a fire can start on its own – similar to what happens to compost piles and hay bales. This is called spontaneous combustion. Fire departments state that the chance of this type of spontaneous combustion in planters is relatively low. However, if a potted plant is allowed to dry out and something hot is placed in it, such as a lit cigarette, it will burn. So consider following these helpful tips to help you prevent losses due to a potting soil fire:
  • Provide smokers with a designated smoking area, and provide proper receptacles for cigarette disposal.
  • Tell smokers not to use any pots containing potting soil as an ashtray.
  • Maintain your planters, keep plants fresh and watered and check them frequently in hot sunny dry weather.
  • Discard any dead plants in planters.
  • Don’t store bags of potting soil in direct sunlight and near any combustible materials.
  • Avoid plastic planters; clay pots hold moisture better and will contain a fire.

Where can I find Fafard products?

See the page Find a dealer , enter your postal code where indicated. You will then see a list of all the retailers near your home.

Why not use the same soil for indoor and outdoor?

Different environments, different soils! The climate inside and outside of our homes is very different. In your home, it is not windy, the light is dim and sometimes we even have air conditioning! Outside it is windy, it's sunny, sometimes it's dry and sometimes it’s very wet!

How/where to store fertilizer during the winter?

See the page Find a dealer , enter your postal code where indicated. You will then see a list of all the retailers near your home.

What is sphagnum peat moss/what is it used for?

Sphagnum peat moss is the result of the accumulation of plant and animal material that has decomposed in an environment saturated with water and low oxygen for a period of several thousand years.

Peat moss is often used in making custom blends. It is very popular in the horticultural industry for both its capacity to retain water and its natural humus composition. For more details, consult the product page.

What happens to peatlands when they are exploited?

Since its foundation, Fafard has made it a priority to promote the renewal of natural resources it has extracted and limit the scope of its environmental footprint. The bog in St-Bonaventure is still in operation, but we have rehabilitated 14 hectares with woody species (larch, pine, fir, maple, aronia) that were planted there a decade ago. In 2010, 80,000 willow cuttings were planted on 5 acres of bog. Leachate from compost production is collected and used for irrigation and fertilization of the willows.

Fafard is committed to quickly restoring the bogs so that they again become functional ecosystems and allow once more the accumulation of peat moss. Some of Fafard’s peatlands have been used in University researches GRET from Laval University. For more details, consult the Peat section.

What guarantees that a product is actually really certified for organic farming?

There are several organizations that provide certifications to suppliers of organic products. The certification agency Québec-Vrai (OCQV) is one of them. It is also possible to contact the organizations directly for more details or to validate the information.

How to make an urban garden?

To grow in containers, it is best to buy plants rather than seedlings. Planting can be done outdoors when all risk of frost has passed in late May.  Since we are talking about edible plants, choose plants from organic culture. Organic plants are a bit more expensive, but so much more healthy and tasty!

For a successful production of herbs or vegetables on a balcony, Fafard recommends using its Urban Garden Soil mix. This soil will require less watering due to coconut fiber, which retains water and is enriched with natural compost for healthy plants. Finally, for a great harvest, add natural fertilizer for fruits and vegetables 4-3-7.

What product should I use to improve the texture and richness of my soil?

Composts are generally better amendments then manure because they act like a sponge and facilitate water retention. They also provide nutrients to the soil and organic matter for strong roots.

  • Our Biosol compost  contains seaweed which stimulates growth and increases water retention in sandy soils. 
  • Our Biofor compost®  contains aged bark that reduce the compaction of clay soils while facilitating root development.

The soil of my flowerbeds is very hard and the plants seem to suffer.  What do I do?

It is probably a clay soil and/or is compacted, so use our Biofor compost with peat and bark. This compost contains particles that loosen compact soil thus facilitating root development. It also brings organic matter to the soil and contributes to a healthy growth and vigorous plants. It is strongly recommended to annually add compost in your flowerbeds to maintain the workability of the soil.

When is the ideal time to cut a cedar hedge?

It is possible to make one or two cuts from the end of June until the end of July. It is essential to never cut after this date. Late cuts stimulate the release of new shoots that do not have the time to strengthen sufficiently before the arrival of winter and may be dried by winter winds.

Following a bad cut, small holes have appeared in my hedge and several branches are now a rusty color, can this be repaired?

Unfortunately, brown leaves will not turn green again and they will probably fall.  However, it is possible to gradually close the holes caused by the last cut. To stimulate a vigorous new growth, add 2.5 cm of compost at the base of the hedge, Fafard also recommends to fertilize with a natural fertilizer high in nitrogen. The application of 4-2-8 natural fertilizer for trees, shrubs and evergreens will promote the growth of new healthy and vigorous cedar shoots

Where is it better to plant a tree?

You must first take the time to choose the location that best suits your land. Think about the future growth of your tree, it will project a shadow, especially in winter, when the sun is low. Think of regulatory distances with neighbors.  Leave room for root development. Plant at least 7-8 m from the front of your house, to avoid problems with roots, to prevent insects close to a door that would be attracted to your tree, and to reduce the risk of falling during a storm.

When is the best time to plant a tree?

Shrubs purchased in containers can be planted at any time during the season, but the bare-rooted trees should ideally be planted in the fall because they have the time during the winter, to form a good root system. You can still plant in early spring after all risk of frost has passed. Poplar, willow, ash, elm and birch are better if they are planted in the spring.  Evergreens can be planted in early spring as well (except during freezing) or in the fall, from the first week of August to the end of October.

Is it possible to add soil at the base of trees?

First, to make sure existing trees and plants are happy, it is better to stay close to the existing ground level as much as possible. The roots of the plants in place are accustomed to having a certain level of gas exchange (air), adding too much soil above ground level endangers plants. The acceptable amount of soil can vary from one plant to another. Just ask your retailer when you buy your plants.

What is the dye used to color your cedar mulch?

The components of the dye used for cedar mulch differ from one color to another. For red cedar mulch iron oxide is used.  This is a component that is found in abundance in the soil. For black cedar mulch carbon is used and for brown cedar mulch we simply use a mixture of the two (iron oxide and carbon). These two components are neither chemical nor toxic.

When is the ideal time to plant annuals?

In mid-May, the risk of frost is over. This is the perfect time to start your planters.

Should I buy the largest annual flowers?

Although it is normal to be attracted to the plants with more flowers, opt for annuals that carry a large amount of buds.  Also avoid etiolated plants, it is best to buy those that are short and stocky as they will flourish better after planting. To prevent them from withering, be sure to buy your plants only a few days before planting.

For dramatic results in a short time, use our Veranda container mix for planting for planting. For more details, consult our Planter project page.

Is it necessary to water annuals every day?

During the hot months of July and August, due to the high water evaporation, annuals grown in containers that are exposed to sunlight should be watered almost every morning or every 2-3 days if they are planted in Veranda container mix.

Spring and late summer, most plants in pots are watered two to three times a week at the most. However, the best way to know if a plant needs water is to dip the finger to the first joint into the soil that supports it. If you feel that the earth is wet or even cold at the end of your finger, it is best to wait a day or two before watering. If the soil feels dry to you, it means that watering should be done immediately.

The morning is the best time to water annuals, since water is then available when plants need it the most, that is to say when they do a lot of photosynthesis in the middle the day.

Why is it important to eliminate faded flowers regularly?

This is essential to obtain continuous and abundant flowering. If you do not bother to remove the dead flowers, it can delay the formation of new flowering stems. Once their flowers fade, many plants form fruits monopolizing a certain amount of energy at the expense of producing new flowers.

The easiest way to remove a wilted flower is to grasp between the thumb and index finger and cut it with your nails.

How to get a healthy and green lawn?

If your lawn has had a hard winter and you have bare patches, use our simple and effective Fafard perfect match product combination to remedy the situation.  Apply 2.5cm (1 inch) of our Viva lawn repair mix® on the patches.  Incorporate our Fafard Sun–Quick Start grass seeds with a leaf rake. Fertilize with our Seed Starter fertilizer which contains 40% of slow-release nitrogen for long lasting fertilizing.
For more details, consult our Lawn Project page.

When is the best time to water your lawn?

Usually, watering once a week is enough (for 1 hour) and sometimes 2-3 times a week during periods of high temperatures or drought. It is always better to water less often but generously.

What is the importance of applying dolomitic granulated lime?

Fafard granular dolomitic lime neutralizes the acidity of the soil enabling plants to absorb maximum nutrients that are essential to their growth. The calcium and magnesium that it contains promote healthy and rigorous plant growth. Go to the product page to know more about the application rate.

How can I preserve bulbs?

It is possible to keep the bulbs in boxes filled with vermiculite  or peat moss slightly moistened and placed in a cool place. It is best to check your boxes frequently during the winter to maintain ideal moisture level (neither too dry nor too wet).

When is the best time for transplanting seedlings and/or cuttings?

In the case of seedlings, it is the appearance of two true leaves that is the first sign for you to  transplant. The first two "false leaves" are the cotyledons and you really should wait before transplanting.  Regarding the new cuttings, roots must be sufficiently developed. In the case of small containers (multi-cell), the small ball must be firm to maximize your chances of success. Use AGRO MIX® potting and seeding mix  for best results.