Monthly Archives: October 2014

Caring for your Lawn and Garden tools

After you have taken the time out of your precious weekend to care for the lawn and garden, the first thing you want to do is to sit down relax and have a nice sip of something cool.  What is last on your list is caring for the gardening and lawn tools you just used, right? Tools need care such as cleaning, sharpening and sterilizing so viruses do not get spread throughout the garden.  Let’s look at how to keep your tools in good shape for any gardening issue that comes up.

  • Cleaning – Garden and lawn tools should always be cleaned after use and especially at this time of year when you are storing them for the winter.  Wash and scrub with a wire brush to remove dirt, mold and and debris.  You may want to dip them in a solution of water and bleach to sterilize them.
  • Sharpening – Hoes, shears, scissors, knives, loppers, pruners, and shovels all need an occasional sharpening. You may want to do this prior to storing for the winter so they will be ready-to-go next spring season.  Most blades can be filed with a 10” flat mill file, purchased at most hardware stores.  Speak to an assistant to confirm what needs to be sharpened and how to do it properly.
  • Storing – The main enemy of most metal tools is rust.  Be sure to store in a clean dry place like a basement wall or shed wall.  Don’t lean them against the garage wall, touching the floor—even if it’s paved. Again, moisture is the enemy here.
  • Yearly maintenance – While you are washing and storing the tools, examine each one to check for rust or broken parts.  You may want to use WD-40 to maintain joints or linseed oil for wooden handles.  Be careful about disposal of these rags with oil however since they are combustible and should be carefully handled.

Lawn Aeration

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”  Why is that? It could be that your neighbor practices diligent lawn care such as watering, mowing, fertilizing and a sometimes forgotten element: aeration.   This vital step in lawn care helps maintain a healthy lawn by allowing air and water to penetrate built up grass or compacted lawn soil.  Let’s look at the basics of aeration that may help your lawn look beautiful.

Aeration 101 – what is it?      Aeration is a lawn care technique that penetrates or loosens the soil to allow air, water and nutrients to get to the grass roots.  Many homeowners use a spike aerator or a plug aerator if they are trying to do their own lawn care.  Professionals will have an aerator that will loosen the soil easily.

When Should you aerate?   The best time for aeration is during the growing season  when the grass can heal and get the full benefit of the process.  Ideally the cool, early spring or fall.

Should you aerate?  Most lawns could use aeration but lawns that have the following characteristics may most benefit from aeration.

  • Lawns that get heavy use with children or animals that will compact the soil.
  • Newly constructed homes that have had heavy  equipment on the lawn and high traffic on the soil.
  • Lawns that dry out easily may have a thatch problem where the air, water and nutrients are not getting to the roots.

If you are unsure about the needs of your lawn consult a lawn maintenance team that can advise you about how your lawn can benefit from proper lawn aeration.

Small Tree Pruning Tips

A few minutes pruning the small trees in your yard is one of the best things you can do for the plants in your yard.  When you prune (or remove) parts of your trees properly, you actually help stimulate the plant growth, improve the plant’s vigor, and overall, create a nicer tree shape.  Unfortunately many homeowners don’t take the time to figure out what and how a bush or tree needs to be pruned.  Fruit trees differ from conifers and bushes or shrubs.  In this blog we will be looking at how to prune small trees or bushes.  Check back with us for more pruning tips on fruit trees and other plant life in your yard.

Roger Cook, a contractor for This Old House reports that many homeowners neglect this task because the risks of butchery are far too high and the rewards too low.  Here are some of his suggestions on how to trim so that you can get thicker foliage, and ultimately healthier trees and bushes.

  • Avoid pruning young or new trees as they need time to grow leaves before pruning begins.  After a year or two you can begin to shape the tree or bush depending upon what you are looking for.
  • Remove any dead or diseased wood first. This may be all that is needed each year or you may need to prune out branches that are tangled, too think or that give the tree/bush an irregular shape.
  • Consult a lawn and garden expert to find the right tool for the job you have in mind: from hand trimmers to larger Loppers.
  • Keep all pruning tools clean to stop the spread diseases all over your garden.
  • Prune no more than one-fourth of the tree’s total leaf area in a single year. To raise the tree’s crown or create clearance beneath it, remove the lowest branches. Also target branches that are spaced too closely together or that join the trunk at a narrow angle

Weed Prevention and Control

Weeds are the unwelcome guest to the lawn party.  From dandelions to crabgrass don’t let weeds get the best of your lawn.  Weeds thrive in conditions that may plague your lawn such as, dry spots, spongy wet spots, thin spots and underfed grass.  Let’s look at way to not only get rid of weeds that may have entered your lawn but also ways to prevent them from coming back.

Lawn care to prevent weed invasion:

  1. Mow Your Grass High – Healthy lawns should have longer grass instead of shorter grass similar to a putting green.  By raising the length setting on your mower you will allow your grass to grow longer and in fact healthier roots.  Think healthy roots prevents weeds from invading.
  2. Water Correctly – Water the lawn early in the morning, a few times each week, adding up to about an inch of water. Longer, healthier grass is more resilient to weed growth.
  3. Feed Your Lawn – Lawns need nutrients and fertilization.  This helps the grass develop healthy roots and blades.  Feed your lawn at least four times from early spring, summer, fall and then one last time before winter – probably around Thanksgiving time.
  4. Control the weeds you have – Herbicides are one way to control an outbreak.  The toughest kinds of weeds such as crabgrass, sedges and broadleaf weeds, can be effectively controlled/prevented with products using quinclorac as an active ingredient. (Follow procedures and safety precautions on the weed control agent packaging.) For deep entrenched weeds use a flat screwdriver to dig out the weeds that have taken root.

Fall Maintenance for your Yard

The temperature is beginning to drop, days are getting shorter and the leaves are just beginning to change.  Our thoughts are shifting from warm summer activities to crisp fall ones!  While we can still enjoy the weather that comes with autumn you’re probably not spending much time thinking about your lawn. Fall, with its cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall, is the ideal time to start preparing your lawn for next spring.  During this time of year, grass is busily absorbing energy, moisture, and nutrients in preparation for a long, dormant winter.  By following these simple steps and giving your lawn a little attention now, you will be a huge step ahead to having a beautiful, lush, spring lawn.

Autumn Lawn Tips:

  • Keep mowing the grass – for the last few cuts of the season drop the blade down a bit to allow the sunlight to get to the crown of the blade fo energy storage.
  • Aerate the lawn – By aerating the grass you are providing oxygen, water, and fertilizer that can easily reach the grass’s roots.
  • Rake Up the Leaves – leaves left in the yard create a mat that can suffocate the grass and breed fungal diseases.  Cleaning up the yard allows for optimal sunlight absorption.
  • Fertilize – A fall application of fertilizer delivers essential nutrients for the grass to grow deep roots now and to keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start next spring.
  • Weed – now is the time to fight back against these yard invaders.  Weeds are in the energy-absorbing mode during the fall which means they absorb the nutrients needed for the grass.  This also means that they will absorb chemicals quickly that are in the pesticides to kill them.

Consult an expert lawn care company to seek specific advice about your lawn needs this autumn.