Category Archives: Lawn and Garden Tools

Spring Tool Tune Up

Do you love gardening and puttering around in your yard? Or do you just enjoy the look of a well manicured yard? Either way, spring is the ideal time to give all your tools a once-over before you get into the hard core lawn and garden care that increases as the weather improves. What steps should you take to make sure your beloved tools and machinery such as mowers and trimmers are ready for the spring and summer seasons of lawn care? Here is a quick reference guide of tool tuneups you should consider this year.

Mower Care

  • Whether you do it all on your own or take it to a professional, the oil and air filter should be cleaned and/or replaced. This goes for the tiller, trimmer, or power washer in your shed as well.
  • Drain any leftover gas if you did not already do so last fall. Replace with new gas.
  • Change out last year’s spark plugs.
  • Make sure the blades are well cared for. Sharpen and balance all cutting blades.
  • Check to make sure all debris and grass has been washed out from under the mower and that none is caught in the blade or filters.

Garden Hoses and Hand Held Tools

  • Inspect hoses to see that there are no cracks or openings that will be sure to get you all wet when you start watering.
  • Clean all shearing or cutting tools. You may need to clean, dry and wipe with oil depending upon the type of tool. Be sure to read all instructions to keep your tools in good working order,
  • Check all sprinkler heads if you have an in ground system before starting use.

It is just plain old smart to check and tune up all the equipment you will be using regularly in your yard this spring and summer.

When Can I Start Working on my Lawn

I know! I know! We are all itching to get outside after this winter and get working on our lawns and gardens. Well, it may be a bit too early yet but there are still things you can do get get ready for the spring yard season.

 

  • Start Cleaning Up Gently – According to Today’s Homeowner online, “Avoid heavy and rough raking of the yard until the soil dries out and you can be sure there will not be another hard freeze. Foot traffic and hard raking can compact and damage tender new grass shoots.”
  • Remove any debris such as broken tree limbs, leaves or other items that may have accumulated in your yard during the winter.
  • If you have piles of snow in areas close to walkways or driveways, spread that snow out so it will melt faster. Heavy piles of snow can smother new grass and leave you with dead patches.
  • Start evaluating for pests. Do you need weed control? Decide now to start the lawn season off right. Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care for an evaluation and discuss treatment options.
  • Start growing some of your garden plants indoors. According to the Farmers Almanac,  there are many plants you can start indoors even in March to get them ready to be transplanted outdoors such as: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale and Lettuce.
  • Get your tools ready to go. That includes a good cleaning of hand-held tools as well as a tuneup for your larger piece of equipment such as your mower or trimmers.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Spring can be a rollercoaster so don’t get too far ahead as the temps may drop and set you back a few weeks or days.

 

Lawn Equipment Care

 

The end of the mowing, trimming and planting season signals the end of weekend chores in the yard. It should also signal a time to carefully clean, organize and safely store lawn equipment for the winter. This may include mowers, trimmers, shovels, hoes, blowers, and garden tools of all types. Caring for lawn equipment now will save you time, energy and, possibly, costly repairs come the spring season. Here are our suggestions to caring for your lawn equipment.

 

Lawn Mowers

  • Mowers, whether they ride on or push, should be cleaned and serviced before they are stored for the season.
  • A mower used at the end of the season needs to be emptied of fuel. If you don’t know how to drain the fuel, see a technician who can help you drain and clean the mower. Allowing it to sit over the winter will cause the ethanol in the gasoline to separate and its other chemical components to degrade.
  • Spark plugs should be replaced, air filter cleaned, and mower deck cleaned.
  • While the mower is out of commission for the season, take this opportunity to sharpen the blade.
  • Store the mower in a dry, safe place such as a shed or garage.

 

Garden Tools

  • Use a bucket of warm water and soap to clean each of the tools and dry them thoroughly.
  • Store tools in a dry, safe place for the winter.
  • Be sure to examine the tools as you clean them to be sure that they are rust free and have no damage.

 

Trimmers

  • Edgers and trimmers should be cleaned, oiled and drained of any fluids.
  • Many trimmers have removable blades that should be replaced annually.
  • Store trimmers and other hand-held tools in a dry, safe place.

 

Benefits of Lawn Striping

 

Pro-Tech Lawn Care offers many lawn care packages to help homeowners maintain the health of their turf. We take a comprehensive approach offering: soil testing, fertilizing, weed and pest control, disease mitigation, and aeration and overseeding. We want your lawn to look beautiful!  One service that we don’t provide but that we are commonly asked about is something you may see at ball parks or at famous locations – lawn striping.

Professionals who care for ball parks, golf courses and national landmarks have been using lawn striping systems for years. For the regular property owner mowing in different directions can do the trick. By changing mowing directions the light reflecting off blades of grass at different angles and create light and dark patterns. For example, baseball lovers probably saw the intricate design that the grounds crew at Fenway Park created in honor of David Ortiz for his retirement. They took lawn striping to the ultimate level with a full portrait of Big Papi in the outfield. Wrigley Field In Chicago is also known for its pinstriping, checkerboard and wave designs. If you are not a professional but would like to learn the basics of lawn striping you may find that it not only adds an aesthetic appeal to your lawn but can actually make it healthier!  

There are several benefits to changing the direction of mowing. Homeowners that always mow in the same direction tend to create ruts, edges or even grooves in the soil caused by the weight of the lawn mower. Changing directions actually encourages healthy grass growth. Mowing in one direction can often cause the taller grass to bend and shield the grass below from the sun light. This could eventually kill that sheltered grass. If you want to have your grass look like a mowing masterpiece, or at least want to impress your neighbors, try these links for how directions for lawn mowing design patterns.

Kkokk in Sculpture  – Making your Landscaping Beautiful

Scag Lawn Striping How Tos

YouTube Lawn Striping How to

Caring for Lawn Equipment this Fall

 

For many of us, Autumn signals the end of our weekend chores of mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges and edging the garden. While these chores are ending, there are special steps that should be taken before the winter sets in for the long haul. Closing up shop properly in the Fall means that you will have an easier time gardening and landscaping next Spring. Here are a few steps we suggest when cleaning lawn equipment this Fall.

Garden Tools:

Garden tools come in all sizes and varieties including: hoes, shovels, rakes, edgers, and lawn mowers. Regardless of the types of lawn equipment you own, each piece should be cleaned thoroughly and stored carefully.

Garden tools have been hard at work all season long and probably have debris including grass and dirt soiling each piece. To keep each in proper working order here are some ideas for Fall clean up.

  • Clean all tools with warm water and soap if possible.
  • Dry each tools completely to avoid rust.
  • For equipment with blades such as mowers and edgers, consider have them sharpened before storing for the winter.
  • Consider also lubricating hinges, moveable parts and inspecting for rust/damage.
  • Store in a dry shed or garage. Do not lean them against the wall or on the floor.  Moisture is the enemy and walls and floors in garages and sheds can get very moist.

 

Lawn Mowers or Trimmers:

For larger pieces of equipment you may want to consider having a professional cleaning done now that the season is over. Avoid the Spring rush by getting your trimmer and mower in for a tune up now.  Then you will be ready to go in just a few months.

If you do decide to clean and tune them up on your own, be sure to empty the gas tank, change out the spark plugs, and clean out the caked on grass with a hose. Store in a dry area where the mower can be protected from the cold, wind and precipitation.

 

Be Mower-Ready this Spring

Remember last fall when you were so relieved to be done with mowing for the season? That last mowing of your lawn was bittersweet right?  You were glad to be done with outside lawn work for a few months but you also knew that it meant a few months of cold and snow. Well, now winter is slowly coming to a close. . . finally. It will be a few weeks yet before the weather gets nice enough to do any of the preparations for planting and caring for your lawn. It is a time, however, to make sure your equipment is ready to roll once things start growing again!  Are you “mower-ready”?

A yearly inspection and tune-up (either by a professional or on your own, if you are especially handy) it’s important to ensure all parts of your mower are working properly and safely. Here are some tips to getting your mower in shape for the season to come.

  • Fuel – Did you leave the fuel in the tank or did you remember to empty it last fall?  Fuel can go bad in as little as one month so check that all gas has been drained. Once you have confirmed that the fuel tank is bare refill with fresh fuel. (Consult owner’s manual for the correct fuel type for your mower.)
  • Air Filter – Filters on a mower can quickly become filled with dirt and grass that flies during each mowing. If it becomes too clogged then it deprives oxygen from the engine resulting in sputtering and coughing of the engine and poor overall performance. Depending upon the type of air filter your engine uses, either replace or wash and dry with soap and water.  Again, consult that manual to the correct method of replacement or cleaning.
  • Oil – Before each use of your mower you should be checking the level of oil.  At the beginning of each season you should also be replacing the old oil with new and changing out the oil filter.
  • Spark Plugs – Mowers are constantly getting wet, dirty and collecting muck.  Spark plugs, therefore, should be replaced yearly for best performance. Spark plugs can quickly become rusty or damaged.
  • Blades – Dull blades cause grass tips to turn brown and, weakened blades are at higher risk for pests and disease. If the blade seems dull, bent or is not cutting properly, replace with a new one.

 

Getting your mower reading for this spring season is a crucial step in getting that well-manicured lawn that you have always wanted.

Winterizing Your Yard

Fall days are quickly slipping away as the temperatures plummet and the ground begins to freeze.   While enjoying the crunch of leaves and looking forward to time with family indoors is wonderful, don’t forget about giving your yard one last bit of attention before it goes to bed for the winter.  Take these few steps to winterize your lawn, garden and plantings and it can make a world of difference in the spring.

  • Last minute Lawn Care – Time is running (out depending upon where you live) to get that last fertilizer treatment down, aerate and get in one last mowing.  Fertilization is crucial in the fall to give lawns needed nutrients and energy to make it through the winter.  Aeration can allow for oxygen and water to get to the roots for adequate energy storage. If the ground has already frozen you may need to wait until spring. Fortunately there are still some steps you can take to protect your yard.
  • Remove All Debris – Items such as leaves, patio furniture and lawn ornaments can cause dry and dead spots. Stay on top of falling leaves and make it a habit to clean them up on a regular basis. In addition, remove any branches and dead plants from your lawn to help ensure even growth in the spring.
  • Inspect for Weeds and Pests– Late fall or early winter can be a good time to inspect for damage that has been caused by weeds and pests of all varieties. If you can not identify the pests or weeds a professional lawn care company like Pro-Tech can examine the lawn to provide treatment or prevention for the spring months.
  • Prep Irrigation Systems and Outside Water Sources – Shut off all outdoor water systems including irrigation systems and outdoor hoses completely and allow enough time for drainage. Review all systems’ instruction manuals and consult a professional with any questions.
  • Wrap or Cover Flower Beds and Fragile Shrubs and Bushes – Cover gardens and shrubs/bushes with burlap or garden covering. Fragile or smaller plantings may be damaged by heavy snow and ice.  The extra protection can help protect against snapping branches due to snow or freeze burns.
  • Care for Tools – Take one last look at your lawn tools and equipment to be sure they are properly cleaned and stored for the winter.  A last cleaning can ensure that the tools do not rust. Take note of any damage or repairs that need to be made over the winter.

Importance of Irrigation Maintenance

If you have a sprinkler system for your home or workplace, you know what a time and money saver it can be for maintaining a well groomed exterior.  But did you also know that with regular maintenance your system will operate at peak performance and will help the irrigation system components last longer? A regularly maintained irrigation system can minimize water waste, lower operating costs and help keep your yard looking lush and healthy.

While well-maintained landscaping adds to the beauty of your property, there are many reasons to seasonally and monthly examine and maintain a sprinkler or irrigation system.  The primary reasons include: water conservation, safety checks and to assure that the water spray is used in an optimal manner. While examining an irrigation system leaks can be spotted before a water bill becomes exorbitant.  Sprinkler heads that are damaged or that need to be adjusted can be cleaned and fixed before they under or over water an area of your yard.  Routine checks of the sprinkler heads can also catch any safety issues.  Sprinkler heads can be a tripping danger if they are exposed or not completely flush with the lawn.  In addition to the safety and water conservation reasons are the checks to confirm that the direction of the spray is accurate to prevent dry spots or over watering.

 

Now that you know why maintaining your irrigation system is so important let’s look at the frequency at which the maintenance should be done. You should always check with your own manufacturer’s advice or your professional landscape team about maintenance, but irrigation systems should be check routinely.  Here are some rough guidelines:

Check Monthly

  • Adjust timer.
  • Check and adjust sprinkler sprays.
  • Inspect and clean mainline filter
  • if needed.

Seasonal checks

  • Clean all sprinkler heads and filters
  • Manually operate each valve.

As needed

  • Fix leaks
  • Unclog sprinkler heads
  • Adjust heads to ground level.

 

 

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.