October 29, 2014

Storing Your Mower for the Winter

Every season has its own set of outdoor chores. As we move along in fall, it’s time to start thinking about winter and what needs to go into storage before the cold weather arrives. You’ll no doubt be getting that lawn sprinkler system ready for winter hibernation.

One thing that definitely needs to be prepped for winter storage is your lawn mower. Making sure a gas-powered mower is in good working condition will help ensure your mower is ready to one once again when spring rolls around. It’s a good time to check the condition of your mower.

·         Check the oil and check the spark plug. It’s not a bad idea to replace the spark plug once a year. Doing it before putting the mower in winter storage is also not a bad idea.
·         About that gas in the tank. Get it out of the tank. Before you put the mower in storage for the winter. Gas that is left in the tank can get stale and gummy, causing damage to the carburetor. Nobody likes damage to the carburetor. Drain the mower in a safe place. Or, add some fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, crank up the mower and let the mower run until the tank is dry.
·         Drain the oil with a proper receptacle. Replace the oil filter and add new oil.
·         If you are storing a riding mower, check the air filter to see if it needs to be replaced. 
·         Check for, and tighten, any nuts and bolts that may have come loose during the lawn mowing season.
·         Check the tire pressure on a riding mower. You don’t want to go get the mower out of storage in the spring and be greeted by a flat tire.
·         Clean the undercarriage of the mower.
·         Charge or remove the battery on a riding mower.

These are pretty basic, simple tips. It’s also a good idea to check your owner’s manual to make sure you are not missing anything specific to your mower model.

October 22, 2014

Using a Sprinkler Timer to Save Money

Everyone wants to save money on their water bill. It’s highly unlikely you’ll run into someone who says “Gee, I am just not spending enough money on water. I really want my water bill to be higher.”

Okay, so everyone wants to save money, but how do we save? Well, if you’ve got a lawn irrigation system, you are off to a good start. You can make your lawn sprinkler system even more efficient by adding a timer to the system.

Sprinkler system timers are the best. They come at a reasonable cost, and can save you of money. Plus, they eliminate the guesswork of wondering things like “Did I turn on the sprinkler system?” Or worse, “Did I turn off the sprinkler system?” Sprinkler timers allow you to program your sprinkler system watering times so you don’t waste money. This helps to ensure you only use the amount of water you need for your watering needs.

This goes beyond just saving your money. Too much water is bad for your lawn. Remember to adjust the amount of water delivered to your lawn based on time of year and precipitation in your area. Adjust the sprinkler timer and set regular watering times.

October 14, 2014

Setting the Time for Fall Watering

Properly caring for your lawn in the fall means you may need to adjust your timer on your lawn sprinkler system. This is because now that the air is cooler and the days are shorter, your lawn needs a different level of care.

Let’s remember the big advantage of a lawn sprinkler timer. Using a timer with your lawn sprinkler system allows you to use water more efficiently to keep your lawn green and healthy. It also cuts down on the chance of over-watering, saving you money on your water bill.

In the summer, your lawn may require more water. This is why it’s a good idea to set your lawn sprinkler timer to an early-morning time for watering. This allows the water to be absorbed over the whole and not immediately evaporate in the hot sun.

You may not need to mow as much in the fall, but your lawn will still grow. It will need water, especially if there is a lack of rainfall.

Try watering twice a week, still in the early-morning hours. Set your lawn sprinkler timer to reflect this change and then monitor your lawn. The early watering should continue to pay dividends as your lawn strengthens ahead of winter.

October 7, 2014

Avoiding Sprinkler Runoff

Having a lawn sprinkler system is supposed to save you time and money while assuring your lawn it will get the proper amount of needed water.

These positives can be negated if there is significant water runoff from the sprinkler system. You’ll be paying more on your water bill, water will be wasted and your lawn will miss out on the proper amount of water.

If you suspect there is some water runoff from the system, the first thing you want to do is identify the cause. It’s a good idea to regularly check your lawn irrigation system. If you are using a timer with your sprinkler system, you may have it set up to deliver water during the pre-dawn hours. If this is the case, check your yard and property during the morning hours. You want to look for puddles of water in certain areas and excess water on the driveway and/or sidewalk. If you think the water is being directed to these paved areas, it’s time to redirect the sprinkler heads in these watering zones.

Next, check the lawn sprinkler system itself. Go around to each sprinkler system zone and check for loose or broken sprinkler heads. Remember,sprinkler nozzles are replaceable and the short-term cost will pay off in the long run.

Examine areas where there are connections. This means the areas where the sprinkler heads connect to hoses or pipes. If you see pools of water accumulating in these areas, this could be signs of a leak. Even a slow leak will cost you money over time.

 If you still think there might be a runoff or leak somewhere, you can always call in a professional to do a lawn irrigation system audit.

Also, know your soil and your seasons and adjust watering schedules when seasons change.

September 30, 2014

Fall Gardening Tips

Fall can be a great time to garden. The weather is cooler and the nights are longer.

There are many things you can do to get the most out of your fall gardening season:

It may be fall, but start thinking about spring. Now is the time to plant spring-blooming bulbs. Hey, it gives you another reason to look forward to spring (as if there weren’t enough good reasons already). Spring-blooming bulbs need to be planted in the fall to have time to truly blossom. There are plenty of options. Tulips, daffodils and crocuses are just some of the many choices.

This is also a good time of year to move shrubs or plants that you’d like to relocate. The time to move those shrubs and plants, especially the deciduous ones, is between now and mid-October.

There are plenty of planting options for the fall. The lower temperatures are the perfect conditions for many lettuce plants. The same holds true for Brussel sprouts and kale plants. Carrots, turnips and beets do great in the fall weather.

Many areas of the country will experience some hard freezes during the fall. It’s a good idea to protect your plants from such freezes. One of the simplest methods of protection is to cover your plants with mulch or leaves. You can also use a plastic tarp or lightweight cover. A heavier cover will offer protection when the temperature drops to the mid-20’s or lower.

Check for weeds. It’s always a good idea, but it’s especially true if you are planning on planting or moving plants and shrubs.

Don’t forget to water. Just because the summer heat is gone does not mean it’s time to pack up the sprinkler system for the winter. Make sure your plants and shrubs get a regular, healthy supply of water.

September 24, 2014

Managing a Lawn during a Drought

Some areas of the country have been dealing with drought conditions for several months now. Such conditions usually mean water rationing and water restrictions.

This can make things tough for homeowners who want to have a healthy lawn, but also have to follow the rules for water usage.

We know lawns need water. This is why a lawn sprinkler system can be so helpful.  A lawn sprinkler system equipped with a timer can regulate when your lawn is watered and how much water is used. This helps eliminate water waste while still benefiting your lawn.

Deep, infrequent watering of lawns should allow water to reach the roots, which is vital for the health of the lawn. Ideally this should be done as soon as the lawn shows signs of stress. The problem is, water restrictions might inhibit some of these plans.

So how much water is needed to actually keep the grass alive? Generally speaking, delivering ¼ to ½ of water every two to four weeks should be enough water to keep grass alive so that it can resume growing when water conditions improve.

One thing to remember when worrying about your lawn during drought conditions is that many people overwater their lawns. The neighbor you see who constantly runs the lawn sprinkler is likely not doing that lawn any favors. In fact, it could lead to the lawn developing an overdependence on water.

You need to manage a drought lawn in other ways besides monitoring water consumption.

Avoid walking on the lawn as much as possible. Drought conditions are already stressful to a lawn so you want to relieve that stress whenever possible.

Mow the lawn as little as possible. When you do mow, mow high. Keep the level to three to four inches or just setting the mower to its highest level.

September 17, 2014

Fall Overseeding

It’s time to think about getting to work on lawn care chores that are best done in the fall. Overseeding should be near the top of that list.

If your lawn needs reseeding, embrace the fact that fall is a great time of year to reseed. September is an ideal month for such a job. It’s still relatively warm, yet the nights will gradually begin to cool down.

If you are going to overseed, make sure you have plenty of grass seed. You’ll also need the following:

·         Herbicide
·         Rake
·         Fertilizer
·         Seed Spreader

Make sure you are choosing a lawn seed designed for a cool season. The milder days and cool nights of autumn are perfect for seed germination. Seed can better retain moisture in such conditions. The heat of the summer is gone, meaning those seedlings can thrive in the cooler conditions.

Overseeding can help give your lawn a “fresher” look. Overseeding can also help promote growth, especially in older lawns.

You can also decide to aerate your lawn before reseeding. Lawn aeration is the process of breaking up the soil in the lawn, allowing water, nutrients and oxygen to penetrate the root zone. This also helps relieve compaction of the soil, caused by heavy use over time.

Once this done, it’s time for the overseeding process to begin. Don’t make overseeding more complicated than it needs to be. This process can boil down to spreading seed over the existing lawn. This is why it’s handy to have the lawn seed spreader. It’s also a good idea to rake the grass before seeding.

Once seeding is down, you can add starter fertilizer. And remember the seeded areas will need water. The seeds need moisture to germinate.

Not all lawns require overseeding in the fall, but it’s fair to say overseeding can benefit most cool climate grasses.

September 9, 2014

A Watering Refresher Course

A new season (fall in this case) means new lawn tasks that need to be completed in order to maintain a green and healthy lawn. In the fall that means things like raking and mulching leaves.

It also means proper watering. The temperatures may start to drop but your lawn will still need a healthy amount of water.

Water requirements of a lawn can vary based on the lawn itself and other things such as the type of grass, soil structure and climate. Basic turf generally needs about one inch of water a week. Some warm season grasses will be able to thrive with less than an inch of water.

We know that rain is the main supplier of water but the nourishment of the lawn can be aided by a lawn sprinkler system. It’s been a dry year for some areas of the country and that has seen a number of municipalities impose water restrictions. Lawn sprinkler systems do a great job of cutting done on water waste, especially if those sprinkler systems are equipped with a timer. Those timers allow a homeowner to designate the time when the lawn is watered and for how long. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of deciding when to water the yard.

The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning. On a hot day, some water from a sprinkler can evaporate before it hits the ground. The sun tends to be less strong early in the morning.

Proper watering at set times will help the grass develop a strong root system. Too little or too much water can have a negative impact on this root system. Nobody wants to negatively impact their root system.

Remember that overwatering is wasting water. This means a higher water bill and a less-healthy lawn. Overwatering grass can contribute to the development of fungus and disease.

September 4, 2014

Hiding Your Sprinkler System

We all know about the big advantages of having a lawn sprinkler system in your yard. It’s a great way to make sure your lawn and garden get the proper amount of water at the best times. And it’s so convenient, especially when a timer is connected to the lawn sprinkler system. The sprinkler system just removes so much of the hassle that can be associated with watering the lawn.

Yet some folks may decide to try and hide the sprinkler system and the sprinkler heads from plain view. There are ways to accomplish this but it’s important to go about it the right way.

One way to cover the sprinkler heads is by using artificial rock covers. Place an artificial rock cover over each sprinkler head in your yard. Most artificial rock covers are made of plastic and have an exterior that is designed to look like real stone. However, they have hollow interiors, which allow for easy placement and removal. This is convenient and important since the artificial rock covers need to be removed before you turn on the water sprinkler system.

If you want a more natural camouflage for an older sprinkler system that is no longer functioning, you can plant bushes around them. Remember, this is only an option for a sprinkler system that is now longer in use. Position the bushes so that the sprinkler heads are completely concealed.

A lawn sprinkler system with retractable heads will also be a little more discreet. When the sprinkler system is not in use, the sprinkler heads retreat into the ground, under a cover.

You can also place potted plants over the sprinkler system. Then remove the potted plants from each sprinkler head when it comes time to use the sprinkler system.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what kind of heads your sprinkler system has before trying to hide the sprinkler heads.

August 25, 2014

Don't Dig Up the Sprinkler System

If you are planning on doing some landscaping, either this fall or next spring, there is plenty to think about.

Here’s one good tip: Avoid digging up the lawn sprinkler system.

This might sound silly on the surface, but it happens. And when it does, it can be expensive to fix. The key is, be smart and know where things are around your yard.

Before any work begins, go over any plans or drawings given to you by the company that installed your lawn sprinkler system. The plans may located on or near the controller box in your house or garage. If you cannot find any drawings, reach out to your installation provider before any work is done in or around the yard.

Get some graph paper and make a sketch of your yard. The graph paper will help with the measurements. Graphic paper has small squares, each of which will indicate one square foot.

Find the backflow device. This is a device that looks like a pipe with a handle similar to that of a water faucet. Include this and other landmarks on your sketch.

Find where a line should be at the edge of the map that crosses the area where will be taking place. Mark this area with a flag.

Turn on your sprinklers and look for any possible leaks, no matter how small. Also look and see where the water is coming out of the sprinkler heads. Measure the distance from an existing landmark to each sprinkler head and draw the heads on your sketch in the corresponding locations. This should give you an accurate idea of where the water lines are located.

If you are doing the digging yourself, wet down the areas of digging with a garden hose. This will make the digging in the area a little easier.

Oh, important reminder, if you smell gas during digging, call 911. Right away.