November 24, 2014

We know how important it is to water your lawn. Yet, other parts of your yard also need the proper amount of watering.

In this case, we are talking about watering your garden. Many people will struggle in trying to decide when the best time to water the garden is. Also, how much should the garden receive?

Let’s start with the necessary amount of water. Generally speaking, your garden should receive about one to two inches of water per week.

How about timing? Much like your lawn, the best time to water your garden is early in the morning. This is especially true during the warmer months. The early morning hours are cooler during those times, making it more conducive to productive watering. This also gives the water in the garden time to be absorbed in the roots of the plants.

This is where a lawn sprinkler system with a timer can really pay off. Maybe you want to water your garden at 4am. That’s great except prefer not to get up at 4am. No problem. Just set your lawn sprinkler timer for the specified time and stay in bed while your lawn sprinkler system does what needs to be done to keep your garden healthy.

November 18, 2014

When it comes to protecting plants in the winter, it’s hard to beat mulch as a natural protector.

There are many types of mulch on the market. You can also make your own mulch. It’s important to have an understanding of the different kinds of mulch.

The two basic types of mulch are organic and inorganic mulch. Organic mulch is made up of plant matter that has broken down over time. This includes material like leaves, grass clippings, pine needles and bark chips. Organic mulch keeps plant roots warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. A two-to-three inch layer of organic mulch helps minimize water evaporation after watering your lawn. This means less water waste.

Organic mulch will eventually break down. However, as it breaks down, organic mulch will improve soil structure and drainage while controlling soil erosion and reducing dust.

Inorganic mulch are made of manmade materials or of materials that do not break down. Inorganic mulch can be made up of things like pebbles, stone and ground rubber tire. Inorganic mulch is often put on things like plastic covers outdoors to keep the covers in place.

Organic mulch is the definite choice for winter mulch. Winter mulch will keep the ground frozen until spring arrives and brings along warmer weather on a consistent basis. This allows soil to be ready for a new growing season.

November 11, 2014

Winter Lawn Preparation

As the leaves fall to the ground, the days grow shorter and Thanksgiving approaches, it’s time to get your lawn ready for winter.

One of the first things you need to do is make plans to have your lawn sprinkler system winterized. We strongly recommend bringing in a professional for this job. There are areas of the winterizing job that you could do yourself but there are also areas where it would be best to let a professional with experience and safety knowledge take over. A major part of the lawn sprinkler winterization process is blowing out the lawn sprinkler system. This is the act of taking an air hose to blow out any remaining winter in the pipes and heads of the sprinkler system. Water left in the pipes can freeze and cause major damage, resulting in costly repairs. This process is not for the inexperienced. Instead, talk to a pro.

There are other things you can do to get your yard ready for the cold winter months:

·         Rake any lingering leaves. Even if you’ve done your big fall raking, go around the yard and rake those last remaining leaves. Leaves can smother a grass and invite lawn disease.
·         Late fall fertilizing. One last feeding late in the fall will help roots survive winter hibernation and allow for a quicker transition from hibernation in the spring.
·         Mow one last time with a mulching mower. Having a mulching mower is great for breaking down leaves into mulch and giving your grass one last time before winter. Mulch can be useful to plants in your garden. After the first hard freeze, apply mulch to your plants, about two to four inches in depth.
·         Create a compost pile. Pick a location close to your garden. You can use leaves and lawn clippings and garden soil. This will eventually make a great garden fertilizer.

November 4, 2014

Preparing Your Plants for Fall

November is here. We can enjoy the last of the orange leaves and snack a little too much. We can think ahead to the Thanksgiving holiday, think about budgeting for Black Friday sales and start deciding on plans for the holiday season.

There’s one other thing we need to think about. Winter. It’s coming. And your plants will need protection.

The first frost may already have come and gone. There will be more frosty overnights. You need to prepare your yard and plants for the chill:

·         Remove and discard annuals. This means plants and vegetation like vegetable and certain flowers. Not removing this stuff and letting them can be an invitation to insects and lawn disease.
·         Clean up the rest of those leaves. Many areas of the country have seen stormy and windy weather in the last couple of weeks. This means there is likely a new batch of fallen leaves in yards and garden beds just waiting to be collected.
·         Start a compost pile. Here’s the upside to those leaves in your yard. They can help make a compost pile.
·         Still water your lawn if there has been a dry period. If you have not stored your lawn sprinkler system for the winter, it’s a good idea to give the lawn some water if there has been a stretch of dry weather.

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.