If cooler weather has you longing for sunny days outdoors, take heart. Once spring rolls around, you can safely begin the annual cleanup to prepare your yard for months of warm-weather enjoyment. Start by evaluating your lawn with these tips.
Spring into Lawn and Garden Care
(Family Features) If cooler weather has you longing for sunny days outdoors, take heart. Once spring rolls around, you can safely begin the annual cleanup to prepare your yard for months of warm-weather enjoyment.
Start by evaluating your lawn. Look for bald spots where grass has grown sparsely and needs reseeding, or uneven areas that may need to be filled and leveled.
Before you take steps to correct any problems, you’ll need a clean slate. Clear the yard of any leaves, rocks or sticks that may have accumulated then cut the grass as short as you can. Use a thatching rake to remove dead roots and grass. Break up the soil in bare spots to create an environment that will be hospitable to new seed. Add lawn soil to level the surface.
You’ll also need to apply an herbicide to treat weed-infested areas. Allow the weed killer to work for about a week then rake again to remove dead weeds.
Then you’re ready to over-seed or spot seed, depending on your lawn’s needs. Your climate will determine the best grass variety for your yard. Be sure to select and apply a fertilizer that is consistent with your grass type and water thoroughly to promote deep root growth, which can help your lawn withstand extreme conditions as temperatures rise.
Your lawn isn’t the only part of your yard that needs attention during the spring months, though. Your garden and flower beds may need some care before they, too, are ready to burst with new bounty and color.
Begin by clearing your garden and beds of any debris like leaves and other matter that piled up during months of neglect. Gently turn the soil and work in fresh fertilizer.
Before your plants and flowers are in full-growth mode is the ideal time to make repairs. Check edging for any damage, replace rotted woodwork and complete any other maintenance tasks.
As for the plants, prune before the first buds sprout to minimize stress. You can also start indoor seeds, and early spring is the time to divide perennials and plant some hardier vegetables, such as onions and potatoes.
The warmer months may still seem far away, but getting some of your lawn and garden care underway now can make those warmer, sunny days feel closer in no time. Find more seasonal tips for prepping your yard at eLivingToday.com.
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(BPT) - As temperatures drop, you're reminded that Old Man Winter will soon rear his ugly head. Before the first flurries fly, it's important to take some winterization steps to ensure your home is ready for whatever the season brings.
This five-point checklist will help safeguard your home against winter's woes for another year. For additional winterization ideas and detailed project plans, visit Real Cedar.com.
Inspect each window from the outside to see if any gaps or cracks are present. These small openings let in cold air and are also inviting to small critters looking for protection from the cold.
If you find some gaps, it’s important to seal them quickly. Apply caulk to the openings to prevent cold air from seeping in, helping to cut down on heating bills. Plus, you won’t have to worry about bugs making your home their hibernation haven. Note: never caulk above or below the window and door openings, as this may block moisture drainage.
Prep the deck
The amount of work you have to put into winterizing your deck depends on your decking material. For example, a durable, long-lasting material such as Western Red Cedar requires the least amount of maintenance. That said, all decks require some upkeep.
To preserve your deck’s luster, start by cleaning it with a warm, soapy solution and a soft-bristle brush. Do not power wash as this can damage the wood. It’s important that you remove all dirt and debris from the surface as well as in between the boards to improve ventilation.
Next, inspect the deck for mold. If present, wash the deck with a mild oxygen bleach solution and leave on the surface for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Finally, remove anything that might leave marks on the deck’s surface such as furniture, planters and mats.
Protect planter boxes
The majority of planter boxes are made with Western Red Cedar. That’s because the wood is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects; and therefore, doesn’t require treatment from potentially dangerous chemicals that can leach into soil and plants. But like all garden beds, real cedar planters need protection during the winter months.
Start by removing all soil and cleaning the boxes as you did the deck. Then, if possible, store emptied planters in a garage, shed or under the porch. If you don't have the space to store them this way, then cover them with a water-repellent tarp to protect from moisture buildup, but don’t seal the tarp. As with decks, it’s very important that you allow for proper ventilation.
Look for weak trees or those with dead branches, particularly those near your home. As snow accumulates, the weight may bring down a tree or branches, potentially damaging your house.
Eliminate this risk by removing any dead trees or dangerous branches now before the first snow. Be safe by using the proper equipment for tree trimming and removal, or, consider hiring a pro to do so. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and handling this issue now could prevent costly damage to your home down the road.
Clean the roof
Your roof is a large portion of your home, and it also holds a lot of snow over the winter. To prevent ice dams and other roof problems when freezing temperatures arrive, it's important to clean gutters and check your roof for problems now.
Start by taking all debris out of gutters to ensure free flow for water. Next, walk around your roof and inspect it for any damage. Repair loose shingles and make sure the chimney and vents look intact and secure. Your roof takes on a lot of weight from ice and snow during the winter months and you want it to be as strong as possible.
A few simple steps now can mean a cozy, safe winter for you and your entire family. Add these five steps to your winterization to-do list for this weekend and give yourself valuable peace of mind.
(BPT) - The temperature may not have dropped just yet, but make no mistake, fall is coming. Soon enough, baseball will give way to football, green leaves will turn yellow and red and your lawn care routine will take on a whole new set of tasks. Fall lawn care isn’t the long marathon of the summer yard season, but it packs plenty of work into a few short months before the winter. You can make this lawn care blitz a little bit easier by applying the following tips.
* Stimulate your lawn. While your grass may no longer need its weekly mowing in the fall, you can’t ignore it until spring. Look for brown, tan or white patches on your lawn, as this can be a sign of mold growth. Apply a lawn fungicide to halt this growth and an organic fertilizer to stop its spread and support future root growth.
* Blow those leaves away. Raking leaves can be a Herculean task, so simplify the process by investing in a lithium-ion blower. The Greenworks 60-volt Backpack Blower is a heavy-duty solution perfect for homeowners with a quarter to three-quarters of an acre to cover. And for yard-lovers that prefer a handheld blower, Greenworks has you covered there too! Both solutions are lightweight and reduce noise while eliminating emissions, and because they're battery powered, you don’t have to bother with mixing gas and oil.
* Seed and sod. If you do notice patches of dead grass in your yard — a common occurrence if fallen leaves have not been blown away — don’t wait until spring to address the issue. Over-seeding the area can rectify the problem if the spaces are small. If your lawn has significant portions that have died, it may be time to look into sodding options instead for more comprehensive coverage.
* A fresh spray clean. A season’s worth of wind and rain can leave the sides of your home looking pretty dingy. Fall cleanup is the perfect time to give your home a reset by spraying down your siding, decks, and patios. Greenworks 2200 PSI Electric Pressure Washer is an environmentally friendly gas-alternative solution with five nozzles that allow you to adjust the tool’s water pressure based on the task at hand. The pressure washer is also designed with Smart Response Technology to adjust motor RPMs as nozzles are changed, ensuring the perfect water flow for every job — and the on board LED display guides you to the best job for each nozzle, letting you clean your home in a smart, efficient way.
* A hole in the ground supports future growth. Fall is arguably the best time of year to aerate your yard, allowing water, oxygen and fertilizer to more easily reach the root structure of your grass. Self-propelled aerators are relatively inexpensive, and you can also rent one if you plan to make this a once-a-year chore. Whatever you decide, tackling this chore now will allow your lawn to grow back thicker and fuller next year when it will be time to start thinking about spring lawn care once again.
Winter conditions can present a wide range of challenges to your lawn and landscape, but there are precautions you can take to protect your lawn, as well as your trees and shrubs, from seasonal harm. These preventative steps can help your lawn survive the winter season’s harsh elements, including snow plow damage, cold temperature stress, freezing temperatures, winter dehydration and ice melt.
Dodge Winter Lawn Damage
(Family Features) Winter conditions can present a wide range of challenges to your lawn and landscape, but there are precautions you can take to protect your lawn, as well as your trees and shrubs, from seasonal harm.
Preventive steps from the lawncare experts at TruGreen can help your lawn survive the winter season’s harsh elements.
Snow Plow Damage
Cold Temperature Stress
Keep twigs and limbs from breaking under the weight of ice by carefully brushing away, whenever possible, any snow load from plants, which will reduce the weight on the limbs and decrease the damage. Placing a burlap cover around shrubs such as boxwood and yews will help reduce winter desiccation.
Find more advice to help prep your lawn for winter at TruGreen.com.
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(BPT) - Zika-carrying mosquitoes had their moment this year as the nation's top headline-grabbing pests, but the arrival of cooler weather means the resurgence of another disease-carrying insect. Ticks transmit a number of diseases, including Lyme disease, that affect people and pets. And while cold weather may kill off mosquitoes, ticks remain a year-round threat.
The ticks which spread Lyme disease - adult black-legged or deer ticks - are most active during fall and winter, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), which predicts 2016 will be a banner year for ticks. Annually, about 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate.
Multiple diseases, multiple risks
The CDC lists 15 different diseases transmitted by ticks, including Lyme, anaplasmosis, two types of rickettsiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF). These diseases can vary greatly in severity and duration; some can be debilitating and even fatal.
Ticks thrive virtually everywhere in the country, with different species preferring different locales. While ticks are commonly found in heavily wooded areas, they also thrive in domestic settings such as gardens, landscape plantings and backyard grasses. In fact, experts estimate that the majority of people who contract tick-borne diseases came in contact with the tick that made them ill right in their own backyards.
Tick prevention starts with deer
Ticks hang out on shrubs, trees and in grass waiting for a host to pass by. Hitching a ride on suburban deer and other animals, including pets, is one of their main means of transportation. Cooler weather means deer are more likely to come closer to homes looking for mates, or to dine on suburban landscapes as wild food sources dwindle.
Ticks may travel to your backyard riding on the deer that's dining on your landscaping, only to stay behind when the deer moves on. Once they're in your environment, it's just a waiting game for the tick to find a host; a person, dog or cat passing by.
While you may know the need to inspect humans for ticks after spending time outdoors, it can be harder to detect their presence when they're hidden in pet fur. Both dogs and cats can pick up ticks that they bring into your home, where the tick may transfer to a human or stick with the pet and make it sick.
The CDC recommends homeowners discourage deer away from residences in order to help minimize potential exposure to ticks.
"Tick populations do not decrease substantially unless deer are eradicated or severely reduced," the CDC says.
You can discourage deer from entering your environment in a number of ways, from long-term measures like planting vegetation deer don't like, to sure-fire but challenging tactics like building a tall fence. However, these tactics have their limitations. With cold weather approaching, you don't have time to install new plantings and deer will eat just about anything available in cold weather. Plus, many communities restrict the height of fences and deer have been known to easily jump over fences as high as 10 feet.
One of the easiest, most effective and practical ways to deter deer is through the use of a topical foliar spray like Bobbex Deer Repellent. The spray can be applied year-round; it uses taste and scent-aversion ingredients to deter deer from grazing on foliage, shrubs and trees. During spring and summer months, gardeners rely on Bobbex to protect their gardens from deer damage. It's also effective in winter to not only protect plants, but also people and pets - by keeping tick-carrying deer away from homes.
It's safe for use around children and pets because the product is all natural. It works in fall and winter as well as during warm weather, and won't wash off under rain or snow. In testing by the Connecticut Department of Forestry and Horticulture, Bobbex was found to be 93 percent effective in deterring deer when compared to like repellents, and second only to a physical fence. Learn more at www.bobbex.com.
Human and companion animal health experts agree: keeping deer away from your home is essential for reducing exposure to disease-bearing ticks. What's more, experts warn, don't rely on the weather for help.
Although drought in many areas of the country could affect tick populations, the nymphs responsible for most of the biting ticks have gone into hiding and missed the worst part of the drought. They'll re-emerge as adults in October, according to an ABC News report.
"(Ticks) have seen lots of changes and are ecologically very successful," Sam Telford, a professor of infectious diseases at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts told ABC. "One or two years of severe weather may depress their numbers, but remember ... the successful feeding of one female tick on a deer translates to 2,000 eggs. It does not take much to reset the clock, as it were, if there was significant mortality for a few years."
From a few acres of suburban sprawl to large properties in rural regions, building, mowing, digging and transporting can be a daunting task. With the right utility tractor, more work can be done with less elbow grease. Whether you are replacing an old machine or you’re a first-time buyer, give some thought to these features to help narrow down your options.
(Family Features) Once warmer weather arrives, there is nothing better than spending time outside on your deck or patio. But before you can enjoy those outdoor spaces to the fullest, you need to put in a little work to make them feel fresh and new again.
These tips from gardener, outdoors expert and author of the Garden Betty blog Linda Ly can help you clean up your outdoor space and refresh your home’s exterior just in time to host your first summer barbecue party.
Find more tips to help you reacquaint yourself with your backyard and garden spaces at Clorox.com.
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