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) - From Sunday picnics and impromptu barbecues to games of catch, make your lawn center stage this spring. Everyone longs for a lush, green lawn, but many homeowners aren’t sure how to achieve it. In fact, although 81 percent of Americans do their own lawn care, 69 percent say their lawns could be better, and nearly a third aren’t sure how to grow a healthy lawn, according to a survey by the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
A strong, green lawn can give back to you in so many ways and getting there is easier than you think. The lawn health experts at Scotts(R) say the keys to a great lawn are seed, weed and feed.
Did winter do a number on your lawn? Heavy foot traffic, plows, snow shovels and salt can damage your turf, and after the first melt visible dirt spots and dead zones may appear. When spring temperatures reach 60 degrees or higher, seeds will germinate best and it’s time to repair winter damage.
Patch and repair your lawn to fill in bare spots, help crowd out weeds and strengthen your grass to help withstand heat and drought. Start by removing debris and dead grass in the surrounding area, and loosen hard soil, this will help grass seedlings take root.
Evenly apply a quality seed, like Scotts(R) EZ Seed(R), so the bare area is mostly covered, but bare ground is still visible. Be sure to only apply the recommended amount so that seedlings have enough space to access water and nutrients. Scotts(R) EZ Seed(R) is a combination of fertilizer, grass seed and super absorbent mulch that is guaranteed to grow grass anywhere with proper care, whether on a hill or slope, or in a densely-shaded area.
Preserve your healthy and beautiful lawn by keeping it free of weeds. Common weeds like dandelions and clover can choke out healthy grass. Therefore, it’s important to address weeds in spring so they won’t have a chance to thrive in summer.
Removing weeds can be a challenge, especially if any roots are left behind as they can quickly grow into a new plant. Get rid of weeds by using a weed-control product like the improved Scotts(R) Turf Builder(R) Weed & Feed. It is formulated with up to two times more powerful control of dandelions and clover compared to the previous formula, so it kills weeds and feeds grass to make it green and thick.
Continuing to feed your established lawn is critical to its nutrition and overall success. Your lawn requires feeding about every six weeks, and its nutritional needs will vary throughout the season. Choosing the right food at the right time can help ensure your lawn stays thick and green all spring and summer. For example, if your yard needs a boost towards the end of spring use Scotts(R) Green Max(RM) Lawn Food, it provides your lawn with essential nutrients, like iron, that give grass its rich green color in just three days.
No two lawns are alike. A number of factors including where you live or whether you have a sunny or shady backyard affect how to treat your grass. Not sure which products are right? Download the MyLawn app from Scotts(R) for a personalized care plan that will help you achieve your desired results. To make the most out of your green space, visit www.scotts.com for inspiration and information on lawn care products.
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) - Remember when you actually had to leave the house to do things?
Today, you could use your smartphone to do all your holiday shopping, order groceries and have them delivered, and then watch all the Oscar nominated films without ever getting off the couch.
It’s pretty amazing, but for all the convenience we enjoy with our digital lifestyle, sometimes you need a hands-on, personalized approach. And no one knows this better than those who have taken up the DIY lifestyle, or the millions of Americans who obsess over their lawn.
There might be an app for everything, but when it comes to the tools you use to keep your lawn in shape, your best bet is to find an outdoor power equipment dealer who can share their expertise with you. Here are five reasons why.
1. Get personalized service. Everyone cares for their lawn differently. One size doesn’t fit all, and this kind of personalized care needs personalized options. Working with a dealer can help you learn what's best for you and best for your lawn.
2. Make the best decisions. With so much lawn equipment out there, making up your mind can sometimes be overwhelming. Dealers can help you sort through all the products and explain the different options available to you, such as choosing between gas-powered and battery-powered outdoor power equipment.
3. Learn about service and maintenance. Dealers offer invaluable advice that even yardwork veterans can benefit from. They can tell you the best way to winterize and care for the next generation of lawn care products. In addition, they work closely with top manufacturers so they can give you valuable information about sales, promotions and warranty offers. Dealers also have service shops that can fix broken equipment or give tools a tune-up to prepare for spring lawn care work.
4. Learn about equipment accessories. Dealers have been working in the lawn care industry for years. With this level of expertise, they can point you towards the equipment accessories that will help you get the most out of your outdoor power equipment. Dealers stock and sell the largest variety of accessories for your outdoor power equipment needs.
5. Try before you buy. There's a reason you don’t buy a car without driving it. The same should apply to lawn equipment. You want something that feels comfortable in your hands, that isn't too heavy and has the power you need. Most of the time, you really have to use something before you know if it's right or not, and some dealers will allow you to try out products at the store before making a decision.
To see what a difference personalized service makes, check out www.husqvarna.com/us/dealer-locator/ to find an outdoor power equipment dealer near you.
(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."
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