Category Archives: Garden Basics

8 Tips for Spring Lawn Clean-Up

feature-llvThose of us with large properties know that spring cleaning isn’t just for the closets and cupboards – it’s for your lawn, too. Winter leaves behind all kinds of debris, from sticks and dead leaves to trash and gravel. So when the weather warms up and it’s the season for working outside, here are 10 great tips for spring lawn clean-up:

1. Wait for dry conditions.

However you clean up your lawn – with a lawn vacuum, rake, or other method – the whole process will be easier and faster if you wait for dry conditions. Moisture makes debris stick together in heavy clumps, making your job harder than it needs to be.

2. Clear large debris first.

If you’re using a DR Leaf and Lawn Vac for cleaning your lawn, you’ll want to clear away anything that’s too large for it to pick up. While pine cones, gum tree balls, nuts, and small sticks will be picked up without a problem, large branches should be cleared away beforehand.

LLV2 Premier Oct 2014-353. Uncover flowerbeds and shrubs.

If you’re raking, be sure to get right up close to trees, shrubs, hedges, and fully clean out flower beds. If using a leaf vac, we recommend the Vacuum Hose, which attaches easily to your machine and allows you to vacuum hard-to-reach spots. Debris left in flowerbeds and around shrubs can stunt growth and foster disease.

4. Tidy hard surfaces.

Walkways, driveways, trails, and other non-lawn surfaces need some spring cleaning, too! Vacuum debris from walkways and trails and rake displaced gravel back on to driveways and roads.

5. Don’t forget window wells!

While you’re vacuuming the lawn, clean out window wells and other nooks and crannies around the house. The result will be better-looking and you won’t worry about mold or other disease festering so close to your foundation.

6. Get rid of thatch build-up.

Thatch is dead grass blades and other small weeds that collect on top of the soil, at the base of the living grass blades. If the build-up gets thick enough, it can choke your lawn by restricting the flow or air and water to the soil. Spring is a perfect time to remove thatch for the summer growing season. Depending on how much thatch build-up you have, a leaf vacuum may be all you need to clear it. For particularly thick build-up, a rake or dethatcher may be required.

7. Clear snow mold.LLV2-Premier-Oct-2014-68

Snow mold often appears on your lawn after the winter if leaves or other debris is left on the grass before winter hits. Usually it looks like dry, brown patches of matted dead grass, and may have a pinkish hue. The best way to get rid of it is to gently loosen it with a rake, then vacuum up the dead debris with your lawn vac.

8. Compost it!

After you’ve finished cleaning the lawn, compost the waste material! Once it’s broken down, it will be a great way to improve your soil structure and return vital nutrients to your garden. For larger waste, consider shredding it to a fine mulch with a chipper/shredder. Luckily, if you’ve used the DR Leaf and Lawn Vac, your leftovers will already be shredded to an easy-to-decompose mulch.

Garden Soil Preparation for the Backyard Gardener

Garden Soil Preparation for the Backyard Gardener
Garden Soil Preparation for the Backyard Gardener

Planting a backyard garden can be a fun and rewarding experience if you approach the planning and preparations aspect of gardening in the right way  but a lack of planning and preparation can cause your hard work in the hot summer months to yield mediocre results (if any) at the end of the growing season.

Perhaps somewhere in the world, the key to successful gardening is simply dropping a handful of seeds into the ground and watching them spring up. But most garden soils require careful attention and preparation.

Choosing a Plot
A common mistake among beginning and experienced gardeners alike is to plant more than they can possibly care for. A successful vegetable garden plot does not need to be big. A small, well-tended garden will grow as much or more produce than a larger one that the owner cannot keep up with.

Backyard gardeners should choose a sunny spot where water is readily available. Most vegetables do best in full sun if possible, but at a minimum, your garden should get at least 6 hours of sun a day.

Try to select a spot with good, rich soil. Good garden soil is deep, loose, fertile, well drained, rich in organic material and has a neutral pH. The ideal garden soil composition is about 5% organic matter, 25% air, 25% water, and 45% mineral matter. If you are planting a garden in a desert area with naturally not fertile soil, plan on working to improve the soil that is there.

Prepare your soil
Although organic material is only 5% of the ìideal formulaî for good growing soil, applying the right organic matter to your soil can make worlds of difference.

Nearly all soils, whether clay, sandy or humus, benefit from the addition of organic matter. Spread a layer of organic matter two to three inches thick over the soil surface and incorporate it six to eight inches deep. Organic matter breaks up clay allowing for air and water circulation, and helps hold water in sandy soils. Good sources of organic matter include straw, twigs, leaves, peat moss, sawdust, grass clippings and well-rotted manure.

Organic matter will tie up nitrogen as it decays. Add nitrogen fertilizer to the organic matter to aid in the decomposition process. This addition of nitrogen is not intended to aid future plant growth, but to act as a facilitator to help in decomposition. More nitrogen fertilizer will be required when you begin planting. Youíll want to use one pound of ammonium sulfate, or 2/3 pound of ammonium nitrate, or Ω pound of urea for each inch of organic matter placed on one hundred square feet of soil. As a word of caution, if you are using well-rotted manure for organic matter, reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer you apply by one half.

Tilling
Finally, before you are ready to plant, the soil should be tilled thoroughly. Tilling breaks up hard soil and allows air to circulate around the roots of your plants. Us a tiller, shovel or fork to churn the soil at least eight inches deep. Do not try to till your soil too early in the spring before the soil has had a chance to dry out a bit. Tilling muddy soil only causes mud clods that choke tender roots of needed air and water.

Once your soil is ready, consult your local extension or the back of your seed packets for the proper time to plant your garden fruits and vegetables.

By following these simple preparatory steps before you plant, you will increase your chances of having a bountiful harvest at the end of the growing season. Good luck and happy gardening!

Tips For Spring Gardening

Tips For Spring Gardening
Tips For Spring Gardening

It happens every year. One day it’s blustery, bleak, and cold, and the next it’s warm and sunny. You want to begin spring gardening, but you didn’t prepare like you should have. What do you do? It’s easy.

Spring gardening can be a fun and relaxing activity, especially if it’s done correctly. By following these simple tips, you will make the most out of spring gardening.

The first step to spring gardening is sharpening your tools. Go early and have all your tools, such as shovels, hoes, and pruning shears sharpened to a fine edge.

You may even want to splurge on buying a second, well-sharpened blade for your lawnmower. That way you will have a spare if the one currently on your lawnmower needs to be taken to be sharpened. A sharp mower blade is very important is you want to have a beautiful lawn. Dull blades can injure your grass and allow disease to creep in, which can be costly in the long run to correct.

If you plan to put in a new lawn or plant bed, or if you had problems getting things to grow properly last year, you may want to call for soil testing. A soil test will tell you exactly what type of fertilizers and/or soil conditioners are needed to assure your yard looks the best it can.

A very helpful tip for spring gardening, especially if you need a little help getting your yard into shape, is contacting landscaping professionals early. The later in the season you call, the better your chances are of having to be put on a waiting list.

You may also want to make arrangements early to buy sod or for sod delivery if you plan to put in a new lawn. You should choose only moist rolls. Any that have dry roots or yellowed turf are no good.

Keeping a journal is a great way to keep track of plants during spring gardening. You can write down what was a success last year, what was a failure, and what plants should be moved with the change of seasons. It will not only prove useful this year, but also next year when you may not remember all of the small details.

A definite must is throwing away any outdated chemicals. Following the instructions are the label are easy. Also check to make sure those you are keeping are stored where children and pets cannot get to them.

Tilling the soil where you plan to begin your spring gardening is important. Your soil should contain no ice crystals. Handfuls of the soil should easily crumble.

When should you begin planting? This frequently asked question can easily be answered. Weather, soil conditions, and what you are going to plant are the answers.

Lastly, while engaging in spring gardening you have to remember to prune. Since, for some plants, the flowers that will come up next year have set within 10 days of the end of a bloom, timing is very important.

Now that you know what to do, your spring gardening won’t be so much of a chore, but more of a pleasure.