September 22, 2006

Autumm Lawn Aeration

Autumm Lawn AerationNo matter how well you maintain your lawn throughout the years, it will still need to be aerated in order to maintain good water and air flow to the soil. In order for water and air to penetrate the soil properly, there should be small pockets, like pores, that allow for the air and water to flow properly. Over time, though, foot traffic, grass clippings and debris will begin to close off those pockets, making it harder for water and air to penetrate the soil. When this happens, the soil and grass will no longer be able to breathe properly. Gardeners will notice that their lawn just doesn’t achieve its optimal lushness, no matter how often they cut, water, weed eat and fertilize. [lawn aeration] is a simple procedure that can help to reestablish the pockets needed to allow water, air and nutrients to penetrate the soil, returning the lawn to its optimal beauty.

So how do you go about lawn aeration? Although it sounds like a difficult process that would most likely involve a landscaping professional, lawn aeration can actually be done at home. Of course, if you have a large amount of land, you may want to consider hiring professionals or a professional equipment to help speed up the process, but for most homeowners with a regular sized lawn, aeration should not be a difficult task. Lawn aeration from a professional landscaping company will cost at least a few hundred dollars, depending on the size of the land.

Other more economical forms of lawn aeration include purchasing lawn aeration shoes. Of course this will only work if your yard is small enough to cover by walking across in a short amount of time. Lawn aeration shoes cost between $20-$50, look similar to cleats, but instead have long spikes on the bottom that will re-open pockets in the soil for proper nutrients to get back into the soil. These shoes can be purchased at a local lawn and garden store or can be ordered online through a specialty lawn and garden company.

Another way to go about is to rent or buy your own lawn aeration machine from a landscaping company or from a lawn and garden store. Renting a machine costs roughly $50, while purchasing your own machine will cost between $150-$200, depending on the brand purchased. The plus side of an aeration machine is that it can cover more ground in a shorter period of time than with a pair of lawn aeration shoes. The machine is fairly compact, approximately the size of a large seed spreader, and can fit easily into a storage shed or garage.

So, how often should you aerate your lawn? This truly depends on how often you mow, how often it rains in your area and how often you fertilizer the lawn. Keep in mind that the main factors for compacting the lawn soil are debris, such as grass clippings, leaves, and fertilizers, as well as excessive water that will also compact the soil. Even the healthiest lawns need to be aerated at least once a year, but for gardeners who are watering, fertilizing and mowing more often, it doesn’t hurt to aerate at least twice a year. You may want to get into the habit of aerating at the beginning of spring and again in the fall to receive the most benefit. Most lawns will become compacted from the winter weather and can be rejuvenated in the spring. Lawns will also become compacted from all the summer mowing, watering and the fall leaves collecting on the lawn, so aerate again in the fall months.

Filed under Lawn Mowers by landscapeliving.
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September 12, 2006

Choosing and Using a String Trimmer

String TrimmerI have to admit I’m a little afraid of string trimmers. There always seems to be such potential for danger, from rocks flying up in your face to getting the string tangled in a horrible mess with a wad of tall grass wrapped around it.

The truth is, string trimmers are not that difficult to use and they are very handy to have around the yard. can be used to trim grass next to trees, walls, fences and other items that you can’t get too close to with a conventional lawn mower. They are great for edging along the sidewalk and driveway and can be helpful for cutting very tall grass or weeds on a hillside that is too steep to mow.

String trimmers use a plastic string rotated at very high velocity (up to 400 miles an hour) to cut grass. Maybe it’s the speed that scares me. String trimmers are very effective at what they do, though the clogging and tangling problem is a real potential with some trimmers. Other models have short strings that can be changed very quickly and easily instead of the traditional big ball of string that causes those problems of my nightmares.

String trimmers can run on gas or electricity and there are corded and cordless models. The type of string trimmer you want will depend on your needs and how much you are willing to spend.

Electric string trimmers are the cheapest, especially the corded varieties. They are lighter than gasoline-powered trimmers because you aren’t carrying around the gasoline. They also have less power and tend to have a smaller cutting area than the gas-powered string trimmers. Electric trimmers are also less noisy than their gas-powered counterparts, and they cause less pollution.

Gas-powered trimmers are more expensive and heavier, but they are also bigger and more powerful. They come with either two-cycle or four-cycle engines. The two-cycle engines use a gasoline-oil mixture, while the four-cycle engines run on straight gasoline. Gas-powered string trimmers can cut up to 18 inches in a single pass, so they’re great for when you have a lot of trimming in a wide area, such as on a hillside. The two-cycle engine models are cheaper than the four-cycle, but they also have less power and don’t run as smoothly.

No matter what type of string trimmer you choose, they all run pretty much the same way. A loop handle or handlebars are used to hold the trimmer while it is running.

The main problem people have when using string trimmers is that they get the cutting string too close to the ground. Like a lawn mowing blade, the height of trimming should be two to three inches so that the ground doesn’t look bald. Try to cut with your string trimmer at the same height that your mower cuts. This takes some practice but it is the key to a good-looking trim job.

Remember when you are trimming close to fences, trees and sidewalks that it is possible to get too close. You can actually kill your trees if you remove too much bark because you hit them with the string trimmer. And of course you can always send a chunk of wood, a piece of concrete or a rock flying at yourself or someone else when you hit an object with your trimmer. That’s why it is vital to wear eye protection, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when you are using your string trimmer. Also wear ear protection and keep other people from working or playing in the yard while you are using your string trimmer.

Yes, there are reasons to be intimidated by [string trimmers], but as long as you use them wisely they are great tools for your yard and garden.

Filed under Pruning Tools by landscapeliving.
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September 5, 2006

Don't forget your garden hose

Starting in spring up to the past Labor Day Holiday one of the most trusted and important tools in your garden has been the [garden hose]. From watering all of your plants, flowers and vegetables to playing with your kids on those hot summer days. Even washing your car or giving your pet a cool blast of water to give them that well deserved summer bath.

Now that we are into September and Fall is just around the corner. We have many projects to be done before the first frost arrives. Projects like trimming and mulching your bushes and flowers or raking and the recycling of fallen leaves may keep you very busy during this time. Doing all of these projects you may forget to turn off your supply of water and but your garden hose  up for the upcoming winter months.

A good barometer that i use to remind myself it's time to shut off the water supply to the garden hose is when the Halloween weekend arrives. I know after that weekend if the first frost has not arrived by then it is soon on it's way. Possibly causing frozen pipes and major damage to your water supply if not turned off in time. 

Filed under Pruning Tools by landscapeliving.
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