August 14, 2007

Garden Tiller Tips for Your Yard

A garden tiller can be a life-saver for your yard and garden. It is important to use the garden tiller properly to get the most benefits from your tilling effort. These garden tiller tips will help you ensure your garden thrives.

Spring Ground Breaking

One of the most popular uses for a garden tiller is breaking ground to prepare the soil for plants. A task that would take hours and hours of back-breaking work with a shovel, requires only minutes with a power tiller.

Use the garden tiller to incorporate organic matter into the soil before planting and to aerate the soil to help the garden thrive. If you are practicing organic, natural gardening, the ability to quickly and easily work compost into the freshly tilled soil is a huge benefit.

First, use your garden tiller to break the ground. Next, remove all weeds and unwanted plant material from the soil. Then use your tiller to aerate and amend the soil. Dump organic matter from your compost pile on top of the soil and work it into the soil well by repeating the tilling process. Do not over-till the soil. Instead, you should look for the soil to become well mixed and of a texture that will sift through your fingers without large clumps.

Regular Aeration

Aeration is not a one-time process. Because the microorganisms which live in healthy soil need oxygen, you’ll want to continue to amend the soil and aerate on a regular basis. This process permits water to penetrate more deeply and thereby causes plant roots to grow deeper into the soil. To keep your plants as healthy as possible, till the soil around plants twice per growing season.

Effective Garden Tilling Tips

It is important to select the right time to till the garden. If the soil is too wet, tilling will only clump the soil rather than properly aerating it. If the soil is too dry, the wind may blow your soil away, causing erosion and loss of natural nutrients needed by your plants.

Do not over-till after initial ground preparation. Repeated tilling can destroy the soil’s texture and ability to hold air, water, and nutrients.

Replenish the nutrients which have been used up by your plants. Add organic matter during the growing season to safely provide the nutrients found in chemical fertilizers but in a much more eco-friendly manner.

Whenever you are operating a garden tiller, keep your hands and feet away from the blades. Do not perform maintenance on your tiller when it is running. Wear safety glasses to prevent possible eye damage from dirt flung up by the tiller. Also, keep children and pets a safe distance away from garden tillers when in operation.

Lastly, make sure to replenish the nutrients that are essential to your [plants] growth by tilling in organic material and fertilizers. If you follow these simple rules, you will be sure to have a healthy, green garden season after season.

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Filed under Garden Tillers by landscapeliving.
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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.

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Filed under Lawn Mowers by landscapeliving.
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June 28, 2006

Choosing a Hedger for Your Yard

Hedgers, or hedge trimmers, are wonderful if you have a lot of shrubs in your yard. Hedgers make quick work of your pruning chores, making it easy to cut a bunch of bushes to the same height or give them all the same shape. A hedger isn't exactly a must-have garden tool, but it is certainly a product of convenience that will make your gardening chores much more enjoyable.

are basically a long metal rod with wide teeth that allow you to give a shrub a haircut with ease. They come in single or double-sided blade varieties and can run on electricity, gas or batteries, depending on the model.

When looking for a hedger for your yard, it's important to consider blade length, the size of branches it can cut and how it is powered.

Generally, hedgers with longer blades are better for heavier-duty use. If you don't have a lot of hedges to trim, go with a 16-inch blade. For a little more power, pick an 18-inch blade. Heavy-duty use will require at least a 20-inch blade, and professionals and those with long rows of hedges will choose a 22-inch blade or longer.

Most hedge trimmerscan cut branches ranging from three-eighths of an inch to three quarters of an inch. If you have special trimming needs, check the manufacturer's specifications to find the hedger that is right for you.

We already covered power briefly. Electric trimmers are typically lighter and less expensive than other models. Gas models are heavier but also more powerful. If you don't have an outlet handy, a gas or battery-powered hedger may be your best bet.

Another issue having to do with power is a safety concern. If you have an [electric hedger], make sure that your cord is nowhere near what you are trimming. Cutting the cord while the hedger is in use can be very dangerous.

Speaking of safety, your hedger should have an auto-stop system that stops the blade in under half a second. You can also buy one with a locking starter that will prevent accidental startup.

Very small hedgers that are known as "detail trimmers" can be used for small areas of if you're sculpting a bush into an intricate shape.

The popularity of hedgers has gone down in recent years because many plant experts say plants do better when they are trimmed selectively rather than wholesale. But some people really like the neat, landscaped look of a hedge or row of shrubs that is neatly manicured.

If you are going to use a hedger in your yard, make sure you always wear safety goggles when the hedger is in operation, remove debris from the area before trimming, and make sure before you buy that you are comfortable holding the trimmer at the level you will need to trim and with your arms extended. If it's too heavy for you, find a lighter model. You certainly don't want to drop the hedger while it is running.

Filed under Pruning Tools, Hedgers by landscapeliving.
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