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Tag Archive | "lawn"

Is your lawn and garden bird-friendly?



Birds are more than just beautiful visitors to your lawn and garden, they are an important component of a healthy local ecosystem.

Making your property a safe haven for birds will beautify your garden and is the right thing to do. Here are a few simple steps to take to keep birds safe.

Offer Food and Shelter

Many birds will simply be using your yard as a rest stop on a long migration. Keep this in mind and fill your yard with native species of trees, shrubs and flowers to provide shelter and food.

You can supplement this nourishment with strategically located bird feeders that will prevent birds from striking your home’s windows. Ideally, bird feeders should be located within three feet of a window or more than 30 feet from a window.

Prevent Bird Strikes

Ninety-eight million birds are killed annually in the U.S. when colliding with windows, according to Western EcoSystems Technology estimates. Stem the loss of life by exploiting the keen vision of birds.

“When windows are visible to birds, they will enjoy a safer migration,” says Spencer Schock, founder of WindowAlert, a company that offers decals and UV Liquid that is visible to birds but not people.

Products from WindowAlert are proven to effectively alter the flight path of birds and prevent window strikes. An easy weekend project to complete this season is applying decals to your home’s windows and using UV Liquid to fill the gaps in order to form a visual barrier for birds. The ultraviolet reflecting coating will look like etched glass to humans, but be quite visible to birds. The coating can fade over time, so remember to periodically replace decals. More best practices can be found at windowalert.com.

Limit Other Hazards

Pet cats can prove hazardous to birds. Keep cats inside or monitor their time outdoors in order to prevent attacks.

Promote a natural food source for birds by avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers that kill off the insects that birds need to thrive.

By taking a few important measures at home, you can create a haven for migratory birds right in your own backyard.

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A Guide to saving water and your lawn

With the right watering techniques, you can save water, money and time while maintaining a healthy lawn.

With the right watering techniques, you can save water, money and time while maintaining a healthy lawn.

(StatePoint) No longer must you choose between your lawn and saving water. Experts say there are ways to save both water and money that won’t hurt your turf.

“We often see sprinklers watering sidewalks and drives, running during rain, or sending water down the drain from leaky heads,” says Josh Friell, Ph. D, senior agronomist of The Toro Company’s Center for Advanced Turf Technology. “The good news is there are simple, cost-effective actions homeowners can take to save up to 30 percent in outdoor water usage alone.”

Friell recommends these lawn-care watering tips:

First Things First

Most timed sprinklers water in the early morning, without homeowner attention. At the beginning of the season, run each zone briefly during daylight hours to see how the system is operating. Look for broken lines or damaged sprinkler heads, and inspect spray patterns to ensure water isn’t wasted.

When to Water

Experts suggest watering deeply and infrequently. This helps wet the entire root zone and encourages deeper root growth, which helps the lawn better tolerate mild to moderate drought. It is best to water in the early morning around 4 to 5 a.m., as this gives lawns time to absorb the moisture and prevents evaporation due to daytime heat.

How Much to Water

During summer, your grass should receive between 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water weekly, including natural precipitation. Water requirements vary by turf variety, local weather conditions, and site conditions such as shade. Your local university extension office can be a good source of information to assist in understanding local conditions.

The total water applied can be determined by placing a rain gauge or empty tuna cans around your yard prior to an irrigation cycle. Another option is to install a wireless soil moisture sensor, like the Toro Precision Soil Sensor, which fits almost any controller and installs in minutes. This helps eliminate guesswork by continuously monitoring soil moisture levels to prevent the system from overwatering.

Limit Water Intake

Friell says a general rule to keep in mind is that turfgrass does better when managed on the dry side rather than wet. When soil is constantly wet, grass roots are deprived of oxygen and may become more susceptible to disease.

When in Drought

Avoid lawn mowing during heat and drought. Lawns under such stress have limited ability to recover from mowing and can be damaged even more. Instead, mow after a rainfall or irrigation day. Finally, maintaining higher mowing heights will help turf tolerate the heat and drought of summer. Doing so also requires less frequent mowing, which means more time to enjoy your lawn!

Water Rebates

Many cities and water agencies across the U.S. offer water conservation and rebate programs to homeowners to encourage adoption of more efficient irrigation solutions. Find a list of the latest rebates at watersmart.toro.com/rebates/.

You can learn more about proper watering at watersmart.toro.com.

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Five tips to crown your lawn king of spring


(BPT) – Those winter chills are finally history and it’s time focus on outdoor fun again. Your lawn is the perfect spot for family gatherings, sports competitions, barbecues and relaxing afternoons, so why not make it the best it can be? Before your calendar fills up, apply these five tips and your lawn will be in great shape for the entire season.

* Clean up. Whether it was packed under the snow or blown in by the wind, the winter season leaves more than its fair share of debris behind. Grab a rake and get started raking up all of this garbage. Once the lawn is clean, apply a thin layer—about a quarter-inch thick—of compost to give your lawn a boost and start it in the right direction.

* Reseed the bare patches. Your travels around your lawn to rake up debris will probably reveal some bare patches. If you do happen upon a patch of barren ground, loosen the top 2-4 inches. Level the soil with your garden rake and cover the area with a mixture of grass seed and fertilizer. You could also replace the fertilizer with compost. Pat the surface with the flat end of the rake when finished to ensure the seed remains in place. Water as necessary.

* Aerate your lawn. Aerating allows oxygen, water and other nutrients to reach your grass’s roots, and it’s one of the best things you can do to support your lawn. Travel across your yard with a manual or gas-powered aerator, punching holes in the ground. Make sure to pass over each area only once. After you’ve finished aerating, spread compost, fertilizer or peat moss over your yard. The fertilizer will be absorbed quickly through the holes created by the aeration.

* It’s time to mow. Optimal grass length is 2.5-3.5 inches, so cut your grass as frequently as needed to achieve this length without cutting more than third of each grass blade. Mowing high and often will produce a heartier lawn that is more adept at keeping weeds away, as well as making it less susceptible to heat and drought. The new Z200 series of residential zero-turn riding mowers from Husqvarna, handles your mowing duties in a snap. The Z200 zero-turn platform features SmartSwitch technology that gives you one-touch steering, real-time feedback and keyless security so you can mow the lawn quickly and enjoyably every time.

* Add color and contrast. Landscaping adds immediate scenic interest to your space and allows you to showcase your creativity as well. If you choose to add annuals or perennials to your space, plant them in odd numbers and in tiny pockets around the yard – this produces a more natural appearance. You can also add a centerpiece to your yard, such as a sculpture, fountain, fire pit or horseshoe pit. Any of these focal points provides a gathering place and an excuse to enjoy relaxing afternoons on your beautiful lawn all season long.

To learn more about Husqvarna and the Z200 series of zero-turn mowers, visit Husqvarna on Facebook or Twitter.

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Fall clean-up tips for your lawn and garden tools


(BPT) – As the temperature drops, your lawn and garden will start settling into a dormant state. As you prep your landscaping and garden for a winter’s slumber, it’s a good idea to review the tools you used all summer. Taking care of this task now will ensure they’re in good shape come spring when it’s time to use them again. From sharpening edges of blades to making certain the tool is still doing the job it was designed to do, put all your lawn and garden tools through a thorough fall cleaning. Here are some tips:

* Lawn mowers – Check your owner’s manual for information about sharpening the mower deck blades and what to do with any unused gasoline before putting the mower into storage. It’s a good idea to keep the mower in a dry location where moisture won’t collect and potentially rust the blades.

* Hand trimmers – Hand clippers, tree trimmers and saws all take a beating during the summer. Check these tools to make certain the handles are still secure, the cutting blades are sharp and the locking mechanisms all work. If anything isn’t up to par, replace the tool so you have it ready for the first sign of spring.

* Chainsaws – These heavy machines get put through their paces, and they can be taxing on people, too, after extended use. If you’re ready to upgrade your chainsaw, the Husqvarna low-weight 436Li is quiet, easy to operate and has the same power as gas machines. The 536LiXP and the T536LiXP models are also available, and they come with low maintenance and high-performance delivery. All battery-operated chainsaws come with two rechargeable batteries that can be interchanged with any Husqvarna hand tools you might already have in your collection. The batteries have a 40-minute charge time, helping to keep the tools lightweight and quiet.

* Weed trimmers – These tools are invaluable for keeping the grasses and weeds trimmed around trees and garden edging. In the fall, be sure to replace the string so you’ll have a fresh spool come spring. Also check the air filter on the tool. If it is dirty, replace the filter to allow your machine to perform at its best.

* Hoses – When it’s time to store your hoses for the winter, check all the connections to make certain nothing leaks; replace the connectors if you notice water spraying or dribbling from a connection. And if the hose itself is leaking, put it on your list to be replaced. Make certain you’ve drained all the water out before putting the hoses away for winter. If you have a hose cart, roll up the hose neatly without any kinks. Otherwise, you can just roll the hose into a neat pile of loops for storage in a dry place.

With all of your lawn and garden tools safely stored for the winter months, you’ll know they’ll be ready the minute you need them in the spring.


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10 reasons to love your lawn

DIG-10-reasons-to-love-your-lawn(BPT) – As summer approaches and your thoughts turn to home improvement and the outdoors, you’re probably considering a variety of ways to make your home more comfortable, more attractive and more environmentally sustainable – while hopefully increasing its value as well. One feature that can achieve all these goals is a healthy lawn.

Perhaps surprisingly, installing and maintaining a natural turf lawn is one of the best home improvement investments a homeowner can make. If you’re weighing your options and wondering whether a lawn is worth the effort, consider the following 10 benefits.

1.  Outdoor recreation: An inviting, low-maintenance outdoor space can provide a significant boost to your quality of life. From picnics and games to lounging in the shade with a drink and a good book, a lawn offers the perfect setting for outdoor entertainment and relaxation.

2. Increased home value: Grass makes a home more appealing. A well-maintained lawn is recognized as such a desirable feature to potential homebuyers that it can boost a home’s value by as much as 15 percent, according to a Gallup survey.

3. Excellent return on investment: When it comes time to sell your home, good landscaping can give you a much higher return on your investment than many other home improvement projects. According to a Gallup survey, you can generally expect to recover 40 to 70 percent of the cost of building a deck or patio, while landscaping can offer a 100 to 200 percent return.

4. Stress relief: Grass areas are naturally calming and stress relieving, and the visual appeal contributes to improved mental health and better quality of life. The healing power of nature can work its magic even in your own backyard.

5. Urban benefits: In cities, grass absorbs noise and provides a beneficial link with nature. Studies have shown that well-maintained lawns also promote greater community pride and deter littering and vandalism.

6. Cooling: On hot days, grass is much cooler than cement, asphalt and dirt, which trap heat. And grass doesn’t just stay cool to the touch – it cools the atmosphere as well. Each blade acts as an evaporative cooler, and by transpiring water to cool itself, grass also cools the environment, reducing the energy requirements for air-conditioning in buildings surrounded by lawns. According to the academic professionals with Grass Seed USA, the front lawns of eight average-size homes have the same cooling effect as the air-conditioning systems of about 20 homes.

7. Conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen: Trees may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but all plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. According to the academic professionals with Grass Seed USA, a lawn of just 50 square feet releases enough oxygen to meet the needs of a family of four.*

8. Natural weed control: If you want a relatively low-maintenance landscaping option for an area of bare ground, try grass. A healthy lawn discourages the growth of weeds, and grass will easily outcompete other plants when you create the conditions that favor it.

9. Erosion prevention: Grass is one of the most efficient and inexpensive ways to prevent erosion caused by wind and water. A thick lawn absorbs rainfall, virtually eliminating any runoff, and the extensive root systems of the individual grass plants bind the soil more effectively than many other ground covers.

10. Self-repair: A lawn is naturally self-repairing. If you choose the right grass for your climate conditions and lawn use patterns, it will be highly resilient and regenerate quickly in response to stresses such as drought, frost or foot traffic.

“There are many reasons to love your lawn,” says Bryan Ostlund, executive director of Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers and turf specialists. “Whether you want a safe place for the kids to play or a welcoming outdoor space for a barbecue, grass fits the bill. It’s a remarkably easy and budget-friendly way to add aesthetic, recreational and economic value to your home.”



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Prep your home and lawn checklist for fall

BLOOM-Prep-lawn(NewsUSA) – As autumn colors set in this season, make sure your all-important home and garden upkeep checklist is ready.

Although the lawn is often overlooked during the fall, it’s actually the perfect time to make sure everything is organized before the harsher winter elements take hold. Paul James, host of HGTV’s Gardening by the Yard, advises homeowners to start early—approximately six weeks before the first good freeze.

Here is a list of some of the tasks and items you should add to your fall checklist this year:

*Maintain the landscape. Tidy up the lawn, flowerbeds, bushes, gardens, etc. Remove unsightly foliage, dead stems, piles of leaves and other debris. Fluff your mulch with a rake so water can seep into the subsoil.

*Plant fall vegetables. Cool-season vegetable gardens can flourish with the right plants—lettuce, greens, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, potatoes and loads more. Imagine all the hearty stews and delicious soups you could make from scratch.

*Keep muscles relaxed, and stay hydrated. Don’t underestimate the fall sun. Summer may be over, but hours of gardening in the sun can still leave you exhausted, strained and parched. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, take breaks and stretch your muscles. If you suffer from backaches and muscle strains, keep some relief like Absorbine Jr. (www.absorbinejr.com) on hand. The natural menthol in Absorbine Jr. helps relieve muscle and back pain to make it a must-have for yardwork. Its herbal ingredients also help provide relief from sunburn and gnat and other insect bites.

*Make room for indoor plants. Your potted or container plants won’t survive the winter outside, so it’s time to make room indoors for tropical plants, herbs and succulents. Potted perennials can be transplanted into a garden after trimming the roots and some top growth.

*Clean garage, shed or outbuildings. Once you organize your storage space, you can neatly put away all of your summer tools or patio furniture. Plus, your newly emptied planters will have a home next to all the other stuff families accumulate.






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Three tips to grow a bold, beautiful backyard

BLOOM-Three-tips-bold-beautiful-backyard(NewsUSA) – Summer is here, and it’s time to start heralding warmer temperatures by beautifying the backyard. So, don the appropriate layers, grab some tools and turn your backyard into something ideal for entertaining.

Families love to spend time outdoors, especially if they have a pool, patio or deck, so take the time to administer some TLC to the lawn, pool, patio and garden. The following tips will help you get the most out of your backyard:

1. Grow some privacy. Depending on the size of your backyard, consider installing a fence, arbor, pergola, row of bushes, trees or hanging vines to shelter your property from the neighbors. This helps make gatherings more private and gives your lawn a “secret garden” feel. Plus, a fence, trellis or arbor can offer a wind-break and much-needed shade, both of which can be key for pools. Flowering vines like trumpet vines, clematis or morning glory attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

2. Get cozy outdoors. If you have unused deck space, create a family-friendly area perfect for entertaining outdoors: cook-outs, lounging, games or parties. All you need is some inexpensive patio furniture—clusters with chairs and a sofa—and small tables for surface space. To make it really cozy, add some brightly colored throw pillows and potted plants.

3. Simplify pool maintenance. Family pools tend to make the best summer parties, but all investments include maintenance. Adding a pool cover can reduce pool heating costs by 50 to 70 percent. Or if your pool has problems with cloudy water or chlorine levels, BioGuard’s new Pool Tonic removes phosphate and many other unwanted contaminants for beautiful water that is easy to maintain and enjoy. For complimentary water testing, bring a sample of your pool water to any BioGuard dealer, and receive the right prescription for your pool. Visit www.bioguard.com to find your nearest dealer.


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Easy tips for a manicured lawn

DIG-Manicured-lawn(BPT) – The days are getting longer, the grass is growing and yard work season has begun. Many homeowners strive to have the best lawn in the neighborhood, but the task ahead can often feel daunting and time-consuming.

Although yard work can be overwhelming at times, the steps to a great-looking lawn are easier than you think. To get started, here are a few tips for giving your yard that finished look:

* Keep grass approximately 2 inches in length and only take off 1/3 inch of new growth.

* Alternate the direction you mow each session. If you mow in the same direction every time, the wheels will create a rut in the grass.

* Plant flowers around the yard for a pop of color. Using mulch in flower beds will also add detail to your landscape.

* Use string trimmers around trees, rocks, fences and other obstacles to give your lawn a polished look.

* Use a broom to clean grass clippings and soil from pavement and walkways.

Yard work can feel easier and even enjoyable when using the right lawn care tools for the job. According to Troy-Bilt, a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, one of the quickest ways to give your lawn a manicured look is using a string trimmer. It can handle everything from cutting down weeds to trimming around trees to cleaning up grass under decks. String trimmers are the most versatile tool every homeowner should have in their shed.

“Lawn mowers can maneuver around obstacles and larger plants, but it’s usually hard to get into tight spaces,” says Heidi Ketvertis, director of marketing communications for Troy-Bilt. “A string trimmer can get into places a lawn mower can’t reach and really give your lawn that polished look.”

Troy-Bilt’s TB675 EC 4-cycle gas string trimmer can help make life in the yard that much easier. There’s no need to mix oil and gas, and it can quickly convert into multiple tools with Troy-Bilt’s TrimmerPlus attachments.

Making your lawn stand out as the beauty of the block will take some work, but the end result will be worth the effort. Visit www.troybilt.com to learn more about lawn care products to help make time in the yard more enjoyable.



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Spring Lawn and Landscape Tips

From yard work and pest control to cleaning and taking care of home systems, there’s a lot that goes into maintaining a house. Everything Home offers practical tips and expert know-how to help anyone take good care of their home.


(Family Features) A beautiful landscape doesn’t happen on its own. You can help your lawn, trees and shrubs get off to a healthy growing season.

“Trees and shrubs add tremendous appeal to our urban home environments, but to thrive, particularly out of their natural world, they require regular care with added nutrients and protection against invasive pests,” said Ben Hamza, Ph.D., director of technical operations at TruGreen.

Here are some lawn and landscape tips to help you take care of your yard this spring.

Clean Up: New spring growth can be hampered if it’s covered with debris. Clean out dead leaves, branches, trash or anything else that could impair your lawn’s growth.

Prune Properly: Corrective pruning of your trees and shrubs can make them not only look better, but help them grow better, too.

• Don’t top-shear overgrown shrubs or trees – thin them out to preserve their shape.

• Spring-blooming plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, forsythia and lilacs should only be pruned after they flower.

Put the Right Plants in the Right Place: When you’re ready to plant new plants, make sure you put them where they’ll thrive.

• Be sure you know the light requirements for a new plant.

• Fences or other structures can restrict air flow, which can interfere with growth.

• Make sure you have the right type of grass for your lawn. Wherever grass has a hard time growing, plant shady ground covers instead.

• If you’re considering sod, make sure the temperature is warm enough for grass growth. Firmly pack sod into the soil and water as needed to encourage deep root growth.

Nourish the Roots: Spring lawn, tree and shrub roots seek nourishment after the dormancy of winter.

• Make sure your early spring fertilizer has less nitrogen and more phosphorus to promote strong roots. Consider a professional company, such as TruGreen, which will design a custom plan to give your yard exactly what it needs.

• Be sure to keep fertilizer on target to prevent run-off, and sweep fertilizer granules that may reach pavement back onto your lawn.

Get Ready to Water: Give your lawn a slow, steady watering about once a week, but adjust depending upon rainfall, grass and soil type in your area.

• Follow the owner’s operating manual to take an automated sprinkler system out of hibernation. Ensure sprinkler heads and related water lines are working properly.

• Make sure the irrigation system covers your landscape efficiently. For example, you can place a one-inch deep, empty food can in the middle of the lawn area to measure the depth of water collected after each watering cycle to ensure uniformity.

Mulch the Right Way: Mulch can keep soil in place, reduce weeds and retain moisture. But you need to make sure you’re doing it right.

• When the soil has warmed up, apply three inches of organic mulch to base of shrubs and trees to help conserve soil moisture and to reduce weed pressure. But be mindful not to cover the flare of the tree base in mulch “volcanoes,” which can lead to rot.

• When your lawn is actively growing, return grass clippings back to the soil for added lawn nutrients and consider using composted materials to nourish plants.

For more tips, visit www.TruGreen.com.

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Mow don’t rake fall leaves

Eco-friendly landscape tips for the fall season

by Melinda Myers, gardening expert

Go green, or should I say brown.  Recycle fall leaves into compost, a soil amendment or a nutritious topdressing for the lawn. It saves time, improves your landscape, and is good for the environment.
Shred fall leaves with your mower and leave them on the lawn. As long as you can see the grass blades for the leaf pieces your lawn will be fine. Those shredded leaves will break down adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
It is also a good time to make your last application of fertilizer for your lawn. Use a slow release organic nitrogen fertilizer, like Milorganite, that won’t burn the lawn. Plus, the phosphorous is non-leaching and recent research found when the micro-organisms break down this fertilizer, some of the phosphorous and potassium tied up in the soil is released for plants to use.
Northern gardeners with bluegrass, fescue and rye grass lawns can make their last application in late fall before the ground freezes. Those in the south growing Bermuda, St Augustine and other warm weather grasses can make their last fertilization about one month before the lawn goes dormant. That’s about the time of the first killing frost. Fertilizing later can result in winter damage.
Bag any leaves you don’t want to leave on the lawn and dig them into annual flower and vegetable gardens. They will break down over winter improving the soil.
Use any remaining shredded leaves as mulch on the soil around perennials, trees and shrubs. The shredded leaves help conserve moisture, moderate temperature extremes and reduce weed problems. And once decomposed, help improve the soil.
Still leaves left? Start a compost pile by mixing fall leaves with other yard waste.  Don’t add aggressive weeds or those gone to seed. Leave insect and disease infested or chemically treated plant debris out of the pile. Don’t add fat, meat and other animal products that can attract rodents. Moisten and occasionally turn the pile to speed up the process. Soon you will have a wonderful soil conditioner to put back into your landscape.
Nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including “Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening.” She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments which air on 89 TV and radio stations throughout the U.S. Myers’ web site is www.melindamyers.com.

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