Whether you have a new home with minimal landscaping or an existing one in need of a landscaping “do-over”, here are some tips to help you save cash on keeping it green.
- Research – Carpenters say, “Measure twice, cut once.” Avoid making costly mistakes. Learn from books, magazines and websites. Talk to friends and neighbors to find out what worked and what didn’t work for them. There are lots of free resources to explore like county extension agents, local clubs and community gardens, and horticulturists at local universities or botanical gardens.
- Compare – There are a lot of choices out there and online, too. Sometimes we assume that our local mega-mart has the best deal, but don’t limit yourself. You may not only benefit financially from one of the local nurseries but also from their advice and expertise. Don’t forget to compare pricing from unexpected places, too, like the small local hardware store, the farmer’s market or even the grocery store.
- Co-op – Pool your purchases with friends and neighbors. Bought in bulk, a truckload of mulch can be quite a bit cheaper than buying by the bag, as can bulk purchases of grass seed or bulbs. Consider pooling online purchases to share shipping costs. Meet minimums on free deliveries like lumber or pavers by combining orders with neighbors. Share the rental of big equipment like tillers or cement mixers.
- Fair Trade – Use your imagination and trade for what you need. You can save on plants by trading for seeds, bulbs, or plant divisions. Barter your skills and expertise in exchange for the same from friends and neighbors.
- Buy Used – Lots of bargains can be found on tools, supplies and even plants at auctions, estate sales, yard sales and flea markets. Don’t forget to check online. You may just find what you need, free for the hauling.
- Compost – “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.” Once when you cut it and twice when you burn it. Creating your own compost is the same. Save on having your leaves, grass cuttings, garden refuse and kitchen waste hauled away. Save on building up your soil year after year by creating your own compost. Again, do your research. A compost pile managed correctly doesn’t have to smell bad or be invaded by varmints. Plus, you can pat yourself on the back for recycling and reusing.
The official start of fall is fast approaching and winter won’t be too far behind. Get your home and yard ready for fall and winter with this handy checklist:
- Hire a professional to inspect your furnace and make sure your heating system is working properly.
- Inspect you chimney for cracks and any debris that may have accumulated in the flue.
- Clean and covered or store patio furniture.
- Fertilize the lawn and winterize your lawn mower.
- Rake leaves.
- Clean gutters and clear them of debris before winter weather arrives.
- Hang holiday lights. It is easier to do and more enjoyable while the weather is still nice.
- Harvest the rest of the produce from your vegetable garden.
- Plant/move trees and shrubs.
- Mulch trees and shrubs to protect them from harsh winter weather.
- Drain and store hoses. Turn off outdoor faucets.
Buy winter supplies such as snow shovels, ice melt, and ice scrapers.
The summer sun is high in the sky. As the temperatures soar, Mother Nature decides to hold back on rain. Your grass, garden, and trees are beginning to suffer. Below are a few tips for keeping your green space green throughout the summer.
Did you know that unmulched soil can lose up to twice as much water as mulched soil, due to evaporation? Three to four inches of mulch around your plants will not only reduce soil temperature and keep moisture in the soil, but it will help to smother those pesky weeds that want to steal any available water. As a bonus, organic mulch will break down in the soil building up its organic content and preventing compaction. That gives your soil a better chance to soak up water for your plants use. When mulching around trees, pull the mulch back a bit around the trunk to allow air to reach it.
It is best to water in the morning when the humidity is high and the temperature is cooler. Less water is lost to evaporation this way, and it prepares your plants and lawn to face the hottest part of the day without wilting. In the heat of the day, water evaporates faster causing you to use more water to get the job done. Also, water droplets on the plants work like a magnifying glass for the sun and could cause “sunburn” on the leaves. Watering too late in the day doesn’t give the plants time to dry properly and could promote fungus growth. Since shade is so important in keeping down the temperature of your lawn, don’t forget to water your trees. To help the water reach deeply to the roots, drill holes 24 to 30 inches deep around the base of the tree and fill them with compost. Water your lawn and trees slowly to help the soil absorb the water. This will also help to prevent water loss through transpiration which is a way that grass and plants “sweat” through their leaves. Finally, be mindful to deal with pests that will sap your precious plants and lawn of their strength.
Plants use about one inch of water from the soil per week of the growing season. Use a rain gauge to estimate your watering and listen to the weather forecast to decide when to water. A soaker hose will help allow the water to soak in slowly without runoff. Allowing your lawn to grow taller will help retain moisture by preventing water loss through transpiration. Consider directing the downspouts from your gutters to flow toward your trees or shrubs. Or even better, collect rainwater that flows from your roof into a barrel to use on a not so rainy day.
Keeping these tips in mind will help your plants, lawn, and trees stay a healthy green all summer.
Taking proper care of your lawn in the spring, will give you a jump start to maintaining a healthy lawn all summer. If you polish your mowing techniques early, they will carry you through the growing season like a major league pro. These tips will help you get started:
1. Rake – Remove all of the dead weeds and grass, sticks, litter, and leaves.
2. Sharpen Blade – Keep your lawnmower blade sharp. A dull blade tears and bruises the grass, therefore weakening it.
3. Proper Height – Generally, a lawn should be mowed by cutting off 1/3 of the blade. This may mean making two passes if the grass is especially long. Cutting a lawn too short allows accelerated weed growth and scalping causes uneven growth and bare spots.
4. Direction – Mix it up by cutting the grass in a different direction each time. This helps to prevent the grass blades from leaning in one direction. When turning the mower make turns as smooth as possible.
5. Don’t Mow Wet – Let the grass dry before mowing. Even the morning dew makes the lawn too wet to mow. Besides causing uneven cuts, mowing wet grass can encourage the growth of fungus. Wet grass clumps up under the mower’s deck. This can impede the blade and tax the engine. Also, there is danger to the operator trying to maneuver on a wet lawn. Don’t be a hero; let the ump call the game.
When you look out into your backyard, do you see an unorganized mess with toys strewn about the yard, leaf rakes propped against the side of the house, and your patio furniture tucked under a tarp for the winter months? If your yard seems cluttered or you feel like you have more outdoor items that you know what to do with, consider building a lawn and garden shed. Most are attractive and fit neatly into a backyard. Furthermore, they are extremely functional. These versatile designs can accommodate a variety of needs. Some common uses include:
- Storage for lawn and garden tools such as the lawn mower, leaf blower, and sprinkler
- Potting shed for gardening enthusiasts offering a place to store pots, potting mix and shovels while providing a place to care for and pot plants
- Storage for lawn an patio furniture throughout the winter months
- Ideal for parking the family bikes and storing other outdoor toys like baseball bats and gloves, Frisbees, etc.
- Tool storage for the family handyman
- Outdoor workshop
- Art studio
- Storage space for the recycling bins
- Playhouse for the kids/grandkids
There are many more ways you can use a backyard or lawn and garden shed. Your imagination is the limit. If you’d like to view backyard shed plans, please visit The Garage Plan Shop’s outstanding collection of storage shed designs.