I get more and more excited each week as spring draws closer. One of my favorite days of the year is when I am out and about in winter and suddenly see that the buds on the trees have begun to swell. It’s marvelous to discover that it’s almost time for everything to really start growing again.
One task that should be on your spring cleanup list if you have flower beds is adding mulch. This is especially useful if you have laid wood chips before. They tend to turn gray and otherwise become dull looking over the course of a year due to conditions like rain and snow. Putting a fresh layer down can really make your flower beds more eye-catching in a jiffy.
There are a few different types of mulch available to the home gardener. The ones that are the most aesthetically pleasing include:
- Cacao (cocoa) hulls
- Rocks or pebbles
- Wood chips
Adding one of these to your flower beds does more than just make it look more presentable. It will also help protect the plants from wild fluctuations in temperature, help stop weeds from being so problematic and keep water from evaporating away so easily.
You need to figure out how much mulch to purchase by calculating the area of your flower beds and multiply by how deep you wish the layer to be. You can use this handy calculator from Cornell University if you aren’t feeling mathematically inclined at the moment. You would then see how many cubic feet are in bags of the mulch of your choice and divide by that number to see how many you would need to buy. You can also buy it by the cubic yard if you have a large area to mulch.
Once you have brought the mulch to your yard, spread it evenly over the top of the soil or existing mulch. Do not work it into the soil. Keep it a few inches away from the trunks of any trees and shrubs since having it too close can cause fungal and other problems.
What is your favorite type of mulch?
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I like to try to save money by doing projects myself sometimes. I am proud that even though I do not know much about cars, I was able to figure out how to change my own taillight. I’ve crafted and fixed and muddled my way through many other projects.
However, I’ve recognized that there are times when it’s more efficient to call in a professional. Cleaning and organizing are not my forte, so I have hired cleaners before and hope to get regular housekeeping someday. They have the skills and knowledge to get the job done much faster and do a better job in the process.
Now is the time to start thinking seriously about hiring a landscape professional. We have preconceived notions that services like this are not affordable, but it might not be as bad as you think. Sit down and calculate how much it cost you to do your own garden care last year:
- Did you have to buy any equipment or supplies?
- How much money/space did it cost to maintain and store your equipment?
- How much did you spend on fuel for your mower and other tools?
- How many hours did it take you approximately? Is there something else you could have been doing with that time to make money, rest or do activities that you love?
Once you have that number calculated out, give us a call. We can help you figure out how much service is needed to maintain your yard and what the price would be. You may be surprised to find out that it could indeed cost less to have your lawn care done for you in the coming year, leaving you with the satisfaction of a beautiful garden and more free time in your life.
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Instead of staying cooped up inside and forgetting about your garden, take a minute to think about how much winter precipitation you have had so far. If you have wrapped evergreen shrubs in burlap for protection, now is also a good time to go outside on one of the milder days and see how they are doing.
Winter Precipitation Check
One task that you can do now while you wait for your garden to come alive again in the spring is to check your winter precipitation levels. You may want to place a rain gauge or weather station in your garden to help you keep track of how much precipitation you have received. You can also watch the exact amounts accrued through websites like weather.com.
We do not often think about watering our plants during the winter, but it may be necessary if the temperatures have been warmer than usual and there has not been much snow or rain. If it has been a few weeks since you have had either and the temperatures are in the 40s, give them some water. Do not leave it until later in the afternoon in case freezing temperatures set in and cause damage to the wet plants.
Burlap Shrub Inspection
Inspect any of your evergreen shrubs that are wrapped in burlap for protection. If there is snow present, you can gently shake it off because heavy snow accumulation can add pressure to the branches and cause them to break. You don’t want to be too forceful with the removal, though, or that act itself will cause damage.
How much snow or rain have you had so far?
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I once did a savings plan where I put aside a certain amount each week. I started at the beginning of the year and put in $1, which was pretty easy. Next week it increased to $2 and kept increasing by a dollar each time. Since it ramped up slowly, it didn’t seem so painful. It was a good thing that I had set aside money since at the end of the year, I happened to need some dental crowns. I likely would not have been able to get the work done if I had not prudently set aside savings.
It is also a smart idea to save for future landscaping needs that you will have in the spring and summer. If you wait until it’s time to get the work done, you may have an emergency come up or otherwise find that you do not have enough money.
Start by estimating how much you will need, especially if you are planning on doing some renovations. You can call us now to get a tenative cost for our services. Add on a little extra (10% is a good minimum) just in case you find that it ends up a bit more than you expected. Divide that number by either 12 (months) or 52 (weeks) to see the amount that you would need for your goal. Some online banking accounts allow you to add a nickname, so you can specify somehow that it is for a beautiful garden to help keep you motivated.
One trick that I like to use is to have it autodraft from my checking to my savings. You have to be careful that you do not accidentally overdraft the account, of course, but with this method, I don’t have to think about putting the money in there.
What helps you save up money? Do you have any tips or tricks?
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Even though the winter landscape is a bit quiet overall, there are still steps you can take to make sure your garden is in proper shape and ready for the next growing season. Two problems that yards may face are broken limbs and the presence of frozen puddles.
A common cause of broken tree branches is snow or ice accumulation. When the branches are weighted down after a storm, the stress can cause them to break. You have to be careful with branches that are covered with snow. If it is not frozen and icy, you could try lightly using a broom handle or other similar tool from underneath to knock some of the heavy snow off. This action can actually cause a branch to break also, so care should be exercised when doing this and avoid when possible. If it is covered with ice, it is even more likely for damage to occur and you should let nature take its course.
If you do have a tree branch that is broken, assess the situation. If it looks like it is in a dangerous position (hanging by a small bit, for example or a large branch), call a professional to help properly remove it. Otherwise, leave it alone until spring. If the damage is too extensive, you may end up needing to remove the tree, but get a consultation to see if that is a good idea before going forward.
You may not immediately think of a frozen puddle as anything more than the potential for falls. After all, it’s winter and snow, rain and slush are commonly present. Frozen puddles in a certain area, especially if they are recurring, may be a sign that there is a drainage problem present. Take note of where it is located and do a soil drainage test in the spring once temperatures warm up.
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Can you believe that it’s it’s 2015 already? Happy New Year! May you have health, prosperity and peace throughout this new year.
What goals do you have for your garden this year? I ordered a catalog from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. One of my resolutions is to try growing something new and unusual. I also want to germinate seeds in my new little greenhouse. Finally, my husband and I plan to buy a farm someday where we’ll have a vegetable garden, an orchard, livestock and more. This year we will look into the details of what we want so that we know how much it will cost and get an idea of when we can make this all happen.
Ideas for Garden Related Resolutions:
-You too could try planting something new in your garden. The Internet is a wonderful tool for research and daydreaming even when the weather is dreary outside. Make sure that you check the tags to read about its growing conditions. It is important to choose a plant that will work where you want to plant it.
-Maybe you could add a new feature to your landscape. Have you been dreaming of a fire pit? A patio cover? An arbor? If you need help in determining how to make this project happen, give us a call.
-Get organized! Learn about the different tasks that you should be doing around the yard and make a schedule so that you can stay on top of it all.
Once again, all of us at Emil Yedowitz Landscaping and Irrigation Solutions wish you a very Happy New Year!
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We are only a couple of weeks away from the official start of winter. The end of the gardening season is upon us and you should perform a final garden cleanup to end the year right. This will allow you to have the satisfaction of knowing that your garden will get the best possible start in spring when the world comes alive again.
By now you should have already done fall landscaping tasks like:
Close off the gardening season with one final inspection of your yard. Walk around the perimeter and check for signs of problems like broken sprinkler heads. If more leaves have fallen, take a moment to rake them up. They can be stored for later use as mulch or placed in a compost pile. Check for any tools like shovels that have been accidently left outside and put them away so that they do not rust from snowy conditions. Throw away or recycle leftover pots.
If you have not done so in the past, this can also be a good time to take a moment to map out the current layout of your garden on a piece of graph paper. This will allow you to do some planning during the winter months of any changes that you would like to make.
Have you done your final garden cleanup of the year yet? What other tasks do you perform as part of this?
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December is almost upon us and it’s definitely time to make sure your snow removal arsenal is in place. There are three common ways that you can use to keep your driveaways and sidewalks clear, making it safer and easier to move around your front yard.
I am no stranger to shoveling snow; in college, the winter portion of my job on a landscaping crew consisted of scraping away the sidewalks (often quite early in the morning) so that students could arrive at class safely. I even did it barefoot once around my house so that I could say I did and horrify people like my Southern Californian family.
Use caution when you are using a snow shovel. This is strenuous exercise and can be quite harmful if you are out of shape or have certain health issues like coronary disease, as this Yahoo! Health article advises. They also warn that you should not shovel snow between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. to avoid the greatest risk of heart attacks and other problems. Don’t try to be a hero by grabbing the biggest shovel possible and scooping up massive loads of snow; you will likely end up with pains and injuries that way.
You may also want to use a deicer….
Our condo complex keeps buckets of deicing salts around every staircase. These can be placed on the stairs and sidewalks to help with snow removal and melting the ice that accumulates and creates a dangerous situation.
You do need to use caution when using these products. Over time, the salts can collect around your plants and burn them. They are also strong enough to damage anything that is made of concrete. There are some types of chemicals that do not contain salt and will be easier on your yard.
If you have a large yard and want to move snow quickly, get a snowblower. These machines are designed to blow away the snow as you push it along. They can be much quicker than a shovel or chemical. Since this is a machine being used in bad weather, use it carefully. Read the instruction manual to figure out where the dead man’s switch is located to shut it down safely and quickly should something fail. Turn it off completely before you remove any obstructions. Make sure you perform yearly maintenance to keep it in working order.
What method(s) do you use for your snow removal?
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Winter can be pretty depressing sometimes for a plant lover like myself since so many of them have died or gone dormant and the landscape is blanketed with snow. Towards the end of the season, though, I get to witness lovely surprises like the first buds swelling on the trees and crocus leaves and flowers peeping up through the snow or bare ground. When you plant the crocus and other spring flowering bulbs in autumn, you are preparing the way for a beautiful color show in late winter and spring.
Common Spring Flowering Bulbs That Should Be Planted in Autumn:
- Garlic (separate the cloves before planting)
Make sure that you give your bulbs a chance to get some roots forming during the fall before winter hits and everything slows down. Plant them before the ground becomes frozen.You will want to water them a little so that the plant can function, but not enough that the soil is very moist since this increases the chances that the bulb may rot before it can really get growing.
You should first inspect and test your potential planting site. Send a soil sample to a soil laboratory so you can check the nutrient levels present. This will tell you how much is currently present so you can buy the right kind of fertilizer. This should be worked into the ground so that the roots will be able to reach and use the nutrients. You will especially want to be aware of your phosphorus levels as this is necessary for the best possible flowers.
When you plant spring flowering bulbs, they should usually be placed in a hole that is either two or three times the length of the bulb. Check the package for planting instructions to be sure for your specific kind. Look at the bulb and place it so that the tip is upward and the roots positioned downward.
What is your favorite kind of bulb to plant?
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When we fertilize our lawns, we think of spring as the best time to perform this task. Fall does not seem like a likely time since the growing world is slowing down and plants are getting ready to go dormant. However, fertilizing your lawn in fall is actually one of the best things you can do to help your grass stay healthy.
During autumn, plants are busy trying to store up food to get through the cold temperatures of winter. Fertilizing your lawn in fall boosts their storage potential and makes it more likely that your grass will survive until spring. You want to perform this before it really gets too cold, however, so perform this task by November 30th each year.
As always, a good test to perform before you do any fertilizing is an assessment of the nutrient levels that are currently found in the soil. Adding too much is wasteful and can even potentially harm your plants. You can buy a simple test at your local garden center or nursery. For more detailed results, you can send off a sample to a testing laboratory like Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory or your local cooperative extension service.
As Cornell University advises, you should use “1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. (1 lb. N/1,000 ft.2). Use a fertilizer that is about 70 percent slow-release nitrogen” Once you have applied the nutrients, water your lawn so that the fertilizer can travel down into the soil.
As always, feel free to give us a call if you would like us to do your fall lawn fertilization this year.
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