Spring works in your garden

As the world outside finally begins to turn green after a long winter, it’s time once again to pay attention to your lawn. Spring is a sensitive time for your yard – the soil is spongy, the plants are tender, and the weather is unpredictable.
Your lawn will thank you for being gentle this time of year, but it will also thank you for addressing a few important spring tasks. Here’s how to go about taking care of your lawn in the spring.

Types of Grass
Spring lawn care depends on the type of grass you are growing:
Cool-season grasses include fescue, bluegrass, and rye. They have two growth spurts – a moderate one in the spring, and a big one in the fall. They go dormant and can struggle in hot summer months, so the focus of spring care is strengthening the plants for summer.
Warm-season grasses—such as Zoysia, St. Augustine, centipede, and Bermuda—thrive in the heat and go dormant during winter. They begin growing after the last spring frost and really get going by midsummer.
Understanding the type of grass you have and its peak growing season will help you address lawn care tasks at the correct time.
Clean Up – Gently!

Avoid heavy yard work in the spring until the soil dries out – foot traffic and hard raking can compact or disturb soggy soil and damage tender, new grass shoots. Once the soil is good and dry, give your lawn a good spring cleaning to encourage grass growth and discourage pests and diseases. Remove leaves and fallen debris, and gently rake to fluff up and separate the grass shoots.
In areas with heavy snowfall, leftover snow piles can smother the grass underneath and foster mold growth. As the weather warms, spread snow piles out with a shovel to encourage melting.
Controlling Weeds
Spring is the best time to prevent weeds by using pre-emergent weed control, which work by preventing weed seeds from germinating. Your first application of a pre-emergent herbicide should occur just as the forsythia bushes finish blooming in spring – that should stop crabgrass and other weeds before they have a chance to grow.
Both cool-season and warm-season lawns benefit from weed prevention in the spring. Pre-emergent herbicides work for about three months, so plan on a second application during the summer.
Seeding and Planting
In the spring, gardeners have to choose between weed control and lawn seeding. Pre-emergent herbicides prevent grass seed from sprouting too, so you can’t do both – the herbicide will be active for up to 12 weeks, which means you’ll miss the spring planting season.
If your focus this spring is on filling in bare spots or establishing a new lawn, time your activities according to the type of grass:
Cool-season grasses can be planted as soon as the air temperatures get into the 60s and soil temperatures are in the 50s. Plant as soon as temperatures allow to give the seedlings a chance to get established before hot weather hits. Fall is a better time to plant cool-season grasses, so use spring planting for patching bare spots, and be prepared to keep your lawn well-watered during the summer.
Warm-season grasses can be planted when air temperatures are in the 70s, soil temperatures are in the 60s, and all danger of frost has passed. Late spring is the best time to plant warm-season grasses.


The type of grass you have also influences when and how you should fertilize your lawn:Cool-season grasses: Resist the urge to heavily fertilize your lawn in the spring. Spring feeding encourages rapid tender growth that will struggle to survive the heat of summer, particularly in drought-prone areas. If your lawn is in bad shape, fertilize lightly in spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Save the heavier feedings for fall, when cool-season grasses are at their peak growing season.
Warm-season grasses: Fertilize in late spring as soon as the lawn “greens up” and begins actively growing. This is usually in April or May, after the last frost.
Soil Problems

Spring is a great time to conduct a soil test to find out if your soil needs any amendments. You can apply lime to acidic soil (pH below 6) anytime during the growing season, as long as the grass isn’t wilted or covered with frost. Early spring can be a great time to apply lime if you’ll be planting new grass that year.Don’t apply lime within 3 weeks of fertilizing, as the ingredients can react and become less effective. Follow the recommendations of your soil test kit and your purchased amendments for proper dosage.

Soil test kit:


Other Spring Lawn Tasks
• Aeration: is best done during your lawn’s peak growing season. For warm-season grasses, this means early to mid-summer. For cool-season grasses, aeration is best saved for fall but can be repeated in spring if the soil is extremely compacted. Wait until your lawn has been mowed 2-3 times in the season, so you’ll be sure it is growing fast enough to recover from the aeration.
• Dethatching: also best done during peak growing season, right before aerating.
• Mowing: Begin mowing as soon as your lawn needs it – grass blades do best when you cut no more than a third of the blade’s length at a time.
• Watering: Once your grass starts growing, you’ll need to make sure your lawn gets at least 1” of water per week. Until then, you can water less frequently but remember that cold air is very drying to plants and lawns.
• Insect control: Spring is a good time to address problems with fire ants. Many other insects, such as grubs and mole crickets, may also cause damage to your lawn in spring but are more effectively controlled later in the summer.
• Lawn Equipment: Sharpen the blade and tune up your lawn mower, as well as other lawn equipment, to make summer mowing a breeze!





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Walk Behind String Trimmers

Walk Behind String Trimmers
Bearing the appearance of a cross between a string trimmer and a lawn mower, a wheeled / walk-behind string trimmer is a powerful gardening implement that can easily cut through thick, stubborn weeds and grasses. They are perfect for use in rugged terrain that can’t be handled with a regular mower, or where the grass / shrubbery is too thick to be dealt with using standard string trimmers.
Wheeled string trimmers are all powered by the same kind of engines – 4 stroke ones that need oil changes as well some other maintenance to keep working properly. Most wheeled string trimmers’ engines also come with recoil starters that have to be pulled by a starter rope that turns the engine over and gets it going.
There are multiple reasons as to why wheeled string trimmers are a great choice for thick brush and rough terrain – they are large (12 to 16 inches), which enables them to be more easily maneuverable on uneven ground. Since the wheels are composed of hard plastic or a Never Flat material, there’s virtually no chance of a flat tire. The cutting width of walk behind string trimmers is a hefty 22 inches, so a lot of ground can be covered at once.
Since wheeled string trimmers are able to handle tough brush, their line breaks more often as you work through the shrubbery. It’s a good idea to pack some replacement line; it can come in several different lengths and diameters as per your trimmer and job requirement.
Buy a wheeled string trimmer that is strong enough to handle the weed growing in your backyard – remember, skimping on the cash will eventually lead to a lot of frustration, besides the money being a total waste. You’ve got plenty of options to choose from, make sure to pick the one that suits your particular needs.
First and foremost, you need to take the size of your yard into account, as well as the kind of terrain you’ve got. Based upon this, you can decide on whether you need to buy a high powered walk behind string trimmer, or a lighter model that you’ll only use for tackling the occasional weed growth in your yard. Remember, skimping on the cash will eventually lead to a lot of frustration, besides the money being a total waste. You’ve got plenty of options to choose from, make sure to pick the one that suits your particular needs.
If you have a storage problem, go for a walk behind trimmer that comes with a fold down handle so you can easily tuck it away in your garage under other stuff.
Install an ergonomic harness on your walk behind weed trimmer to make it more efficient, comfortable and easier to use. The handlebar of the string trimmer must be angled against the shaft to prevent it from putting unnecessary strain on your back as you work in the field. Make sure that the model you choose has sturdy vibration dampening characteristics.
A vibrating tool can make your hands, arms and shoulders feel tingly and uncomfortable for quite some time after you’ve stopped working, but if your wheeled weed eater has vibration dampening, you can work on it for longer periods of time without experiencing this side effect.

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Christmas tree in the Garden



The Christmas tradition was first documented in 336 AD when an early Roman calendar positioned
December 25 as the day of observance. Special foods, decorations of greenery in the home and gift giving
were part of that custom. By 1100, Christmas was recognized as the most important holiday in Europe and
St. Nicholas symbolized the tradition of gift giving. During the 1500s, a religious movement that led to the
Reformation and the birth of Protestantism caused many Christians to consider Christmas a pagan
celebration because it included many non-religious customs. In the 1600s, Christmas was outlawed in
England and many British colonies in America, though gift giving continued and prevailed.
A European legend tells how in the 1700s, St. Boniface persuaded the Teutons to give up their cruel
practice of sacrificing a child before an oak tree during the midwinter festival. Disgusted by this tradition,
he suggested cutting down a big fir tree, take it home and celebrate around it with the innocent children. He
honored the fir tree because it symbolized immortality; the leaves were always green and the top pointed
up to the heavens. During the 1800s, decorating a tree and sending cards became popular. The custom of
decorating a Christmas tree spread throughout Germany into the rest of the European community and
England. It came to America with the German immigrants and because this custom was favored by British
royalty, it became fashionable in the homes of many Americans of English decent.
Today, the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree lives on for about two-thirds of the American
population. Half of these people will buy real Christmas trees while the other half will buy artificial trees.
This year at least 100 million seedling conifers have been planted as Christmas trees seedlings and about
40 million trees will be cut and sold. Of all the Christmas trees, 90 percent of the trees are planted and
raised on farms and ten percent are cut from native stands. In the U.S. alone, over one million acres are
devoted to Christmas tree production; more than 12,000 growers supply trees at Christmas time.
Types of Christmas Trees
While Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states, the Northwest is the highest producing region in the U.S.
Southern states now have active Christmas tree farms since hybrid trees were generated that can grow
much better in this region than natural selections.
The earliest choice for Christmas trees in the U.S. was the northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) which
is not a true cedar at all. Instead, we commonly call it an arborvitae as it has overlapping scales and not
needles. In the late 1800s, balsam fir (Abies balsamea) became popular as a Christmas tree. In the 1930s,
balsam fir gave way to the Scotch pine (Pinus strobus) , native to Europe and Asia. Scotch pine remains one
of the most popular choices today along with a number of other trees, including spruces and firs.
Christmas tree suppliers use to cut trees from the wild and transport them back to the consumer. Because
sources of natural stands have become more remote, the quality of trees declined. Moreover, Eastern
forests are prominently spruce and fir which tend to not hold their needles as well as the pines. Early
harvesting and long shipping distances therefore resulted in trees which are much drier and have poorer
needle retention. This has forced suppliers to consider developing plantations where harvest and tree
quality can be controlled. In addition, there has been a shift towards longer-needled, bushier trees that hold
their needles for many weeks. Now, pines in general and Scotch pine in particular as well as firs, notably
Douglas fir, are the most popular choices.
Pines are attractive as Christmas trees because of their long needles that are rarely less than 1.5 inches long
and occur in small bundles of 2 to 5 per cluster. They are the fastest growing of all Christmas trees, but
were not used extensively in this country until the 1950s. Since that time, the popularity of the pines has
steadily increased. The two pines most prominently grown as plantation Christmas trees in Missouri are
Scotch pine and Eastern White pine.
Scotch Pine
Native to Europe, Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) is found over most of the continent and much of northern
Asia including forested areas of Germany and Russia. Though it has been a commercially important timber
tree in Europe, this has not been so in America. In U.S. forests, Scotch pine can grow to between 60 and 90
feet tall. In Europe and under more favorable growing conditions, trees in excess of 150 feet have been
Scotch pine can adapt to deep, well drained moist soils as well as dry, sterile sands and thin soils. It may
also be found on rocky outcrops to elevations 8,000 feet. The flexibility of this tree to grow under varied
conditions makes it particularly attractive and useful as a durable Christmas tree able to withstand the
indoor climate for many weeks. There are many varieties that differ in length, color and stiffness of the
needles. The stem form is also quite variable and it is common to find a crooked stem even with the best
Once planted, Scotch will grow rapidly and attain a Christmas-tree size in six to seven years. It will respond
well to shearing and retains its needles and color for four to six weeks after harvest. You can identify a
Scotch pine by its needles which are 1.5 to 3.5 inches long. Borne in sheathed clusters with two needles
each, the needles often are twisted and the terminal bud is typically orange-red with the small scales
turned backward; the tree has an overall dull blue-green color.
White Pine
The Eastern White pine (Pinus strobus) occurs naturally throughout southeastern Canada, the Lake states,
New England and the Appalachian mountains southward to Georgia. White pine ranks as one of the
principle timber woods in America now exceeded by the southern pines collectively, Douglas fir, oaks and
ponderosa pine. It is not noted for its strength as a wood, but is non-resinous, straight-grained, easy to cut
and polishes well. It has been planted more widely than any other American tree and will outgrow all other
native trees under ideal conditions. Next to the Californian sugarpine, Eastern White pine is the tallest pine
in the U.S.
White pine thrives on deep, sandy-loam soils, but will also do well in many other soil types as long as
adequate moisture is present. As a Christmas tree, white pine has become quite popular because of its soft
needles and overall appearance, mild evergreen smell and fair-to-good needle retention. Although in
demand, most suppliers of white pine are local because of its tendency to be brittle and inability to ship
well. In Christmas tree plantations, it will grow fast and attain harvestable size in six or seven years. Its
natural open form requires that growers shear the trees to produce a more bushy appearance. Its upright
habit and balanced crown density make it a good choice as a holiday tree. However, the branches can be
very brittle and will not support heavy ornaments.
White pine can be identified by its soft needles, three to five inches long and in clusters of five. A papery
sheath surrounds their bases during early spring and summer. The branches are positioned in
characteristic whorls. Bark on the trees is smooth and easily damaged so that care must be taken when
setting it up as a Christmas tree.
The spruces have been popular Christmas trees generally because of their symmetrical shape and very
supportive branches. These trees grow relatively slowly compared to the pines, but remain one of the
traditional Christmas trees, especially in the northern part of the U.S. and Canada. The only drawback to
using spruce is their tendency not to retain needles for long periods. Amongst all Christmas trees
selections, spruce will shed its needles first. This, coupled along with the characteristically sharp needles
and relatively long growing period required to produce a sizable tree, makes spruce less desirable overall.
Through the 1950s, black spruce was fourth on the list in popularity as a Christmas tree selection with
white spruce following close behind. More recently, blue spruce, used commonly as a landscape
ornamental, is finding its way into the Christmas tree trade. It is the only commonly cultivated Christmas
tree in Missouri among all spruces grown.
White Spruce
The white spruce (Picea glauca) is native to North America stretching from Alaska southward to Montana
and the Lake states north to New York and the New England states. The development of Christmas tree
plantations has extended its range into the lower mid-western states like Missouri and Iowa.
White spruce is best grown in cooler climates or higher altitudes farther south. It does well on average soils
with good moisture and is especially suited to rolling hills where air circulation is good.
The trees holds its needles fairly well and when crushed in the fingers, will produce a pungent odor which
can be disagreeable to some. With the exception of needle loss, it has all the desirable features of a good
Christmas tree. Its branches are slender and its blue foliage is dense and consistent for a long period after
harvest. The needles are incurved, short, 0.5 to 1.0 inch in length, four-sided and sharp. Ten to fifteen years
are generally required to produce a good Christmas tree which makes it traditionally more expensive to
buy. However, growers rarely shear white spruce, thus reducing its maintenance requirement.
Blue Spruce
Commonly known as Colorado Blue spruce (Picea pungens), this tree has begun to be more commonly
accepted as a Christmas tree choice, especially when a small tree is desired. It also makes a good living
Christmas tree when planted outdoors after the holidays. It is one of the most admired and widely known
native North American trees and grows naturally in a small area in the central Rocky Mountains. Although
found at elevations of 6,000 to 8,500 feet, trees may extend to elevations over 10,000 feet. Blue spruce is
quite adaptable to a variety of soil types and moisture conditions and does well in moderately rich, dry-tomoist
gravelly or rocky soils.
Perhaps best known as a landscape ornamental, blue spruce has been the subject of much selection. The
development of new hybrids has promoted the Christmas tree industry to consider it as an adaptable,
although slow-growing, tree. Blue spruce is considered more desirable as a Christmas tree than red, black
and Engelmann spruce because of its ability to retain needles longer. As with other spruces, needle
retention is a prime consideration for Christmas trees and some caution should be taken if plans are made
to keep the tree up beyond 4 weeks. A featured characteristic of blue spruce is its waxy coated needles
which give it a unique blue appearance. This waxy layer can be rubbed off to expose the underlying deep
green needles.

It sometimes is easy to confuse firs and spruces at a distance. However upon close inspection, firs have
longer and softer needles which are two-sided and flat rather than four-sided and pointed like those of the
spruces. Amongst all the firs used as Christmas trees, Balsam fir and Douglas fir are the most commonly
encountered. Both are desirable because of their long needle retention and fragrance. Neither is commonly
grown in Missouri as plantation Christmas trees and so are largely imported from other states on the west,
east and northern sections of the country.
Balsam Fir
A favored tree for Christmas in central and eastern areas of the U.S. is the Balsam fir (Abies balsamea). It
occurs naturally in Canada through Ontario and the Maritime Provinces. One of ten native American firs, it
is found in northern Minnesota, Michigan, New York and New England on low, swampy land. It is also
known in lower states down through Virginia at higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains.
Because of its pleasing evergreen smell, it is a very popular Christmas tree and commonly imported to the
Midwest. Needle and color retention is excellent even in dry rooms over and beyond the holiday period.
Above all, balsam fir is perhaps the most symmetrical tree amongst the evergreens making it particularly
good as a Christmas tree selection.
Balsam fir can be identified by its short needles measuring 0.5 to 1.25 inches long. They are flat, dark green
and usually rounded at the tips. The needles are attached on opposite sides and curve upward to cover the
main stem. The needle undersides will take on a waxy appearance caused by lines on stomates. This will be
distinctive since the needles curve prominently upward. The buds are roundish and coated with waxy
pitch. If cones are present, they are erect, pointed upward and two to three inches long, purple and often
Douglas Fir
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesi) has become the most popular Christmas tree in the western states
where it is widespread from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, southward to Mexico and
northward to British Columbia. This tree remains a botanical puzzle taking on characteristics of spruces,
firs and hemlocks. It was discovered in the 1700s and then rediscovered by David Douglas who then
introduced it to the British Isles in the 1800s. Today, it is one of the most common timber trees in the west.
The wood is light, strong and easy to work with. It remains one of the easiest trees to transplant from
nurseries to the forest and will grow anywhere from elevations of 100 to 11,000 feet. However, it is not
well adapted to the Midwest unless the air circulation is good and it is protected from late spring frosts.
Every year, more production acres are being devoted to Douglas fir as its popularity as a Christmas tree
spreads across all areas of the U.S. It has many good characteristics when used as a Christmas tree. The
needles are soft and retained for weeks even in warm rooms. It also has a superior symmetrical form and
responds well to shearing in order to create a more compact and bushy appearance. Douglas fir is a
moderately fast grower taking from six to eight years to develop into a sizable tree.
Generally imported from the coastal areas of the U.S., Douglas fir can be identified by its pointed buds and
soft gently rounded needles which are attached all the way around the stem and lighter green color than
most all other Christmas trees on the market.
Selecting and Caring for the Tree
The most important characteristics for choosing a Christmas tree are shape, color, branch distribution and
needle retention. The first three are easily evaluated at the lot and are simply a matter of choice. Needle
retention, however, is not as easily determined. How long the needles will hold on indoors is a function of
when the tree was cut and the conditions of storage or transport before arriving at the lot. This information
may be or may not be available by the lot manager. In general, you can assume that pines hold their needles
longest, next the firs and last the spruces.
No matter which type of Christmas tree is chosen, the best advice is to pick one which has recently been
cut. A popular trend today is to go to a cut-tree farm, select and cut your own. This is one way to make sure
that the tree is fresh; these trees can be expected to last several weeks longer than trees purchased off of
lots. On the other hand, lot trees may present a wider selection than you might have at a local tree farm.
Most Christmas trees available after Thanksgiving have been cut within the week of their arrival to the lot.
However, this varies with the distance they are being shipped and the tendency for needle loss. Most
growers will cut pines first and spruces last because they know that pine needles are retained longest and
spruce needles the shortest. In any case, call ahead to check when the next shipment is coming in or when
the last truckload arrived. If the weather is going to be warmer than 70 degrees for a daytime high, you will
want to purchase trees as soon as they arrive.
To check for freshness, look for a firm tree and bounce the trunk on the ground. If only a few needles drop,
then you can assume that it is relatively fresh. This test is critical if your selection is a spruce whose ability
to retain needles is considerably less than firs and pines. Another test for freshness is to bend the needles.
If you can bend it without snapping it in half and the needles cannot be easily pulled from their stem, then
the trees is in good shape. Also look for resin at the base of the stump. A fresh, sticky flow will indicate that
the tree has recently been cut.
If you are not planning to use your newly purchased tree immediately, store it in a cool spot away from air
registers, heating appliances and fireplaces; preferably in an unheated garage out of sunlight. If you are
storing it for longer than one day, cut off an inch or so of the base to expose fresh absorbent wood, peel
back some of the bark above this cut and set the cut stump into some water in a bucket or in the tree stand
so that uptake of water is immediate. Plain water in the tree stand is all that is needed to keep the tree fresh
for the longest period. Additions of bleach, sugars and other preservatives do little to prolong the drying
Keep plenty of water in the stand at all times. During the first week, the tree may take up a gallon of water
or more. Replenish this every evening as part of a ritual before going to bed. If the tree happens to run out
of water even once, re-cut the base and start all over. To further guard against moisture loss, keep the tree
away from air supplies and windows with full sun exposures to reduce the drying effects. Antitranspirants
sprayed on the foliage may work to reduce the loss of moisture and should be applied just prior to bringing
the tree inside.
Once Christmas is Past…
After Christmas, the question always arises as to how to dispose of the tree. In the past, many spent holiday
trees ended up on the curb to be picked up by the sanitation department or contracted hauler for the
municipality. Thousands of trees are ultimately deposited in the landfill, but depending upon the state laws,
this may no longer be lawful. You may consider other alternatives, including reusing the tree or recycling it
back into the landscape.
A tree laid in a protected area can become a haven for feeding birds during the winter. Simply stand it up
and hang suet, bird seed balls, popcorn strings, stale bread or dried fruit in a bag. Cones rolled in peanut
butter and sprinkled with seed is also a special treat. If you lay it down, the birds and rabbits will
appreciate the protection offered by the tree.
If you have perennial beds, cut the branches from the tree and layer over perennial plants. This is
considered a type of mulch treatment that will ensure some protection against the effects of cold
temperatures and ice. The mulch also provides a small refuge for wildlife including ground-feeding birds.
Cut the left over stump up into small logs to dry and eventually be used in the fireplace. In the spring,
remove the branches and cut them up into smaller pieces for processing in the compost pile.
A number of items can be made from the trunk if you are a woodworker including candlesticks, stick
animals and birdhouses. Also, the fragrant needles of balsam fir will make a good potpourris or closet air
freshener if stored in a paper bag.
As a last suggestion, check with the local parks department or State Department of Conservation to see if a
Christmas tree chipping program exists. You may need to haul the tree to a chipping site, but you can often
get back the processed chips to use as mulch to protect plants and improve soils. Simply layer these out
over the beds and by spring as you work the beds, incorporate the materials into the soil. If you are
spreading a layer of 2 inches or more, you may need to up the fertilizer rate by one half in order to offset
the nitrogen that will be consumed during their decomposition. This added amount will ensure that the
landscape plantings do not become nitrogen deficient.
Living Trees
Living Christmas trees are used indoors for decoration and then planted outdoors in the landscape. It is
now popular to consider buying a living tree to be used for Christmas instead of a cut tree, so that the
money spent will be an investment in the landscape. If you are buying a living tree for ecological reasons,
remember that 90 percent of the cut trees are now grown in plantations for the purpose of producing
Christmas trees. Also, cut trees are typically produced on lands not suited for other uses and provide a
interim period of wildlife cover and erosion control.
The real key to successfully maintaining a living tree and enabling its survival outside once the holiday
passes is proper care. If you plan to keep a tree up for several weeks, do not consider a living tree. The
biggest problem with living trees is the foliage drying out. To be kept in prime condition, a living tree
should be in the house no more than 3 to 5 days and positioned away from heat sources and drafts like
with cut trees.
Living trees are commonly purchased as “balled and burlapped”, meaning that the root system is in a ball
and it has been covered with a burlap materials to keep it together. When brought home, make sure that
the soil ball is kept moist. Place the soil ball in a shallow pan and place a small amount of water in it. Avoid
handling the ball when it is wet because it is likely to break apart. If the ball is frozen when taken home, let
it warm up gradually in a cool room, like an unheated garage, before bringing it into the house. A drastic
change of conditions will cause more problems than slower changes in temperature and water supply. With
the pan underneath the root ball, cover the top with a sheet of plastic to retard rapid drying. A skirt can be
used to hide the plastic.
No longer than after 5 days of indoor enjoyment, the decorations should be removed and the tree placed
into a cool area for about one week prior to transplanting outdoors. Transplanting should be done when
the weather is mild and not excessively cold or windy. Consider digging the transplanting hole before the
ground freezes, to avoid an unpleasant job. Also recognize that the backfill soil should remain unfrozen so
that there is something to work with when you are ready to plant. Preparing a backfill from a bagged soil
mix is not advised. Better long-term survival results from using the native soil in which the tree will have to
grow in. Soil mixes are also typically much lighter and may not support the weight of ice, snow or the forces
of wind during the winter period without staking.
Lastly, be prepared for the worst. It is not easy for trees that have warmed up to room temperature to
endure the elements outdoors. Expect some branch or tip dieback to appear the next growing season. If
done properly, however, the tree will recover.


Live Pine Tree



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Lawn Care Winter Garden


Garden catalogs have arrived and gardeners are starting to get the itch to get started. The Front Range has had its share of warm days, but resist the urge to start digging in flower and garden beds too early, to avoid damage to the soil’s structure. To assess your soil, pick up a handful, it should fall apart and not stick together like glue. But mild dates in late winter can give gardeners time to get going on several important garden tasks. Begin by planning for changes that you hope to make this year in the garden. Consider attending local garden classes. Many free or inexpensive short courses are offered at garden centers and botanical gardens. Consult garden plans and prioritize projects for this season. If you need landscapers or designers, make calls now to get on their schedules. The calendars of lawn services also fill quickly in early spring—contact services that provide core aeration and irrigation maintenance to make a plan for your lawn this spring. Assess the garden hardscape for winter damage. Trellises, fences, raised beds, or garden structures can be repaired on nice days throughout late winter. Make a list of damaged or missing tools. Now is a good time to clean, sharpen, and oil garden implements. Check trees and shrubs to evaluate their pruning needs. Remove broken branches or branches that cross and those that may become damaged from rubbing. Prune unwanted branches of trees and shrubs. Cut back any remaining dead perennial foliage from last season. Spring-blooming trees and shrubs (like lilac and forsythia) should not be pruned in late winter; their flower buds are ready to open as temperatures warm. Cut branches of forsythia, pussy willow, or other early- blooming shrubs and place in water indoors to force blooming and to bring some early springtime cheer to a room. During heavy snowstorms, remove snow that builds up on vulnerable limbs of trees and shrubs. If the weather is nice, cut back perennials and grasses that were not trimmed in the fall. Add mulch to perennials beds to conserve water and to slow early spring growth. Deep water all landscape plants and turf every three to four weeks on days above freezing to help the plants survive our dry winters. Water only if the soil is dry and only when warm weather is expected for several days. Don’t forget about watering perennial and groundcover beds—especially if they are in areas void of natural precipitation or under large mature trees. Research new varieties of favorite plants in seed catalogs and online. Shop at your local garden centers for seeds, summer bulbs, and tubers (dahlias and canna) while the selection is good. Plant pansies in your garden as early as late February if the weather is nice. Be sure to “harden off” early annual flowers by gradually introducing them to the outdoors—a week or so before transplanting into the garden, place tender plants outdoors during the day to get them used to the sun and to cooler temperatures. February is a good time for a soil analysis in the vegetable garden or planting beds. Lawn areas can be tested too. The soil should not be wet when taking samples. A professional soil test will let you know which nutrients your soil actually needs or if the soil has too much of any particular elements. Often, gardeners tend to add too much fertilizer, compost, or organic matter; this can be as bad as adding too little.
Find out more about soil testing at the CSU Plant, Soil and Water Testing Lab: www.soiltestinglab.colostate.edu. Winter and spring lawn care Rake the lawn to remove stray leaves, twigs, dead growth, and winter debris. This allows light and air into the soil, encouraging turf to grow. In early March, consider re-seeding bare or damaged patches of lawn. Rake bare spots firmly with a metal rake prior to seeding. Sprinkle grass seed into a bucket of soil and spread evenly over the bare spot. Keep well watered until seeds germinate and the new grass is established. Because the soil is cold, seedling germination may take several weeks. Do not apply a crabgrass preventer to the lawn if you plan to reseed in the spring. Precipitation in Colorado is often most bountiful in spring. Delaying the start-up of your sprinkler system may save money and help conserve water. Daily watering is only necessary with new seeds or sod to help establish young roots. In all other circumstances, daily watering only encourages shallow root growth and reduces the turf’s drought tolerance. Begin mowing when your lawn reaches 3.5” high. Remember that the ideal turf-lawn height is 2.5” to 3”. To encourage lawn health and strength, try to not remove more than one third of the leaf blade with each mowing. Grass growth is vigorous in early spring, so edge flowerbeds with a sharp trench between bed and turf. If cool-season turf is in poor condition, fertilize at 0.5 – 1 pounds nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Aeration, or core cultivation, is standard Colorado turf care. Aerating supplies the soil with air, reduces soil compaction, helps to control thatch, and lets water and fertilizer move into the root zone. Turf can be aerated at any time when the ground is not frozen. Spring and fall are considered the best times for aeration. Aeration is most effective when actual cores or plugs of soil are pulled from the lawn. Holes should be two to three inches deep and no more than two to four inches apart. Lawns should be thoroughly watered the day before aerating so that longer plugs can be pulled more easily. To avoid damaging utilities, mark sprinkler heads, shallow irrigation lines, and cable TV lines before aerating. Leave the cores on the lawn to allow them to work back into the grass. Lawns may be fertilized and seeded immediately after aeration. Water the lawn soon after aeration. Heavy traffic areas will require aeration more frequently.

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Granberg Chain Saw Mill, Model# G777

Granberg Chain Saw Mill, Model# G777

The Alaskan small log Chain Saw Milling attachment is perfect for the woodworker, homeowner or carpenter. Compact, lightweight design bolts directly to the chain saw’s bar without any drilling required. Handles up to (in.): 1/2-13 thick, 17 wide, Application: Log milling attachment to cut lumber, Works With: Chainsaw up to 20 in. bar.
We have been in business for over sixty years and in that time we have introduced many innovative and useful tools to all the continents of the world (except maybe Antarctica).
Our saw mill attachments are our most popular products. They are easily portable and environmental impact is minimal. The ALASKAN MARK III chainsaw mill and the MINI-MILL II chainsaw mill portable chain attachments allow the user to efficiently saw trees on site and produce dimensional lumber suitable for building or woodworking projects.
The Granberg Chainsaw Mill G777 turns your chainsaw into your own portable sawmill. This is an ideal solution for turning logs into useable lumber for any of your home projects. Also known as an Alaskan sawmill, this is an excellent personal mill but don’t expect this Granberg model to be as productive as a standalone sawmill such as the Norwood LumberMate LM29. For small home projects the G777 is an excellent choice.
The Granberg Chainsaw Mill G777 requires a powerful gas chainsaw
Don’t expect to use this with an electric saw — neither corded orbattery-operated. You’ll need a powerful gas chainsaw to get the most out of this Granberg Chainsaw Mill. I recommend at least 60cc, but more power is better, as it will allow you to be far more productive and efficient.
Just to give you a frame of reference, the Norwood LumberMatethat I mentioned earlier has a 429cc engine. Obviously you don’t need anywhere near that amount of power but a sawmill does require a fair amount of energy to operate. Perhaps something equivalent to a Husqvarna 372 XP would be ideal.
Just remember, you can use a smaller chainsaw but the smaller the chainsaw the slower it will take to cut your lumber. It’s as simple as that.
This Granberg Chainsaw Mill is very compact, lightweight and easy to transport. It was designed to fit 20″ bars or smaller, and it will easily connect to the majority of chainsaw bars (under 20″) with no modifications. Be aware that some smaller bars could be too narrow to mount, but if your bar is at least 2.5″ wide then it will definitely fit.
Granberg recommends that you use a ripping chain with their Granberg Chainsaw Mill and I strongly suggest that you take their advice. A ripping chain will extend the life your chainsaw, cut faster, make cleaner cuts and leave you with much smoother surfaces — which means you’ll have less planing to do later. Ripping chains are essentially designed for milling purposes.
Another thing to keep in mind before using the Granberg Chainsaw Mill G777 is to make sure you have a sharp chain. Many less experienced chainsaw users underestimate the importance ofmaintaining a sharp chain. It’s essential for optimal efficiency and for safety reasons. A dull chain is more likely to get caught in the wood. If you’re mechanically inclined then you may want to sharpen the chain yourself or you can just pay a professional to do it for you.
You can also expand the usability of the Granberg Chainsaw Mill by purchasing the Granberg Slabbing brackets. These will make your life easier.

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Watering Lawns



Water is essential for living organisms, including grass. Water is necessary for many plant processes but it is essentially important for transpiration – the evaporation of water from the leaf surface that cools the plant. Remember that green grass is about 90% water. During normal summers in Michigan, rainfall is not sufficient to keep a lawn green and growing. High temperatures, high humidity, and lack of rainfall will take their toll on turf quality. Grass then becomes dormant, turns brown and growth stops. The lawn normally recovers when adequate moisture becomes available. If there is a dry period with no rain for 3 to 4 weeks and the turf is not being irrigated (watered), it is a good idea to irrigate turf with about ¾ to one inch of water to prevent the crown of the turf plantfrom drying out and dying. This irrigation probably won’t result in the turf greening back up and resuming growth, but should ensure that it doesn’t die. There are both advantages and disadvantages in allowing a lawn to go dormant.
Advantages Are:
• Reduced mowing and fertilizing as growth slows or ceases ¬
• Minimal costs for water and irrigation equipment.
Disadvantages Are:
• More weeds due to lack of competition ¬
• There is a slow recovery from additional stress such as traffic, disease or insect attack. Watering will greatly reduce the damage from destructive insects. Moist soil and thatch will reduce populations of chinchbugs and webworms while the added vigorous growth will offset damage by moderate grub populations.
• Aesthetics – a brown lawn is less attractive than a green lawn
Determining whether watering is practical is an individual choice. Plans should be made for watering if a dense, green, vigorous lawn is desired. If a lawn is to be watered, decisions must be made on how often, how much, and when to water, A given watering program cannot be applied to all lawns. Varying soil types, exposure, slope, weather conditions, availability, cost of water, equipment, and local regulations must be considered. The following guidelines will help to maintain a desirable lawn quality and avoid wasting water.
When to Water
Current recommendations are to irrigate turf between 10am and 4pm. Ideally the best time to water is in the morning so the lawn will have water during the heat of the day. Watering at mid-day is not harmful, but is less efficient because evaporation is often high, and wind conditions may cause uneven water distribution. Another efficient time for watering is in the early evening. Although wet conditions lasting through the night have been thought to increase disease problems, this is usually not a concern on home lawns. For many homeowners, the evening is the most practical time to water.
Irrigation Equipment
A vast array of watering systems and equipment is available.

See the link:   Wattering Lawn


Selection should be determined by:
• Budget
• Lawn Area (size)
• Quality of lawn desired
• Convenience
A hose and a spray nozzle are the least expensive. However, this approach is suitable only for small areas or light applications because uniform coverage is difficult with hand watering. Approximately two hours are normally required to apply an inch of water to a 1000 square foot area. A sprinkler attachment is the usual choice for most homeowners. Most sprinklers are a variation of either a rotary or wave-form (oscillator) design. Such equipment is reliable and readily available at a reasonable cost. A drawback on large lawns is that timing the application of each area and moving the hose can be inconvenient.
For narrow site and steep slopes, a soaker hose is a suitable choice. This will avoid wasting water on driveways and sidewalks, although considerable time will be needed to apply the water. The most convenient and effective method of watering is provided with an underground sprinkler system. For best results, the system should be designed and installed by a trained specialist. Manual or automatic controllers can be used to activate the system and periodic checks should be made to insure proper performance. An underground system is relatively expensive but frequently adds to the value of a homesite.
Water Frequency
For best results, start watering before grass dormancy develops. Look for signs of wilting. A dark, blue-green color and footprints that persist for some time are signs that a lawn needs water. Once a watering program is started, it should be continued throughout the dry period. If a lush, fertilized lawn is not watered, and no rain occurs during hot weather, serious thinning and slow recovery can result. Soil characteristics and natural rainfall determine the amount of water needed and the frequency of application. For example, a sandy, porous soil will hold no more than .5 inch of water in a sixinch depth. Applying more than .5 inch of water in a single application will waste water and leach nutrients from the root zone. Excessive watering will also increase invasion by some difficult to control weeds, such as bentgrass and annual bluegrass. Turf requires 1.0 to1.5 inches of water per week. Recent research indicates that daily watering with applications of 1/5 to1/4 inch of water produces the best quality lawn. This research contradicts the often quoted technique of “water infrequently but heavily to promote deep rooting.” Daily watering promotes a consistently moist thatch and soil environment that deters insects, promotes desirable microorganisms, and cools the lawn. Also, grass naturally become shorter during the summer months, and heavy, infrequent watering often places much of the water below the root system. To determine the delivery of a sprinkler system, place cans of equal height randomly in the watering zone. When the water reaches the desired level in the cans, the sprinkler may be shut off and moved to the next area. This approach will insure that the entire root zone is moistened.
Special Considerations
Some areas in a lawn may dry more quickly than others. South and west exposures, sandy areas, slopes, and areas near buildings, curbs, Would you like additional information? Additional information is available on-line. Please see MSU Extension-Oakland County’s publications as well s MSU Extension’s Bulletin Office on campus. Contact our Plant & Pest Hotline (248/858-0902) for assistance with plant identification, pests and diseases, weeds, trees and shrubs, lawn, flowers, fruits, vegetables, grasses and groundcovers, native plants, plant propagation, and many other gardening topics. Distributed by MSU Extension-Oakland County, 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Pontiac, MI 48341, 248/858-0880, www.msue.msu.edu/oakland MSU is an affirmative-action equal opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. and sidewalks are common examples. These areas may need more frequent watering to meet the needs of the grass, whereas low spots, north exposures, and shady areas may not need watering as frequently. Grasses with poorly developed root systems caused by compacted soil, insect damage or “patch” diseases also need special attention. These conditions result in shallow rooting. The result is a reduced reservoir of soil moisture and nutrients available to the grass plants. To compensate for this problem, more frequent watering at reduced application rates will be required.



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Protect your lawn of weeds


A nice lawn can not only add to the appearance of your home, it can also prevent soil erosion and help to absorb heat and noise. However, invading weeds will often spoil lawn evenness and appearance. Weeds, which are often introduced through vehicles, human and animal movement or via the wind, compete with the lawn for water and nutrients. Control of these weeds can be difficult in a lawn situation, where manual removal may be ineffective and selective chemicals are required to ensure protection of the lawn itself. This Gardennote aims to provide information on the most common weeds in lawns and the methods used to control them. Weeds can be divided into broadleaf weeds, grasses and sedges.

Broadleaf Weeds

Jo-jo or Bindii
Jo-jo (Soliva sessilis) is a mat forming annual weed that first emerges with the winter rains in May. Flowers are inconspicuous and are produced in spring at the base of the leaf axils. Seeds harden and become brown when mature, developing short, sharp spines which can make it impossible to walk barefooted on badly infested lawns.

Burr medic
Burr Medic (Medicago polymorpha) is an annual weed that can often invade lawns. It is usually hairless, with stems up to 60 cm long, and having clusters of two to seven flowers borne on short stems in winter and spring. The leaflets are oblong to heart shaped. The seed pods or burrs are like disc, or cylindrical in shape, and consist of oneto six coils that are densely spined. These burrs when mature and brown can often be painful to step on and attach easily to clothing like socks and shoes and also to pet hair, where the seeds are then spread to other areas.

Carrot weed
Carrot weed (Cotula australis) is a native annual species with fern like leaves, and is often mistaken for Jo-jo at first glance due to its similar appearance. However unlike Jo-jo which produces its green flowers at the base of the leaves with no stalk, carrot weed flowers are white to pale yellow and occur on long slender stalks.

Caustic weed/eyebane/spotted spurge
Caustic weed (Chamaesyce drummondii (syn. Euphorbia drummondii)) is a prostrate multibranched annual weed that infests both gardens and lawn areas. The leaves are circular to oblong shaped and often have a purplish blotch in the centre. The flowers are inconspicuous and small and are often tinged pink. Flowers appear in summer to autumn.

There are many varieties of clover but white clover (Trifolium repens) is most commonly found infesting lawns. It is a prostrate perennial weed that has stems up to 30 cm long and has the ability to spread by rooting at each node. This makes removal difficult as any portion left behind has the ability to keep growing. Leaflets are oval to rounded, trifoliate, with a pale crescent on the upper surface. Flowers can be white, yellow or pink and occur in a cluster on slender stalks above the foliage. Flowers are borne in spring and summer.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is an increasingly common weed in lawns in Western Australia. It is a perennial, with a strong taproot and a rosette of toothed leaves. The stems are hollow, with only ever one flower head per stem. The distinctive flowering heads, which can be produced throughout the year, are 3 cm across, contain yellow florets and are followed by a sphere of plumed parachute seeds. The plant exudes milky latex if cut.

Flatweed/smooth cat’s-ear
Flatweed (Hypochaeris spp.) is an annual or short lived perennial that is very common in lawn and garden situations. There are two species: Hypochaeris radicata which consists of a basal rosette of rough, bristly leaves and yellow dandelion like flowers at the tops of slender leafless stalks, and Hypochaeris glabra which is very similar in appearance, with the exception of the leaves being smooth and having slightly smaller flower heads. They can often be hard to tell apart, with many hybridising freely. Flowers may appear all year round but are most common in spring. Seeds form after flowering, with both species having feathery hairs (pappus) which enables seeds to spread readily via wind dispersal.

Cudweed (Gamochaeta calviceps) is an annual herb with a densely woolly, spike-like, leafy inflorescence. The leaves are spoon-shaped and somewhat woolly, and the flowers golden-brown.

Fleabanes (Conyza spp.) are upright annual herbs of various heights. They are typically grey-hairy plants. The stems branch below each pyramid of inflorescences resulting in a candelabra shape. Fleabanes flower in summer and are prolific seed producers. Each plant produces up to 110,000 seeds and the pappus on the seed enables it to be dispersed long distances by wind.

Mouse-eared chickweeds
Among the mouse-eared chickweeds, Cerastium glomeratum is the most common weed of lawns. It is an annual weed. The flowers, produced in spring and early summer, are in clusters with white, notched petals, which often do not fully open. The leaves are ovate and the plant is densely hairy all over.

Creeping oxalis/wood sorrel
Oxalidaceae, the wood sorrels, are a family of perennial herbs, that regrow annually from tubers, bulbs or corms. The leaves usually consist of three heart shaped leaflets, similar to clover.In the metropolitan area, creeping oxalis (Oxalis corniculata) is a common lawn weed. It is highly branched with a lightly fleshy taproot, producing slender stems that creep horizontally, rooting at intervals and with leaves along the stem. Small yellow flowers in clusters of one to six arise on stalks from the leaf axils. Creeping oxalis flowers in spring and summer. Other wood sorrels common in lawns are O. perennans, which has larger flowers and O. pescaprae which is known as soursob or sourgrass.


Grass Weeds

Summer Grass
Summer grass (Digitaria ciliaris) is an annual weed of lawns with spreading stems that grows close to the ground. Leaves are soft and hairy. A feature of this grass is the inflorescences which are 20–80 cm tall. They are composed of conspicious seed heads found at the ends of slender stalks.

Mullumbimby couch
Mullumbimby couch (Cyperus brevifolius) forms extensive rhizomatous patches in overwatered lawns and garden beds. It has bright green, shiny, grass-like leaves and may be mistaken for a lawn grass until it flowers in summer (often only on the margin of mown areas).

Parramatta grass
Parramatta grass (Sporobolus africanus) is a tufted perennial with basal leaves, to 50 cm tall. The dense, narrow inflorescence is dark green, flat, spike-like, to 20 cm long, produced from November to June. It is a lawn weed from Perth to Albany.


Winter grass

Winter grass (Poa annua) is a tufted annual grass, usually about 10 cm tall. It produces pale-greenish seed heads, mainly winter and spring, but can also flower in summer. It is a common weed in gardens and lawns.

Grass-like Weeds

Guildford Grass/Onion Grass
Guildford grass (Romulea rosea) is the most common of plants which grows from corms.
The flowers, with petals up to 1.8 cm in length, open first at ground level. As they mature, the flower stem elongates and bends over, eventually pushing the seed capsule back under the surrounding leaf litter.

Herbicides should be applied via a sprayer, dedicated to herbicides only. Avoid spray-drift and if other garden plants are contaminated, use a garden hose to wash the chemical off thoroughly.

Selective, pre-emergence herbicides are typically used to control annual weedy grasses and some annual broadleaf weeds in lawns. To control winter grass, pre-emergence herbicides need to be applied in autumn and winter, before the weeds have germinated. A regular application every 6 to 8 weeks will also control summer grass. Commonly available garden products contain pendimethalin or propyzamide.

Selective, post-emergence broadleaf herbicides can be used to control broadleaved weeds in lawns. Commonly available garden products contain one or more of the following active ingredients: MCPA, dicamba, DSMA, Bentazone, Bromoxynil, Mecoprop, 2,4-D, clopyralid.

Make sure that the products being used state on the label that they are for use on your variety of lawn and will control the targeted weed.

Protect Your Lawn of Weeds


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Natural Lawn Care Calendar

Please keep in mind that the timeframes provided for the following
lawn care calendar are subject to modification based upon our unpredictable weather conditions. If there is a foot of snow the second week of April, it is okay to wait until you can see your grass to start your seasonal lawn care!
Before starting your natural lawn care program, get your soil tested to identify a baseline measurement for pH and key nutrients.

First, rake off winter debris from your lawn so that fertilizer can penetrate down to the soil level. When forsythia and daffodils are in bloom (usually between April 1 to April 15), it is time to apply your corn gluten. For maximum effectiveness:
1) Don’t forget to apply it on time; 2) Apply at a rate of 20 lbs of corn gluten per 1,000 sq. ft. (two lbs nitrogen/1,000 sq. ft.). Shady areas require less nitrogen, so you can reduce your corn gluten application rate to 10 lbs/1,000 sq. ft. in the shade if you wish. In order to correctly apply corn gluten or any other type of fertilizer, you must know the square footage of each area of your lawn.
You can download a square footage calculation sheet at www.healthycommunitiesproject.org or simply measure the length x width of each area and then add up all areas for a total square footage. To determine how much corn gluten to apply to each area, use the following equation: square footage of area ÷ 1,000 x 20 = # lbs corn gluten to be applied to area; and 3) to activate corn gluten’s ability to inhibit seed germination, apply about a quarter-inch of water immediately after application, then let it dry for a few days. Try to avoid applying it right before an extended rain is forecast, as too much water will reduce its effectiveness. Corn gluten remains present in the soil for about six weeks, so wait a full six weeks after application to over-seed.

Pull existing weeds as they appear, preferably before they go to seed to prevent new weeds from germinating.
Weeds come out more easily if pulled after watering or a good rain. You can hasten how quickly your weeds counts go down by pulling as many as possible at the beginning of your natural lawn care program.

Memorial Day
The last weekend of May is the best time to over-seed your lawn. The following steps will maximize your efforts and increase your lawn’s soil health and structure at the same time:
Step 1: Pull any remaining weeds to prevent further propagation.
Step 2: Aeration. Aerating the average lawn only takes about half an hour, so consider renting a core aerator with your neighbors and splitting the cost to make it more economical. Aeration relieves compaction, opens up your lawn’s root system to oxygen and nutrients and makes room for roots to expand. Because aeration is
fairly stressful to your lawn, it only needs to be done every few years.
Step 3: Over-seed and patch bare spots. Apply top quality grass seed that is right for the conditions, i.e. high traffic, sun, or shade. You may need to purchase different mixes for the various areas of your yard. Now is also the time to patch bare spots. Loosen existing soil and add more soil if necessary, heavily apply grass seed and stir up a bit, apply a thin layer of compost over the seed (just enough to cover the seed), and then a thin layer of hay. Compost adds vital nutrients that improve germination, and the hay helps retain moisture
and prevents seeds from washing away. Keep these areas moist but not soaked for a full 30 days for the most successful germination. Your grass seed may look like it has fully germinated after two weeks, but remember that there are several grass varieties in each blend, some of which germinate faster than others.
Step 4: Top-dress with compost. Now is a great time to apply compost to your lawn (1/8 to 1/4-inch layer).
Compost improves soil structure, increases organic material and adds microorganisms which process organic material and produce nutrients for your lawn. These nutrients improve seed germination, so applying compost right after over-seeding maximizes germination and helps establish healthy new grass. You may also want to
apply a low-nutrient organic fertilizer at this point to add key nutrients for the summer season.

June, July, August
Follow a one inch per week watering rule (water in early morning or early evening to minimize evaporation) and be sure to incorporate rainfall into the one inch/week rule. To keep track of how much water your lawn receives, keep a rain gauge or straight-edged bowl in your garden. The first few times you water, keep track of how long it takes for the water gauge to get to one inch of water. Eventually, you’ll have a good idea of how long to water to reach one inch. Remember that different sprinklers apply water at different rates, so get to know each one. Keep pulling those weeds before they go to seed. Along with using corn gluten, this will jump start your weed reduction plan. The number of weeds you have to pull will be minimal after a couple of seasons.

Late August
When the temperatures begin to cool, grass and weeds come out of their semi-dormant state and begin to grow more quickly again. If you choose to apply corn gluten, now is the optimal time for your second application.

Labor Day
Optional: If you have not already aerated and/or over-seeded in late May and feel your lawn would benefit from over-seeding, now is a good time to do so. Do not apply corn gluten if you over-seed as it will prevent your grass seed from properly germinating. Instead, forgo the corn gluten and wait until mid-October to apply a second application of organic fertilizer if your soil test recommends it.

The season is almost over, but there are a few important steps you can take to keep your soil and lawn healthy. Even if you’ve applied corn gluten in April and late August, your lawn will benefit from an end-of-season application of an organic fertilizer. Keep in mind that the most important nutrient to add at this point is
potassium (K), which helps promote resiliency and good spring growth.

End-of-Season Tips
An easy and FREE way to add compost to your lawn every fall is to mow it with the fallen leaves left on it. Mow over the entire lawn a couple of times and then rake up the larger pieces as usual. The small pieces work their way to the soil layer and will serve as food for microorganisms over the winter, which in turn convert that food to nutrients for your grass. Compost also has a very low N-P-K ratio as well (about 1:1:1), which can be counted as part of your winterizing fertilization. Consider mowing over your leaf pile a few times and spreading the material around your ornamentals, perennials and roses for added winter protection and nutrients. At the very end of the season, mow grass to two inches to avoid winter damage and snow mold.


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Winter in my Garden


Timing horticultural events and practices can vary from year to year, depending on weather conditions. The following information is intended as a general guide. Regional differences are noted when practical. Adjust activities according to local weather and site conditions. Be sure to read label directions thoroughly on all products.

Indoor Plants and Activities

• Check houseplant leaves for brown, dry edges that may indicate too little relative humidity in the house. Increase humidity by running a humidifier, grouping plants, or using pebble
• Extend the beauty of holiday plants, such as poinsettias and Christmas cactus, by placing
them in a cool, brightly lit area free from warm or cold drafts. • Houseplants may not receive adequate light because days are short and gloomy. Move plants closer to windows, but avoid placing foliage against cold glass panes. Artificial lighting may be helpful.
• Because growth slows or stops in winter months, most plants will require less water and little, if any, fertilizer.

• If you are forcing bulbs for the holidays, bring them into warmer temperatures after they have been sufficiently precooled. Two to four weeks of warm temperatures (60˚F), bright light, and moderately moist soil are needed to bring on flowers. Bulbs require a chilling period of about 10 to 12 weeks at 40˚F to initiate flower
buds and establish root growth. Precooled bulbs are available from many garden suppli ers if you did not get yours cooled in time.

When shopping for a Christmas tree, check for green, flexible,firmly held needles and a sticky trunk base, both indicators of freshness. Make a fresh cut, and keep the cut end under water at all times.
• Evergreens, except pines and spruce, can be trimmed now for a fresh supply of holiday greenery. Use proper pruning techniques to preserve the beauty of landscape plants.

• Keep holiday poinsettias and other plants near a bright window. Water as top of soil becomes dry.
• Check produce and tender bulbs kept in storage, and discard any that show signs of decay,such as mold or softening. Shriveling indicates insufficient relative humidity.

• Check water levels daily in cut-flower vases. • Repot houseplants as they outgrow current
• Early blooms of spring-flowering bulbs can make good gifts for a sweetheart. Keep the plant in a bright, cool location for longer lasting blooms. Forced bulbs make poor garden flowers and should be discarded as blooms fade.


Lawns, Woody Ornamentals Landscape Plants, and Tree Fruits

• Prevent bark-splitting of young and thin-barked trees, such as fruit and maple trees. Wrap trunks with tree wrap, or paint trunks with white latex (not oil-based) paint, particularly on the south- and southwest-facing sides.

• Protect shrubs, such as junipers and arborvitae,from extensive snow loads by tying their stems together with twine. Carefully remove heavy snow loads with a broom to prevent limb breakage.
• Protect broadleaved evergreens, or other tender landscape plants from excessive drying by winter sun and wind. Place canvas, burlap,or polyethylene plastic screens to the south and west to protect the plants. Similarly, shield plants from street and sidewalk salt spray.
• Provide winter protection for roses by mounding soil approximately 12 inches high to insulate the graft union. Additional organic mulch, such as straw, compost, or chopped leaves, can be placed on top. Wait until late winter or early spring to prune.

• Check young trees for rodent injury on lower trunks. Prevent injury with hardware cloth or protective collars.        • “Leaf” through nursery catalogs and make plans for landscape and home orchard additions. Order plants early for best selection.

• Cut branches of forsythia, pussy willow, crabapple, quince, honeysuckle, and other early spring-flowering plants to force into bloom indoors. Place the branches in warm water, and set them in a cool location.

• Check mulches, rodent shields, salt/wind screens, and other winter plant protections to
make sure they are still in place.
• Prune landscape plants, except early spring bloomers, which should be pruned after flowers fade. Birches, maples, dogwoods, and other heavy sap bleeders can be pruned in early summer to avoid the sap flow, although bleeding is not harmful to the tree.
• Prune fruit trees to control plant size and remove dead, damaged, or weak limbs.

Flowers, Vegetables, and Small Fruits

• Protect newly planted or tender perennials by applying mulch such as straw, chopped leaves, or other organic material after plants become dormant.
• Store leftover garden chemicals where they will stay dry, unfrozen, and out of the reach of
children, pets, and unsuspecting adults.
• Mulch strawberries when temperatures have dropped to 20˚F.
• Clean up dead plant materials, synthetic mulch, and other debris in the vegetable garden as well as in the flower beds, rose beds, and orchards.
• Order seed catalogs, and make notes for next year’s garden.
• Browse through garden catalogs and order seeds and plants early for best selection.
• Sketch your garden plans on paper, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement, and
number of plants needed.
• Wood ashes from the fireplace can be spread in the garden, but don’t overdo it. Wood ashes increase soil pH, and excess application can make some nutrients unavailable for plant uptake. Have your soil tested to be certain of the pH before adding wood ash.

Prepare or repair lawn and garden tools for the upcoming season.
• Start seeds indoors for cool-season vegetables so they will be ready for transplanting to the garden early in the season. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage seeds should be started five to seven weeks prior to transplanting.
• Test leftover garden seed for germination. Place 10 seeds between moist paper toweling or cover with a thin layer of soil. Keep seeds warm and moist. If less than six seeds germinate, then fresh seed should be purchased.

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Water Garden

Construction and Maintenance

Aquatic plants have been an important part of gardens since early history when they were first used in ancient gardens of the Far East, Egypt and India. Early herbalists extracted tannin from the roots of water lilies to calm a variety of nervous and digestive disorders. Many water lilies also provided some of the earliest fabric dyes which were extracted from their roots.Contemporary aquatic gardening has received a lot of attention by homeowners and commercial landscapers. The development and increased availability of various types of preformed pools,flexible liners and other containers has helped to foster the current increased enthusiasm in aquatic gardening. These new materials are a great improvement over the old tedious process of building pools out of concrete.The style and size of a water garden can range from a simple
above ground tub garden, a small preformed pond, or to a large pond constructed with a flexible liner.

Pond location

The first step in designing a water garden is to consider where it will be enjoyed the most. Some good locations for a pond are near a patio, deck or within view from a window. A pond can be either formal or informal in shape. Informally shaped ponds are the most popular. Some common shapes are the classic kidney
bean and the figure eight.In addition to locating the pond for best viewing a pond should be located where it will receive at least five or six hours of direct sun if flowering plants are desired. As the hours of direct
sunlight decreases, so do the blooms. The hardy and tropical bog plants will perform best in semi-shaded sites. It is generally recommended to avoid locating the pond directly under trees because of the leaves and other debris that will fall into the pond. Also, avoid locating the pond in a low spot because surface runoff may wash mud, lawn fertilizers and pesticides into the pond.

Pond Construction
A pond can be made almost any size or shape desired if a flexible liner is used. If a rigid preformed pond is chosen the size and shape will be limited by what is available on the market. The depth of a pond should be at least 18 inches in the center for the successful over-wintering of hardy aquatic plants. A shallow ledge should be provided along the outside edge of the pond for placement of potted marginal plants. These plants cannot tolerate growing in deep water. Make the ledge about 10 inches below the surface and wide enough to submerge potted plants in a stable manner.

Installing a Flexible Liner
The development of flexible pond liners has done much to make pond design and installation easier. It has played a major role in the growing popularity of aquatic gardens. A flexible liner is a thin rubber-like material cut from a large roll of material. Its flexibility allows it to conform to the contour of any size and shape desired. When properly installed, these liners will last for many years.There are three types of flexible liners on the market: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), butyl rubber and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). PVC liners were one of the first liners to be developed. It ranges in thickness from 20-32 mils. PVC liners are the least expensive and will last 7 to 10 years. The most limiting factor of its durability is exposure to the sun. PVC is only moderately resistant to the effects of ultraviolet radiation and will eventually crack when exposed to prolonged sunlight.Always keep the pond filled to the top to prevent the liner from being exposed to direct sunlight.Butyl rubber has also been used for a long time. It is a highly recommended synthetic rubber liner because of its resistance to ultraviolet radiation. It has a useful life of 20 years or more. It is 30 mils thick. It is easier to work with than the stiffer PVC liners because it is more flexible.
A more recent entry into the pond market, which is very similar to butyl rubber, is EPDM. This is also a type of synthetic rubber that is less expensive than butyl and has the same appearance and durability. It is the thickest liner available (45 mil). It is a dark charcoal gray or black and quite flexible and easy to install. EPDM was originally used in the roofing industry and was manufactured with an antifungal mineral talc coating. Some problems of fish toxicity have been reported with earlier EPDM.The products marketed as fish safe EPDM do not have these
mineral talcs and are very safe to use for ponds.

Determining Liner Size
Flexible liners are cut from rolls that may be 10, to 25 feet or more in width. To determine the size of the liner required,determine the length and width of the proposed pond. Next determine the maximum depth in feet and multiply this by 2. Add this amount to both the length and width. Finally add at least one additional foot to both the length and width for the top edge overlap.
Liner width = pond width + 2x depth + 1 ft.
Liner length = pond lenght +2x depth + 1 ft.
The extra 1 ft is to allow sufficient quantity of the liner to go under the edging stones and behind them. Do not trim the liner until the pond is finished and the water level is adequate. Allowing the water level to submerge part of the rock edging helps to make a very natural-looking edge.Remove all sharp objects like stones and tree roots to protect
the pond liner from puncture. These lines are very tough but if a puncture or tear should develop, it is easily repaired with a pond liner repair kit.
For additional protection use a spun underlayment material made for this purpose. Rug padding or several layers of wet
newspapers can also serve as a cushion under the liner.
Carefully spread the liner to fit the contours the best you can to make the liner conform to the excavation. Don’t worry too much about the unsightliness of the folds. They will lay flat with the weight of the water. When the pool is filled with plants, these folds will be difficult to see. Gradually fill the pond with water as the liner is folded into place.

Installing a Rigid Liner
Actually almost any water tight container if large enough can be a potential water garden. Many things, such as large ceramic pots, plastic horse trough, child’s swimming pools, half whiskey barrels, etc., are suitable for above or below ground. New whiskey barrels should be aged by filling with water, emptying and refilling until the odor of alcohol is gone. There are plastic inserts that may be used in them to avoid the toxic effect of the alcohol. To assure the successful overwintering of hardy plants in above ground containers, install a stock tank or pond heater.
Using a rigid liner has merit because it is tough, durable, quick and easy to install, has a life expectancy of over fifty years (for fiberglass) and comes already molded into various shapes. Other types of preformed liners are made of molded semi-rigid plastic which are less expensive but also less durable than fiberglass. As with the flexible liners all sharp objects should be removed and the excavation be lined with an inch of sand. After the site preparation, place the pool so that the rim is slightly above the soil line. Level the pool from side to side using a carpenter
level. Place soil around the pool exterior while filling the pool with water. This will help reduce stress on the pool as it is being filled with water. Edge the top with flat stones.
Constructing a water garden is really not a very difficult task.When the proper site has been selected and the pond properly installed, it will provide you with years of beauty and enjoyment.
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Pond Maintenance Tips
Like any garden worth keeping, there is some basic maintenance techniques to practice. In the spring remove any debris that may have fallen into the pond during the winter. If there is an excessive accumulation over many years, the pond will have to be drained completely to remove this material.Water lilies and other aquatic plants grow very rapidly and, in time, become crowded, reducing their vigor and bloom. Every two to three years they should be lifted from their containers and divided in the spring as new growth begins to appear. Give them their first fertilization at this time.
In the summer, remove dead plant debris. Water lilies, in particular, continually have older leaves dying as new leaves
emerge. Excessive plant growth may need to be removed to make viewing the fish possible. Continue to fertilize lilies
during the summer. Occasionally, insects specific to aquatic plants, such as the water lily aphid and the water lily beetle, will invade the pond. Fortunately their destruction is usually not very severe. Their are no registered pesticides for home aquatic ponds. Simply dunk the leaves in the water or hose off the aphids. The fish will enjoy eating them. The water lily beetle is easily controlled by removing infested leaves. This
will break the life cycle. In the fall cut back the frost-killed tops of the hardy plants. The tropical plants can be discarded. Stop feeding the fish when the water temperature drops below 55 degrees F, this usually occurs
in mid to late November. Move all plants into the deeper area of the pond (18 inches) for freeze protection. If the pond is in a location where tree leaves might fall into it, cover the pond with chicken wire.
And lastly, if there are fish in the pond, install a floating stock tank heater to keep a small portion of the pond free of ice in the winter. This is an automatic deicer than comes on when the temperature is a few degrees above freezing. A heater of 1500 watts is recommended for Maryland winters. One word of caution, the fish will group around the heater and those that get pushed against the heater element get burned. A good heater will have a small guard panel to keep the fish from touching the heating element. The fish will benefit from this ventilation hole which allows oxygen to enter. However in larger ponds the heater will freeze in place during very cold winters. If the pond should freeze over do not try to crack or break the ice. The shock may injure the fish.

Suggested References for Further Reading:
Waterlillies and Other Aquatic Plants. Frances Perry. 1989. Henry Holt and Co., Inc.
Water in the Garden. James Allison. 1991. Salamander Book Ltd.
Encylopedia of the Water-Lily. Charles Masters. 1974.T.F.H. Publications., Inc., Ltd.
Water Gardens. Ken Aslet, John Warwick and Jan Bolders, 1977.Royal Horticultural Society
Pond and Water Gardens. Bill Heritage. 1981. Blandford Press,Ltd. Distributed by Sterling Publishing Co.
Author: Raymond V. Bosmans


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