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2013 VCTR Lawn & Garden Edition

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May 15, 2013

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Caring for a freshly sodded lawn!
gardening tips for beginners!
benefits of pruning trees and shrubs!
Page 2 • Weekend edition, May 17-19, 2013
Gardening tips for beginners
their chances of growing successful gardens. When in doubt about what to plant, consult a local gardening center or seek advice from a professional landscaper. Think location when beginning your garden. Beginners with large yards have the luxury of choosing the right location on their properties to start planting. When choosing a spot, consider how much sunlight a location gets on a daily basis and the spot’s proximity to a water supply. If planting flowers, try to avoid planting in areas with heavy foot traffic so the flowers are less likely to be stomped. If you’re planting flowers to accent walkways, then consider erecting a barrier around the flower bed to safeguard the flowers from foot traffic. Get started before you plant. Preparing the soil a few weeks before you start planting can help the plants thrive down the road. Add some organic material, such as compost or fertilizer, to the soil roughly three weeks before planting. This helps the soil retain water and nutrients, which will help your garden thrive. Time your planting. When you plant is sometimes as important as what you plant. Some climates allow for yearround planting, but many do not. When buying seeds, the packaging might suggest what time of year to plant the seeds. Adhere to these suggestions or your garden might not grow much at all. In addition, keep in mind that many seedlings need significant light throughout the day in order to grow, so choose a time of year with ample daylight. Don’t forget to mulch. Mulch can be as aesthetically appealing as it is effective. Mulch retains soil, helping roots to grow stronger, while deterring bugs and preventing weed growth. And many gardeners find mulch adds visual appeal their garden, and does so in a very inexpensive way. Clean your tools. Beginners rarely recognize the importance of cleaning gardening tools before putting them away. At the end of each gardening session, clean your tools thoroughly, as soil left on your garden tools can play host to potentially harmful microbes that might kill your plants. Gardening can be a labor-intensive yet gratifying hobby. By sticking to a few simple rules, beginners can develop a thriving garden to reward all of that hard work.
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Gardening is a rewarding hobby that many enthusiasts credit with helping them to peacefully escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Though gardening can be both relaxing and rewarding, it’s not as easy as it may seem, and the more time and effort a person devotes to his or her garden the more likely it is to be successful. Gardening can be a little daunting for beginners who have little or no experience planting flowers or vegetables. But gardening need not be so intimidating, especially for those beginners who adhere to the following tips aimed at helping novice gardeners start their gardens off on the right foot. Determine what you should plant. Where you live will go a long way toward determining what you should plant. While you can plant anything you can get your hands on, the United States Department of Agriculture as well as Agriculture and AgriFood Canada have determined specific plant hardiness zones that indicate which plants are most likely to thrive in given locations. Maps of these zones can be found at www. usda.gov and www.agr. gc.ca. By adhering to the maps, gardeners can significantly increase
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The Grass is Always Greener
Well, spring is finally here, I hope, and it's time to start thinking about gardening and lawn care again. Every year I have big plans for my flower beds, my garden and my pond and every year I end up disappointed. I think I've mentioned that I don't have hobbies, I have obsessions, and gardening is one of them, at least it used to be. It started innocently enough. As a military family, we lived in a succession of apartments for the first seven years of my first marriage. After I got out of the Navy, my then husband was transferred to Virginia Beach where we rented our first house. The house had a huge yard and the only plant was a climbing rose that had invaded one of the raised beds in the front yard. As a member of a SEAL team, my husband was gone most of the time, once for 18 months and I was trying my hand as a stay-at-home mom, so I had time to tame the rose bush. Once it was done, I realized it needed friends, so I planted some petunias around it. That went so well, I added some non-stop begonias and some zinnias – plants the lady at the nursery said were easy to grow. It looked amazing. Then we moved and the cycle began. I planted
By Bonnie Jo Hanson trnews2@times-online.com
Page 3 • Weekend edition, May 17-19, 2013
like a mad woman and just as I really started to like the look we moved. While I was on my obsessive streak, I read everything about gardening I could get my hands on. I joined garden clubs wherever we lived, and I even took a master gardening course. Eventually I learned that I can grow almost anything – except grass. The home I share with hubby number two has has a big lawn that was over-planted before we bought it. Flower beds were scattered throughout the lot and had been neglected for years leaving me with a tangled mess of perennials, shrubs and volunteer annuals to contend with. I spent my first summer there digging up beds, salvaging what plants I could. Once the old beds were prepared, I lovingly planted grass and covered the seeds with straw for mulch. I watered and I waited. Nothing. Every year now for five years, I've planted grass in bare spots including the area outside my back door where the dogs tread to and from their play area leaving mud and dust on everything they touch once indoors. I've purchased different seed types both from big box stores and from nurseries. I've mulched with burlap and with commercial mulches. I water several times a day. The few times I've been successful in get-
ting grass to start, it never came back the next season. In the meantime, I dis covered the lawn we did have was infested with a weed called creeping bellflower. The bellflower is actually an attractive plant in a flower bed. It's tall and has little purple flowers that look like bluebells and many people planted it years ago. Unfortunately, it's also invasive and has begun to take over my lawn. Though I always tried to stay away from chemicals in my lawn, drastic times called for drastic measures, so I got out the broadleaf killer. Within a week, the leaves of the bellflower began to wilt and I was excited. But then they perked right back up again. I got on the Internet to find something that would kill the plant but not kill what little grass I had left. As it turned out, many other people were doing battle with creeping bellflowers, and volumes had been written on how to kill the noxious plant. According to many of the websites I found, I needed a broadleaf killer called Trimec, which I conveniently found at the hardware store in LaMoure. I couldn't wait for a still day when I could go out and try it. After I finally got to spray, I waited a week. The Trimec worked in a
few spots, but I still had a problem. That fall I had the lawn sprayed with a professional broadleaf killer. I assumed that would do the trick, but in the spring the weed came back stronger than ever. Back on the Internet, I learned the only way to kill the weed was with Round Up. I cringed at the idea of spraying my entire lawn with Round Up and starting over, which hubby suggested – especially since I can't grow grass. One website I found suggested using a paintbrush to apply Round Up only to the weed. I actually tried this and finished
about 10 square feet before I realized I was insane, which some of the neighbors confirmed when I tried to explain why I was crawling around the lawn with a cup and a paintbrush. This year, when the earth turns green, most of the green in my lawn will be weeds. My roses will be amazing – especially the Canadian climbers that flow over the picket fence, the poppies will sway in the breeze for a few weeks before the coneflowers emerge, and later we'll eat fresh vegetables seasoned with herbs from my herb garden. The little waterfall in the pond will trickle
while bee balm and sedum look on. And all will be surrounded by dirt and bellflowers. I thingk this year, we're going to put pavers in the huge bare spot in the back yard with creeping thyme growing between them and give up on growing grass. I don't know what to do with the rest of the lawn. I no longer have time to obsess over it, I have a new obsession – my job. I suppose I'll just keep mowing the weeds. At least they're green.
Hanson is a reporter at the Times-Recprd ho writes a weekly column. You can reach her at trnews2@times-online.com
The Case for Choosing The benefits of pruning trees nATive plAnTs
One of the best ways to improve a home’s resale value is to address the landscape. Increasing a property’s curb appeal can be done in many ways, but a well-pruned lawn and garden gives buyers the impression that the sellers truly took the time to maintain the home and the surrounding property. Unfortunately, many homeowners choose exotic plants when addressing their landscape. Though these plants can be appealing and make a property stand out, if the plants are not native to the region, they could be doing more harm than good. Instead of upgrading your property with exotic plants from a far away land, consider the following benefits of choosing native plants before addressing your landscape. Native plants benefit local wildlife. The native plants and the native wildlife spent years and years evolving together, with each doing their part to ensure the other’s survival. But as development continued, local wildlife suffered because of lost food sources. The local wildlife needs local, native plants to survive, so choosing these plants instead of exotic plants can help ensure the survival of wildlife that helps keep the ecosystem in check. Native plants require less work. Some prospective home buyers might find a yard filled with exotic plants to be visually stunning, but they might also see a good deal of work to maintain those plants. Many exotic plants require significant work on a homeowner’s part to survive, while native plants have already adapted to the local climate and will
Page 4 • Weekend edition, May 17-19, 2013
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and shrubs
require much less care. This is often attractive to current and future homeowners alike. Native plants might be a better investment. A native plant has evolved over the years to survive in its given area. Local insect populations and fungal infections might be able to destroy an exotic plant, but a native plant has grown resistant to such problems and likely has the ability to fight such infestations or infections on its own. An exotic plant might require costly pesticides and considerable attention from homeowners to survive such problems. Though homeowners might find exotic plants help their home stand out from their neighbors’, it’s important that homeowners recognize the environmental benefits of choosing local plants before making any decisions.
Did you know?
landscape fabrics are used to prevent weed growth while still allowing air, oxygen and water to flow to and from the soil. landscape fabrics are a chemical-free way to prevent weed growth, endearing them to eco-friendly homeowners. landscape fabrics, once laid, also are a far less labor-intensive method to prevent weed growth, as they can be effective for several years, during which homeowners can expect to perform little or no maintenance. in addition, many homeowners prefer landscape fabrics because they can help the soil effectively maintain moisture during dry periods, when gardens might otherwise be highly susceptible to drought. once put down, landscape fabric can be covered with mulch to add aesthetic appeal.
pruning trees and shrubs is necessary to ensure they maintain their health and vigor. Trees and shrubs should be inspected annually to determine if they need to be pruned. Mature trees typically do not need to be pruned as frequently as young trees, which need pruning to establish branch structure. Trees and shrubs that go years without pruning can become overgrown and weak. In addition to promoting tree and shrub health, pruning pays a host of other dividends. pruning removes dead or diseased branches. Pruning helps a tree or shrub maintain its shape and vigor by removing broken, dead or diseased branches that can be unsightly and make it more difficult for the tree or shrub to stay healthy. When broken, dead or diseased branches are removed, trees or shrubs look healthier and add aesthetic appeal to a property. pruning trees and shrubs promotes growth of other plants. Trees and shrubs that go years without being pruned become overgrown, making it difficult for plants underneath or adjacent to them to grow in healthy. For example, grass beneath an overgrown tree might not get adequate sunlight, which it needs to establish strong roots so it can grow in lush and healthy. Pruning allows plants beneath the tree and shrub and even those next to the tree and shrub to grow in nicely. pruning can sometimes bring plants back to life. Shrubs that have gone years without being pruned can sometimes still be salvaged. In some instances, pruning such shrubs can restore natural and healthy growth. Pruning reduces risk of accidents. Overgrown trees can interfere with power lines, increasing the risk of accidents and power outages. In addition, overgrown trees tend to have larger, weaker limbs, which can prove hazardous and cause property damage during storms. Pruning overgrown trees reduces the risk of such accidents. pruning can save money. Over time, overgrown trees might require professional assistance in order to be removed or pruned from a property. Homeowners who prune their trees as needed can save themselves the cost of a potentially pricey tree service. pruning adds curb appeal. A property littered with overgrown trees and shrubs hurts a home’s curb appeal, giving prospective buyers the impression that homeowners might have been careless with regard to maintaining the whole house and not just the lawn. But trees and shrubs that are pruned and well-maintained can add to a home’s curb appeal, something that goes a long way toward impressing prospective buyers.
Valley City times-ReCoRd
Sod, sometimes called turf, can quickly turn a barren landscape into a rich, thick carpet of green. Homeowners hoping to revive their lawns commonly turn to sod as the quickest means to do just that. However, once the sod has been laid down, few homeowners may know how to keep it looking its best. Sod is real grass that is grown on special farms. It is generally grown locally to avoid long transport times that could dry out the product. Sod is typically sold in squares or rolls of grass that come with the roots and soil already attached. There may be some sort of thin backing material on the sod to keep the grass blades together. Many homeowners turn to sod when growing lawn from seed becomes problematic or too time-consuming. Seeds can be blown around in the wind or be eaten by birds and
Caring for a freshly sodded lawn
other animals before they have a chance to germinate. Sodding a lawn is a major investment, costing as much as $1 per two-foot square. Depending on the size of your lawn, this can be a costly job even before adding the cost of additional supplies, such as soil, fertilizer and tilling equipment. Many homeowners who install sod want to ensure their investment lasts. Here are the main ways to care for and protect sod until it is fully established. •Once the sod has been laid down, the lawn should be thoroughly soaked with water. Most experts recommend soaking it to a depth of 6 inches. •It is important to establish a watering schedule to keep the sod moist. Water the sod to a depth of one inch every other day for the first three weeks to enable the roots to securely establish themselves in the soil. •Water the sod every other day unless the weather has been very warm. After four weeks you can generally go up to five days without watering as long as you transition slowly. The sod will change colors if it is not getting enough water. Never let the lawn turn yellow, otherwise you may have to cut out dead spots and re-sod. •Wait two to four weeks before mowing the sod. Keep the lawn height to around two inches to ensure that it won’t scald in the sun. •After two months of established sod growth, aerate the sod to keep the soil from being too compact and to enable oxygen and nutrients to get into the soil. •Keep children and pets off of the sod while it is establishing itself. •Fertilize the lawn every 50 to 60 days, beginning in March and
Page 5 • Weekend edition, May 17-19, 2013
Sod can create an instant lawn, but it still requires certain maintenance measures to get it firmly established.
ending in October. • Inspect the sod for pests, which may include insects or problems like fungi or weeds.
Treat accordingly with products designed to remove pests. Using sod to establish a lush lawn is a fast,
albeit more expensive option to sowing seeds. After a few weeks the lawn will be thick and secure.
Custom Order Your Manufactured Or Modular Home Today!
when removing weeds, it’s best to remove the weeds with their roots. smaller weeds with shallow roots can typically be removed with a gentle pull and the roots will come right out with the weed. larger weeds with deeper roots can be a little tougher to remove, and they might damage surrounding plants if you pull too hard. in such instances, dig around the stem with a small hoe to loosen the soil and then firmly pull the weed out of the ground. when there are simply too many weeds to pull out of the ground, a garden hoe is effective for shallow-rooted weeds. where deep-rooted weeds are present, a garden hoe is less effective because it does not usually reach the roots. a winged weeder, though more time-consuming than a hoe, goes deeper into the soil to pull the roots. Chemical weed-killers are another option, though they are not very ecofriendly and chemical products must be sprayed on the entire weed to kill it completely.
Removing UnSightly WeedS
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252-3081 1-800-366-3086
Page 6 • Weekend edition, May 17-19, 2013
Benefits to hiring a landscaping service
The desire to have a pristine, well-manicured landscape leads many homeowners to toil outdoors for hours every weekend. Hiring a professional landscaper can free up homeowners’ time and help them ensure their yards are cared for properly. One of the benefits of hiring a landscaper is the time savings. Landscapers typically have commercial-grade A professional lawn service can save homeowners time, money and mistakes. equipment that can dramatically reduce the that include lawnmowers, string time it takes to mow and perform weeders, edgers, fertilizer, grass seed, other maintenance tasks around your leaf blowers, and shovels. property. Furthermore, some services Another benefit is the lawn will have multiple employees working continue to be mowed whether a concurrently, enabling them to tackle homeowner is home or not. During several projects at the same time the spring and summer vacation and complete them in a fraction of season, it’s easy for homeowners the time it would take a homeowner to overlook their lawn and garden working on his or her own. in favor of recreation and leisure Landscapers familiar with botany activities. Without proper watering and landscape design understand and maintenance, lawns and gardens how to properly care for plants can brown or overgrowth can occur. and trees on your property, while But hiring a landscaping service novice green thumbers may be allows homeowners to rest assured unaware about when to prune trees that their yards will be maintained and shrubs, at what height to cut the whether they’re home or not. lawn and which plants will thrive Hiring a local landscaping service in particular locations. Such dowill not only benefit homeowners, but it-yourself maintenance may even cost more money than leaving it to a also it will benefit the local economy. Residents can feel comfortable professional. Hiring a professional landscaper is, knowing their lawn service will be in many instances, more economical. available for calls when needed and For a certain weekly or monthly will be familiar with the community. fee, homeowners receive the benefit Also, local contractors may go the of professional knowledge and extra mile to earn your business execution. Also, homeowners will recommendation. Hiring a landscaping service can not have the expense of purchasing the various tools and equipment be advantageous to homeowners who necessary for lawn and garden want to free up time and still enjoy a maintenance, tools and equipment well-maintained landscape.
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Valley City times-ReCoRd
Tackle flying pests in the yard
of insects, to the yard can naturally keep insect numbers down. Flies lay about 50 to 100 eggs at one time. The eggs will hatch into maggots in as little as 12 hours after being deposited. Keeping yards free from decaying matter, especially around entertaining areas, can limit the number of flies in the yard. TRAPS There are a variety of different traps on the market geared toward different insect life. Most use some sort of attractant, whether a scent or light to lure the insects to the trap. Then the bugs fall inside and cannot get out. Although there are some chemical-based traps or bug “zappers,” there are other more natural traps and more humane options, too. Setting traps away from patios and living spaces will lure the insects to the traps and keep them away from you. Once the trapped insects expire, you can bury them in the ground to naturally decompose. Setting traps out very early in the season will help to trap as many emerging insects as possible. You also may be able to trap the queens of certain insects, like bees or wasps, further reducing the number of bugs you will see throughout the year. REPELLENTS Repellents are natural or chemically derived formulas that are worn or placed in proximity to people. These repellents want insects to find them. Once found, the repellents’ smell or taste is deemed questionable by the insects, who will then seek out
Page 7 • Weekend edition, May 17-19, 2013
The warmer months provide ample opportunities for outdoor entertaining or simply enjoying time spent in the yard as a family. But moments in the fresh air and sunshine can be negatively affected by the presence of flying, buzzing or biting bugs. When the weather warms, insects that may have been dormant during the winter begin to exit their dens and reproduce in earnest. Many insects overwinter as eggs and larvae, and multitudes break their dormancy at the same time as host plants. Beetles, flies, gnats, bees, mosquitoes, termites, butterflies, moths, and many other bugs can be seen in abundance in the spring. While there are people who enjoy bugs’ presence as true harbingers of the new season, others who are less enamored with flying insects, especially when they make time outdoors into an exercise in discomfort. Homeowners concerned about the presence of flying insects in their yard can take various steps to manage sharing outdoor spaces with insect life. PREVENTION Different varieties of insects begin their lives as eggs that may hatch into nymphs or worm-like creatures known as larvae. Oftentimes, these eggs are deposited in water or in damp areas. Mosquito larvae, for example, thrive in stagnant water before they turn into winged, biting insects. Keeping outdoor areas free of standing water and ensuring proper drainage are two ways to reduce the population of certain bugs in the yard. Welcoming animals, such as birds and bats that feed on a trove
other areas to reside. Repellents will vary in efficacy and some may need to be reapplied frequently to remain effective. However, they are a useful tool when you will not be staying in one spot in the yard. SCREENS If you spend ample time outdoors, especially at dusk, then investing in a screened-in room may be the way to go. This way you can enjoy the weather while the insects stay on the other side of the screen. In climates where three-season swimming is possible, some homeowners actually create screened-in rooms that encompass their entire pool. BENEFICIAL BUGS Insects like butterflies and bees are the unsung heroes of the landscape, as they are responsible for pollinating many flowers and plants. Honeybees and bumblebees will generally keep to themselves if their nests are not disturbed and can actually be enjoyable to watch as they buzz from flower to flower. Wasps, like yellow-jackets, can be attracted to sweet smells, so keeping sugary drinks and foods covered can keep them at bay. Or you may want to lure them to another area of the yard with a bit of raw meat or a can of fruit punch. Sharing outdoor living spaces with flying insects can be aggravating. But there are many options at a homeowner’s disposal to control such unwanted guests.
How To eDGe your lAwn perfeCTly!
edging a lawn is a springtime rite of passage for many homeowners. when winter has come and gone, many lawns are left in need of some serious maintenance, including edging. well-defined edges around the yard make the yard look more organized and better maintained. And edging is relatively easy, especially for those homeowners with a smaller yard. edging can be time-consuming for those with more property, but when done properly, edging is definitely worth the effort. remove debris from the areas you plan to edge. Before you even begin to edge, be sure to remove any debris from those areas that need edging. Debris, including rocks, twigs or the kids’ toys, left lying around can be kicked up when you’re edging, potentially causing injury to you or someone standing nearby. purchase safety goggles. even if you have removed all visible debris, there still may be some items hidden in the grass. These items can be kicked up and hit you in the eye, so purchase some safety goggles and be sure to wear them whenever you’re edging. As an added precaution, keep kids and others away from any areas you’re edging so they aren’t injured by any unseen debris that gets kicked up while you’re working. Check your tools. edging can be done by using a gas-powered edger or a string trimmer. Before you begin to edge, inspect these tools to ensure they’re capable of handling the task at hand. inspect the blades on a gas-powered edger to make sure they haven’t dulled since their most recent use. if they are dull, sharpen them before you start to edge. when using a string trimmer, make sure you have enough string on hand to complete the project. string trimmers use a particular kind of string, so visit your local lawn care or hardware store if you don’t feel like you have enough. position your edger properly. once you have given your tools the green light, it’s time to start edging. when you begin, make sure the edger is between the sidewalk or driveway and the edge of the lawn, placing the wheel of the edger on the sidewalk or driveway and then pushing and pulling the edger until you have created a clear edge. if you have never edged before, you may want to practice on smaller, more isolated areas until you become comfortable operating the edger.
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