Posts Tagged With: gardening to-dos

How to Tackle Your Lawn in Less Than an Hour

How to Tackle Your Lawn in an Hour or LessHaving a lush, green lawn is every homeowner’s dream. It’s a badge of honor the whole neighborhood can see and it means something because it is not at all easy to achieve. The weekends already pass by too quickly and the thought of spending your entire weekend doing yard work can be infuriating. Don’t give up your sanity or your weekends to have an enviable yard. This one hour plan will change your views on yard maintenance and have your neighbors asking for your secrets.

First 15 Minutes: Master the Art of Watering

Get a jump start by beginning in the yard early. In the first 15 minutes, master the art of watering. If you water too much, your lawn will have deep, but few roots. Water too little and you will have too many shallow roots. Early morning waterings will have less evaporation and your water will go straight to the grass. You want to water deeply, though infrequently. You should use a rain gauge to determine exactly how much you need to water each week.

Mother Nature is your friend, so embrace the natural moisture that is provided by rainfall. Most grass types need about 1 inch of water each week. You can use sprinklers for between 5-15 minutes, depending how much your lawn needs to reach the 1in mark.

Next 30 Minutes: Make the Most of Mowing

For the next 30 minutes, make the most of mowing. Mowing the lawn is a notorious chore, but done correctly it can save you time and stress. Invest in an efficient lawn mower to cut your mowing time in half. Find a machine that works with you, instead of against you. Popular Mechanics compiled a list of the best choices – be sure to read the comments to discover real people’s opinions.

Have your blades sharpened at the beginning of every season so that you can get the most from your effort. [Runyon can sharpen your blades for a small fee, so bring in your mower and the service department will fit you in.] While you mow, try to take off just ⅓ of the grass’ height at a time. You want the plant to be able to continue photosynthesis. By not taking off too much, you keep enough plant tissue on the blade to do so.

Final 15 Minutes: Hand Weed Your Lawn

A lawn free of weeds is a true prize, and can feel far away. Most homeowner’s first response to the appearance of weeds is to seek out a chemical herbicide. This is often a big mistake. These weed killers can be dangerous to humans and pets and often weaken the grass you favor along with the weeds. The strongest combatant to weeds is a healthy, thick lawn. If your lawn grows strong, it can defeat pesky weeds in the war for space. A dense lawn blocks out the sun needed for their seeds to sprout.

For the final 15 minutes, hand weed your lawn and take note of the different types of weeds you see. These can be signals to other issues in your soil that can be corrected. Certain weeds grow only where the soil is damp, some only in over fertilized areas. Learning to identify the types of weeds that plague your garden can help you eliminate them and save more time.

In just an hour, you’ve made huge improvements to your yard. Follow this quick plan each week and your yard will be the talk of the neighborhood. Finally, you can stop worrying about your lawn and get back to enjoying your summer.

Guest Author: Jane Blanchard

Jane Blanchard is a writer at Modernize. For more tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com. And to purchase or rent lawn equipment in the Indianapolis area, visit Runyon Equipment Rental in-store or online.

*Photo Courtesy of rockymountaintrees.com
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Garden To-Do’s Part 3: Planting Trees & Shrubs

Planting Trees and ShrubsWith the crazy weather we’ve been having, it’s hard to know when it is safe to plant trees and shrubs. A good rule of thumb to follow: if the ground is 60 degrees or warmer, then it’s safe to plant. Get busy deciding where and what you want to plant. We’ve put together some helpful tips, once you have made your final decisions.

  • Check the site – You need to make sure the tree or shrub will have room to grow over the years. Take the time to scout out the area now so you don’t have to move or lose a bigger plant later, if it grows into overhead power lines.
  • Inspect the soil – Determine the condition of the soil and if there is adequate drainage. While you’re doing that, check to see if the plant have enough light in this spot and will it be protected from the wind.
  • Call before you dig – It is better to be safe than sorry, so call your local utility company and find out where underground lines may be hidden.
  • Look at the root ball – That mass of roots circling the pot usually means the plant is pot bound. “Teasing” the roots or cutting the root ball will help them break free. It will keep the roots from “girdling” or strangling the tree or shrub later.
  • Soak the root ball – A good soak before putting the plant in the ground will help hydrate the roots and wash off any contaminants that might be hiding in the potting soil.
  • Set it free – Cut away any plastic or burlap holding the root ball together. Be sure to remove any wires or staples as well. Many of these materials will not disintegrate over time so don’t take the chance of restricting your plant’s growth.
  • Think wide not deep – Dig your hole twice as wide as the diameter of the root ball. You need to keep the top of the root ball above the surrounding ground.
  • Pack it down – Don’t leave loose dirt at the bottom of your hole. It will allow the tree/shrub to settle and can affect drainage around the tree/shrub.
  • Put it in the ground – Position the tree in the hole and then check to see if it is level from several different views. Fill the hole with native soil instead of amended soil to avoid shocking the plant.
  • Mulch – Put a 2-4″ thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree but avoid putting the mulch right up to the tree base. This can allow disease and pests to attack the roots.

Establish Trees & Shrubs with Life-Giving Water

Most gardeners do not realize that winter is actually a dry season for plants. Yes there is plenty of snow on the ground at the time but until it melts and the ground thaws the plants do not get the moisture they need. This is why if you decide to plant your trees or shrubs in the spring, you will need to make sure they get enough water to help them transition from the shock of planting. Give them a good soaking every couple of days but allow the top soil to dry out in between watering. It will help your plants become established and get them ready for the heat of summer. Don’t forget to give them extra water in the fall to prepare them for the “dry” winter.

Happy Planting

Selecting a native plant will give it a better shot at surviving the long winter months and continuing to grow year round. Take a look at some of the trees and shrubs that are native to our hardiness zone (6a). Here are a few we like:

Native Trees

  • Silver Maple
  • Paw Paw
  • Redbud
  • Sweet Gum
  • Leyland Cypress
  • American Hemlock

Native Shrubs

  • Sweet Shrub
  • Winterberry
  • American Cranberry
  • Bayberry

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From landscaping tools to augers and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week. For more Spring gardening tips, check out our infographic, 11 Lawn & Garden Tips for Spring and our blog, 5 Ideas to Spruce Up Your Garden with New Plants.

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Garden To-do’s Part 2: Planting Annuals

How To Plant Spring Annuals

Looking at your yard this spring, you are overcome with a desire to change things up. Where to start? You don’t have the budget to rip everything out and start again so do you live with what you have? Don’t fret, we have just the solution. Plant some annuals.

Set your artistic side free!

Sure, annuals are one-season flowers and plants but they can give you the creative freedom to experiment with your landscape. Introducing a touch of color here or a spot of texture there may be just the thing to take your garden in a whole new direction. Annuals come in every color, height and texture. They are an easy way to change things up without having to totally recreate your garden.

There are three types of annuals:

  • Hardy annuals – these plants will tolerate the first frost.
  • Half hardy annuals – these plants can withstand a mild frost but not sustained low temperatures.
  • Tender annuals – these flowers and plants will die off at the first sign of cooler weather.

The most convenient way to get annuals is from your local garden center. Buying annuals at a garden center will allow you to get a jump on designing your yard. These plants are already established and flowering. You just have to put them in the ground. If you’re looking for a wide selection of native or exotic plants, check out plant sales at local public botanical gardens, arboretums and specialty plant growers.

If you are determined to have hard-to-find annuals in your landscape then you can start them from seeds. Just be aware that this takes time and effort. We suggest you start slow and go with all approaches for your garden. Purchase annuals from your garden center, local specialty growers and more from seeds you grow yourself.

Here are a few of the annuals available to you:

  • Coleus
  • Impatiens
  • Heliotrope
  • Dianthus
  • Zinnia
  • Pansies
  • Foxglove
  • Dusty Miller
  • Petunias

Planting Annuals is Simple … and Satisfying

Start with soil that you have amended with compost or manure. Try to place the plants in the ground at the same depth they were growing in their starter pots. It will help avoid stressing the plant during transition to the garden. Spacing is a matter of preference. As your plants grow they will spread out and fill in but if you aren’t willing to wait for that to happen then go ahead and plant them closer together. Just know that you may have to remove some of them later in the season if overcrowded.

Caring for annuals is pretty low key. Here are a few things that will keep your plants thriving throughout the summer:

  • Water – Soak the ground thoroughly. Soaker hoses and drip systems are the best. Allow the soil to dry out in between watering.
  • Mulch – This will help retain moisture and keep weeds down.
  • Weed – When annuals are first put out it is vital to keep the weeds to a minimum. They compete for the nutrients in the soil and sap the strength from the new plants.
  • Cover – If a frost is forecast, protect new plants at night, removing the cover in the morning so plants can soak up the warm sunshine or rain.
  • Pinch – Remove the small developing leaves on the tips of the plant to help it grow fuller and to keep it from becoming too “leggy.”
  • Stake – Tie up tall plants to prevent them from falling over. Insert the stakes in the ground next to the plant but far enough away to avoid damaging roots.
  • Dead-Head – Remove blooms that have faded to help plants flower longer and more profusely. Annuals like Begonias that readily drop their spent flowers do not need to be dead-headed.

Now is the time to fire up those creative juices and get ready to paint your landscape with a rainbow of colorful annuals. Don’t worry about making a mistake because this is one gardening experiment that can’t fail. If your design doesn’t work this summer then you can change it up next year. You can even make it an “annual” thing! (pun intended).

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From landscaping tools to tillers and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Yard & Gardening To-Dos Part 1: Fertilize and Aerate

Gardening To-Dos: Fertilizing & Aerating

Now that DIY gardeners can actually see their gardens, flower beds and lawns, it’s time to prepare the soil and ground for the growing season.

Feed Me with Fertilizer!

After long winter months languishing under the snow and ice, your garden and lawn are crying, “Feed me!” Fertilizer can help you calm those grumbling yard features because it feeds them with a potent nutrient mix, which allows them to feel calm and satiated. While they’re recovering, fertilizer can also stimulate root development and ensure plants and grass green-up quickly in the spring sunshine and rain. In the garden, fertilizer, compost and manure will strengthen the soil, helping with that hardy harvest you’ve been dreaming about all winter long.

Other benefits of fertilizing your garden, trees, flower beds and lawn include:

  • Because many fertilizers are made with earth-friendly organics, no harm is done to the water table or the environment
  • Controls crabgrass
  • Keeps weedy grasses from infiltrating the lawn
  • Protects against broadleaf weeds early in their growth cycle
  • Slow-release, stabilized nitrogen feeds and grows roots
  • Amends phosphorus-deficient soils in lawn, gardens and flower beds
  • Encourages root strength
  • Lawn, trees and plants experience steady growth throughout the growing season
  • No need to plant new grass seed for weeks
  • Many fertilizers are safe for pets and children

Let Me Breathe Fresh Air!

Aerating your lawn does wonders for the soil, allowing the grass to breathe and grow even stronger. It contains and even gets rid of lawn thatch that can strangle new growth, preventing oxygen from reaching the grass roots. Aerating will also improve soil drainage, and provides much-needed oxygen to worms, herbs and shrubs, too.

The process of aeration is much easier when done with the use of an aerator/plugger machine, which combs large areas of lawn and landscape effectively. Before you start the job, consider these helpful tips:

  • Determine whether aerator uses a spike or a core model
    • Spike aerators use wedge-shaped spikes to dig holes in the earth
    • Core aerators use tines that pluck out plugs from the soil
  • Water the lawn a day before to make sure the soil is wet enough, so a plug can be pulled
  • Do not aerate during periods of drought or high temperatures
  • Locate sprinkler heads so that they are not damaged; pitch rocks and stones from the area
  • Begin at the longest side of the lawn and make overlapping runs side-to-side
  • Make a second pass at a 30- to 40-degree angle
  • Apply fertilizer immediately after aerating
  • Water all aerated areas of the lawn or landscape after applying fertilizer

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and garden projects. From fertilizer and aerator/pluggers to landscaping tools, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week. Right now, check out our helpful handy infographic, Your Guide to Lawn Aeration: The Basics for more information.

Categories: Featured Products, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Get Started On Your Spring Gardening To-Do List (Part 1)

This time of year, gardeners are doing as many spring gardening to-do’s indoors as they are outdoors – perhaps even more. Because winter weather and extreme cold temps continue to grip so much of the United States – Indiana included – we’re fine with that! If you are working outside, however, make sure you’re bundled up tight, taking care to protect your back and joints when lifting heavy snow and staying hydrated.

Get’r Done Outdoors

What could you be doing now, in the cold and snow? Start with these tasks:

  • Survey the landscape and make sure ice melt and salt is not covering tender plants. Brush it off with a broom or hand brush.
  • Repair or build a trellis for roses and other vining plants or clean up existing raised flower beds of debris, if you haven’t already taken care of this last fall.
  • Plant or transplant dormant deciduous plants such as stone fruit trees, hardy perennials, berry shrubs and shade trees. To help with digging holes in still-frozen ground, try renting an earth drill, which uses an auger and machine power to break through hard-to-move soil. These tools also help enormously if you’re building a fence.
  • If you see spring-flowering bulbs start to break ground, surround them with a little mulch and fertilize.

Make Garden Plans Indoors

US Plant Hardiness Zone MapTo start planning this year’s garden, it may be helpful to become familiar with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The interactive map was updated about three years ago and puts Central Indiana in Zone 6a (-10 to -5 degrees F). Most of Northern Indiana is in Zone 5b (-15 to -10 degrees F), and most of Southern Indiana is in Zone 6b (0 to -5 degrees F). Plug your ZIP code or GPS coordinates into the interactive map to get detailed information about the average weather where you garden.

The U.S. government, Oregon State University, meteorologists, horticulturists and experts in agriculture analyzed weather data from 1976 to 2005 to make adjustments to zones all over the country. The zone map helps gardeners make appropriate choices when buying trees, shrubs, flowering plants, vegetables and herbs that will thrive in their particular area. Specific information helps gardeners take into consideration microclimates.

Knowing which sections of your yard are warmer than others is also helpful.

Here are a few to-do tasks you can get done indoors:

  • Sketch garden maps for flower beds, vegetable and herb patches, placement of new trees and shrubs.
  • Decide the number and kind of plants needed to fill spaces.
  • Buy bare root roses, order seeds and other plants for best selection.
  • Sharpen blades and service lawn and garden equipment before the spring rush.
  • Prepare pots and trays for seed sowing and transplanting.
  • If you already have seeds, start growing cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, and flowers including impatiens, begonia and geranium.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with gardening projects. From landscaping equipment to earth drills, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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