Posts Tagged With: Gardening

We’ve Got the 4-1-1 on the War Against Weeds

dandelionsStop Weeds Before They Start

It’s springtime and those pesky weeds have been lying dormant all winter just waiting to burst forth. Never fear, we have the 4-1-1 on how to cut them off at the start; saving you time and money. Effective weed control is easier than you think.

Weed Worries Got You Down?

Weeds are sneaky little buggers. They sleep all winter long and pop their heads above ground at the first sign of warm weather. Weed seeds are in virtually everything from potting soil to grass seed. In fact, the more you disturb the soil the more seeds you are exposing to moisture and sunlight needed for germination. So what are you to do?

Efficiently controlling weed growth is possible when you follow these 8 simple rules:

  • Minimize disturbing the soil – When maintaining your garden avoid digging or hoeing below the top 1-2 inches of dirt to limit the amount of seeds exposed. When planting be sure to cover the freshly turned soil with thick layer of mulch.
  • Mulch – Keep the seeds in the dark! Cover areas around plants with at least 2 inches of mulch. Organic mulches contain weed eating crickets and beetles that devour seeds.
  • Make weeding easy – The old saying “pull when wet, hoe when dry” still applies. Pulling weeds in the early morning when the ground is damp will make the job go faster.
  • Deadhead – This practice isn’t just for flowering plants. By pulling the tops off weeds you are eliminating the seed pods that could drop and germinate.
  • Limit gaps between plantings – Too much space encourages weeds to grow. Consider mass plantings or tightly spaced beds to leave no room for weeds to appear.
  • Keep your tools sharp – Dull hoes can spread weed seeds instead of eliminating them. You want to slice through the weed’s root to kill it.
  • Water plants, not weeds – Burying your soaker hose beneath mulch can reduce seed germination by 50 -70 percent because your plant is building strong roots and crowding out the weeds.
  • Maintain a healthy soil – Fresh infusions of organic matter or compost into the soil will help keep it healthy and keep seeds from sprouting.

Weeds are Everywhere!

Isn’t it amazing just how invasive weeds can be? These annoying sprouts are everywhere. They even find their way up through the cracks in driveways, walks and patios. Yes, you can walk around repeatedly spraying them with a toxic weed killer or try one of these simple methods:

  • Self-leveling sealant – Fill cracks in concrete with this expanding filler to block weeds. Sealing cracks will extend the life of your surface.weeds.jpg
  • White vinegar, salt and dish soap – Combine these with water and spray it on weeds shooting up through cracks. It will cause them to wilt.
  • Salt – Spread left-over rock salt on weeds and watch them dry up. Avoid runoff into your grass and garden because salt will totally kill vegetation.
  • Polymeric sand – Used to fill between bricks and pavers, you can also use this to fill concrete cracks. It has a cement-like quality once wet so work it into the cracks and sweep excess away.
  • Burn weeds away – Use a propane powered weed scorcher or handheld blow torch to run the flame over the weeds to shrivel them up. You are not setting them on fire but depriving them of moisture. Be careful in drought stricken areas.

Stop and Smell the Roses for a Change

Weeds are a fact of life but they don’t have to ruin your gardening experience. By taking these simple steps you will cut your weeding workload down to a manageable level and finally have more time to actually stop and smell the roses. pinkroses.jpg

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to weed eaters and bark blowers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY landscape project. Learn how to improve your garden and flowers with organic compost in our previous blog “10 Good Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin”. As always, 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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Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

[INFOGRAPHIC] Guide to Growing a Vegetable and Fruit Garden in Indiana

Finally, the long-awaited spring season is here, along with its warmer weather, sunshine, and rainy days! With that said, now is the time to start designing and planning for the garden of your dreams. Liven up your outdoor space by creating a garden of beautiful, fragranced flowers. Or perhaps you would like to take that extra step toward self-sufficiency this year and home-grow your produce. Well, if so, you are in luck! We have put together an easy-to-follow beginner’s guide for growing a productive vegetable and fruit garden, and best of all, we have tailored it for the Indiana harvesters. Enjoy local, healthier, home-grown food straight from your backyard by following this simple guide! Please remember that we have a variety of gardening tools for rent and purchase here to help you accomplish any gardening task headed your way– from aerators and lawn mowers to wheelbarrows and tillers – we got you covered!

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Bring New Life to Your Garden with a Chandelier Bird feeder

chandelier bird feederff

Bring New Life to Your Garden with a Chandelier Bird feeder

Ever wondered what to do with an outdated old chandelier? Renovations often leave us with items we have no clue what to do with. Do you donate them or throw them away? Many times they lay forgotten and unused in the attic, just waiting on a second chance. Give your old chandelier a new lease on life by turning it into an elegant bird feeder.

Add Whimsy and Fun to Your Garden with Yard Art

Yard art can add interest and fill in blank areas of your garden where plants have a tough time growing. Repurposed items like chandeliers add a sense of whimsy and fun to formal gardens and are great conversation pieces.

Express Your Artistic Side

This DIY project is quick, easy and gives you an opportunity to express your artistic side. Here is what you’ll need:chandelier bird feeder

  • An old chandelier
  • Saucers, bowls or cups (one for each arm)
  • Outdoor spray paint
  • Wire cutters
  • Plyers
  • Waterproof glue
  • Plumber’s epoxy putty
  • Ladder
  • “S” hook and chain for hanging

A Stripped Down Chandelier Finds New Life

Start by taking the electrical elements out of the chandelier. Remove the light fixtures and wires.

Next apply waterproof glue to the bottom of a bowl and place one on each arm. Allow the glue to dry overnight before attempting to paint.

Branch Out with Your Paint Choices

Break out of your comfort zone and use bright, fun paint colors (the birds won’t mind). Hang the chandelier from a low tree branch so you can easily cover all sides at once. If you prefer, paint one side, allow time to dry and then flip it over to paint the other side. Paint hides imperfections like excess glue or rough spots. Once dry it is ready to hang from your favorite tree with the “S” hook and chain.

Bling Out Your Birdfeeder

You don’t have to hang your bird feeder from a tree, instead mount it on a painted wooden spindle to create a candelabra feeder or place it on a fence post. Add some “bling” to your chandelier by hanging colored crystals from the arms. Mismatched forks and spoons can act as wind chimes. Set your imagination free and decorate your feeder to reflect your personality.

Re-inventing Old Items is Addicting

Repurposing old items is addicting. Don’t stop with just your birdfeeder. A chandelier can also make a beautiful planter. Substitute terra cotta pots for the bowls and you are ready for planting.

Some other easy DIY garden art projects:

  • Old lamp bases with china platters added on top make unique bird baths.
  • Wheelbarrows make great planters or bird baths.
  • An old sink or bath tub can make convenient raised garden beds.
  • Add bird houses to your chandelier instead of seed bowls.

Turn Trash to Garden Treasures

Reusing old items keeps them out of our landfills and gives you an inexpensive way to add color and creativity to your garden. Get busy and convert some of your would-be trash into outdoor treasures. Your guests will be impressed by the clever, artistic touches in your yard.

Expert Advice

From drills and saws to ladders and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next garden DIY project. Want to make your garden an inviting habitat for wildlife? Find inspiration and helpful tips in our previous blog, “How to Attract Birds and Butterflies for a Livelier Yard”. As always, 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.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Renovate, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Groundcovers – Make Sweet Spots in Your Yard

GroundcoverDo you have an area in your yard where grass will not grow? Or a slope that seems to be eroding with every rainfall? If so, then a groundcover may be the solution. These low-lying plants can grow where grass and other more delicate plants cannot.

Low Growing, Spreads Easy

The definition of a groundcover is a low growing plant (less than 24 inches) that spreads easily by producing rhizomes or stolons. These plants form dense vegetation, which chokes out weeds and makes them virtually maintenance free.

Why are groundcovers so useful in your yard?

  • They help prevent soil erosion. Root systems mat together and hold soil in place.
  • They help prevent weeds. Their matted roots and dense growth patterns keep weeds from taking hold.
  • They define a space. They also provide a transition between lawn and flower beds.
  • They soften hardscapes. Walkways, steps and driveways look less severe.
  • They fill awkward spaces. They are great to place between pavers or rocks.
  • They grow where grass will not. Many groundcover plants can survive in poor soil conditions and shady areas.
  • They are drought tolerant. They need less water than traditional grasses.
  • They mostly withstand foot traffic. Groundcovers such as moss, thyme and turfgrass don’t mind a little walking.

5 Types of Commonly Used Groundcover Plants

  • Vines – woody plants with slender spreading stems
  • Herbaceous – non-woody plants
  • Shrubs – low-growing varieties
  • Moss – the larger, coarser types
  • Ornamental Grasses

Pick Your Spot – Make Your Selection

Determine the area you want to plant groundcover. Is it shady or in full sun? Does the ground drain well or stay moist? This will help you decide what types of plants to select. Herbaceous plants will lose their leaves in the winter so if you are trying to cover a bare area then go with evergreen plants.

Creeper, Carpeter or Clumper

Ground covering plants can be creepers (vines and fast spreading plants), carpeters (like moss or turfgrass) or clumpers like Hostas. If you are trying to fill in a large area quickly, then maybe a creeper type is what you need. For variety, try mixing together all three types. Just determine each plant’s maximum growth range and space them out accordingly.

Stagger Your Plants

As with all plantings, starting with good healthy soil is important. Prepare the bed by adding compost or organic material. Arrange the plants you’ve selected in a staggered or diamond pattern to allow them to fill in faster. Space out your plants. Give creepers more room to spread out than the clumping types. Remember that a fast spreading creeper may become invasive if not kept in check. Just keep an eye on them.

Mulch for Protection

After planting be sure to cover with a thick layer of mulch to keep the weeds under control until the groundcover can fill in. The mulch will also provide protection during the winter months. Groundcover plants will take a couple of growing seasons to establish and completely fill in the area.

Most Popular Groundcovers

  • Ajuga
  • Bishop’s Weed (good for slopes)
  • Brass Buttons (evergreen)
  • Creeping Speedwell
  • Dead Nettle
  • Hakone Grass
  • Hen & Chicks
  • Irish Moss
  • Juniper
  • Lamb’s Ear (evergreen)
  • Lamium
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Mondo Grass (evergreen)
  • Periwinkle
  • Scotch Moss
  • Sedum
  • Spurge
  • Sweet Woodruff (loves shade)
  • Thyme

Let Your Imagination Run Wild

Groundcovers are an easy solution to most landscape challenges. They can also be used to create some very interesting focal points in your yard. Mother Nature has provided you with every texture and color you can think up for your garden palette. Let your imagination run wild.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From tillers and shovels to wheel barrows and mulch, 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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Getting Ready for Fall Part 2: Time to Till It Up!

Prep Your Garden for Fall - TillingThe school year is just beginning, summer flowers are dying off and vegetable gardens are winding down. Signs that summer is drawing to a close are everywhere. With fall on our minds, what needs to be done in our yards and gardens before temperatures cool down?

Start Improving on Next Year

The first thing you should do is assess your yard and garden. Take stock of all the plants that didn’t succeed this summer and why. Check out your lawn and determine if you need to re-seed or plant new sod. Think of ways to improve things for next year, such as:

  • Identify plants that are overgrown. They may need to be divided.
  • Check for diseases on your plants. Treat or remove them so they do not infect plants around them.
  • Replace summer annuals. Add fall color with plants like Chrysanthemums.
  • Dig up bulbs. Unearth bulbs that may not be able to survive the winter in your zone and store them.
  • Fertilize turf grass. Add a slow release, all-natural fertilizer to your turf grass.

Soil Preparation is Key

Preparing your garden for next year is easy. The more work you put in now, the easier your task will be in the spring. The key to a successful garden is soil preparation, and fall is the perfect time to do this, since the ground is still warm.

  1. Clean up dead plants and remove debris – Make sure you remove weeds so they are not tilled back into the soil where they can spread their seeds.
  2. Work compost into the soil – Tilling the compost into the soil helps distribute the nutrients throughout. It will also oxygenate the soil and help keep diseases at bay.
  3. Protect the soil – If you aren’t going to plant in this area until next year, cover the ground with straw to protect it from harsh winter weather.
  4. Mulch – If you are planting fall flowers or if you just want to protect your evergreens, then mulch. Mulch will help keep plant roots protected and the soil healthy.

Fall Tilling is Easier

Because the ground is warmer in the fall, it is much easier to till deep enough to provide a good medium for root growth in the spring. Tilling is a great way to get your soil ready for next year.

  • It opens up the soil allowing oxygen to reach the deeper layers of the ground.
  • It relieves compaction – plant roots have to work too hard to get through packed soil.
  • It allows for amendments to be distributed through the soil.
  • It improves drainage.

Give Soil Time to Develop

By tilling compost into your soil in the fall, you are giving it all winter and spring to become biologically active. Organic amendments take time to interact with the earth and render their benefits to plants. It can take weeks or months for amended soil to work at peak levels, which is why fall tilling is so much better than waiting until spring. The soil has time to develop.

Rough it Up

If you are not planting in your garden until spring, rough till your soil in each direction and leave it. The ground will flatten out before spring when you can go back and fine till it. Some of the amendments you can add to your soil now are bone meal (for nitrogen) and rock phosphate (for phosphorous). Add a complete organic fertilizer in pellet or granular form when you till. This is an easy way to add nutrients and will cut down on the amount of compost you need in the spring.

Leave Something for Pests

For your vegetable gardens, consider letting some of the plants linger. Plants like spent cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and radishes act as pest magnets. In the spring, these plants release a cyanide compound when decomposing that can kill nuisance pests like wireworms. Just till the decaying plants into the soil before planting next spring. Instant compost!

A Gardener’s Work is Never Done

Fall is when you should think about ways to enjoy your garden during the cooler weather. If you enjoy bird watching then leave a few flowering plant stalks in your beds to attract birds. The birds will feast on the seeds and use the stalk as a perch. Remember, garden life is year round and a gardener’s work is never done.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From tillers and shovels to wheel barrows and mulch, 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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Go Wild with Your Garden – How to Attract Birds & Butterflies for a Livelier Yard

Build A DIY BirdhouseYou have been diligently whipping your yard into shape this gardening season, yet something is still missing. Then you realize you need to add a little wildlife to your landscape.

When gardeners start designing, they sometimes forget to add plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Adding a few birdhouses to your landscape will provide hours of entertainment as you watch all the wildlife interact.

Building a Better Birdhouse

Building a birdhouse is fairly simple; however, you can’t just put one up and expect your new tenants to move in immediately. You first need to decide what species of birds you wish to attract. Many bird varieties have preferences when it comes to the type birdhouse they will occupy, so do your homework first. Here are a few basic rules to follow for building a birdhouse.

  • Location, location, location – Select a suitable nesting location based on the type of birds you are trying to attract. Some like their houses to be in an open area while others prefer to have the protection of trees limbs or shrubs.
  • It’s all about design – Different species like different type houses. Some will nest in apartment style houses (Purple Martins) while others want to be alone, away from other birds (House Wrens) in smaller houses.
  • The right opening – The “front door” to the bird house is important. One size does not work for all birds. Different species like small openings (Chickadees) while others like different shaped openings (owls like oval front doors).
  • Height matters – Birds like Purple Martins like their houses built high (15-20 ft) on poles and House Wrens like houses 6-8 ft high hanging from tree limbs.
  • The more the merrier – Make several houses from different designs and place them in different locations in your yard. You will be able to see which design and location works.

Natural Selection

The best material to use for a birdhouse is untreated wood. Make sure your birdhouse design has thick walls that provide adequate insulation. Cut ventilation slits at the top of the house and holes in the floor for drainage. Extend the roof out in the front and slant downward to keep rain out. Adding a baffle will help to keep raccoons, snakes, cats and other predators from getting into the house.

Butterflies & Hummingbirds, Oh My!

Now that you have taken care of the birds, it’s time to attract more butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard with nectar- and pollen-rich plants. Wildflowers and old fashioned varieties of flowers are great for this. Adding a water feature like a fountain or bird bath not only attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, it helps them beat the heat, too.

Keep in mind that a yard where dogs or cats roam about, or one with very little tree or shrub shelter, may cut down on how many butterflies and hummingbirds you attract. Try one or more of these plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard.

Butterflies Love:

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Daylily
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Liatris
  • Marigold
  • Phlox
  • Russian Sage

Hummingbirds Love:

  • Bee Balm
  • Canna
  • Crape Myrtles
  • Foxglove
  • Fuchsia
  • Verbena
  • Zinnia

Many of these plants do double duty and appeal to both butterflies and hummingbirds. Select a variety that have different flowering seasons, extending the freshness of their food supply.

Hummingbird Feeders

Designed specifically for hummingbirds, commercial feeders use the color red to attract them. Gardeners add food – usually a mixture of ¼ cup sugar in a cup of water – to mimic natural flower nectar. Hummingbird feeders come in two types, bottle or saucer. The most important things to consider when choosing a hummingbird feeder is the size and how easy it is to take apart and clean. Bacteria and mold grow in sugar water, which also ferments, so change it often (daily in very hot weather).

Bottle hummingbird feeders can be glass or plastic, often with red plastic flowers and bee guards on the feeding ports. Choose one with red bee guards, because yellow ones can actually attract bees. Saucer hummingbird feeders are usually plastic and have feeding ports in the top, making them fairly bee-and wasp-proof. If the feeders have large enough perches, Orioles, Downy Woodpeckers, Cape May Warblers, and other bird species may visit them. Hummingbirds tend to be territorial when it comes to feeding sites, so you may see a little action at the hummingbird water hole, so to speak.

All in all, planning ahead to attract wildlife such as birds, butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard will provide months of entertainment as you watch your garden come to life.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From circular saws and post hole diggers to wheel barrows and shovels, 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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10 Good-Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin

How to Build a Compost BinAs you clean up your yard this summer, consider how you plan to dispose of all that yard waste. Maybe it’s time to start composting grass clippings and weeds. Building a compost bin can be as simple as looking around your yard for materials you can recycle and make into a container. Before we start construction though, let’s decide how best to set up our composting station.

  1. Define your composting needs – Do you want to get rid of yard waste or do you want to commit fully to recycling and add kitchen scraps into the mix?
  2. Check for local restrictions – In some areas you have to set compost bins a certain distance from lot lines. This is particularly true in urban areas.
  3. Consider the physical work required – Compost piles need to be “turned” to allow materials to aerate and to avoid clumping. You will need to shovel the compost material with a pitch fork or other heavy-duty tool, which means your upper body can get a good workout. If “turning” compost does not sound like fun, consider constructing a “tumbler”-style bin and crank your way to the perfect compost.
  4. Determine a location – Find a spot in your yard where the bin can benefit from an adequate mix of sun and shade. Full sun will dry out your pile and full shade won’t allow the pile to dry out enough. Avoid putting the bin close to trees so it doesn’t damage the roots when you stake it into ground.
  5. Place close to a water source – Watering your compost pile is the key to promoting good breakdown of materials. A compost pile should be kept moist like a damp sponge, but not soaking wet.
  6. Keep drainage in mind – Make sure the location for the bin is level and offers good drainage.
  7. Plan for good ventilation – Compost piles need adequate ventilation for the materials to decompose.
  8. Size always matters – Build a bin that is not less than 3 feet by 3 feet or greater than 5 feet by 5 feet. Too small and the compost may become compacted; too large and it will not get adequate air circulation.
  9. What’s that smell? – If you are adding kitchen waste like fruit and vegetable peels then your bin may attract pests. Burying the peels in the compost will deter critters from creeping into your compost pile. You can add calcium or lime to keep any unwanted smells down, too.
  10. What will the neighbors think? – Once you have decided where to build, consider how others might view your gardening project. Camouflaging the bin with lattice or high growing shrubs to block the view will help it blend into the landscape.

After considering these factors, you are ready to select the design of your compost bin. You can build a composter out of a number of different materials. If you are using wooden slats, be sure to keep a 1-½” space between the boards for good air flow. If you need to keep rodents out of your pile, incorporate chicken wire and a secure lid into your design. Avoid using plywood since the moisture in the compost pile will cause it to break apart. Building a compost bin can be as simple or a complex as you want to make it. All you need are the materials, some basic tools like a hammer and circular saw and your imagination.

Once you’ve completed your brand new compost bin, it’s time to start layering. Start off a compost pile by layering equal measures of brown waste, green waste and top soil. Water the pile once you’re done and wait for nature to take its course. After a week or so, “turn” your pile and work in new materials. You don’t have to continue layering once your compost pile has started.

Brown Waste vs. Green Waste vs. Other Waste

Here’s a quick look at what constitutes brown and green waste, and what other materials are suitable for a compost pile:

Brown Waste:

  • Dead leaves
  • Shredded paper
  • Coffee grounds and coffee filter
  • Cardboard
  • Woody hedge clippings and twigs
  • Sawdust
  • Hay or straw

Green Waste:

  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Flowers
  • Nettles
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings
  • Vegetable crop residue
  • Young weeds
  • Herbivore manure
  • Tea leaves

Other Waste:

  • Egg Shells
  • Hair (both human and pet hair)
  • 100% pure wool or cotton
  • Vacuum bag contents
  • Wood ash

Find out what NOT to compost and more information in our blog, Go Green: Create a Compost Collection Pile.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your composting projects. From circular saws to wheel barrows and shovels, 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.

*Photo Courtesy of House Logic
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Garden To-do’s Part 1: Plant Bulbs

How To Plant Spring BulbsSome say gardening is a relaxing pastime, when in truth, it’s a never-ending cycle of things to do. Here we are just emerging our arctic winter, celebrating spring, when we find ourselves looking at the calendar wondering, “What’s next?” Well friends, it is time to consider planting bulbs for that wave of summer color we all crave in our yards.

Once the ground has warmed up to about 60 degrees or higher, DIY gardeners can plant summer blooming bulbs. A good rule of thumb is, if folks in your area are planting tomatoes, then it is time to set out the bulbs. So decide on what you want to plant and get busy.

These are a few summer blooming bulbs to consider:

  • Begonias
  • Caladium
  • Cannas
  • Dahlias
  • Gladiola
  • Calla Lilies
  • Tuberose

After deciding what you want to plant, select a well-draining location in your garden. Good drainage is key to preventing mold and rot from developing on the bulbs. Here are a few simple rules to follow when you are ready to put the bulbs in your garden.

  • Give a Little – Amend the soil by tilling in compost or manure. It helps the roots establish and promotes better blooms.
  • Go Deep – Dig a hole for the bulbs that is at least 3 times as deep as the bulb’s diameter. Follow the directions on the packaging.
  • Drinking Allowed – Make sure the bulbs are well watered after going in the ground but allow the soil to dry out between watering.
  • Don’t Say it! (Just do it) – Yes, that 4 letter word – weed. These pesky sprouts will rob your plants of the key nutrients they need to flourish, so just get rid of them.
  • Feed Me – Once your plants have broken ground and are blooming, treat them with a balanced fertilizer to help fortify the roots and give you a second round of blooms during the growing season.

If you haven’t had good luck with bulbs (those darn squirrels!) or if you just want summer blooms sooner, there is hope for you. Try buying pre-start plants from your local nursery or online plant supplier. There are plenty of them out there for those of us that are bulb challenged.

Speaking of squirrels and other vermin that will be taking aim at digging up newly planted bulbs, we’ve got a few suggestions for keeping them at bay.

  • Blood meal – Sprinkle this on the ground where you’ve put your bulbs and it will keep some animals away. Be warned that it can also attract raccoons and skunks.
  • Chili pepper – Use either the liquid or powdered form and spread it over your garden.
  • Predator hair or urine – Putting dog, cat or even human hair over the planted area will repel squirrels. You can also spread used kitty litter around the plants.
  • Un-tasty bulbs – Squirrels dislike daffodils, snowflakes, alliums and squill, so plant these bulbs around the area you are trying to protect.
  • Chicken wire – Place it or a window screen over the dirt. Once the plants start to break ground you can remove it.

Envision the Future

Before you get discouraged by the amount of gardening projects that your calendar holds, take a good look at your yard. Picture the beautiful flowers and plants that will spring up from the bulbs you so lovingly planted. Relaxation does comes at the end of a long day of weeding and watering. Sure, you may be sore and can’t raise your arms to drink that cold one in your hands, but doesn’t your yard look fabulous?!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From wheelbarrows to tillers, 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 & Garden To-Dos Part 2: Planting A Vegetable Garden

Spring To-Do: Plant a Veggie GardenDo you know the projected date of the last frost in our area? It’s essential for determining when the spring growing season begins and will also help with creating a veggie-herb-and-flower planning schedule. Most of Indiana is in Zone 5 or 6 – and according to reliable sources (the U.S. Department of Agriculture), expect the last frost to occur between March 30 and April 30. Admittedly, it’s a large window, as it can vary from year to year. First things first: start with cool season planting.

Planting Cold Tolerant Vegetables and Fruits

On average, vegetables and fruits need between seven to eight hours of full sun on a daily basis, in order to thrive. Cool season vegetables and fruits on the other hand need only about six hours of full sun, so they can even be planted in partial shade. Although they are considered cold tolerant, they still need to be protected from any severe temperature drops. If it’s forecast, cover new crops with newspaper, old sheets or frost blankets, especially overnight, making sure to remove the cover during daylight hours.

Good to Know Basics

  1. When the soil crumbles in your hand rather than balling up, plant seedlings directly in the garden. A fabulous soil recipe is 50% existing garden soil, 25% aged manure and 25% compost or humus.
  2. Here’s a great list of cool-season veggies and fruits for our area:
  • English peas
  • Lettuce, Arugula
  • Spinach, Swiss chard, Collards, Kale
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Turnips, Parsnips
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Kohlrabi
  • Radish
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries, Raspberries
  1. Remove dead or weak limbs from grape vines
  2. Apply a pre-bloom orchard spray to fruit trees
  3. If the grass has started to green, it’s a good time to plant potatoes. If you’re stuck for space, consider using potato grow bags or outdoor containers, too
  4. Use spindly sticks for quick and easy pea supports now, when plants are young
  5. Thin carrots seedlings for good-size carrot vegetables

Meanwhile, start preparing these vegetables, fruits and herbs indoors:

  • Eggplants seeds
  • Basil seeds
  • Celery and Celeriac seeds
  • Courgette, Marrow, Squash and Pumpkin seeds
  • Cucumber and Gherkin seeds
  • Melon seeds
  • Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Lemon Balm seeds
  • Sweet pepper seeds
  • Tomato seeds and seedlings
  • Sweet corn seeds or seedlings
  • Beans

It will seem like in no time, all of these seeds sowed indoors can be brought outside for some sun!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your gardening projects. From fertilizer 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 blog, 5 Ideas to Make Your Herb Garden Grow, for more information.

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Spring Gardening Checklist (Part 2)

Mulching Your Garden for Spring“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” Mahatma Gandhi

Rejoice, gardeners! It’s finally time to start planting. How do we know? The flower beds, vegetable patch and other landscape planting areas contain soil that’s been tilled and amended, and it’s ready.

  • Did you buy a few bare-root fruit trees? Get them in the ground before they start to leaf.
  • Are you growing seedlings in containers? Move them outside and place them in a sunny spot for about a week before planting.
  • Just back from selecting a few balled-and-burlapped trees, shrubs and berry bushes from the nursery? The soil is now dry enough to welcome them in the garden.

Roll out the wheel barrow, bring a shovel and wear some work gloves because you’re going to be digging in the dirt. Here are a few more planting to-do’s:

  • In the lawn, seed bare spots.
  • In the flower beds, plant hardy cool-season annuals such as calendula, larkspur, poppy, snapdragons, English daisy, pansies and sunflowers.
  • In the vegetable garden:
    • Plant cool season vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, peas, spinach, lettuces, radishes, beets and strawberries.
    • Transplant asparagus, rhubarb and small fruit plants.

Best Checklist Tip – Mulch, mulch and more mulch

Mulching is one of a gardener’s best friends. It prevents weed growth, conserves moisture, protects against frost or freezes, allows plants to stay at a constant temperature range and maintains the garden through periods of low rainfall. Mulching also improves the structure of the soil by increasing nutrients and worm activity.

Gardeners use a variety of materials for mulch depending upon their garden and landscape design, including straw, compost, shredded bark, grass clippings and other organic material as well as gravel, stones or wood chips. Runyon Rental also recommends HydroStraw hydro seeding mulch, a new alternative to the old conventional wood, paper or cellulose mulches of the past. Made in the USA, HydroStraw is a combination of annually renewable natural fibers, tackifier and other additives specially formulated to provide uniform coverage over a larger area – as much as 50% more mulch over 50% more area. HydroStraw is sprayed on, using less water to apply than other types of hydro seeding mulches.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with gardening projects. Learn more by reading our blog, Tackle Spring Clean-Up in Your Yard with This Handy Checklist. From landscaping tools to seeds and mulch, 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.

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Your Spring Gardening Checklist (Part 1)

Till Your Garden for SpringPreparing the soil in your garden for planting helps assure a bountiful harvest. Before spring planting and transplanting begins, the soil should be prepared. First, remove old mulch and leftover plants tops, such as those of asparagus or rhubarb from all garden beds. Before any new growth appears on berry plants, remove old canes that look weak, diseased, damaged or bore fruit. Till the soil using a tiller machine.

Tips for Tilling:

  • Adjust the machine to match ground conditions by testing the soil. Depending upon whether the ground is hard or loose, set the tiller accordingly and work a test area, then evaluate the result. Reset the depth bar, tine configuration, throttle or gear selection as necessary and continue tilling.
  • Some tillers are designed to propel itself forward only; some are designed to till when moving both forward and backward. Determine which kind of tiller you’re working with. A forward-only model will need to be hauled backward to re-work the soil.
  • Allow the tiller to “bite” into the soil and work its way forward. After the initial groundbreaking, work the tiller back and forth to cultivate the soil.
  • Adjust the depth bar so the tiller is tilted slightly backwards.
  • For hard, compacted soil or to dig deeper, lower the depth bar. Raise the depth bar when working in softer conditions.
  • To cultivate soft soil or shallow soil, slow the engine speed, which will slow down the tines so the tiller can take smaller “bites” of soil for better performance.
  • To cultivate hard soil, run the tiller at full throttle so the tines can take bigger “bites” of soil.
  • After tilling, use a shove and rake to amend the soil with compost and peat moss, followed by “side dressing” with nitrogen, manure and fertilizer. Remember to test the soil for type of fertilizer and pH recommendations.
  • Fertilize woody plants before new growth begins but after soil temperatures have reached 40 degrees.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with gardening projects. Learn more by reading our blog, Tackle Spring Clean-Up in Your Yard with This Handy Checklist. From tillers 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.

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Fall Checklist Part 2: Caring for Trees and Shrubs

Part 2. Fall Gardening To-Dos

Part two of our Fall Checklist for Winter 2014 focuses on maintenance tips for your trees and shrubs, suggestions for newly planted varieties and what to plant right now, before the snow flies.

Step 1. Water newly planted conifers and other evergreens regularly, especially if there’s little precipitation and even after it starts to snow. Young trees and shrubs need moisture to help establish their root systems.

Step 2. Clean up rotten, fallen crops and leaves from fruit trees, then prune them in late winter. You can spray them with dormant oil, which is effective in controlling and killing off certain insects and mites that could damage trees.

Step 3. Cut back rose canes to within a foot of the ground and cover them with soil.

Step 4. Rake and compost leaves, which could be an ongoing process until all the leaves fall from your trees!

Step 5. Now is the time to plant new plants such as oak, holly, beautyberry and bare-root roses.

Step 6. Mulch, mulch, mulch!

Special Step for 2014. Consider wrapping tender, thin-barked young trees, which are susceptible to winter sunscald and frost crack. Young maples, apple, crabapple, lindens and cherry trees are especially susceptible. Any tree can be wrapped with tree guards to protect from rodent damage and tender foundation shrubs can be wrapped in burlap or heavy Kraft paper found at your local garden center.

Start at the bottom of a plant near the ground, wrapping upward in a spiral, overlapping each layer so that water falls off the wrap. Wrap a tree trunk up to the lowest branches and secure with masking tape. Also, wrap the canes of tender roses in burlap, lay the wrapped canes on the ground and cover them with soil or mulch.

Before growth begins in late winter or early spring, remove the wrap to prevent moisture build-up, which can lead to disease.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with wintering your gardens. From wheelbarrows to shovels and everything in-between, 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.

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[Part 2] Early Fall To-Do: Plant Mums For a Fresh Fall Flowerbed

Plant Mums For A Fresh Fall FlowerbedThis time of year, avid gardeners are looking for a reason to get outdoors and freshen up their flower beds. And they’re likely doing it using chrysanthemums — or mums for short — late-season bloomers that produce lots of long-lasting flowers in a variety of colors and shapes. Perfect for mass plantings or filling a container, gardeners can play with color schemes of mums that complement existing plantings such as ornamental grasses, beautyberry (Callicarpa), smoke tree (Cotinus), variegated sedum and conifers, while creating instant curb appeal. But first, you need to clean out your flower beds.

6 Steps for Easy Autumn Clean-up

You’ll need a rake, garden spade, cultivator, hand trowel, bulb planter, organic compost, peat moss or manure, mulch, wildflower seeds (optional), spring-flowering bulbs (optional) and of course, chrysanthemum plants.

Step 1. Remove summer mulch and compost; deadhead flowering plants and pull up any weeds; rake up leaves and debris.

Step 2. Dig up any annuals by the roots, shaking the conditioned soil back into the bed, and compost only the healthy plants.

Step 3. Groom your perennials by splitting or discarding clumped areas, separating tubers, rhizomes and bulbs and add compost.

Step 4. In addition to planting mums for immediate bloom, plant biennial seeds like hollyhock, foxglove, Canterbury bells and violets and bulbs like hyacinths, daffodils, tulips and lilies. Remember to mark the planting area.

Step 5. Trim back foliage on perennials that like to be pruned in the fall. If you find snails and slugs, keep the cuttings out of the compost heap.

Step 6. Add manure, compost or peat moss before planting. Afterwards, mulch the garden with two to three inches of fresh mulch.

Choosing Mums For Outdoor Planting

Both cutting mums and hardy mums are hybrids of the golden-yellow mum originating from China. Both can be planted in a flower bed, for different reasons. Cutting mums are traditionally used by florists because of their large flowers that come in the most variety of shapes and types, including:

  • Decorative: long, tightly overlapping petals that curve up and in toward the flower center or out and down
  • Pompon: smallish, globe-shape petal-packed flowers
  • Single or Daisy: single row of long petals around a center disk
  • Anemone: one or more rows of single flat petals topped with tiny florets of a darker color
  • Semi double: two or three rows of long petals around the center disk
  • Single Quill: single daisy type with tubular petals

Cutting mums struggle to tolerate the cold and are used as short-term bedding plants to create interest. Hardy mums are, well hardy — they produce the underground stolens that help the plant survive in cold temperatures.

Still, you want to plant mums in a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day, in well-draining soil. Water thoroughly, never letting them wilt. Hardy mums will bloom well into the fall, until the first hard front. Prepare them for winter by mulching up to four inches around the entire plant with straw or shredded hardwood, spreading between branches.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next planting project. From rakes to wheelbarrows, seed and mulch and everything in-between, 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.

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5 More Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard

5 Landscaping Ideas for Your Fall Garden

Since fall landscaping is done after the growing season has essentially ended, gardeners don’t have to worry so much about weeding, since weed seed is dormant, unlike in spring when it’s just bursting to grow. And in the spring, you’ll see a whole new garden that blooms early! This article is our third on tips to freshen up your landscape for fall, adding color, texture and panache!

1. Contrast Light and Dark

They say that opposites attract, especially when they’re dark and light. Play up the drama of silvery ornamental grass plumes with deep-color foliage, such as that of Diablo ninebark, purple-leaf filbert, ‘Velvet Cloak’ smoke bush or ‘Black Lace’ elderberry.

2. Decorate with Accents

Give your landscape personality with found objects and artwork installations such as ironwork or statues or ornaments. Just like indoors, adding artistic accents to your landscape will reflect your personality.

3. Think Small

Not every planting in a fall landscape has to be big and bold. Planting shrubs with subtle details like richly colored berries or fruits, such as the beautyberry, which produces small clusters of amethyst-purple fruits in fall, give your garden exquisite beauty up close.

4. Punch it Up with Container Plantings

Perk up dull spots in your garden with containers filled with grasses, mums, asters or flowering kale that put on a beautiful show for weeks.

5. Relax and Enjoy

Take advantage of wonderful fall weather with seating area that lets you sit back and enjoy your landscape. Include a fire pit or fire bowl for warmth, or place the seating on the east side of a favorite tree to enjoy the remains of the day.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From lawn mowers to leaf blowers and everything in-between, 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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10 Must-Have Fall Lawn & Garden Tools

Fall is the perfect time to catch up on all your lawn maintenance to-dos, especially due to the cooler temps. Whatever that may entail, below are 10 lawn tools that encompass a wide range of outdoor tasks. We carry all 10 items in stock for rent and some for purchase as well, so please check out our online store for more details or stop in today! Happy lawn maintenance and gardening!

10 Must Have Lawn Tools

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6 More Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard

6 Landscaping Ideas for a Fabulous Fall YardGive your garden a “boost” by planting in the fall. This is the second of three articles on tips to freshen up your landscape for fall, adding color, texture and panache!

1. Plant Wildflower Seed

Do you know that planting in the fall results in earlier wildflower blooms? Just like fall-seeded lawns, fall-planted wildflower seed has a chance to establish in the ground during the winter, ready to burst into bloom about two weeks earlier than spring-planted seed.

2. Grow Multi-Season Plants

Pagoda dogwood, ninebark, viburnum, fothergilla, reblooming hydrangeas and other plants that show flowers in the spring, berries in the summer, color in the fall and have unique bare branches in the winter keep your landscape ever-changes with each season.

3. Appeal to the Senses

Using a water feature in your garden can appeal to your sense of sound by filtering out street noise, enhancing your sense of sight by reflecting brilliantly colored trees for double the impact, or engaging your sense of touch with cooling trickles or smooth icicles.

4. Choose the Unusual

Include at least one unusual plant in your garden landscape, one with edible fruits or unusual-shaped leaves, wild-looking blooms or imaginative shape. It will keep guests guessing — or amused.

5. Keep it Natural

Create planting beds with plants that grow at different heights in a number of complementary colors, for a design that feels natural.

6. Consider Context & Texture

Bring attention to a unique tree by planting it among several of a different sort, allowing it to shine and adding texture to the landscape. For added interest in the fall and winter, include ornamental grasses, planted near other plants with a delicate look, such as silvery sea holly flowers and golden bluestar foliage.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From lawn mowers to leaf blowers and everything in-between, 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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4 Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard

4 Landscaping Ideas for Fall

Many people think spring is the best season for planting, but gardeners have figured out that fall is actually the best season for planting and landscaping. Because of the cooler temperatures and increased rainfall, fall is great for planting perennials – plants that come back year after year. There are far more “good days” in the fall when the soil is still warm, which allows a plant’s roots to establish better and grow until the ground freezes, or continue to grow throughout a milder winter climate. In the spring when the ground is cooler or in the summer, when it’s hot and dry, a plant’s roots can get stressed and unhealthy, and grow less robustly.

Fall is also a great season to give your garden a “boost,” planting turf grasses, spring-blooming bulbs, “cool crop” vegetables and certain annuals – plants that last only one season – to enjoy well into the cooler season. This is the first of three articles on tips to freshen up your landscape for fall, adding color, texture and panache!

1. Create the Unexpected

Add a series of intimate spaces to your landscape, which helps give the sense that the garden goes on and on. Start by planting evergreens in a variety of coordinating colors near the edges of your property, giving you privacy throughout the year. The evergreens also act as a dramatic backdrop for other trees, shrubs and flowers to show off their brilliant fall color. Then use large shrubs and small trees as living walls, forming outdoor “rooms” and adding interest to your yard. Since no one spot has an entire view of your garden, there’s something unexpected around every corner.

2. Pattern with Shapes

Build a theme in your landscape by repeating a plant shape. Plants develop different shapes as they grow. Some have an upright look, others are mounded, and still others weep gracefully. Couple an upright columnar white pine with a tall blue spruce, which give rise to a narrow, intimate path. Boxwood pruned into round balls all in a row gives the allusion of a string of pearls. Weeping willows planted together with a ‘Viridis’ Japanese maple and forsythia resemble a girl’s long hair fluttering in the breeze. Combining plants with different growing habits makes your landscape more intriguing.

3. Add Carpets of Color

Ground-hugging ground-cover plants reduce weeds and protect the soil while creating a vast expanse of color, especially in the fall, when plants can turn from greens to vivid purple-reds. The fall show helps make your garden more interesting.

4. Include Structure

In addition to plants, give your garden visual interest by incorporating a structure such as a pergola, an arbor, a fence or retaining wall — even an assortment of pots and planters grouped for visual impact will do the trick. Stone is maintenance-free and suited to a variety of landscaping styles. However, choose a material that complements your garden, giving to a natural look, and be sure it fits your budget.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From lawn mowers to leaf blowers and everything in-between, 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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2 Ways to Pamper for Your Container & Houseplants This Summer

With the summer season halfway over, it’s time to think about your container and house plants. Thankfully this summer in Indiana hasn’t been overwhelmingly hot, rather cool this past week actually, which is perfect for your growing flowers and plants. That said, here are two quick tips for your mid-summer gardening regimen.

Feed Flowers in Containers

You want your annuals to stay in tip-top shape of course, so it’s essential that you feed them, which in plant form means fertilizer. You can either use a slow-release fertilizer, more granular in nature, at the start of it growing season and then again in 2 months. Or, you can use an all-purpose liquid fertilizer every two weeks i.e. Miracle-Gro.

Move Your Houseplants Outside

Houseplants love the warmth and sun summer provides, so summer is an ideal time to move your indoor tropical plants outdoors for a little extra pH. However, slowly reacclimatize them to the outdoors by first placing them in the shade, protected from our strong and gusty Indiana wind. Doing this will quickly add an abundance of new growth to your leafy friends.

These are two really easy and beneficial suggestions for you container and houseplants this summer. If you have any questions, or if you’re interested in renting a few garden tools to help you in all your green-thumbed glory, please visit our website. We hope to hear from you soon!

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Keep Gardens Thriving with 3 Simple Maintenance Tips

One of the pleasures of summer living is enjoying a homegrown bowl of salad greens and vegetables harvested from your garden. Not only are these meals super fresh and bursting with flavor, harvesting your garden is one of the ways to keep it healthy. In addition to watering, weeding, mulching and composting, home gardeners need to tend to their patches of produce and petals all season long. Below are three more ideas to keep your gardens thriving.

3 summer garden maintenance tips1. Replant Leafy Vegetables

As the summer heats up, cool-season salad vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard grow stalky and bitter as they go to seed. Pull them out, pitch them unto the compost pile, and replant the area with quick-growing, warm-season veggies and herbs like loose leaf and oak leaf lettuce, red romaine, beans, summer squash, basil or rosemary.

2. Protect Berries and Fruit

Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are not only nature’s candy for people, but critters love them as well. As your plants bear fruit, covering them with bird netting or synthetic fabric row covers will protect from a raccoon’s midnight raid or a bird’s early morning breakfast. Another possible deterrent from birds stealing your harvest is stringing Mylar flash tape over and around your garden.

3. Secure Climbing Plants

Climbing roses, clematis, even string beans and hops produce new growth faster in the summer and will benefit from the help of an arbor, trellis or garden stake. Secure plants loosely with any soft or flexible material such as hook-and-loop plant ties or garden tape, allowing for expansion. Avoid using twist ties with wire centers, which can rust and cut into plants over time.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next gardening project. From landscaping tools to garden tillers, 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.

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5 Items on Your Mid-Summer Gardening Checklist

5 Items on Your Mid-Summer Gardening ChecklistFor do-it-yourself gardeners, the summer season is just starting to heat up! Now’s the time to enjoy all the beauty that your garden, yard and landscape have to offer — at least until summer’s end, which isn’t until September 23.

Yet, a gardener’s work is never done – from mowing the lawn to weeding flower beds – the best way to keep your home grown oasis looking fabulous is regular maintenance. The more care and passion you put into making your garden grow, the more enjoyment you’ll receive, not only from puttering among the begonias but from relaxing to take a look at your handiwork. With this helpful gardening checklist, you’ll be well on your way to enhancing your garden experience!

1. Re-plant Annual Flower Beds: Replace cool-weather annuals that have stopped blooming or have already died back with heat-loving varieties such as verbena, lantana and geranium (in some areas of the country, these plants are considered perennials). Adding new annuals refreshes the garden with color and abundant flowers.

2. Add Tropical Flair: Surround your patio or deck with bird-of-paradise, fig, elephant’s ear, hibiscus, dracaena or bougainvillea, warm-climate plants that love the heat and humidity, which intensifies during the dog days of August. In the fall, move these tropical plants indoors and enjoy them as houseplants. Also, check the supports of palm trees, which are required for the first six to eight months to deter them from toppling over. Do not nail the supports to the trunk of the tree.

3. Add a Water Garden: From in-ground ponds with water lilies to container water gardens that display green and burgundy cannas, papyrus or pitcher plant, a water garden can actually add a cooling element to your landscape.

4. Tend to Vegetables: At this time of year, stop harvesting asparagus and rhubarb so these perennial edibles can prepare for next year’s crop. Mulch the area to prevent weeds from taking over the beds. Protect precious tomatoes from hornworm by inspecting the foliage in the morning and evening, when the big green-and-white caterpillars are feeding. Pick them off the plants with gloved hands and drop them in a jar of soapy water.

5. Prune Shrubs: Spring flowering shrubs such as lilac, hydrangea and spirea should be cut and shaped immediately after flowers fade. Wait until late summer or early fall, when there’s no danger of pruning away next year’s developing flower buds.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next gardening project. From planting advice 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.

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5 Ideas to Spruce Up Your Garden with New Plants

Create a Garden Oasis with These 5 IdeasThe long days of summer are just right for getting all those garden improvement projects underway. Along with abundant sun and warmer weather, new plants have a chance to establish root systems and thrive during summer months… just like people tend to do, enjoying a tall glass of lemonade (granted, plants prefer a cool drink of water). Although you may have a fabulous garden already, there are so many ideas for expanding it, or creating designated areas for entertaining or relaxing. This time of year is perfect for enjoying the outdoors, so make your backyard oasis your own. All it takes is a little hard work and a passion for making your garden vision a reality. Below are five ideas for sprucing up your garden.

1. Plant New Trees

If you live in a frost-free or rainy region, give your garden a tropic vibe by planting palm trees. To protect tall palms from wind damage, support them with stakes for at least a year, until roots are established. Other trees that lend themselves to an exotic landscape are Japanese maples, which can add vibrant color in the summer and fall. Ginkgo balboa, sumac and flowering fig have the added benefit of a voluptuous fruit harvest, ready in September. (Helpful Tool: tree spade)

2. Add a Shade Garden

Almost any yard or garden has shady areas. Don’t let them go to waste! From hydrangeas to hostas to hardy fuchsias, fill those dark areas with shade-loving perennials or shrubs and see it come to life with beautiful greens, gentle lavenders, stunning blues and pinks with some showy flowers for good measure.

3. Aquatic Life

Aquatic plants such as water lilies and lotus add depth and breadth to any water feature, especially those located in a sunny spot. Fill two-thirds of a 12-inch diameter pot with garden soil (do not use potting mix). Then place the roots of one plant into the center of the pot. Cover with two to three more inches of soil, and add a light pea gravel covering. Place the entire potted plant in at least 12 to 18 inches of water, and watch them flower.

4. Carpet of Succulents

Succulents such as hens-and-chicks, aloe and sedum are low-maintenance, drought-tolerant sun-lovers that will grow anywhere, from pots to cracks in a stone wall, even in the shade. With so many varieties in striking shapes, colors and blooms, succulents also provide visual interest in nearly any type of garden. Protect succulents from extreme cold and don’t over-water, otherwise, they are easy to maintain, keeping your garden lush.

5. Garden Path of Herbs

Hardy herbs such as rosemary and thyme not only flower in the summer, but also add intoxicating fragrance, especially when planted along a garden path. Group the herbs with a sprinkling of Alyssum in white or purple to intensify the sweet smell (especially after a summer rain). Plus, with a little judicious clipping, you can enjoy an herb-filled marinade or dressing for all that summer grilling you plan on doing!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From landscaping tools to tree spades, 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.

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How to Properly Maintain Your Garden by Weeding, Mulching & Watering

Maintain Your Garden This Summer in 3 Simple Steps

Summer is the perfect time to maintain and enjoy your garden. That said, there are three key components to summertime garden maintenance: weeding, mulching and watering. Pruning and increasing shade when necessary can also improve the lives of your flowers and plants. Disturbed soil loses its moisture rapidly and makes it hard for gardens to recover, so keeping up with your outdoor oasis is crucial.

Step One. Eliminate Pesky Weeds

The idea is to smother weeds before they germinate, and to do so by keeping the soil moist, thus making it easier to pull weeds up. Another preventative measure is to remove weeds before they go to seed and spread through your garden. The key indication being that they are still small at this point, not too big, only 2-3 weeks old. Using a trowel or hoe to scrape below the surface will cut and uproot these tiny weeds. This is an example of cultivation as a weed elimination method.

Another type of weeding is just that, weeding in the literal sense…pulling weeds out by hand. Having really moist soil allows for this because they pop right up if they’re small enough and not deeply rooted.

Step Two. Mulch Every Square Inch

Mulching is also a method for preventing weed growth — depriving them of light and air, essentially smothering them. Mulching conserves moisture and allows your plants to maintain a constant temperature range. Not surprisingly, mulch reduces evaporation from the soil up to 70%.

In addition to this, mulch improves soil structure, increases water retention, soil nutrients and worm activity. Mulch is essential if you want to maintain your garden through periods of low rainfall. And even better, mulching eventually destroys most if not all weeds.

There are a variety of materials you can use for mulch, including:

  • straw
  • compost
  • shredded bark
  • grass clippings
  • other organic material

*Quick Tip: compost, straw or bark mulch are ideal for garden beds. Whereas stones or wood chips are better for paths and non-growing areas because they reduce soil splash, dust, etc.

Step Three. Water With Purpose

First things first, before watering, push aside the mulch and put your finger into the soil. If it’s moist, then there is no need to water. If it is dry, then you know it’s about that time. There are two types of watering systems you can implement: fixed or portable.

1. Fixed: built into your garden. i.e. drip irrigation. This includes soaker hoses, which literally leak throughout the area. Fixed systems are at soil level, so water goes directly to the roots. For a soaker hose specifically, lay it through your garden where plants are small (for easy access) and then cover with loose mulch.

2. Portable: a cheaper alternative that can be moved exactly where needed i.e. watering and sprinkling cans, hand-held hoses and sprinkler systems. When choosing a water hose, consider a few qualities:

  • 4 ply construction for superior resistance
  • Large diameter (5/8″)  for faster delivery
  • Brass couplings, which reduce leaks

A few things to keep in mind when watering…

1. With existing plants, water less frequently and then not at all.

2. Observe for signs of stress i.e. wilting and leaf fall to determine if your watering schedule is effective or not.

3. Less frequent deep watering equips deep-rooted plants to withstand hot, dry days (i.e. drought resistance).

4. Set your sprinkler in one part of garden while hand watering in another to save time.

5. Water where crop plants are and drip plant in beds and out of paths.

Additional Resources

Good luck getting your garden in shape this summer. The sooner you finish weeding, mulching and perfecting your water schedule, the more you can enjoy it. Check out this Guide to Good Garden Watering for more insight. If you’re thinking of creating a new garden, or you don’t have one, take this quiz to find your perfect garden plan. Oh, and if this proves a pretty harsh summer where you are, read this article about how to protect your garden. Please reach out if you have any questions. Happy gardening!

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For Healthier, Stunning Roses, Prune, Prune, Prune!

How to Properly Prune Your RosesMost flowering trees and shrubs benefit from annual pruning, especially roses. Not only does pruning rid the plant of dead and diseased wood, it encourages new growth and gives it a nice shape — one that promotes beautiful blooms. With a few tools such as pruners, long-handled loppers, shears and thick gloves, a gardener can cut and shape to their heart’s delight!

For some flowering plants, timing an annual pruning is important. For instance, here’s a list of trees and shrubs that respond favorably to an early summer pruning, after a bloom:

  • Azalea (Rhododendron species)
  • Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
  • Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spirea x vanhouttei)
  • Flowering Crabapple (Malus species and cultivars)
  • Forsythia (forsythia x intermedia)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus species and cultivars)
  • Hydrangea, Bigleaf (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  • Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
  • Magnolia (Magnolia species and cultivars)
  • Mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius)
  • Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron species)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora)
  • Slender Deutzia (deutzia gracilis)
  • Weigela (Weigela florida)

When and How to Prune Roses

When gardeners think of pruning, most likely it’s associated with rose bushes — although pruning techniques apply to all flowering trees and shrubs. Pruning a rose bush is very good for the plant plus it’s pretty difficult to kill a rose bush with bad pruning, because most mistakes grow out quickly with this hardy plant that produces such delicate blooms. Generally, roses respond best to pruning in two ways:

1. If the plant blooms on new season growth, prune while dormant or just when the plant is about to break dormancy

2. If the plant blooms on last year’s canes, prune after flowering.

Rose Pruning Basics

  • Use clean, sharp tools and protect your hands and arms from thorns by wearing thick gardening gloves
  • Prune potted roses the same as planted roses
  • Remove any broken, dead, dying or diseased wood and weak, twiggy branches all around the bush
  • Remove sucker growth below the graft
  • Begin pruning from the base of the plant, cutting to open its center for light and air circulation, which dries the leaves and helps prevent foliar diseases from attacking
  • Make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle, about 1/4 inch just above a “bud eye,” or the area on the stem where branching occurs
  • No reason to protect a pruning wound, as cuts are called; however, you may apply Elmer’s Glue to a cut, if rose cane borers are a problem pest

Pruning for the Healthiest Roses

Most rose gardeners are interested in removing dead, damaged or diseased branches from their plant to promote the growth of large, full flowers that are pleasing to the eye.

  • Cutting dieback or broken branches promotes vibrant growth
  • Pruning away winter freeze damage opens up the plant to air circulation
  • Removing diseased wood prevents the disease from spreading to the rest of the bush or to neighboring plants

Prune out crossing branches, all branches smaller than a pencil in diameter and even extra long canes, which prevents the roots from being loosened by strong winds or freeze/thaw cycles. Pruning is also an opportunity to correct any problems with the plant’s overall form or reduce the overall size of a plant in relation to the rest of your garden.

For most rose bushes, leaving six to eight strong, healthy canes will produce a full, nicely shaped plant. Deadheading, a form of pruning to remove spent blooms, prevents the formation of rose hips or seedpods and encourages new, attractive blooms (although rose hip cultivation can be advantageous for home chefs who make rose hip jelly and tea drinkers who enjoy a cup of rose hip tea).

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. 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.

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Easy Bush Removal Takes Planning and a Few Power Tools

Remove Unwanted Bushes in 5 Easy Steps

Seasonal maintenance or an update to a mature landscape could mean removing overgrown, diseased or unwanted shrubs and bushes from your yard. You can do it yourself, with a little planning and a few power tools. Here are Runyon Rental’s easy-to-follow instructions:

Step 1. Survey the situation. Look around each bush for bird nests. Schedule the removal after hatchlings leave. Make sure the bush is not a protected species. If it is, you may be obligated to follow certain removal procedures or transplant to an appropriate site. And last but not least, know where utility or sprinkler lines are buried before digging into them. Call your local utility company for this specific information.

Step 2. Choose your tools. Depending on the size of the removal job, you can start with a heavy spade-type shovel, manual hedge clippers and a large wheelbarrow to get it done. To save yourself some sweat, consider renting a power hedge trimmer, a chainsaw, a stump cutter and even a wood chipper, for easier cleanup.

Step 3. Cut down to size. Cut each bush to a manageable size, removing branches first, and cutting the trunk into manageable pieces that fit into the wood chipper. If you’re going the manual removal route, leave enough of a stump above the ground to get a good hold on it. Otherwise, cut the bush down to the ground.

Step 4. Remove the stump and roots. Especially if the bush is diseased, get rid of the stump and the roots with a stump cutter. Most of the roots can be pulled from the ground manually. If you’re working without a stump cutter, dig a trench around the stump and start breaking it down by cutting through the roots and throwing away any soil containing them, until one piece of the stump is left. Dig the shovel deep into the ground near the stump, moving it back and forth until the roots directly below the stump are cut. Then stick the shovel into the trench, angling it to the middle and push and lift. Repeat this procedure around the entire stump until you can lift it out with your hands.

Step 5. Fill the hole…with soil and continue with your new plan for the landscape. Throw wood chips on the compost pile or use as mulch.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. 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. If you plan to plant a new bush or tree, ask us about our tree spade rentals!

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How-To Remove Your Dead Tree in 6 Simple Steps

How-To Cut Down Your Tree in 6 Simple StepsIn addition to providing beauty and increasing your property value, trees keep the air and water clean, hold soil in place, and give you and your family a shady spot to enjoy a sunny day. It’s a tough decision, removing a tree from your property, but if the tree is old and dead, taking it down helps keep your yard and the surrounding area safe. No one wants an old dead tree falling into a neighbor’s yard.

There are a number of reasons why you’d want to cut down a tree besides it being already dead. Is the tree healthy? Is the trunk damaged? Is it leaning to one side or dead on only one side? Is it interfering with power lines? Is there enough space around the tree for more growth? And finally, is the tree stunting the growth of nearby trees? Depending on the answers, you may decide to take the tree down.

Tree removal can be a job best left to a professional arborist, one who is fully insured, licensed and certified by the state in which the tree lives. However, depending upon the size of the tree and the scope of its demise, do-it-yourselfers can handle a successful tree removal with ease. Below are the six steps of how to do it.

Step 1. Prepare for the fall. Determine the direction the tree leans naturally, because this is the direction you want the tree to fall. Make room for the fall by clearing away anything in the way, making sure the tree won’t hit anything of value like a fence, car, power lines, house or other structure. Keep helpers and family out of the way. Remove any of the lower tree branches with a handsaw or a chainsaw.

Step 2. Choose two escape routes. Determine two ways to get away safely from the base of the tree as it falls.

Step 3. Make the undercut. Using the chainsaw, make a V-cut at a 90-degree angle on the side of the tree in the direction it is leaning, about one quarter into the circumference of the tree.

Step 4. Begin the backcut. On the opposite side of the undercut, start cutting the tree about two inches higher than the V-cut. As soon as the tree starts to fall, turn off the chainsaw and hurry away using the safer of the two routes.

Step 5. Remove limbs. Once the tree is on the ground, move from the bottom of the tree to the top, cutting branches on the side opposite from where you are standing. Then cut the tree trunk into pieces.

Step 6. Clean up. Feed the cut branches into a wood chipper. Use a stump cutter to grind the stump into wood chips. The wood chips can be recycled into your landscape.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next home improvement project. 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. We’d love to help you with all your landscaping needs!

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Build a Rain Barrel for Your Garden in 5 Easy Steps

How-to Build a Rain Barrel in 5 Easy StepsWhat’s a great way to conserve on water this summer? Collect water in a rain barrel and use it for watering your potted plants, flowers, vegetable garden, or even your lawn. Not only are rain barrels friendly to the environment, they’re easy and economical to make on your own. Using one can also help to reduce utility bills. Experts calculate that you can collect up to 300 gallons of water for every inch of rain that falls on 500 square feet of roof, which can add up to more than 1,000 gallons of water a year. Thank those rain clouds for that big gulp!

How to Build a Rain Barrel

Rain barrels come in all shapes and sizes and can be made easily from plastic drums or trashcans. Some even include a garden pot on the top for planting flowers, which makes for an attractive water feature. Here’s what you’ll need to make a rain barrel:

  • Large 55-gallon plastic garbage can or barrel with lid
  • Tube of watertight sealant, roll of Teflon tape or Silicone caulk
  • 2 rubber washers and 2 metal washers
  • 2” male and 2” female threaded electrical PVC conduit adapter with a threaded coupler
  • Sections of 2” PVC pipe
  • Hose clamp
  • Spigot
  • Glue
  • Unions, reducers and valves
  • Landscaping fabric or screen
  • Cordless drill
  • Hole saw
  • 4×4 treated lumber and construction screws or stainless steel lags or stepping stones to stack for rain barrel stand

Step 1: Drill Hole

Drill a hole near the bottom of the barrel for a spigot. Leave enough space under the hole to place a watering can underneath it.

Step 2: Insert Spigot

Place a metal washer onto the threaded end of spigot, then put a rubber washer over the threads to help hold the washer in place. A bead of waterproof sealant or watertight Teflon tape applied over the rubber washer will prevent leakage. Insert the spigot into the hole. If using sealant, let it dry and put a rubber washer, then a metal washer onto the spigot threads inside the barrel, securing it in place with the hose clamp. This helps to keep the spigot from coming loose.

Step 3: Make Entry and Exit Holes

Your rain barrel will sit under the gutter downspout. With a saw, cut a hole in the lid, large enough to accommodate the largest water flow, so it runs right into the barrel. Next, drill a couple of holes near the very top of the rain barrel, for any overflow to run onto the ground. To conserve even more water, connect two rain barrels by placing a short length of hose or PVC pipe from the overflow hole to the other rain barrel, so any excess water will run into it, reducing loss of overflow water.

This step can also be accomplished using PVC pipe. Cut holes in the barrel bottom with a hole saw. Then screw in a 2” male threaded electrical PVC conduit adapter. Bead silicone caulk around the opening and screw on a threaded electrical PVC coupler. Next, glue together sections of 2” PVC pipe, unions, reducers and valves. As long as you’re at it, install an overflow pipe so you can direct the excess where you want it.

Step 4: Seal Top

To create a debris and insect barrier, cut a piece of landscaping fabric or tight screen and mount it to the inside of the lid, then put the lid over the top of the rain barrel to secure.

Step 5: Position Rain Barrel

  • To use a watering can,place your new rain barrel directly underneath the downspout in a way that’s easy for you to fill the watering cans.
  • To use a hose, wand or spray nozzle, elevate the barrel on a stand for more water pressure. Build a platform out of wood or stack stepping-stones and place the platform underneath the downspout and put the rain barrel on top of it.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you find easy ways to keep your yard looking great. 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.

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Improve Your Existing Turf with Slice Seeding in 7 Easy Steps

Slice Seed Your Lawn in 7 Easy StepsEspecially if your lawn turf was planted years ago, re-planting with today’s improved grass varieties can help your mature lawn resist disease and insect damage, making it stronger and more adaptable to the changing conditions of your yard due to landscaping, sun and shade.

One of the best ways to make dramatic improvements to your lawn in short order is by slice or slit seeding. Conventional and over-seeding are great for helping to thicken an existing lawn. Use slice seeding to make direct contact with the soil for the seed to germinate quickly. The technique literally slices into the soil, creating rows for the seed to fall into, all in one motion.

Steps for Slice Seeding

Step 1: Prepare your yard. Slice seeding is designed to work on the existing turf and soil. Remove any large rocks or debris from the area and mow the lawn to about 1-inch in height, which gives new seedlings the best start.

Step 2: Determine the condition of your lawn. If the thatch is too thick to establish new seed, use an aerator to reduce the layer before seeding. This allows the equipment to slice easily through the thatch and into the soil.

Step 3: Crank up the seeder. The slice seeder cuts vertically through the grass and thatch, into the soil, dropping seed in the rows cut behind. Run the slice seeder over the entire area to be seeded.

Step 4: Add a starter fertilizer. A good fertilizer with slow release nutrients will feed the new seedlings and help develop the plant and its roots.

Step 5: Water, water and water some more. New grass requires gentle watering frequently for short periods of time. For the first 3 to 3 1/2 weeks, do “light, frequent” watering three times a day (morning, noon and evening) for approximately 10 – 15 minutes, while establishing plants. Use a sprinkler system or a water hose that comes closest to natural rainfall, to avoid washing seed away from the soil surface. After your turf grass is established, switch to “heavy, infrequent” watering one or two times a week to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, which takes around 45 minutes. Consider using automatic timers to make watering easy.

Step 6: Stay off the grass. Avoiddislodging the shallow roots of new seedlings, which stops any new growth completely. Do not walk on new grass and keep dogs and other animals away too. It’s a good idea to cordon off any sections of lawn that were slice seeded until it matures.

Step 7: Mow when the height is right. Wait until new grass blades are 2.5 to 3 inches high before making your first cut. When the blades reach around 4 inches, mow back to three inches; avoid removing more than 1/3 of the total blade length. Only mow as your lawn grows, which could mean every four or five days in the spring. If the lawn dries out stop mowing all together, until adequate moisture returns.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next lawn and landscaping project. 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. We’d love to help give your lawn an upgrade!

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[INFOGRAPHIC] 11 Lawn & Garden Tips for Spring

Spring has sprung! Lately it’s been the perfect weather for beautifying your lawn and garden, so if you haven’t already started doing so, you may want to consider putting on your gardening gloves, breaking out your mower and other lawn care equipment and getting to work! To help guide your lawn and garden efforts, the following infographic outlines 11 tips to a gorgeous outdoor space. Use it as a jumping off point, and if you have other ideas for spring lawn and garden tasks, please let us know in the comment section below. And as always, if you have questions about the tools and equipment necessary for your lawn and gardening efforts, don’t hesitate to contact us. Happy green-thumbing!

11 Lawn and Garden Tips for Spring

 

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Digital Marketing Manager at Runyon Equipment Rental. She is passionate about blogging, with a sincere desire to help answer questions and provide inspiration for creative DIY-ers and homeowners.

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Check These 10 Indoor and Outdoor Improvements Off Your Spring Checklist

Continuing with the spring cleaning trend, this infographic provides you with tips for those pesky indoor and outdoor tasks that need checked off your to-do list. Some of these you may not think about typically, so take a look and identify which may be applicable to your home. And it’s a great idea to get a head start on these now, so by the time summer break, and consequentially summer entertaining, rolls around you’re ready to relax!

Spring Cleaning Infographic

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Digital Marketing Manager at Runyon Equipment Rental. She is passionate about blogging, with a sincere desire to help answer questions and provide inspiration for creative DIY-ers and homeowners.

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Tackle Spring Clean-Up in Your Yard with This Handy Checklist

spring clean-up checklistFor the gardener and do-it-yourself landscaper, springtime is nature’s way of giving you a little breathing space, a moment to reflect on how your yard creations are holding up through the tests of weather and time before the real growing season begins. Once you clear away winter’s debris, mulch or dead twigs, you can decide where to focus your efforts. Whether it be thinning out crowded areas, filling in bare spots or preparing your yard for new growth, buds and blooms. Here’s what you’ll need to start your spring clean-up and give your yard a fresh start.

Gather all the necessary tools…

If you’ve got a lot of clean-up to do, and you like trying out different kinds of equipment, consider renting a soil conditioner attachment. You can grade, soften, mix, level, rake, remove debris as well as pulverize and prepare seedbeds, remove entire lawns and weeds, all with this one tool that attaches to a Bobcat. Sweet!

Complete the spring yard clean-up checklist:

  1. Prune dead and damaged branches back to live stems and clip off wayward shoots to an intersecting branch. Summer-flowering shrubs should be pruned before the plant buds. Wait to prune spring-flowering plants until after blooms fade.
  1. Trim overgrown evergreens back, starting from the bottom of the tree trunk to eliminate dead branches and encourage an appealing tree shape.
  1. Cut back flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches, which encourages new growth.
  1. Thin crowded beds by digging up perennial bulbs. Instead of throwing them away, divide the extra bulbs, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them in other areas of the yard.
  1. If rose bushes are winter-damaged, cut back to 1 inch below the blackened area. Remove older woody canes on climbing rose bushes, fastening younger canes gently in place with jute twine or Velcro fasteners.
  1. Rake out fallen leaves, dead foliage and annuals, as well as spent mulch to prepare for a new layer once your planting is finished.
  1. Spread an appropriate fertilizer for existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that April showers can carry it to the roots.
  1. Inspect any drip irrigation lines and repair if necessary.
  1. Give beds a clean edge with a shovel or a weed eater.
  2. Remove damaged grass turf to prepare for spring seeding. It’s also a good time to test the soil’s pH and add an appropriate fertilizer, if needed.

And finally, feed the compost pile! Dump all debris, cuttings, foliage and last season’s mulch into your compost pile, and you’re done…at least until it’s time for spring seeding! And as always, for questions and comments please visit our website or leave a comment in the section below. Happy yard cleaning!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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Utilize 3 Easy Steps for a Glorious Garden This Spring

Soil. Fertilize. Mulch.Soil. Fertilize. Mulch. Repeat.

Soil. Fertilize. Mulch. Repeat.

It’s the gardener’s mantra, and sometime during the growing season you’re probably adding “Harvest,” and “Enjoy” to the chant as well. As long as you follow this mantra and do your due diligence in preparing your garden for plants, grass, flowers or shrubs, it really will look glorious. So, get out your wheelbarrow and shovel, and get to work.

1. Prepare the Soil

Before you start digging into your garden patch or lawn, make sure the soil is dry enough to work without causing damage. Turning over or tilling wet soil can actually cause it to clump, becoming brick hard after it dries out. Form a ball of soil with your hands, then see if you can break the ball apart easily. If you can, the soil is dry enough to work.

Here are a few more tips:

  • Test the soil pH every three to four years. Use lime to raise pH and iron sulfate or elemental sulfur to lower it, according to recommendations.
  • Improve poor, compacted soils by adding a six-to-eight-inch layer of rich organic compost.
  • If the soil is especially poor, consider building raised beds and filling them with a mixture of good topsoil and leaf compost, for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers.
  • Avoid erosion by protecting bare soil with cover crops, ground-covers, turf or mulch.

2. Fertilize

Most plants used in landscaping get adequate nutrition from a soil that’s rich in organic matter. Garden beds that get yearly applications of at least one inch of compost are also nutritionally sound. Overusing fertilizers can cause weak growth, more pests and water pollution. Make sure to sweep granular fertilizers away from paved surfaces to prevent them from washing into storm drains and waterways.

Plants that typically benefit the most from fertilizer are flower-producing annuals, fruit trees and vegetables. Apply a soluble fertilizer to the root system or to foliage. Fruit trees are usually fertilized in the spring; however, landscape trees, mature shade trees, fescue and bluegrass turf are best fertilized in the fall.

Cow, horse, sheep, pig, goat and poultry manure makes a nutrient-rich, moisture-retaining fertilizer for your plants. In the spring, use cow and horse manure in flower or vegetable beds and on acid-loving plants such as blueberries, azaleas, mountain laurel and rhododendrons. Chicken manure is good for vegetables and potato crops.

3. Mulch

Mulch is a gardener’s secret weapon, protecting plants and soil in a number of ways:

  • Conserves soil water
  • Suppress weeds
  • Moderates soil temperatures
  • Reduces soil erosion and crusting
  • Increases water absorption into the soil
  • Improves soil structure through aeration, moisture control and less cultivation

To properly insulate the soil, apply mulch evenly at a uniform depth of about two inches. If weeds are a problem in your garden, consider treating the area with a pre-emergent herbicide before mulching.

Ideal mulch is one that is free of weeds, insects and disease, adding organic matter to the soil. It’s also readily available, economical, easy-to-apply and remove, yet stays in place. Summer mulches applied in mid-spring, once the soil is warm enough for roots to grow, are made to warm the soil, reduce weeds and retain moisture. Whereas, winter mulches applied in late fall, before the ground has frozen, protect the soil and plants from winter weather.

Gardeners should choose the right mulch for each garden location:

  • For vegetable gardens or fruit plantings, use black plastic, landscape fabric and straw
  • For shrub beds or around trees, use wood chips, bark chunks and pine needles
  • For annual or perennial beds, use attractive bark granules, wood shavings, sawdust, cocoa shells and buckwheat hulls
  • For rock gardens, use crushed stone, fine gravel or volcanic rock

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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5 Ideas to Make Your Herb Garden Grow

Create Your Herb Garden

Now that the clocks have “sprung forward,” and the official start to spring is just days away, why not make plans for that outdoor herb garden you’ve always wanted? A strategically placed herb garden will not only enhance the flavor of your culinary creations, it can help to beautify your yard too. Here are a few ideas for creating an herb garden that just may cool your spring fever!

1. Start with the herbs. Kitchen herbs are also good-looking plants, lending a visual appeal to a garden bed. Experts suggest choosing plants with variegated leaves or that bloom in different colors. Thyme, oregano and mint come in variegated versions, while certain varieties of basil have deep purple leaves. For added interest, choose varieties with unusual texture, such as the velvety gray-green leaves of Berggarten sage. Remember to choose for fragrance too – the luscious lemon thyme gives off the bright scent of citrus, as do the lovely lavender flowers of rosemary. Mints not only smell and taste minty, but some carry the flavor of chocolate or pear. French tarragon tastes and smells of licorice or anise, while rosemary itself adds a woodsy pine scent.

Herbs thrive in potting soil and need good drainage, but usually don’t require as much attention as flowers or vegetables. Most cooking herbs are hardy perennials that come back every year; however, popular culinary herbs like dill, basil and cilantro are annuals. Most are available at local gardening centers, either as seeds or seedlings. Specialty herb farms may carry hard-to-find herbs, such as lemon verbena, fennel or scented geranium. Here’s a good list of herbs for a starter garden:

choose from a variety of different herbs

Other landscaping supplies you’ll need are a wheel barrow, watering can or hose, rake, shovel and fertilizer.

2. Plant close to your kitchen door. Herbs will thrive in a surprisingly small space. To make the best use of space near your kitchen door, measure an area of the ground with a measuring tool and prepare the soil. Place the plants of herbs you’re most likely to use closest to the door – say, about 20 paces away – so you can snip a few easily during a rainstorm, for instance. Add to your herb garden by planting more varieties in clay pots, which can be moved to sunny spots more easily. 

3. Create an herb border. Include culinary herbs in your landscape design by planting the edge of a sidewalk with herbs instead of flowers. Hearty herbs like rosemary and thyme can have the same effect as small shrubs. Create a geometrical bedding design in your backyard, with pathways for walking by and smelling the sweet fragrances.

4. Build raised beds for growing herbs. Just like with vegetables, fresh herbs will grow well in raised beds, too. And if you just want a small spot for growing herbs, build yourself a planter to place on a patio, porch or deck. Buy a few two by fours and other wood for a bottom from the hardware store, cut to size, nail together and you’re set. Remember to drill holes in the bottom for drainage. Others have had luck with using plastic trowels inside as a planting form. Or, you can simply use a large bag of potting soil – build the planter the right size to hold the soil bag on its side, then cut a few drain holes in one side of the bag and cut the other side open neatly with a pair of scissors, discarding the excess plastic. Plant the herbs directly into the soil, water and you’ve got herbs in due time.

5. Reap your harvest. One of the best parts of growing culinary herbs is using them! Take care cutting herbs in a landscape border, but most re-grow quickly after harvesting, so your beautiful garden can stay beautiful.

Herbs are perfect for tossing in food during the summer, but you can also dry them for the winter.  Cut and wash, rubber band the bunches together and let them dry upside down. This way each bundle retains its color. It takes them about a week to dry out, but once they are, remove the leaves from the stem and grind in a coffee grinder. Finally, put in plastic bags and write the herb name and date. I also put them in tins and give them to neighbors and friends! Write your great ideas for how to use and preserve herbs in the comment section below, or contact us for more details on how to make  your garden this spring.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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Stir Up a Little DIY Inspiration with these 3 Project Ideas

Outdoor Patio TableIf you’ve got cabin fever, why not dream a littleand start planning some of those outdoor DIY projects you’ve been pinning! It’s never too early to flesh out your creative ideas, especially when it comes to securing all the equipment and materials needed to get the look you’re dreaming about.

For example, take backyard patio transformations – a big feat, but not impossible. Especially given your big dreams and the proper equipment to help you bring it to reality.

Since we’re a go-to tool rental shop for all your outdoor DIY and gardening projects, count on us for concrete equipment, landscaping tools and woodworking supplies. Here’s a look at what we have to offer:

1. New Backyard Retreat

From paver breakers to concrete saws to portable mixers to concrete nailers, you can turn that old patio slab into a luxurious backyard gathering place. Build retaining walls, make lots of seating areas and perfect spots to set plants and other garden accents. We’ve got everything you need to demolish, cut and finish concrete. All you need is sand and gravel!

Take advantage of design possibilities with different colors and textures, such as combining concrete with bricks, block or stone. Our easy-to-use brick and block cutters can help. Use demolished masonry and concrete as decorative gavel to line garden paths or build a low wall. You’d be doing yourself a green favor too by reusing materials. You could also pour concrete to make sturdy, waterproof planters of gorgeous greenery. Or, stack bricks together and fuse with masonry adhesive, creating a stylish pillar or side table.

2. New Landscape Features

Transform that patch of grass into a gorgeous garden with a little sweat equity, and help from our rakes, shovels and wheelbarrows. Haul everything from pea gravel to top soil anywhere you need to, quickly and safely. Dig holes for new trees and rake up debris before mowing, or smooth out garden paths after planting.

3. New Furniture and Privacy Walls

For excellent outdoor entertaining, plan lots of places for guests to eat, drink and be merry. One backyard essential is a picnic table, and another is a stylish privacy wall. Both of these projects can be accomplished by yourself, using a few woodworking tools and a little creativity. Circular saws, drills, air nailers or air staplers can also help make them pretty and painless.

Wood itself is a warm, comforting material – perfect for putting people at ease. Building a privacy wall using wood will let in more light and air, leaving the noise in the street and nosy neighbors without a view. Vary the widths of cedar slats that you lay together for picnic tabletop, and you’ve just added a unique and personal touch to a classic look.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next DIY adventure. 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. We’d love to help you make your pinning dreams come true…and help your cabin fever go away!

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. A graduate of Butler University with a double major in International Business and Marketing, Heidi writes articles that outline seasonal projects and answer frequently asked questions, making your DIY lifestyle more fun and easier than ever before.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant New Trees

Plant New TreesOne of the more gratifying items to check off your fall checklist is “planting new trees.” The natural beauty of trees growing on your property can be enjoyed by your family, friends and neighbors for years to come. The successful plan for having a yard full of lush, long-lasting trees requires just three essential elements, which give young trees a healthy start. Choose the right place for the type of tree you have and plant it with care.

Special Tools Help with Planting

And since it’s not every season you’re likely to plant a tree, the special tools you need to accomplish proper planting are probably not in your tool shed, but are available for rent. Since trees can be heavy and cumbersome to move, it’s a good idea to rent a tree spade or tree dolly to carry the tree to the planting area without damaging the roots or the tree itself. A post hole digger is made to break through the ground easily, making short work of digging a hole big enough for your new tree.

Landscaping with Trees

Consider the size of your lot when planning a landscape that features trees. They need to be planted at least 10 to 15 feet from the foundation of the house and at least five feet from decks, patios, driveways or sidewalks. Also, make sure to keep tree tops away from utility wires overhead, as well as underground.

  1. Trees need a good deal of sun to grow up strong, so choose a place where your new tree will receive ample sun exposure.
  2. Do you want a little privacy? Planting trees in rows can create a natural wall or fence against nosy neighbors or noisy streets.
  3. Does the wind whip around your home? Trees can also act as wind breaks when planted strategically.

Types of Trees

While you’re scoping out your land, think about tree sizes and shapes, which adds interest to the landscape. When visiting the nursery, learn all you can about specific trees by studying the information on the tags, or ask a nursery employee. In general:

  1. Evergreen trees are good to use for privacy walls and wind breaks because they keep their foliage throughout the year. Evergreens like to be planted on the north side of your home.
  2. Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer and let sun shine into windows in the winter, because they lose their leaves. They like to live on the south, east and west sides of your home. Deciduous trees also add fall color to the landscape.
  3. Trees that grow up to 25 feet tall can be planted under overhead utility lines.
  4. Trees that grow 25 to 45 feet tall are great for shading an entire single-story house or the sides and windows of a two-story home, and slender medium-sized trees can thrive when planted near fences.
  5. Trees that grow higher than 45 feet can shade large, hot areas, like driveways and patios, or large lawns.
  6. Flowering trees add color, attracting birds and other wildlife.
  7. Fruit trees can not only provide shade, but food and fragrance.
  8. Drought tolerant and low-water use trees can protect dry areas of your yard.

Privacy Trees

Planting Techniques for Healthy Trees

  1. Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly shorter than the tree’s roots, also known as the root ball, the area that begins where all the roots start from the trunk.
  2. Loosen the soil in the hole to make it easier for the roots to establish themselves.
  3. If the tree is in a container, remove it gently but firmly, then quickly separate the roots, uncurling, straightening or cutting a little, until they fall outward from the trunk. Take care to shade the roots from the sun while arranging the roots.
  4. Lift the tree by the root ball and place it in the hole, making sure it’s standing upright. You may need to tilt the root ball until the tree is straight. Now’s the time to move the tree around in the hole to make your favorite side of the tree viewable from a window, or have the branches placed where they will grow out unencumbered.  In sunny areas, place the tree so that the best-shaded side of the trunk faces southwest.
  5. Backfill firmly around the tree and cover only the roots with soil. Leave the trunk above the soil surface. Amend the soil with organic compost, if desirable. Pack down the soil to stabilize the tree.
  6. Water, water, water the tree, with at least 15 gallons of water, and then monitor its water requirements at least once a week for the first month.
  7. Stake the tree loosely for protection or support, if needed, taking care not to use wire, which can cut the trunk. Soft, pliable tree ties are best. Place stakes outside of the root ball and use them until the tree can stand tall on its own, in six to 12 months.
  8. Mulch the entire planting area with a three to four-inch layer, especially to prevent a hard crust from forming on the surface of the soil.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

INFOGRAPHIC: How Well Do You Know Your Lawn?

Proper lawn care and maintenance is a primary concern for many homeowners, so if you are among these, this infographic should shed light into the fundamentals of lawn care. Explore what type of grass you have, common issues, common weeds and what your yearly lawn care schedule should consist of based on the season. There are several suggestions for the final days of fall and the upcoming winter months, so get out your fall checklist and start marking off tasks this weekend!

How well do you know your lawn?

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, Infographics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Go Green: Create a Compost Collection Pile this Fall

Want to check even more items off your fall checklist? Find out how to start a compost pile in today’s post, then get to it!

Start your compost pileWhat is compost, exactly?

Compost is part noun, part verb and all energy! Eco-friendly advocates say it’s the unwanted food and yard waste filling up to 30 percent of our garbage bins these days, helping to bloat landfills and releasing greenhouse gases into the air. But compost is also about creating the perfect environment for organic waste to decompose into a rich, natural additive that nourishes the soil, helping to grow plants that are disease and pest-free. Compost also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and lowers our carbon footprint.

Browns, greens, water and layers. The recipe for compost has three basic ingredients that combine into one simple technique. An equal amount of dead leaves, branches and twigs,otherwise known as browns, are layered on top of grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds ( greens) to make a pile. Water is added to the alternate layers of browns and greens to assist the carbon and nitrogen they contain in breaking it all down to its essential organic goodness, speeding up the process of making compost.

When starting a compost pile, layer the material in uniform layers between 6-8 inches thick. For the first layer, use your newly gathered browns and greens, choosing the bulkier organics. For the second layer, consider using animal manures, fertilizers or starters to activate the heating process. The third layer is comprised of a good top soil or active compost, between 1-2 inches thick.

Once your pile starts decomposing to create humus, that rich garden elixir, there’s no need to continue the layering process. Materials can be added by burying them in the center and incorporating them when you turn the pile.

What NOT to compost. It’s a lot easier to identify the appropriate browns and greens in your garbage and yard waste bins than knowing what might not qualify for composting.

Good Browns and GreensGood browns and greens come from grass clippings, hay, straw and twigs, but not black walnut tree leaves or twigs. Why? Because when they decompose they can be harmful to other plants.

Fruits and veggies are good, but throw away meat or fish bones and scraps, because they smell and attract pests. Eggshells are a “yes,” but dairy products like eggs, butter, milk, sour cream and yogurt are a “no” because they too create odor. Leave stinky fats, grease, lard or oils for the dumpster.

Include yard trimmings, wood chips and cotton or wool rags that are not treated with chemical pesticides, as well as fireplace ashes, but not coal or charcoal ash, which can contain substances harmful to plants. Houseplants are good, diseased or insect-ridden plants of any kind are not, for obvious reasons. Surprisingly, compostable material includes dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, hair, fur and manure. However, forget any pet waste or soiled cat litter, which might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens and viruses that are harmful to humans. Other usual suspects include newspaper, cardboard products, nut shells, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters.

If you’re wondering what not to compost, check with your local composting or recycling center to see what organics are accepted at your curbside or drop-off waster removal programs.

Starting the pile. After you start collecting materials for your compost pile, decide where you’re going to build it. If you have a large enough yard, find a dry, shady spot and start the pile right on the ground. Homeowners who have limited space or want to keep things tidy may want to find a container for composting, placed in an equally convenient spot outside. In either case, choose a place that’s level with good drainage, where a water source is easily accessible.

Size and temperature matter. You want a compost pile large enough to maintain the heat needed to break down material efficiently, but small enough for the water to do its job, and for you to turn the pile easily. Some experts recommend a space no larger than 5 feet x 5 feet x 5 feet. To keep the neighbors happy, camouflaging your compost pile may be necessary; aim for plantings or trellises that help it to blend in with the environment.

In about two weeks, the compost pile will produce enough heat for rapid decomposition, between 110° to 160°F. However, it could take two months, or longer. If you notice the pile settling, then it’s probably working properly. As you add new material, turn the pile each time. Some compost containers are made to roll over end to end for just this purpose. If the temperature dips below 110°F, keep your pile as active as possible with a turn and a drink, adding enough water that the material feels damp to the touch.

Finally, after all that hard work, avoid letting your compost languish in a pile! Spread it on the lawn to make it more lush. Incorporate it into your garden patch to grow bigger, healthier vegetables. Feed your flower beds, your house and container plants too, and keep them pest-free.

Recommended Tools:

  • Compost bin or container (if desired)
  • Wheelbarrow and shovel
  • Pitch fork or landscape rake, for turning the pile
  • Garden hose or watering can
  • Pruners, machete or shredder, to cut up large pieces of organic waste
  • Compost thermometer, to monitor temperature. A practical solution to this is a metal pole inserted into the center of the pile. The metal can indicate heat level by touch.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Secret to Easily Attaining a Healthy, Leafless Lawn

Secret to a leafless lawnAre you ready for a workout? This time of year, you’re probably looking at a colorful blanket of fall foliage covering nearly every inch of your yard. You may be tempted to leave the leaves alone (everything looks so festive and your kids are having too much fun out there), and then you start to wonder if that big pile is smothering your lawn, not to mention ruining your property’s curb appeal. So you pull out the rakes and wheelbarrow, and get in the zone … for the Annual Fall Yard Clean-up Workout. Time to sweat.

But, not so fast! Not every plan for raking and removing leaves is the huffing and puffing kind. Let me explain.It’s true that removing fallen leaves from the grass can improve its overall health, giving it the proper air, water, sunlight and nutrients needed to thrive in fall and winter, especially for cool-season grasses. So your hard work would be worthwhile.

Eco-friendly yard care. In addition to the tried-and-true method of a rake and muscle, some gardening experts recommend mulching leaves right into the lawn with a mower, to recycle a natural resource that adds nutrients and improves the soil. Others suggest keeping the leaf cover in planting beds and under trees, to protect roots from temperature changes and retain soil moisture.

Using a leaf blower makes quick work out of piling leaves. Placing a tarp or heavy plastic sheet on the ground under the piles can help make the takeaway process even easier. Simply grab the ends to gather leaves for dumping, or prepare as compost for next year’s garden.

Get a goat. If you have a large yard and you’re looking at two+ hours of aerobic exercise, a truly novel option is to rent a herd of goats – but if you need a more accessible approach, save a lot of time and sweat by renting a leaf vacuum.

This season’s complete lawn maintenance choice. A high capacity leaf vacuum can do almost all the work in one pass:

  1. Ease of use: the tough, manual yard work is a lot easier on the body.
  2. Removes leaves from corners and tight spaces: eliminating the inconvenience of manually raking, gathering more leaves in less time.
  3. Creates ready-to-use mulch: leaf vacuums also have the ability to shred and bag fallen leaves, ultimately saving money.
  4. Gathers other debris in addition to leaves: rid your yard of litter, too.
  5. Relatively quiet: the noise won’t wake the neighbors.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] Mark These 13 Projects Off Your Fall Checklist

How fitting that this infographic outlines 13 projects for you to complete, what with Halloween right around the corner and all! The first item, aerating and fertilizing, is a really key task. You want a gorgeous green lawn come spring right? Well it doesn’t take much, but with it getting colder each day we advise you do this soon – learn how to here. And cleaning your gutters is fairly simple, yet really beneficial. Our latest post outlines how to effectively complete this to-do item. And all the remaining projects will be covered in upcoming posts, so be on the look out!

Fall Project Checklist

Now, although most of these tasks are outdoor-related, there are smaller indoor to-dos that will be covered in a future post as well. This may seem like a lot, but these weekend projects can be knocked out really easily and are worth the effort because it will leave you with less spring cleaning. Not to mention, a lot of these will ensure a warm and cozy winter.

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, Infographics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Mark an Item Off Your Fall Checklist – Aerating and Fertilizing

Fall is the perfect time to aerate and fertilize your lawn in preparation for the cold winter months. And with the weather turning cold already, it is a good idea to do this sooner rather than later. The benefit of aerating in conjunction with fertilizing is that it helps the lawn breathe better, in essence by loosening thatch and reducing compaction that occurs when the ground gets hard and frozen. Not to mention, aerating and fertilizing assist in growth by increasing the amount of air and water in your lawn.

Lawn AerationAerating Your Lawn

Aeration machines make the actual process of aerating much simpler than it sounds. There are a few important steps to consider however, just to be sure you’re effectively combing the lawn. The following process is proven effective by The CISCO Company, an industry seed expert.

  1. Make sure the soil profile has had adequate moisture so a plug can be pulled
  2. Set the depth of the aerator at about 2″
  3. Begin at the longest side of the lawn and make runs back and forth, overlapping
  4. When the entire lawn is finished, begin a second pass at a 30 to 40 degree angle

[Note: Several trips may be beneficial]

Endure WinterizerApplying Fertilizer

Fertilizer is crucial for fall because it feeds your lawn with the proper mix of nutrients and allows it to recover from the sweltering summer months. Since it is already late in October, the suggested fertilizer is one that stimulates root development and ensures a quick green-up in the spring. Apply winter fertilizer (Winterizer) after the top growth is finished, but the ground is not frozen. This will ensure growth of the root mass. Some of the benefits of using a winter root builder:

  • Earth-friendly organics for natural slow release and iron
  • Iron for dark green grass
  • Nitrogen feeds and grows roots

Aerating and fertilizing really is not a complicated task on your fall checklist. However, it is one that will make a huge impact on your lawn, and one that is incredibly beneficial when done correctly. For more information about lawn aeration, find more posts here. Or, if you would like more information about the fertilizing process, please contact one of our experts.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Featured Products, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Easy Steps for Maintaining Your Fall Garden

An attractive and well-laid-out garden adds to the beauty of any home. Thus, maintaining your garden throughout the year is especially vital. It is important to pay extra attention to your garden during fall as it helps prepare for the harsh winter ahead.

These 4 simple steps will outline what you should do to ensure a healthy plot through the fall, winter and into spring.

  1. Let Perennials Grow
    The first step in garden maintenance during fall is to allow pFall Garden Maintenanceerennial plants the chance to grow, instead of cutting them early. Cutting them will leave the plants exposed to the fluctuating temperatures typical of the fall season.
  2. Remove Unwanted Branches
    Make use of the fall season and use a simple hedge trimmer to remove broken and damaged branches of trees and other plants before the onset of snow.
  3. Water Your Plants Regularly
    During the next few months, water your plants to lower damage that will be caused during winter. The active plant roots will absorb and store all the water and will make use of it to get through the winter.
  4. Make a Soil Conditioner
    Collect all the dead leaves in your garden and turn them into an organic soil conditioner, which will kill weeds and help plant growth throughout cold weather.
    • Use wire/tree guard products: Make use of wire or tree-guard products to protect the soft bark of trees from critters and the harsh cold.
    • Keep rodents away: In order to keep rodents away from plant roots, add 6 inches of organic mulch after the ground freezes. Organic mulch includes hay, leaves and wood chips.
    • Use more mulch: During fall season, mulch is also added as an insulation layer on top of the soil. The insulating mulch will keep the frost away and preserve the tender plant roots.

Make use of these tips to maintain your garden during this autumn season and prepare it for the winter weather ahead. If you would like more advice on soil conditioners, gardening tools or other fall yard prep, please feel free to contact one of our sales reps who would be more than happy to help!

About the Author

is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

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

What Everyone Ought to Know About Lawn Aeration

An aerator is a machine used to aerate the soil in large lawns and turfs. A lawn aerator is available in two types, namely, spike and core. While the spike aerator makes use of wedge-shaped spikes to dig holes in the earth, core aerators are fitted with hollow tines that pluck out plugs from the soil.

Why Aerate the Soil? Know About Lawn Aeration

  • Better soil drainage: The main benefit of aerating the lawn is that it improves soil drainage, which in turn, is very helpful for the growth of new grass.
  • Gets rid of lawn thatch: Using a lawn aerator to aerate the soil will contain the growth of thatch. Thatch prevents oxygen from reaching the grass roots.
  • Aids growth of worms, fauna: Soil aeration helps the growth of worms, herbs and shrubs in the soil by providing them with the much-required oxygen.
  • Helps new lawns: Aerating the soil before planting a new lawn is proven to be beneficial for the growth of the lawn.

How to Work with a Lawn Aerator

  1. Water the lawn a day before: Before beginning soil aeration, water the lawn the night before as it makes the aerating process much easier.
  2. Flag items in the lawn: Flag important items like sprinkler heads in the lawn so that they are not damaged during aeration.
  3. Check weather conditions: Check if the weather conditions are suitable for aerating. It is not good to aerate during periods of drought or high temperatures.
  4. Run the aerator over the lawn: After flagging items, move the aerator over the lawn to cover all areas. Pay more attention to spaces like driveways and sidewalks where the weed growth is high and water access low.
  5. Apply fertilizer: Immediately after aerating, apply fertilizer on the soil so as to secure maximum possible benefit in the shortest time possible. Instant fertilizing after aerating helps the fertilizer reach the grass roots quickly.
  6. Use pre-emergent: After aerating the lawn, apply pre-emergent on the soil to prevent the growth of weeds.
  7. Water the soil: The last step in the aeration process is to water the soil, which helps break down the core of grass and soil in the lawn, and aids the growth of new roots.

Lawns that have soil with high clay composition and are subject to frequent thatching should be aerated at least twice a year. For lawns with sandy or loamy soils, a single aeration is enough to remove thatch and facilitate grass growth.

Still have questions? Talk to an expert at Runyon Equipment Rental to provide advice on your project.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Featured Products, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How to Build a Beautiful, Landscaped Brick Wall in Your Garden

According to a MainStreet.com survey, a whopping 70% of home projects fall under the DIY category. A quarter of the respondents look forward to garden and landscaping related improvements. Let us help you decide on a project. Here is a detailed description of how to build a DIY landscaped brick wall.

Why “Brick Wall Landscaping”?Build a Brick Wall

  • Maintains Privacy: A brick wall adds to the beauty of the garden. It not only offers privacy from neighbors, but also helps contain dust and dirt from the garden in a confined space.
  • Acts as Divider: The brick wall is also used as a divider between different portions of the lawn.
  • Is Maintenance-Free: The major advantage of building a brick wall is the material. Brick is relatively maintenance-free as it does not rot and is termite-resistant. Brick is also highly energy efficient.

Things to Watch Out For:

The following points must be noted before starting on a “brick wall landscaping” project:

  • Large Brick Blocks: While planning to build a brick wall, it is always better to use large brick blocks as they are easier to work with.
  • Use Lip-Built Blocks: The most convenient and preferred brick blocks are those fitted with a lip built on the lower end to connect the different bricks.
  • Maximum Limit: While building the brick wall on your own, the maximum height advisable is 4 feet, as anything higher requires professional expertise.
  • Keep the Blocks Ready: Before beginning the building process, cut the brick blocks into the required size using a chisel and hammer.

The Landscaping Process:

The entire procedure of building a brick wall can be broken down into the following steps:

  • Identify the End Points: The first step in building the brick wall is to mark out the two end points of the wall. You can also stretch a string or garden hose along the front of the brick wall building area, as per the shape of the wall, for exact measurement.
  • Dig the Trench: Next, use a flat-pointed shovel to build a trench to fit in the bricks. The trench measurements are dependent on the size of the brick block. Most people usually dig up to a depth of 4 inches.
    Level out the trench: level out the underlying soil using a hand tamper and if necessary, add another layer of leveling sand or paver base.
  • Check if Base is Leveled: After completing tamping, use a carpenter’s level to check if the base is even, and if it’s still uneven, add or remove mud/dirt to level it out.
  • Place Crushed Stone/Coarse Sand: The next step is to add crushed stones and coarse sand/stone dust into the trench and tamp them down using the hand tamper. Stones and coarse sand should be placed alternatively.
  • Start Placing Bricks: Next start placing the first row of bricks on the sand/dust. Join the brick ends together and start building the wall. As you build up, always place a level on top of the bricks after each layer, to make sure that it is laid even.
  • Build Up the Wall: After laying the first row, apply coarse gravel and then go on to the second level. Continue until the desired height is reached.
  • Make Space for Flowers, Grass: When the required height is reached, fill up the final few inches with topsoil to grow flowers and grass behind the wall.
  • Add Capstones: After the wall is built, finish it off by adding a row of capstones over it.
  • Use Landscape Fabric: After completing the brick wall, you may want to consider covering the area behind the wall with landscape fabric to prevent seeping from the soil.

Small brick walls also can take on shapes other than straight lines, especially when framing flower or plant beds.

After a few days, when the wall is still standing, your hard work makes all the aching muscles worthwhile. If you plan on building a small, non-load bearing wall, then go for it, just don’t expect it to be an easy few hours’ work.

About the Author

is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

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

Dethatchers Explained: How To Maintain Your Lawn

What is a dethatcher?

A dethatcher is a mechanical gardening device, used mainly to remove thatch from lawns. Often dead grass in the lawn leaves behind a layer of overgrown roots, tuber, bulb and crown. This layer is known as thatch and is very harmful to the growth of grass.

Why dethatch?

  • Makes grass healthier: Dethatching the lawn helps the grass become stronger and disease-resistant. Removal of thatch also keeps away pests.
  • Let in air/water: The dethatching process also allows more air, water and nutrients to reach the grass roots.

How does a dethatcher function?

  • Uses rotary blades: The dethatcher makes use of rotary blades/knives to remove the existing thatch from the grass or turf. Certain dethatchers also use tines and prongs.
  • Roll the dethatcher over the lawn: One may need to move the dethatcher twice or thrice over the lawn to cut out all the thatch in the area.

Things to remember before dethatching:http://www.runyonrental.com/Dehatchers.dept

Certain points must be kept in mind before beginning the dethatching process:

  • Know your dethatcher: Depending on their size, different lawns require different dethatchers. Certain lawns will require a power rake while others use a vertical mower or vertical slicer. It will always do the person good to have full knowledge about the type of dethatcher needed for the job.
  • Understand types of blades used: It always helps to know which type of blade is required to cut which type of grass. The person can choose from different blade types like flat steel, rotating or fixed knife-life.
  • Get advice on blade settings: It is very important to get advice on blade settings before using the dethatcher. One must have accurate knowledge about how far apart and deep the blades must be set. Tough grass and delicate grass both require different blade settings.

How dethatching works:

The dethatching mechanism is explained in the following steps:

  • Adjust the blades: Before getting started, one must adjust the blade settings of the dethatcher. The blades must be set up in such a manner that the thatch is removed without disturbing the soil beneath. The usual height of quarter-inch above the ground may vary for different grasses.
  • Highlight objects: Highlight objects in the lawn like irrigation heads so that they are visible and do not get damaged while using the dethatcher.
  • Mow the grass: The first step is to mow the grass at about half the usual height.
  • Run the dethatcher: Next, move the dethatcher over the lawn in such a way that the entire area is covered and all the thatch removed.
  • Rake up the thatch: After dethatching, use a powerful rake to remove all the thatch that has been loosened. While mostly the thatch is thrown away, in certain cases it is used as manure.
  • Water the lawn/add fertilizers: After cleaning up the lawn, one must water the area. Once dethatching is done, experts say this is the correct time to add fertilizers to the soil.

When is the correct time to dethatch?

The best time for carrying out the dethatching process is in late spring and early autumn as the grass recovers best from dethatching during these seasons. After dethatching, the grass usually needs 45 days to grow back properly.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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

How to Hedge and Trim Your Garden Greens

Trimming Your Garden Greens A walkway or entrance lined with neatly pruned shrubs or bushes is a welcoming sight. But how many of us allow the shrubs to grow wild, because trimming is a bit of a chore? Well, we shouldn’t anymore, because hedge trimmers are now easily available for the job and are one of the most efficient gardening tools.

Types of Hedge Trimmers

Manual & Electric Hedge Trimmers

  • Cost effective: Manual or electric hedge trimmers are a cost-effective option.
  • Inconvenient: It can be a cumbersome task to manually trim out an entire space with these heavy clippers. With an electric hedge trimmer you are always worrying about cutting the electric cord.

Gas-Powered Hedge Trimmers

Gas-powered hedge trimmers are a great alternative, especially for a larger farm or garden. It is one of the most powerful models of hedge trimmers, and can function smoothly for long hours.

Advantage

A gas hedge trimmer is a top pick for professionals and homeowners alike.

  • Suitable for large gardens: While it may not be very easy on the pocket, especially for casual gardeners, a gas hedge trimmer is definitely an investment for those with regular, large gardening work.
  • Saves time: Gas trimmers cut through the shrubs in half the time as other trimmers, and are also easily portable.
  • Adjustable trimmer: Some models of gas hedge trimmers come with a rotating blade, which gives users the flexibility to adjust the trimmer to get the best results. The blade can be adjusted to trim the tops or to snip out the areas very close to a wall or fence.

Choosing the Right Equipment and Accessories

Every gardener is different, and so is his farm or garden. Thus, one has to be sure of requirements while selecting a hedge trimmer and its accessories.

  • Pick the blades and accessories wisely: Pick the size of the blade depending on the size of the hedges. For small shrubs, a blade of around 13-inch length should be ideal, while for taller hedges opt for at least a 30-inch blade.
  • Design: The design of the handle is a crucial factor, as it dictates the ease with which the trimmer can be used. Try different options and pick what is most comfortable for your use.
  • Add-ons: Check for the add-ons available with each model, and invest smartly.

The Right Way to Trim

Buying the right trimmer is important, but equally important is to ensure the trimming is done at the right time.

  • Time of pruning: The pruning time varies depending on the type of shrubs in the garden. When the shrub changes color from dark green to light green, it is the right time to start pruning in the case of slow growing shrubs.
  • Fast-growing hedges: In the case of fast growing hedges, wait till after spring and fresh growth sets in. But make sure you do not cut into the interior branches as these can take a long time to grow, making it look unattractive.
  • Second round of pruning: A second round of pruning can be done by late July. This allows the shrubs to grow, mature and harden before winter sets in.
  • Slope pattern: Go for a slope pattern while trimming so that the base remains broader than the top. This allows sunlight to seep into the lowest branches too, keeping the shrub healthy from the root.

Gardeners, be it professionals or home-gardeners, understand a gas-powered hedge trimmer allows you to complete your work in half the time, and with double the efficiency. It is a value for money option, particularly for large farms with larger hedges.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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

How to Choose the Perfect Lawn Mower

Though you might think that all there is to mowing the lawn is switching the lawn mower on and pushing it across your yard. There are several things to keep in mind about the kind of mower you use on the lawn. What type of grass is your lawn and how low should it be cut, as well as, should you mulch or bag the grass clippings? Below we try to help you make the right decision.

Grass Cutting Height:

With the general thumb rule being never cut off more than one-third of the grass blade in the morning, the actual cutting height depends on the type of grass you have planted on your lawn, the season of the year and how well the lawn has been maintained thus far. This could range between 2-3 inches for Kentucky bluegrass and 0.5-1.5 inches for Bermuda grass.

Mower Features:Lawn Mower

According to The Lawn Institute, there are more than 25 million acres of tended lawn in the United States. This means there are nearly a million families who search for the right lawn mower every year. There are two basic features that you need to look at when getting your lawn mower:

  • Speed is of the essence. Decide what speed controls you prefer, whether the exercise-free, self-propelled mowers or the push models. Try out a few mowers to see what works for you.
  • Mulch, bag or shred. While lawn clippings degrade when left on the lawn and can be recycled in place, you also have an option of choosing mowers which mulch, bag, discharge or shred leaves. Most mowers come with two or three options, making cleaning up after mowing so much easier.

Choose your mowing accessories cleverly, deciding on whether your mower is gas or electric operated, and choosing whether you will use a walk-behind lawn mower or riding lawn mower. All these decisions should be based on the type of lawn you have and the mower that will suit you best. Once you have yourself a suitable mower, frequent, correct mowing and sensible lawn care is sure to give you that green ball park-like lawn you’ve been aiming for. Happy mowing!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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