Posts Tagged With: lawn care

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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Winterizing Checklist for Garden Tools & Equipment

Winterizing Garden ToolsIf you’ve been working hard to get all your lawn equipment stored away for winter, have you been checking all those DIY to-do’s off the list, too? Just in case you’ve overlooked a step or something else, let’s review what’s recommended you do.

When Winterizing Lawn Equipment:

  • Remove fuel – Gas breaks down after 30 days and will clog fuel lines if you leave gas in your lawn mower, weed eater, leaf blower or any other gardening equipment.
  • Use a fuel stabilizer – If you’re not going to remove the gas, then add a fuel stabilizer. It will keep the gas usable for up to 12 months.
  • Change the oil – Removing old oil and replacing it will keep the engine components lubricated and corrosion free.
  • Do an overall inspection – Make sure that spark plugs, seals and filters are clean and ready for use next spring.
  • Clean – Don’t store your lawn mower with grass clippings still in the undercarriage. Use a pressure washer to remove debris and then wipe the metal down with oil or lubricating product.
  • Store properly – Keep your equipment inside out of the elements, if possible. If not, then make sure to cover them with a heavy-duty tarp to keep them dry and rust free.

Service Equipment Now

Winter is a good time to have your equipment serviced by a professional. Why wait for spring when there is likely a long line of people waiting to get their lawn mower blades sharpened? Replace any part that may be starting to crack or dry out. A professional will help you keep your equipment in top shape for next summer.

Garden Hand Tools Need TLC, Too

We often forget about our small garden hand tools. These need to be winterized as well. Clean and treat them with an oil or lubricant to keep them from rusting. If your tools are already showing signs of rust, create an abrasive paste from table salt and lemon juice to remove the corrosion. Rinse the paste off thoroughly and dry. Coat tools with oil before storing.

Keep Sharp Tools Sharp

Sharpening your tools is easy. All you need is a small file or whetstone. Run the file along the edge of blades at a 45-degree angle to remove any nicks or rough spots, so they will be ready for the next growing season. Remember, sharp tools need to be properly stored away from curious hands.

Disinfect Pruners Before Storing

Because you use your pruners to remove diseased growth from plants, they may be harboring bacteria. Wiping the blades down with alcohol or similar disinfectant will help avoid cross contaminating other plants come springtime. Do this before treating them with oil before storing.

Improve Storage Space

Now that it’s time to get your lawn equipment taken care of, we also see a DIY garage organizational project on your horizon. Install some peg boards along garage walls to hang your weed eater, blower and garden tools. Unused space in the rafters is great to store lawn furniture. With storage space at a premium (especially in a garage), think outside the box – literally. You’ll be surprised how storage-efficient your garage can be.

Expert Advice

From pressure washers to lubricating products like Lube-a-Boom Clear Spray, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right tools and equipment for your home projects. For more helpful tips on how to get ready for the cold weather, check our blog post – Winterize and Maintain Your Outdoor Power Equipment. We also service a wide variety of Honda Power Equipment including mowers and tillers. 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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Keeping Critters at Bay Part 2: Solutions for Moles & Raccoons

Rid Yard of Moles & RaccoonsWhile admiring your recently groomed landscape, you notice a raised dirt trail snaking its way through the yard. No mole is going to destroy your lush sea of green grass or ruin your veggies. But before you go into combat mode and start acting like Bill Murray in Caddyshack, take a breath. There might be a simpler (more natural) way to battle moles and other pests without having to resort to land mines.

Know Thine Enemy

Bill Murray’s plan for troublesome rodents works fine – especially for laughs. Why not learn a little bit about the pesky mole, first? They are insectivores and from the same family as bats. Their main diet consists of insects, grubs and larvae like earthworms. They are around 4-8 inches in length with paddle-like front feet and have little to no vision. What moles are best at is digging. They can tunnel up to 100 ft per day. Only one other mole skill may rival this – they eat day and night.

Traps Aren’t the Only Way

How do you battle this underground critter? Experts say that traps work the best at eliminating moles, raccoons and other pests, but we’d prefer to go a more humane route first. Home remedies have had spotty success, but they are worth a try. Many of these measures need to be taken before you plant your gardens. However, if your yard consistently has moles and other pests then you may find them helpful.

  • Trench around your garden – Dig a trench around your garden to force moles and other burrowing pests to tunnel in a new direction. Keep in mind though, this isn’t practical for a large garden or lawn and the labor is intense.
  • Line your garden bed with wire – Dig down deep enough to place a layer of wire mesh in the bottom and along the sides of your garden area. This will force the pests to seek easier food sources.
  • Eliminate grubs – Getting rid of one of the mole’s favorite foods will cause them to seek elsewhere. The only problem is that earthworms are still available in your garden and you need them to keep your soil healthy.
  • Sprinkle kitty litter – By spreading kitty litter into the mole holes the smell will deter the moles from returning to the tunnel. Unfortunately they will dig alternate ones.

Plants that Chase Pests Away

A natural way to eliminate a wide variety of pests including moles, raccoons and even the heinous mosquito is to practice companion gardening. For years farmers have been planting “companion” plants in their vegetable gardens to create a vegetative barrier that deters insects and pests. Companion plants are ones that pests have a natural aversion to like marigolds, daffodils and Crown Imperial (Fritillarias). Adding these plants around your lawn or garden may help deter moles, raccoons and squirrels from eating away at your veggies or flowers.

Here is a short list of plants and the pest/s they repel:

  • Calendula (pot marigold) – raccoons and dogs (not a true marigold, so moles will not be repelled)
  • Castor beans – moles (poisonous, so keep away from small children and pets)
  • Crown Imperial – rabbits, mice, moles, voles and ground squirrels
  • Daffodils – moles and deer
  • Garlic – aphids, Japanese beetles and rabbits
  • Lavender – moths, fleas and mosquitoes
  • Mexican Marigolds – insects, rabbits and moles
  • Mole Plant – moles and ground squirrels (poisonous, so keep away from small children and pets)
  • Oregano – pests in general

Put Down the Dynamite

Keeping critters at bay doesn’t have to be a war of wills. There are natural solutions you can try before you turn to setting traps or using chemicals. Surrounding your garden or lawn with plants that naturally repel pests looks great and won’t poison your soil. It’s a win-win. Besides, if you do go all “Caddyshack” and dynamite the mole holes, you will eventually have to fill them back in. So leave the explosives alone.

If you are determined to go with a chemical deterrent, then check out our blog post Protecting Plants from Pests, for the lowdown on safely using pesticides to ward off unwanted visitors to your lawn or garden.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From trenchers 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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How to Tackle Your Lawn in Less Than an Hour

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

First 15 Minutes: Master the Art of Watering

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

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

Next 30 Minutes: Make the Most of Mowing

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

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

Final 15 Minutes: Hand Weed Your Lawn

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

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

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

Guest Author: Jane Blanchard

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

*Photo Courtesy of rockymountaintrees.com
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3 Easy, Economical Ways to Winterize Your Home

Winterize Your Home in 3 Simple Steps - Part 1

It’s coming … winter weather is on its way, and according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Indianapolis area is preparing for a colder than normal season, with above normal snowfall … at least through February!

We’ve put together three easy tasks you can accomplish now to protect your home and property from winter’s approaching chill — and even save you time and money next spring, too.

1. Keep Garden Hoses & Air Conditioning Lines from Freezing

Water left in hoses or pipes can freeze in the cold, which can damage or even burst the equipment, especially if they’re going to be left outdoors.

  • Start by turning off water spigots and water shutoff valves to garden hoses and air conditioning units.
  • Remove any hose attachments like sprinklers or spray nozzles, and disconnect hoses from water spigots or air conditioning units.
  • Un-kink hoses and drain water, allowing some time for the water to drip out completely
  • Looping a hose in a circle prevents it from kinking during storage; it also helps to push any remaining water out.
  • Prevent hoses from cracking, freezing or kinking by storing them indoors, or outdoors in the warmest location (next to the house, for instance), in a large bucket or on a hose hanger.

While you’re at it … now’s a great time to remove air conditioning units from windows, vacuum the inside and put them away in storage, or cover an outdoor air conditioning unit with a tarp or air conditioner cover.

2. Winterize Outdoor Furniture

Most patio furniture and accents are made to remain outdoors during the winter, yet it’s still a good idea to prepare it for the harsh weather ahead. Plan to cover all of it with a tarp until spring.

  • Give powder-coated aluminum furniture extra protection from rust by giving it a wash, touching up any scratches with car paint and applying an automotive wax.
  • Remove any rust from wrought iron furniture and give it a coat of exterior spray paint designed for use specifically for wrought iron.
  • Power wash plastic furniture and dry completely. Consider giving it a coat of spray paint designed for plastic, too – and make plans to store it inside, to prevent it from becoming brittle.
  • Brush off or vacuum cushions and umbrellas and wash off mildew and mold with soap that’s meant to be used for outdoor fabrics. Plan to store foam-stuffed cushions and the fabric part of umbrellas indoors.
  • Teak furniture wears well in the elements, which gives it a weathered patina that many homeowners prize. However, you can maintain its original color by giving it a coat of specialty oil at least once a year. Revive other painted or stained wood furniture with a recommended acrylic paint.
  • Store natural rattan pieces indoors and keep dry. Synthetic wicker furniture is built to remain outdoors.
  • Store tables with tile or mosaic tops indoors.

 3. Install Storm Windows and Doors

When the wind starts to blow, the extra protection from storm windows and doors can increase the energy efficiency of your home by 45%!

  • If your storm windows and doors were prepared properly for storage in the spring, pull them out and install. Look for any damage that may have occurred in storage before hanging them.
  • If your windows are older, consider upgrading to new energy efficient windows, which could qualify you for a tax credit.
  • If you don’t have storm windows, hire a professional to install Low-E film directly to the glass of your windows and door windows.
  • Consider buying a do-it-yourself window insulation kit at your local home center. Plastic applied to windows (or doors) can add extra from drafts and the still air space helps your house hold its heat.

While you’re at it … get crafty with avoiding air drafts that can waste loads of energy with draft snakes. Make this remedy that dates back to the Great Depression yourself, using some scrap material sewed together and filled with sand or kitty litter. Or roll up a bath towel and place it in front of that space between the door and floor, or on top of a windowsill.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next winterizing project. From heaters and air conditioning equipment to pressure washers 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.

Categories: Fall Checklist, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[HOW-TO] Cisco Seeds Yard Transformation: Initial Evaluation

Runyon Yard Makeover - Part 1Sometimes the best way to learn how best to solve tough yard problems is by learning from someone else’s. Well, that’s the aim of this continuous how-to series, brought to you by Runyon Equipment Rental‘s very own Jack Runyon and our distributor Cisco Seeds. Jack’s yard definitely needs some work, so with a little help from our friends at Cisco, we identified problem areas and underlying issues in order to put a plan in place.

Issues Upon First Review

First things first, we did an in-depth walk-through of the yard with Jack’s wife. One of the major issues: swampy grass. The underlying source is pre-existing bedrock not far below the soil surface. However, a more manageable source is over-watering. These inevitably led to dying trees in the front yard due to grounding issues. One of the trees could literally be pushed over because there isn’t enough room for the roots to grow down.

In regards to the over-watering situation, at the time of the evaluation, sprinklers ran three times per week for 15 min, which was way too much according to the Cisco Seed experts. Another problem area, the front yard has an abundance of yellow nutsedge. Now, normal weed killer won’t get rid of this pesky weed, so a strong solution is in order. Finally, because of the pre-existing issues, there is a lack of nitrogen in the soil, which is extremely evident where the dog pees because it turns the grass dark.

Looking Deeper (Literally)

After having a more in-depth conversation with Jack’s wife about the history of the house, we discovered that the Runyon household was built last in the whole sub-division, meaning that before it was there, the land was a dumping ground for all the muck pulled out of the now-pond. Trucks most likely drove up to this land and dumped off pond gunk in their now-yard. This accounts for a morrow smell in the soil and some of the other major issues.

Also, in the back yard the soil is incredibly deep, about a foot or more down, rather than a typical 6″ before hitting clay. Not to mention, the concrete and rock underneath keep trees from taking root — they are staying just a few feet below the surface, accounting for wobbliness and instability.

Overarching Goals

Before determining the action plan for restoring this yard, as should be the case for anyone, it’s important to consider short-term and long-term goals. Jack and his family would like to move in the next 1-2 years, so the main goal is to make the yard more presentable and “sellable.” That said, the short-term focus is on immediate, easy-to-fix issues.

Short-Term Solutions

1. Aerate at least once a month for the next few months

2. Fertilize with Endure 2603 fertilizer (use 1/2 bag now and 1/2 later)

3. Only water about every 10 days, not 3 times per week

4. Rid the yard of weeds

a. Use an herbicide nut grass killer for yellow nutsedge (grassy weed)

b. Use Q4 speed zone on the rest of the yard

[Note: do both in the same day and don’t water (or no rain) for at least 1.5 days after i.e. turn off sprinklers and check the forecast]

Before looking into longer-term solutions, soil samples have to be analyzed. The result from the soil samples will determine what other factors may be out of balance and how to amend these imbalances. However, a long-term solution may be re-infusing carbon and possibly another chemical that reaches deeper under the soil and breaks down the hard rock surface underneath.

Key Takeaways

Although there is an incredibly specific set of issues for Jack’s lawn, there are definitely key takeaways for you. The first of which being, that if you’re currently experiencing issues with your lawn, it may be prudent to take a deeper look at what may be going on, literally and figuratively. Also, for problem grasses and soil, consider your watering schedule, weed elimination and prevention, as well as any other short-term solutions that you can identify and treat right away. If you have questions about your lawn, the problem areas discussed in this post or lawn products, please contact us or comment below. We’ll update you in a few weeks about how the makeover is going!

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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.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

2 Fall Lawn Maintenance Tasks: Aerating/Plugging and Slice Seeding

Aerate & Slice Seed Your LawnYou have a beautiful, healthy lawn and you work hard to keep it that way — mowing, watering and fertilizing as part of a regular maintenance schedule. But lately, you notice that your lawn looks a little lack-luster. It was established back when your home was new, and it’s been a good number of years since then. Perhaps the homebuilder used sod, and now the soil is layered, which disrupts natural water drainage and leads to poor root development. Plus, your kids and pets are running around on it all the time, compacting the soil underneath the grass roots, and now it dries out quickly or feels sort of spongy. This indicates your lawn may have too much thatch that’s inhibiting the proper health of your beautiful lawn.

For all these reasons, aerating your lawn can help keep it beautiful. The best time for aeration is during the growing season in early fall, so grass can heal or fill in any open areas before it goes dormant in winter.

Aeration Accomplishes Several Important Things

  • Aerating perforates the soil with small holes, helping to alleviate soil compaction
  • Aerating helps air and water to penetrate lawn thatch or built-up organic debris so it doesn’t starve the roots
  • Aerating breaks up soil layering, allowing water to reach the roots
  • Aerating allows vital nutrients to reach the soil beneath the grass
  • Aerating helps the roots grow deeply, producing a stronger, more vigorous lawn

If you aerate your lawn and fertilize it at the same time, it can help the lawn breathe more easily. To learn more about this combination, read our blog post, Mark an Item Off Your Fall Checklist – Aerating and Fertilizing.

Types of Aerating Tools

Spike Aerator: pokes holes through the grass, thatch and roots and into the ground with a solid tine, or fork. This method is the least effective for soil compaction.

Aerator/Plugger: removes a patch of grass and soil from the lawn, called a plug. This method can achieve fantastic results with regard to soil compaction.

Slice Seeder: cuts vertically through existing grass and thatch, into the soil, dropping seed in the rows cut behind. Slice seeding makes 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. To learn more, read our blog post, Improve Your Existing Turf with Slice Seeding.

Tips for Aerating Your Yard

  • Aerate when the soil is moist, such as after a rain shower or a deep watering of the lawn
  • Run the aerator over the most compacted areas of your lawn several times, to make sure the compacted soil is completely treated
  • Dry excavated soil plugs and break them up, giving your lawn a uniform appearance
  • Research shows that aeration will not affect crabgrass control or weed prevention measures
  • After aerating, make sure to continue basic lawn care practices such as mowing, watering and proper fertilizing

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you make aeration part of your yearly lawn care regime. From aerator/pluggers to slice seeders to fertilizer, 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. Plus, your beautiful lawn will thank you for helping it breathe again!

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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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[INFOGRAPHIC] Plan the Perfect Summer Event & Outdoor Entertaining Space

Summer is the perfect time to have friends and family over for outdoor entertaining and parties. So why not pull out all the stops this year and cover your bases with this in-depth event planning guide. Not only does this involve prepping your yard, but event equipment and unique DIY inspirations can make your home the perfect spot for relaxing and entertaining this summer. We hope you can take a few ideas and best practice tips from this infographic, and as always, let us know if you have questions about the equipment, steps or other specifics. Happy outdoor party planning!

Event Planning & Outdoor Entertaining Infographic

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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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How to Plug Your Lawn in 3 Easy Steps

Aerate and Plug Like a Pro!

2×2, 12×12 and add water. One way to quickly establish a new lawn, or a bare part of an existing one, is by planting pieces of sod called plugs. This technique works especially well during the warm spring-summer season, spreading grass varieties such as Zoysia and Bermudagrass. A plug is a 2×2-inch piece of sod, which is planted in rows 12 inches apart and 12 inches away from each other. Eventually the plugs take root, or rhizomes, spreading the grass across your yard.

Sprigs will also do the job of plugs. Sprigs are smaller versions of plugs, or 1- to 3-inch pieces of rhizomes. Sprigs are usually planted by hand and will also root into the soil to grow grass quickly. Sprigs work well for smaller plant areas.

Steps to Plug Your Lawn

Step 1. Remove all grass and weeds from the existing lawn by tilling the soil, then add organic amendments as needed and rake smooth to remove any rocks, plant roots and sod chunks. Soften the area to be plugged by watering thoroughly.

Step 2. Use a hand-held grass plugger, a shovel or an aerator/plugger to dig holes in a checkerboard pattern. Fill holes with a lawn starter fertilizer before planting the plug, then tamp down the soil to prevent air pockets. Specifically formulated for new grass plugs or seeded lawns, starter fertilizers give that extra nutrition for fast growth. Not to mention, it prevents root burn.

Step 3. Give each plug and the entire area another deep watering and continue for 7-10 days until plugs are established, roots have grown out from them and new grass growth appears.

Wait at least two weeks and as long as six weeks before mowing, which will further promote spreading. The new plugged lawn can also be fertilized just as a mature lawn.

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 you plan and plant the lawn of your dreams!

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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Dethatch Your Lawn This Spring for Beautiful, Healthy Grass

Could your lawn use a good dethatching?

Who wouldn’t enjoy a barefoot walk through a lush, green lawn? Grass is arguably the most popular groundcover for homeowners who appreciate its excellent ground protection and desirable curb appeal. For those DIY-ers who also enjoy caring for their lawns, dethatching should definitely be on the to-do list.

Grass is a beautiful three-tiered terrarium, if you will. A root system on the bottom supports the thousands of long, green blades that grow above a tightly woven layer of leaves, stems, roots and decomposing material known as thatch. As long as the thatch layer gets no thicker than 3/4″, it contributes to lawn health by:

  • Mulching naturally to slow water loss
  • Allowing sunlight and fertilizer to feed the grass
  • Protecting the soil and grass from insects and disease
  • Decreasing compaction and improving foot tolerance
  • Insulating grass crowns from temperature swings
  • Letting grass root into the soil rather than growing into nutrient-lacking, too-thick thatch

Does Your Lawn Need Dethatching?

Dethatching rids your lawn of too much thatch and can be done with a dethatching rake or a dethatcher, a mechanical gardening tool that rolls over the grass and thins out thatch with rotary blades, tines or prongs. If a lawn has a springy feel underfoot, then often that means it has a too-thick thatch layer.

Other ways to determine if your lawn needs dethatching:

  • Measure thatch for that ¾-inch cut-off by removing a small, three-inch layer of grass and soil or just pry up a small section of turf.
  • Look at your lawn. Is soil visible between turf crowns? Can you touch the soil through the visible thatch layer? If not, it’s probably too tough and needs to be thinned.

Get to Know Your Grass

Certain grasses tend to form thicker thatch layers and do so quickly, such as St. Augustine grass, Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, Bent grass and aggressive Kentucky bluegrass varieties. Also, dethatching is best done at the height of the grass’s growing season. Since warm and cool season grasses grow most vigorously at different times during the year, know what kind of grass your lawn is before dethatching.

When to Dethatch Your Lawn

Choose a cooler day to dethatch when grass is actively growing and the soil is moist, not dry.

After dethatching, the grass usually needs 45 days to grow back fully. If your area is experiencing a drought, watering restrictions or intense heat waves, postpone dethatching until it passes.

  • Late spring to early summer – warm-season turf like Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, Zoysiagrass
  • Early spring or early fall – cool-season turf such as creeping bentgrass, Fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, Rough bluegrass and Ryegrass

How To Dethatch Your Lawn

Step 1. Mow the grass to about half the usual height

Step 2. Mark irrigation heads and other objects in the lawn so that they are visible during dethatching

Step 3. Adjust the blade settings of the dethatcher so thatch is removed without disturbing the soil beneath, about ¼-inch above the ground

Step 4. Roll the dethatcher over the entire lawn to loosen the thatch from the ground

Step 5. Remove all the loosened thatch with a rake

Step 6. After dethatching, water the lawn and add fertilizers to 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.

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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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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

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