Posts Tagged With: lawn equipment

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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Fresh Garden Idea – Planting New Varieties of Tomatoes & Peppers

Grow New Tomato and Pepper VarietiesYour garden is ready for gardening. Now, what do you do? Grow veggies for the table, of course. Raising your own vegetables is an economic way to bring your family around to a healthier way of eating. Imagine the pride you will feel when your first crop of tomatoes and peppers come in. We’re here to help you get started.

So Many to Choose From – Where Do I Start?

When you first look at the over 700 different varieties of tomatoes available you may feel like throwing in the towel. Don’t panic – make your selection based on your growing zone and for the type you want to eat. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right variety to plant:

  1. Disease Resistance – Tomatoes are prone to numerous issues, so read the labels on the plants or seeds before buying.
  2. Growth Habit – This means how much space the plant will need to grow. There are two types of plants: Bush (determinant) and Vine (indeterminate).
  3. Time to Mature – If you have a short growing season, then you need a variety that will ripen quickly. Look for the number of days the variety takes to mature.
  4. Fruit Characteristics – Choose a variety that will best suit your needs – do you want slicing tomatoes? Do you plan to can or preserve them?

Bush Tomatoes – Great for Container Gardens

Determinate or bush tomatoes grow two to three feet in height. When they set fruit, they allow it to flourish before sending out more growth. They have a short growth cycle. These varieties work great for container gardens, but if you do plant them in a raised bed or regular garden make sure to mulch with plastic or straw mulch to keep the plants off the ground.

Vine Tomatoes – There’s No Stopping Them

Vine tomatoes are indeterminate varieties. They need lots of room to grow and spread out. Be prepared to support them with cages or ladders because these plants will continue to grow until the first frost. Some of the better known varieties, like Cherry and Beefsteak tomatoes, fall in this category.

Here are some of the varieties of tomatoes that grow well in our zone:

  • Brandywine (I)
  • German Queen (I)
  • Cherokee Purple (I)
  • Roma (I)
  • Marzano (I)
  • Silvery Fir Tree (D)
  • Siberian (D)
  • Rocket (D)

Watch Out for Diseases

Tomatoes suffer from a myriad of diseases. When buying a plant, taake note of whether the plant is resistant to some of the most common ones. This will be noted with a letter on the label. Here are some of the most common diseases for tomatoes:

  • Verticillium Wilt (V on label)
  • Fusarium Wilt (F)
  • Nematodes (N)
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus (T)
  • Alternaria (A)
  • Gray Leaf Spot (ST)

Peppers – They Have Needs Too

Though peppers are often planted with tomatoes in a garden they have very different needs. Tomatoes can be planted after the last frost, but peppers prefer completely warmed soil, so it is best to wait a while before setting them out. Use black plastic mulch around peppers to help keep the soil warm overnight and to prevent heavy rains from damaging tender seedlings. Peppers have shallow root systems and mulch helps protect them.

Pick A Lotta Peppers

Like tomatoes, peppers come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They can be sharp flavored like green bell peppers or sweet like Pimentos. You can also find spicy peppers in different heat intensities, but be careful to check their maturity time. Hot peppers need a fairly long time to mature to develop that kick we love so much.

Some of the pepper varieties that are popular in our zone are:

  • Melrose (sweet)
  • Gypsy (sweet)
  • Jimmy Nordello (sweet)
  • Super Chili (hot)
  • Banana peppers (hot)

A Little Farmer in All of Us

Vegetable gardening is a very rewarding endeavor. Not only will you have a plethora of fresh produce for your dinner table, but you can put up an abundant supply in your freezer for those long winter months. Tomatoes and peppers are just the beginning. Soon you will be ready to tackle asparagus and corn in your garden. After all, there’s a little farmer in all of us.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your garden projects. From small tillers and wheel barrows to shovels 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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3 Options for How to Replant Grass in Your Yard

If looking out over your yard at the brown patches left by winter’s brutal temperatures isn’t enough to make you throw in the towel on growing a lush lawn in Indiana, then we may have some tips that can help.

At this time of year, DIY-gardeners have three options for replanting an existing lawn and giving it some love.

  • Over-seed
  • Plug it
  • Start over in the fall – the best time to replant grass in your yard

Although there’s no guarantee your lawn will improve if you engage one of the spring options instead of waiting until the fall, each one is worth a try. 

Climate Zones Determine Grass Growing

Climate Zone Map

In Indiana, climate zones 7 and 8 help determine what types of grass you should grow.

  • Cool weather grasses – the top third of the state falls into this category. These are grass types that grow better in areas that have cooler summers and winters. Some grass types in this category are Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Rye and both Tall and Fine Fescue. You primarily plant these type lawns in the early spring or the late summer/ early fall since they take time to germinate.
  • Warm weather grasses – the bottom third of the state falls into this category. These are grass types that grow better in areas with warmer summers and winters. Some of these are Bermuda grass and Zoysia. These grasses can be planted in the late spring as long as they have enough time to establish before the summer heat comes on.

1. Over-Seeding

If you want to over seed an existing lawn, be prepared to put in the time it will take to maintain it until the seed establishes. On an existing yard of Kentucky Bluegrass try seeding with a mixture of Bluegrass and Fine Fescue. The Fescue will establish faster and give the Bluegrass seed time to germinate. Here are a few basic steps to over-seed any type of lawn:

  1. Set your lawn mower at the lowest setting to remove most of the vegetation from the lawn. It will make it easier for the seeds to reach the ground.
  2. Rake the grass and top ¼-inch of soil underneath it and dispose of debris.
  3. Add fertilizer – apply per manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Broadcast seed over lawn in parallel lines – first in north/ south direction and then in an east/ west direction to avoid missing any areas.
  5. Use backside of rake to spread about ¼ inch of dirt over seed.
  6. Cover the ground with a thin layer of mulch made from wheat straw. You can rake straw away once grass starts to appear.
  7. Water lightly each day until grass is 2 inches tall.
  8. Best to wait to mow until grass has reached about 3 inches in height.

2. Lawn Plugging

If seeds are too slow for you then lawn plugging is the way to go. A “plug” is a 2 x 2 inch piece of sod that you can use to fill in bare spots on your lawn. You will need to till up the area you wish to plant, amend the soil with compost, and then create holes using a hand held grass plugger or an aerator/plugger. Place the plugs in a checkerboard pattern and fill the holes with lawn starter fertilizer. Insert the grass plugs and pack down the ground around them to eliminate air pockets. Give the entire area a thorough watering. Check out our blog, How to Plug Your Lawn in 3 Easy Steps, for additional details.

3. Great Grasses for Indiana

Whether you over-seed, plug or wait until the fall, here is some information on the different grasses that work well in our area. We have listed which are cool season grasses and which are warm season grasses. Depending on how you plan to proceed with improving your lawn one of these grass types may offer you a solution.

Kentucky Bluegrass – This is a cool season grass

  • Performs best in full sun
  • Slow to germinate
  • Winter hardy
  • New varieties are more disease resistant
  • Will need more fertilizer and water than other types

Fescue – This is a cool season grass

  • Drought, heat and shade tolerant
  • Requires less fertilizer
  • Grows deeper roots
  • Different varieties – Tall (broad leaf, clumping) and Fine (thin leaf,non-clumping)

Bermuda grass – This is a warm season grass

  • Best in full sun
  • Medium to fine texture
  • Drought resistant
  • Turns brown in winter when temperatures drop to point of frost
  • Can be aggressive and will take over flowerbeds
  • Need to keep in check with trimming or use of organic herbicides like vinegar

Zoysia – This is a warm season grass

  • Spreads and forms dense sod
  • Slow upward growth so needs less mowing
  • Low water consumption
  • Good for high traffic areas
  • Somewhat shade tolerant
  • Needs no pesticides or weed killers since it chokes out pests and weeds
  • Thrives in heat, goes dormant in cold weather

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From seeders and tillers to aerator pluggers and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week. To learn more about your lawn, check out our helpful how-to guide, How Well Do You Know Your Lawn?

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

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.

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

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