Posts Tagged With: Mulch

[DIY How-To] Repurpose Your Dead Trees Into Mulch & Firewood

how to repurpose dead and fallen tree limbs

Are your trees healthy? Even though fall is typically not the season to prune your trees, which encourages growth or flowering next spring (this is usually done after the coldest winter weather has passed), it is a perfect time to assess the health of the trees on your property. Removing dead limbs won’t encourage growth, and will help eliminate potential problems brought on by inclement weather. It will also provide you with ample mulch and firewood for the long cold months ahead.

Remove Tree Limbs

  • to get rid of diseased parts and save the tree
  • to avoid personal injury or property damage
  • to cut back overgrowth

Start at the Top

Look for tree hazards by scanning the tree from top to bottom. Use binoculars if needed and check how vigorously the tree is growing. Compare its growth to others around it. Vigor is reflected in the amount of leaf cover, leaf size, color and condition. If the tree seems to be thinning or experiencing stunted growth, then it may not be flourishing as robustly as it should.

How Does the Trunk Look?

Continue your examination down the trunk of the tree. Look for forked trunks, which indicate potential weaknesses. Signs of decay may also be evident. These present themselves as cavities, cankers or conks (fruiting bodies of fungi) on the trunk itself.

Getting to the Bottom

Finally, check root zone of the tree. Look for mushrooms and other fungi that might be growing around the base of the tree. This is a sign the tree roots may be decaying. Construction and trenching are often causes of root damage, so protect your trees when work is done near them.

Make Your Cut Count

Pruning dead limbs is necessary to keep you and your property safe and it needs to be done properly. Make clean cuts with sharpened tools. Look for the “collar” or swollen tree flesh that develops where the dead limb joins the healthy section of tree. This is the tree’s natural defense system. Make your cut using a pruner or a chain saw just outside the collar, leaving as little stub as possible. Do not remove the collar because it is needed to fight any remaining disease.

Making Mulch and Firewood

Once you have examined your trees and removed the dead limbs, recycle the debris into mulch or firewood. Using a wood chipper, you can make easy work of breaking it all down. The size of the tree limbs determines the size of the chipper you will need. You can mix grass clippings in with your grind or even run the mixture through the chipper twice to get a finer mix. For larger tree limbs or stumps use a log splitter to cut the debris down to a usable size for the fireplace.

“Snag” a Place for Wildlife to Live

Food for thought – if a dead or dying tree does not pose a hazard to people or property – why not leave it as part of your landscape? “Snags” or wildlife trees are excellent habitats for a variety of species of animals. Birds and small mammals use snags for nests or storage areas. Woodpeckers feed off the insects in them and hawks use them as perches for hunting. Snags can also be created from living trees. An arborist would be able to help you select a good candidate for a snag in your yard. Snags provide hours of wildlife watching.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with all of your landscape projects. Check out some of our blog posts on how to remove a dead tree for more information on tree cutting, as well as a list of tools you might want to use in getting rid of tree limbs and trunks. If you have any other 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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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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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #2 – Building a Backyard Playset

How to Build a PlaysetWhen you think back on your childhood, you may recall playing on a rusty old metal swing set with hard plastic seats. Remember how the whole thing threatened to flip over if you swung too high? The backyard play sets of today are a far cry from those rickety contraptions. Now kids have their choice of towers and forts in addition to swings and slides. What about a rock climbing wall?! We have the technology. The choices are endless … and the cost can run in the thousands of dollars. So what’s a parent to do? Here are a few things to consider in your quest to build a better playset.

Shop Smart

Before you start shopping stores or the internet for a playset to assemble, consider this:

  • Know your audience – What’s the age of the child you are building the playset for? What interests a toddler is less engaging for a 10-year-old. Look for a playset that can be reconfigured as your child grows up. Some sets will have features that can be removed and replaced with more age appropriate ones using very little additional construction.
  • It’s going to be how big? – Determine the size of the area where you want to put the playset. It will help to narrow down the choices in design plans. Consider placing the structure off to one side of the yard rather than in the middle. That gives the kids an open space where they can play football and other games. Besides, you don’t want to step out you back door and onto the jungle gym.
  • Avoid any trips to the ER – Know the weight limit of the playset you select. If you expect a neighborhood of kids to be on it at one time then spend the money for the highest rated play set. Accidents will happen so cushion their falls with a protective surface like bark or rubberized mulch. Spread it in a dense layer and extend it around all sides of the structure. Make sure all platforms and ramps have guard rails.
  • Can I mortgage that playset? – Focus on the quality of the building materials and the inclusive safeguards more than the elaborate play features. A playset made from good hard wood like cedar or redwood is the preferred choice of most professional playset builders. Sure, you will have to clean and paint it, but if properly maintained, a set built out of this kind of wood could last 7-10 years. Pressure treated lumber is less expensive but it has been created using chemicals that you don’t want to expose your children to. Manufacturers say the toxicity levels are low but ultimately it is your call as a parent on whether the risk is worth it.
  • Stick with the classics – Forget all the fancy construction plans. Swings and slides will always be in fashion. Elaborate features like rock climbing walls or trapezes only add to the cost of the project. Remember these are the same kids that happily played with your pots and pans just a few years ago. That swinging pirate ship may fall out of fashion with them in a heartbeat, and if isn’t not easy to remove, you’re stuck with it marooned in your backyard.

A Family Project

No one knows your kids the way you do. Select the type playset that will make them want to put down the smart phone, remote or other device and run out to play on it. Make building it a family project. Even young children can hand you a hammer or help spread mulch. It is all about creating memories of childhood days spent playing with friends on a backyard playset – one they’ll remember was built just for them by you. Priceless.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your backyard projects. From circular saws and nailers/staplers to pressure washers 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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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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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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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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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.

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How to Benefit Most From a Wood Chipper

Know Your Wood Chipper

Wood chippers can be differentiated on the basis of the way they cut chips. Choose yours depending on how you are going to use the chips.

  • You have the drum chipper which can handle large loads at one time and churn out a range of wood chips, though not in even sizes.
  • There is the disc chipper that slices into wood at a 45 degree angle. This is by far the most efficient of wood chipper models and can turn out evenly sized chips.
  • The third kind is the screw chipper which has a blade that is shaped like a screw. The sizes of the screws are changeable, thus giving you even shapes of chips as you require them.

With the right wood chipper in hand, it is merely a question of feeding in the wood to get the job done.

Wood ChippersUses of Wood Chips

Besides making mulch, wood chips can be used for several other purposes. A brilliant use of wood chips would be as fuel. It is a good source of biomass fuel, making it environment friendly, as well as energy efficient. If you are using it in your homes, you could use the chips in place of firewood. They can be lit up in much the same way and you can add bigger quantities of the chips to ensure your fire burns for a longer time.

They can also be used to heat up large buildings as a replacement to traditional forms of heating that are power based. There are systems that have been put in place to use chips in large boilers for even distribution of heat.

An interesting use of wood chips is for decoration. A large number of interior designers are now incorporating them into their designs to create wood chip paintings, murals and even furniture, which can be done by mixing other organic substances with it.

Rent vs. Buy

Rather than invest in one, a wood chipper rental can be a more feasible option. You can choose the model that best suits your purposes and be sure that it is well maintained and in good condition. All the accessories are provided along with it, and at the end of its usage you can always give it back. It gives you a chance to experiment with the different models around and see what best suits you.

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.

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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.

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