Posts Tagged With: spring checklist

Winter’s Almost Over! Get That Spring Cleaning Checklist Ready

Bouquet colorful tulips at home

No matter what the groundhog may have predicted on Groundhog Day, spring is almost here!

That means getting things in order. A checklist is the perfect first step because it helps you organize what you want to accomplish and allows you to plan projects to be done over several days (avoiding the inevitable “spring cleaning burnout”).

10 Clicks for Your Spring Cleaning Checklist:

  • Check for loose or leaky gutters – These can cause damage during spring rains.
  • Fill in low areas in your yard – Look for ground that may have washed away from the house foundation or other structures on your property by a winter storm and snow runoff.
  • Inspect the wood trim on windows and doors – Replace any rotted wood and prevent further damage.
  • Visually check roof shingles – Missing shingles due to storms can be easily replaced.
  • Examine the chimney – Do you notice any excess smoke stains? You might want to get a professional chimney sweep out to inspect.
  • Walk your driveway and look for cracks – Fill any cracks with concrete filler. You can winter it later in the spring and apply a sealant.
  • Remove firewood stored near the house – Be careful of unwanted house guests taking up residence in the wood over the winter.
  • Give your house a good dusting – Don’t overlook the ceiling fans, tops of cabinets, air returns and vents. A shop vacuum will help this process.
  • Get your AC system professionally serviced – Doing it early allows you to avoid the rush later when warm weather arrives.
  • Inspect your lawn equipment – If you winterized it, then you are ahead of the game. If not, now is a good time to get oil changed and mower blades sharpened.

Inspect Your Yard for Damaged Trees and Shrubs

Walk around and inspect your landscape. If you have lost trees or shrubs due to the cold weather, cut them down. Note how many plants you need to replace them. (You may be able to catch them on sale!). Always use caution when cutting down large limbs; it is best to have a second pair of hands available for safety.

Plan Your Storm Window Removal

We may have a few more weeks of winter weather ahead, so plan when you want to take your storm windows down. Give your windows a thorough cleaning inside and out, once you do. (You may want to use a pressure washer outside). Don’t forget to clean the blinds or curtains, too.

Assess Your Home’s Condition with Spring Cleaning

Winter can be rough on our homes. A good spring cleaning is one way to assess the condition of your property and to welcome the return of warmer weather. Showing your house a little TLC now may save you from costly repairs down the road. That’s got to warm your heart (and your pocketbook).

Expert Advice

From ladders and pressure washers to nail guns and chain saws, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to tackle your spring cleaning checklist. Looking for a few more indoor spring projects? Another one of our blogs, DIY Projects – Spring Cleaning Ideas and Inspiration, will help get those organizational ideas going. 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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10 Good-Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin

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

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

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

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

Brown Waste vs. Green Waste vs. Other Waste

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

Brown Waste:

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

Green Waste:

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

Other Waste:

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

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

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your composting projects. From circular saws to wheel barrows and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

*Photo Courtesy of House Logic
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Spring Gardening Checklist (Part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

Best Checklist Tip – Mulch, mulch and more mulch

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

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

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with gardening projects. Learn more by reading our blog, Tackle Spring Clean-Up in Your Yard with This Handy Checklist. From landscaping tools to seeds and mulch, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Your Spring Gardening Checklist (Part 1)

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

Tips for Tilling:

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

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with gardening projects. Learn more by reading our blog, Tackle Spring Clean-Up in Your Yard with This Handy Checklist. From tillers to landscaping tools, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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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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How-to Tutorial: Stain Your Fence in 3 Simple Steps

Stain Your Fence in 3 Simple Steps

Staining and sealing a fence is a lot like staining and sealing your deck. In just three steps you can guarantee that its color and durability are maintained.

Step 1 – Prep the fence by clearing away any plants around the bottom and using a pressure washer to clean and remove tough residue.

Step 2 – Apply stain usinga hand-held paint sprayer for a consistent, uniform coat that goes on quickly. Fill the sprayer with the stain and spray it evenly from one end of the fence to the other in a steady, vertical pattern, overlapping each row.

Step 3 – For maximum protection, wait at least two days for the stain to dry. Then, seal the fence by applying sealer with a paintbrush or roller.

This is a very brief how-to, so if you would like more in-depth tips about staining outdoors, read this post about staining your deck. And as always, contact us or comment if you have additional questions!

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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Replace Your Old, Damaged Mailbox in 5 Easy Steps

Replace Your Mailbox in 5 Easy StepsHas this spring’s snow melt revealed a mailbox that’s been pummeled by plows?

Now’s the time to add a little curb appeal to your home and replace that damaged mailbox with a new version, which not only meets federal regulations, but it’s stylish too. All you need are a few hours and some basic tools to check this outdoor improvement off your spring checklist.

Before you replace an existing mailbox or install one for the first time, keep in mind these federal regulations:

  • Install the mailbox about two feet in from the edge of the street, on the right-hand side as traveled by your mail carrier
  • Place the bottom of mailbox at a height of 42 inches from the ground
  • Clearly mark your house number on the mailbox with painted digits or stickers no less than one inch in height

5 Easy Steps for Replacing Your Mailbox

Once you’ve checked for underground utilities, you’re ready for the first step.

Step 1 – Dig the mailbox posthole using a post hole digger or a shovel, making sure it’s deep enough to set the post at the correct height, allowing for about 6 inches of gravel at the bottom.

Step 2 – Add gravel and prepare quick-setting concrete mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 3 – Set the post and fill the hole with the prepared concrete mix, tamping to eliminate air pockets and sloping around the base to allow for water runoff. Or, you can fill the hole to within a few inches of the top and conceal the concrete with soil after it sets.

Step 4 – Attach the mailbox to the post after it sets with attachment brackets that come with the new mailbox. Use the old brackets or purchase them separately. Use a level to check the mailbox and adjust as needed.

Step 5 – Label the side and the front of the box with your house number using stick-on digits or stencils and paint.

While you’re at it, take another step to improve your curb appeal by co-coordinating your mailbox numbers with your house numbers. For more ideas about how to prep your home, yard and garden for warm weather, visit our how-to page. If you have any questions about this process and the tools necessary, be sure to comment below or contact us on our website.

About the Author

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

Categories: How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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