Posts Tagged With: spring to-dos

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

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.

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

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