Posts Tagged With: tillers

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.

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

Garden To-do’s Part 2: Planting Annuals

How To Plant Spring Annuals

Looking at your yard this spring, you are overcome with a desire to change things up. Where to start? You don’t have the budget to rip everything out and start again so do you live with what you have? Don’t fret, we have just the solution. Plant some annuals.

Set your artistic side free!

Sure, annuals are one-season flowers and plants but they can give you the creative freedom to experiment with your landscape. Introducing a touch of color here or a spot of texture there may be just the thing to take your garden in a whole new direction. Annuals come in every color, height and texture. They are an easy way to change things up without having to totally recreate your garden.

There are three types of annuals:

  • Hardy annuals – these plants will tolerate the first frost.
  • Half hardy annuals – these plants can withstand a mild frost but not sustained low temperatures.
  • Tender annuals – these flowers and plants will die off at the first sign of cooler weather.

The most convenient way to get annuals is from your local garden center. Buying annuals at a garden center will allow you to get a jump on designing your yard. These plants are already established and flowering. You just have to put them in the ground. If you’re looking for a wide selection of native or exotic plants, check out plant sales at local public botanical gardens, arboretums and specialty plant growers.

If you are determined to have hard-to-find annuals in your landscape then you can start them from seeds. Just be aware that this takes time and effort. We suggest you start slow and go with all approaches for your garden. Purchase annuals from your garden center, local specialty growers and more from seeds you grow yourself.

Here are a few of the annuals available to you:

  • Coleus
  • Impatiens
  • Heliotrope
  • Dianthus
  • Zinnia
  • Pansies
  • Foxglove
  • Dusty Miller
  • Petunias

Planting Annuals is Simple … and Satisfying

Start with soil that you have amended with compost or manure. Try to place the plants in the ground at the same depth they were growing in their starter pots. It will help avoid stressing the plant during transition to the garden. Spacing is a matter of preference. As your plants grow they will spread out and fill in but if you aren’t willing to wait for that to happen then go ahead and plant them closer together. Just know that you may have to remove some of them later in the season if overcrowded.

Caring for annuals is pretty low key. Here are a few things that will keep your plants thriving throughout the summer:

  • Water – Soak the ground thoroughly. Soaker hoses and drip systems are the best. Allow the soil to dry out in between watering.
  • Mulch – This will help retain moisture and keep weeds down.
  • Weed – When annuals are first put out it is vital to keep the weeds to a minimum. They compete for the nutrients in the soil and sap the strength from the new plants.
  • Cover – If a frost is forecast, protect new plants at night, removing the cover in the morning so plants can soak up the warm sunshine or rain.
  • Pinch – Remove the small developing leaves on the tips of the plant to help it grow fuller and to keep it from becoming too “leggy.”
  • Stake – Tie up tall plants to prevent them from falling over. Insert the stakes in the ground next to the plant but far enough away to avoid damaging roots.
  • Dead-Head – Remove blooms that have faded to help plants flower longer and more profusely. Annuals like Begonias that readily drop their spent flowers do not need to be dead-headed.

Now is the time to fire up those creative juices and get ready to paint your landscape with a rainbow of colorful annuals. Don’t worry about making a mistake because this is one gardening experiment that can’t fail. If your design doesn’t work this summer then you can change it up next year. You can even make it an “annual” thing! (pun intended).

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From landscaping tools to tillers 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.

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

Garden To-do’s Part 1: Plant Bulbs

How To Plant Spring BulbsSome say gardening is a relaxing pastime, when in truth, it’s a never-ending cycle of things to do. Here we are just emerging our arctic winter, celebrating spring, when we find ourselves looking at the calendar wondering, “What’s next?” Well friends, it is time to consider planting bulbs for that wave of summer color we all crave in our yards.

Once the ground has warmed up to about 60 degrees or higher, DIY gardeners can plant summer blooming bulbs. A good rule of thumb is, if folks in your area are planting tomatoes, then it is time to set out the bulbs. So decide on what you want to plant and get busy.

These are a few summer blooming bulbs to consider:

  • Begonias
  • Caladium
  • Cannas
  • Dahlias
  • Gladiola
  • Calla Lilies
  • Tuberose

After deciding what you want to plant, select a well-draining location in your garden. Good drainage is key to preventing mold and rot from developing on the bulbs. Here are a few simple rules to follow when you are ready to put the bulbs in your garden.

  • Give a Little – Amend the soil by tilling in compost or manure. It helps the roots establish and promotes better blooms.
  • Go Deep – Dig a hole for the bulbs that is at least 3 times as deep as the bulb’s diameter. Follow the directions on the packaging.
  • Drinking Allowed – Make sure the bulbs are well watered after going in the ground but allow the soil to dry out between watering.
  • Don’t Say it! (Just do it) – Yes, that 4 letter word – weed. These pesky sprouts will rob your plants of the key nutrients they need to flourish, so just get rid of them.
  • Feed Me – Once your plants have broken ground and are blooming, treat them with a balanced fertilizer to help fortify the roots and give you a second round of blooms during the growing season.

If you haven’t had good luck with bulbs (those darn squirrels!) or if you just want summer blooms sooner, there is hope for you. Try buying pre-start plants from your local nursery or online plant supplier. There are plenty of them out there for those of us that are bulb challenged.

Speaking of squirrels and other vermin that will be taking aim at digging up newly planted bulbs, we’ve got a few suggestions for keeping them at bay.

  • Blood meal – Sprinkle this on the ground where you’ve put your bulbs and it will keep some animals away. Be warned that it can also attract raccoons and skunks.
  • Chili pepper – Use either the liquid or powdered form and spread it over your garden.
  • Predator hair or urine – Putting dog, cat or even human hair over the planted area will repel squirrels. You can also spread used kitty litter around the plants.
  • Un-tasty bulbs – Squirrels dislike daffodils, snowflakes, alliums and squill, so plant these bulbs around the area you are trying to protect.
  • Chicken wire – Place it or a window screen over the dirt. Once the plants start to break ground you can remove it.

Envision the Future

Before you get discouraged by the amount of gardening projects that your calendar holds, take a good look at your yard. Picture the beautiful flowers and plants that will spring up from the bulbs you so lovingly planted. Relaxation does comes at the end of a long day of weeding and watering. Sure, you may be sore and can’t raise your arms to drink that cold one in your hands, but doesn’t your yard look fabulous?!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From wheelbarrows to tillers, 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: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

Part 2. Essential Fall Tools for Your Lawn & Garden

In continuing our discussion of essential tools for the month of October – those pieces of yard equipment that help accomplish everything on your outdoor to-do list – we’re introducing five more. Whereas the previous five revolved around trees and their maintenance, the following five items have to do with your lawn and garden specifically. Continue reading for the second set of essential yard tools and why they’re important for your fall maintenance schedule.

5 Essential Tools for Your Lawn & Garden

1. Aerator

Aerating removes a patch of grass and soil from the lawn, called a plug. This method can achieve fantastic results with regard to soil compaction. In addition, aerating has several major benefits:

  • 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

2. Lawn Vac

This gas-powered device is used to help clean up leaves, as a practical alternative to painstakingly raking your leaves. Thus, it’s a huge time saver. Lawn vacuuming also helps with lawn maintenance. A high capacity leaf vacuum can do almost all the work in one pass, with additional benefits including:

  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.

3. Tiller

High performance tillers are perfect for breaking new ground and cultivating soft soil.  That said, tillers are particularly ideal for raising garden beds, tilling in tight spaces, tilling close to existing plants, not to mention they’re easily transported and stored. However, keep in mind that your tiller will perform best if you adjust it to match the soil conditions. To optimize your tilling, we recommend following Honda Power Equipment’s acronym ESTER:

  • Evaluate your soil conditions.  Is the ground hard, or are you working in loose soil?
  • Set the tiller according to the conditions.  Depending on your model of tiller, you can adjust the depth bar, the tine configuration, throttle, or gear selection.
  • Till the area briefly.
  • Evaluate the tiller’s performance.
  • Reset the depth bar or other controls as necessary, and continue tilling.

4. Slice Seeder

Slice seeders cut 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.

Especially 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.

5. Over-Seeder

An over-seeder’s design allows seed to be delivered directly to its curved-shaped discs. This helps place the seed directly into soil slits, allowing ultimate seed to soil contact and consequently, better germination. You can seed at a variety of rates for different grass varieties and applications. You control the seed flow rate right from the operator’s station. The flow stops automatically when you raise the reel, allowing for maximum control and precise operation.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Featured Products, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: