Posts Tagged With: wheelbarrow

Go Green – Plant a Living Privacy Fence

how and why to plant a privacy hedgeWe’ve all experienced it. The horrible view from our kitchen window staring straight at a neighbor’s hot tub. While they may be nice people, do you really want to intrude on their private time? Go green! Plant your privacy fence rather than building one. We’ve got a few suggestions to help you make it happen.

Hedges Add Interest and Privacy

If you want more privacy or to add interest to your landscape, a privacy hedge is the ticket. A living fence does much more than just shelter you from prying eyes.

A Privacy Hedge:

  • blocks noise coming from the street and neighborhood.
  • acts as a natural windbreak.
  • can be a snow fence, reducing snow build up around your house.
  • turns your garden into a secluded retreat.

Location Dictates Plants to Use

Starting a privacy hedge will take patience. While there are fast growing varieties of trees, shrubs and vines, none will reach the height or thickness you desire quickly. The location of your fence dictates the size and type of trees and shrubs to use.

Avoid Excessive Maintenance

An important consideration is how much time you want to devote to maintaining your hedge. In formal gardens boxwoods and other shrubs need to be regularly groomed to maintain their precise shapes. If this is not for you then select plants that give you the natural shapes you desire.

How to Plant a Privacy Hedge

  • Select the type of tree or shrub that works best for the location – Do you want it to provide a screen all year long (go with an evergreen)? Or do you want it to flower and give you privacy during certain times of the year?
  • Decide on the height – Set up a ladder to help visualize the approximate height of the plants needed. If you want a 6-foot tall fence, then planting a tree that grows 10-15 feet is only going mean more maintenance.
  • Determine the width – If you have limited space, select trees and shrubs that can be planted closer together. Some species need more room for roots to spread in order to thrive.
  • Density – If you want a thick hedge, plant several staggered rows, which will allow them to fill in.
  • Map it out – Don’t eyeball your planting. Mark off a row with paint or wooden stakes and string to keep your hedge straight.
  • Train your plants – Trim the tops and sides a few times a year after they establish. Keep the shape wider at the bottom than the top to allow sunlight to reach lower leaves.

Fast Growing Plants Can Often Be Invasive

There are many popular plants to use in making a privacy hedge. Most will take one or two seasons to fully establish. Be careful when selecting fast growing plants like bamboo and Japanese Barberry. Some varieties are considered invasive and may not be approved for use in your community.

Best Trees and Shrubs for Hedges 

  • Arborvitae
  • Boxwood
  • Flowering Quince
  • Sawara False Cypress
  • Japanese Euonymus
  • Holly
  • Juniper
  • Privet
  • Oleander
  • Variegated False Holly
  • Korean Lilac
  • Hybrid Yew
  • Canadian Hemlock
  • Rose of Sharon

Vines Good Option for Privacy Screens

Use wire fences or screens that serve as supports for vines like Ivy, Clematis or Hops. Privacy hedges can also be used to hide compost bins or those large green power boxes.

Skip the Bland Privacy Fence and Go Green!

A living privacy hedge is a great way to add color and texture to your garden while providing the privacy you crave. Before you get out the post hole digger and invest in a bland white fence, think about the eco-friendlier option. Soon the sight of your Speedo clad neighbor stepping into his hot tub will be a distant memory.

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to trimmers and tillers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home project. Looking for other Fall gardening projects? Our blog, Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard, has some great suggestions for ways to spruce things up around your home. As always, if you have any questions about 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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Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Protect Your Trees: Learn How & When to Prune

How and When to Prune Your TreesTrees add beauty, interest and much needed shade to your yard. Replacing trees is a big investment, which is why properly pruning and maintaining them is essential. Not sure what kind of trees you have?

Who You Gonna Call? An Arborist, Of Course

An arborist is professionally trained in identifying the species and determining the health of individual trees, in the name of safety -for the trees and for your family. They can diagnose diseases, insect problems and soil health. Consult an arborist to find out what trees are best for your landscape and where to plant them. Many are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.

5 Reasons to Prune a Tree

  1. To remove dead or diseased branches
  2. To thin the crown, permit new growth and promote better air circulation
  3. To reduce tree height
  4. To remove obstructing lower branches
  5. To shape a tree for aesthetic purposes

There’s a Right Time to Prune Your Trees

Prune your trees during their dormant season (late fall, early winter) to minimize sap loss and stress to the tree. This will reduce the risk of fungus infection and insect infestation.

Helpful Tips on Pruning

  • Know what kind of trees you have – some flowering trees like to issue buds on old growth in the winter and then bloom in early spring. If you prune one of these trees in the winter, you may not have any blossoms come spring.
  • Avoid pruning a newly planted tree – give it time to establish.
  • Prune when the leaves have fallen – it makes it easier to see what needs to be cut.
  • Never cut more than 25% off of your tree at one time.
  • Don’t trim branches near electrical lines – call a professional or the power company.
  • Never cut the top off a tree – this can cause the tree to die. Thin branches out instead. If it is too tall, consider removing the tree completely.

Tree Surgery is … Surgery

Always use clean, sharp tools for pruning; you wouldn’t want anyone cutting on you with a dull blade, right? When removing diseased branches, wipe your cutters with disinfecting wipes between each cut. This will keep disease from spreading as you cut other branches. You can also use a solution of 1-part bleach to 9-parts water and dip the cutters in as you work.

Handy Tools for Pruning

  • Anvil hand pruners – for small branches up to a ½-inch in diameter.
  • Long-handled loppers – for medium sized branches up to 2.5 inches in diameter.
  • Pruning saw – for larger branches, use a pole extender to reach the higher branches.

Where to Cut and Why

If you would like a detailed how-to on pruning techniques, read our blog, Getting Ready for Fall Part 1: Tree Trimming a Seasonal Sport or visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s webpage for more information.

Let a Professional Handle the Tough Stuff

There are times when every DIY’er needs to step back and let a professional take over. If the limbs you want to cut down require the use of a chain saw and a ladder, then maybe this is one of those times. There’s no shame in playing it safe! 

Take Care of Your Trees

Trees are the crowning glory of any yard, so take care of them. At the end of a long day of pruning, sit down in the shade of your trees, relax and remember the words of John Muir (father of our National Parks): Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.

Congratulations! Another job well done. Now, go hug a tree!

Expert Advice

From tree pruners and chain saws to wood chippers and wheelbarrows our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY gardening project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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

Team Up with a Landscape Professional for Amazing Results

Sometimes getting your landscape exactly how you want it takes a team effort. Asking for help is not going against the DIYer’s code, it just makes sense. When in doubt on how to deal with a problem area of your yard or how to execute a specific design, call in a landscaping professional to help get you back on track.

Do You Call a Landscape Designer or Landscape Architect?

Say you want to create a backyard Zen garden, who would you call? A landscape designer has a horticulture background and can blend the right plants and materials together for your dream garden. A professionally trained landscape architect can also design your oasis but they know how to alter the lay of the land to appropriately deal with issues like bad drainage problems and soil erosion.

The Benefits of Working with a Landscape Designer or Architect

  • Ideas – They may see options you haven’t considered.
  • Wealth of knowledge – They know the best types of plants, hardscapes or water features that will work well for your landscape.
  • Resources –They have the business contacts and inside knowledge on the different materials and companies you may want to use.

The scope of work you want to undertake will determine which of these professionals you use. (Architects tend to work on larger scale projects.) Decide on your budget and how far you want to take your partnership. Whether you want a design plan or someone to handle the bigger tasks, let these professionals supplement your landscaping needs in whatever way you desire.

Tips for a Productive Landscape Consultation

Your consultation appointment is a meet and greet when the designer or architect assesses the landscape. It is handy to have a site or plat map of your property – a map drawn to scale, that shows the land divisions in your neighborhood – so you can clearly define the area to be renovated.

  1. Give a brief overview of your landscaping plans – You will meet again to go over details. Focus on the desired look and feel you want in your garden.
  2. Tell them your budget – They will be able to tell you if your budget is feasible. You may need to do the work in stages as you can afford it.
  3. Discuss what you want from them – Do you just want a design plan or do you intend for them to build elements? Define your role and where you want to use your DIY skills.
  4. Find out how do they charge for services – This could be hourly or a lump sum quote. The standard request is to pay the cost of permits and some materials upfront. You should get an itemized quote within a reasonable time after your consultation.
  5. Ask for references and to see a portfolio – Most professionals will have a list available and their website should have photos of finished work. Ask them if you can contact their other clients.
  6. Discuss whether they are licensed and bonded – If they are doing some of the work then they should have insurance to cover their employees.

Why Go Through a Major Landscaping Project Alone?

A landscape designer or architect can resolve issues you have in your yard or help you formulate a game plan for that total makeover. Seek out the expertise you need and you may find it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Here’s looking at you, DIYer.

Expert Advice

From bobcats and backhoes to wheelbarrows and shovels our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY landscaping project. Does your landscaping design include a retaining wall? You’ll find lots of helpful tips in our blog, Summer Garden Update #1: Building a Retaining Wall. As always, if you have any questions about 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, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

9 Tips for Building a Backyard Pond

how to make a backyard pondBackyard ponds filled with exotic fish and tranquil waterfalls are a beautiful addition to any landscape. In our previous blog, How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps, we outline how to begin building a pond. Before you starting digging though, we have some tips to make this DIY project a success.

Pond Kits Give You Everything You’ll Need

The popularity of water gardening and fish ponds has grown so the supplies and the equipment you need are easy to find. Not sure what you will need? Pond kits come with all the required parts – pump, pipes and liner – and are readily available.

Bigger Ponds Are Better

If you use your own design, go bigger! The more fish and plants you have, the healthier the pond, so larger ponds actually require less maintenance. Keeping the water clean is key. Making sure you have the right size pump for your pond is important. Too small and the pump will be overworked and break down.

Pond Maintenance is a Must

A pond is very much like a swimming pool when it comes to maintenance. You will need to clean the filter frequently and remove any debris. Knowing how to service your own equipment will keep your costs down.

9 Tips for Building a Backyard Pond:

  • Buy a good liner – A good butyl rubber liner can last up to 20 years. Use carpet padding or landscape fabric underneath it for protection.
  • Avoid sharp rocks – Use smooth stones to line the pond to avoid tearing the liner. You need flat ones to line the edge.
  • Build a pond shelf – This is a partially submerged ledge where you can place plants.
  • Include rock overhangs – Give your fish places to hide and escape the hot sun.
  • Have a GFCI outlet – Plug the pump into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet. It needs to be at least five feet away from any outdoor water.
  • Bury your electrical wires – Use PVC pipe to bury them safely in the ground and avoid having someone trip over them or an animal chew through them.
  • Consider your yard’s rain runoff – Locate the pond where it will not fill up with runoff water from your yard or a neighbor’s. Factor in an overflow stream or waterfall where the pond water can go if it does flood.
  • Add an eduction jet and skimmer – The eduction jet creates underwater currents to avoid stagnation and the skimmer will help clean of fallen leaves and debris.
  • Include a bead filter and UV Water clarifier – A bead filter traps sand and debris and a clarifier keeps algae blooms from occurring.

Landscape With A Purpose

Landscaping in and around the pond is your next big step. Select plants that will help keep the water clean and algae free. When installing your plants, use aquatic potting soil. Regular potting soil contains nutrients that will encourage algae growth. Mulch the plants with pea gravel. Start the plants on the pond ledge to acclimate them to the water. Once you have them in the right spot, then submerge them. Plants that add to your waterscape include:

  • Water moss
  • Hornwort
  • Curled pondweed
  • Lotus
  • Canna – Use in the pond or outside
  • Pitcher plant
  • Taro or Elephant’s Ear – Use in the pond or outside
  • Papyrus
  • Water Lily

Protect Your Fish

Feed your fish at least once a day during warm weather. Cut back to two or three times a week during colder weather. If you have a small pond, make sure it does not freeze solid during winter. Decaying plants release gases that get trapped under the ice and kill the fish. Install a floating deicer to keep the surface open.

Your Hard Work Pays Off

When you look back on the hard work that goes into this DIY protect and how great it turns out, you’ll be convinced that a backyard pond is a great investment for your home and a wonderfully relaxing place for your family to unwind.

Expert Advice

From backhoes and trenchers to wheelbarrows and shovels our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY landscaping project. As always, if you have any questions about 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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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.

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How & When to Properly Use a Lawn Vacuum

How-To Use A Lawn VacuumSavvy do-it-yourselfers are quickly catching on to the power of lawn vacuums for yard cleanup. Readily rentable and easy-to-use, lawn vacs are similar to vacuums for indoor use. They feature larger collection bags and more rugged construction that can handle mounds of leaves and sometimes even small yard debris. Typically they are designed to run quieter than leaf blowers, too.

How a Lawn Vacuum Works

Constructed like indoor vacuums, lawn vacs use high speed fans to create suction when air rushes up into an intake hose, taking leaves with it, depositing them in a waste compartment or collection bag designed to handle a large volume of waste that detaches for disposal.

How to Use a Lawn Vacuum

Common types of lawn vacs include push-mower varieties, handheld versions, backpacks, large riders, trailer attachments and small tractors. Decide what type of lawn vac you need based on the type of job:

  • Cleaning leaves between flower beds or hard-to-reach areas requires the flexibility of a backpack or handheld model – or first use a leaf blower to move debris out into an open area
  • Cleaning leaves from an entire open backyard requires something with wheels

Just like an indoor vacuum, all you need to do is push or ride it around the yard just like you would do when vacuuming a carpet. The suction does most of the work, until it’s time to empty the collection bag.

  • Wear appropriate industrial ear plugs to protect against any noise pollution
  • Make sure the vacuum path is clear of big debris, such as branches and rocks
  • Position the intake hose as close to the ground as possible for the greatest suction
  • Maneuver the machine around the yard slowly with straight or circular passes
  • Raise the intake hose when moving over bumpy terrain so it doesn’t bump against the ground
  • Emptying most collection bags is a two-person job, because they are likely too heavy for one person to lift and dump out; bags come with a door to scoop out debris manually
  • Avoid using a lawn vac in the rain or to pick up soaked leaves, which is more difficult
  • Use the appropriate nozzle or attachment, which are usually included with the machine to help to move into any tight spaces

Keep a Rake Handy

Even though lawn vacs make quick work of collecting and disposing of leaves, they do not help with lawn aeration. This is one of the reasons why you should keep a rake close-by. A rake can break up lawn thatch, which builds up and makes it difficult for your lawn to breathe and stay healthy. Rakes can also help remove leaves and debris from tight places, moving into open areas and ready for the lawn vac to suck up!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and garden projects. We offer a variety of lawn vacs made by Billy Goat, such as the new MV650H 27″ Lawn Vacuum, which is designed for a thorough clean-up; the Self-Propelled Vacuum, powered by a 6.5-HP Honda engine with a three-speed transmission; and a Leaf Vacuum Trailer, which moves more debris than most other truck loaders. From wheelbarrows to rakes and everything in-between, 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.

*photos courtesy of Billy Goat Industries, Inc.

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

Fall Checklist Part 2: Caring for Trees and Shrubs

Part 2. Fall Gardening To-Dos

Part two of our Fall Checklist for Winter 2014 focuses on maintenance tips for your trees and shrubs, suggestions for newly planted varieties and what to plant right now, before the snow flies.

Step 1. Water newly planted conifers and other evergreens regularly, especially if there’s little precipitation and even after it starts to snow. Young trees and shrubs need moisture to help establish their root systems.

Step 2. Clean up rotten, fallen crops and leaves from fruit trees, then prune them in late winter. You can spray them with dormant oil, which is effective in controlling and killing off certain insects and mites that could damage trees.

Step 3. Cut back rose canes to within a foot of the ground and cover them with soil.

Step 4. Rake and compost leaves, which could be an ongoing process until all the leaves fall from your trees!

Step 5. Now is the time to plant new plants such as oak, holly, beautyberry and bare-root roses.

Step 6. Mulch, mulch, mulch!

Special Step for 2014. Consider wrapping tender, thin-barked young trees, which are susceptible to winter sunscald and frost crack. Young maples, apple, crabapple, lindens and cherry trees are especially susceptible. Any tree can be wrapped with tree guards to protect from rodent damage and tender foundation shrubs can be wrapped in burlap or heavy Kraft paper found at your local garden center.

Start at the bottom of a plant near the ground, wrapping upward in a spiral, overlapping each layer so that water falls off the wrap. Wrap a tree trunk up to the lowest branches and secure with masking tape. Also, wrap the canes of tender roses in burlap, lay the wrapped canes on the ground and cover them with soil or mulch.

Before growth begins in late winter or early spring, remove the wrap to prevent moisture build-up, which can lead to disease.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with wintering your gardens. From wheelbarrows to shovels and everything in-between, 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: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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