Posts Tagged With: yard clean-up

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

How to Clean Up Yard Debris After a Winter Storm in 3 Steps

How to Clean Up Yard Debris with a Log SplitterNo matter where you live in the U.S., this year’s winter storm season is proving to be a ferocious one. Extreme winds, blinding rain, heavy snow and dangerous ice can not only snap branches and send them hurling all over the yard, these conditions can uproot established trees and topple them to the ground. After the storm, the best approach is immediate clean-up, for the safety of your family and your home.

1. Survey the Damage

When the skies clear, walk around your property to survey the damage. Depending on what you find, you may need special equipment to help clean it all up. In addition to a chain saw, a log splitterstump cutter or grinder can help cut yard debris down to a manageable size for recycling, or even reuse.

2. Choose Helpful Tools

If your yard is full of tree branches and plant debris or smaller downed trees, you can cut up larger tree trunks with the chain saw, gather it all, string together with heavy twine and leave it all at the side of the road for recycling pick-up.

A log splitter will cut larger tree trunks into logs, splitting them for use as firewood. Less physically challenging than splitting trees with an ax, the log splitter uses hydraulics to split the wood easily. The engine uses gas or electricity to power hydraulic oil through the machine. Once a log is placed securely in the cutting wedge, a piston is triggered to apply intense pressure for the wedge to split the log. A manual log splitter also uses hydraulics to split wood down to fireplace size.

If a large tree has cracked or has split into pieces or has been uprooted, use a chain saw to cut it down to smaller size. Use the log splitter if you want to make firewood, or package twigs and branches for recycling. When it comes to removing the tree stump, however – renting a stump cutter or grinder is your best bet for efficient clean-up after a storm.

3. Remove a Tree Stump (step-by-step)

  1. After the tree is cut down to the ground, start by digging out the snow, ice, rocks and soil around the remaining stump manually with a shovel.
  2. Position the stump cutter close enough so the cutting wheel fits right above the center of the stump.
  3. Turn on the equipment so the cutting wheel starts to spin, then lower it directly onto the stump.
  4. Swing the cutting wheel from side to side as it slowly cuts down into the wood. Lower the cutting wheel inch by inch, until it has removed the stump to just below the surface.
  5. Raise the cutting wheel, adjust the machine as necessary, lower the cutting wheel and continue to grind down the entire stump until the wood has been removed at least six inches under the ground.
  6. Fill the remaining hole with topsoil. Spread grass seed if desired.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with yard clean-up. From chain saws to log splitters and stump cutters, 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, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

End of Fall Clean-Up: Protect Trees & Shrubs for Winter Conditions

Protect Trees & Shrubs for Winter

Time for the last of the fall clean-up. You’ve probably wrapped trunks of your deciduous trees with paper wrap to prevent sun-scald injury, a condition that develops when the warm winter sun is absorbed by the plant’s bark. And you’re probably still watering trees and shrubs, so they start the winter season off with enough moisture. Keep trees and shrubs stress-free by continuing to water every three to four weeks throughout the winter while temperatures are above freezing and the soil is not frozen. However, shrubs that are protected by a wall or house eaves are susceptible to drought damage regardless of weather conditions. Water them deeply every six to eight weeks only when the air temperature is above freezing and early in the day.

The first day of winter is still a few weeks away, but the weather has already produced winter storms full of blustery winds and freezing precipitation that could damage trees and shrubs in your yard. At this time of year, ice and snow that clings to any leaves still hanging can add enough weight to snap branches and punishing winds can bring the entire tree crashing to the ground.

Frigid Arctic air is already moving down from Canada into the U.S. and weather predictors are forecasting polar-vortex conditions for most of the country at least once during the winter of 2014. Even though brief cold snaps are unlikely to kill a tree, longer stretches of bone-tingling cold can do great damage, especially to young trees. Protect the root systems using burlap, straw or mulch as a blanket against temperature extremes and to retain moisture.

If a tree has indeed suffered damage during a storm, make sure to attend to it immediately. Use a chain saw to cut off damaged branches, or cut the tree down entirely. Cut the trunk into smaller pieces, then use a log splitter to ready the wood for the wood pile – and for cozy fires after the wood dries out. Or rent a wood chipper to make your own mulch and spread it under older trees for winter protection.

When temperatures drop below 20 degrees:

  • Shake heavy snow off shrubs and trees to keep branches from breaking or bending.
  • Leave snow at the base of plants for insulation.
  • Disconnect, drain and store garden hoses to prevent them from bursting.
  • Cover tender plants, anchor with weight and leave in place until warm weather returns.
  • Take potted plants inside – leave in the garage or in the house. If your have a greenhouse, keep the inside temperature above 35 degrees for plants to have a better chance at survival.
  • Try not to walk on lawn that’s not insulated by fallen snow, which can damage frozen grass.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with cleaning up and winterizing your yard. From chain saws to log splitters, wood chippers 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: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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