Listen to hear what lawn care mistakes to avoid, how to repair ruts and small holes in your yard, how to remove rust stains in a tub and more.
The 9 Biggest Lawn Care Mistakes
Proper lawn care is essential for maintaining a healthy and beautiful lawn.
However, some common mistakes can lead to a lackluster lawn or even damage to the grass. Here are nine common lawn care mistakes — and how to avoid them.
1. Cutting the grass too short. Adjust your lawnmower’s cutting height to avoid trimming more than one-third of the grass leaves, which can remove energy-producing top growth and stress the plant.
2. Mowing with dull blades. Sharpen the lawnmower blades every spring and midway through the mowing season to prevent ripping and jagged cuts.
3. Not testing the soil. Grass grows best in soil that has a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. DIY soil testing kits for $15 can provide adequate results, while comprehensive testing is available at local County Cooperative Extension offices in the U.S.
4. Bagging the clippings. Leave grass clippings on the lawn to decompose and provide moisture and nutrients.
5. Not dethatching. Thick layers of thatch can starve the lawn.
6. Not aerating. Aerating pokes holes into the soil to improve water, fertilizer, and amendment absorption.
7. Improper fertilizing. Fertilizing recommendations vary by grass type and region. A general annual maintenance schedule is recommended for most areas.
8. Over-watering. Watering correctly allows the grass to grow deep roots, creating a lawn that’s much stronger, healthier, and better equipped to survive drought conditions.
9. Not raking leaves. This can lead to impenetrable mats that can kill the grass and breed fungal diseases. Removing leaves from the lawn shortly after they’ve fallen from the trees is important.
For more details on each, read the full article: 9 Biggest Lawn Care Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
How to Repair Your Yard’s Ruts and Small Holes
Before homeowner Judy bought her house, some old trees had been cut and the stumps ground down.
Now, those roots have decayed, resulting in numerous imperceptible ruts that cause the ground to give way underfoot.
So, she wants to know: “How can we fix this and not make walking in our yard an ankle hazard? We are also worried about our foundation.”
Unfortunately, buried tree stumps and debris can cause problems like what you’re experiencing now. Once the stumps and roots decompose, the ground can cave in, leaving behind ruts that can be hazardous to walk on.
If the roots are substantial, it can be challenging to dig them out, so the best course of action is to continue filling the holes with dirt.
Here’s how to do that: Mix topsoil with some peat moss and sand, and keep adding it to the affected areas until you reach the bottom of the hole. You may need to repeat this process a few times to fully level the area.
Buying individual bags of dirt can be expensive, so try to find someone who can deliver a small amount of topsoil instead. This can save you time and money in the long run.
When it comes to the foundation, compact some gravel and fill in the holes to prevent water from pooling. This will help prevent foundation problems and keep the foundation in good condition.
Another option is to hire a professional landscaper to regrade the area, which involves reshaping the soil to create a more even surface.
This can be a more expensive option, but may be necessary if the problem is severe.
How to Remove Rust Stains from a Bathtub
A homeowner is dealing with rust stains on the floor of her bathroom tub.
Despite using rust remover and brushing on some ceramic touch-up paint, the stains remain and — even worse — the paint doesn’t match the old white tub.
She says, “I can’t afford to have the entire inside of the tub refinished. Any suggestions to get rid of the streaks of rust?”
One option you can try is using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.
First, make a paste by mixing these two ingredients together. Then, apply it to the rust stains and let it sit for a few hours. Finally, scrub the area gently with a non-abrasive brush or sponge and rinse with water.
Another option is to use a rust removal product specifically designed for bathroom surfaces. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and wear gloves to protect your skin.
If neither of these options works, you may want to consider hiring a professional to refinish just the bottom of the tub where the rust is located, rather than the entire tub.
This may be a more affordable option than refinishing the entire tub.
Hear our tips for leveling the ground for an aboveground pool, how to cool off a hot garage and more.
How to Level Ground for an Above-Ground Pool
A homeowner who wants to enhance their backyard amenities needs advice on how to level out the ground for a pool. Specifically, an above-ground pool.
“There is a little bit of a slope, and I am worried about a possible cave-in. Just need some general advice on how to do this,” he says.
It’s important to make sure the ground is perfectly level, because if you don’t, you’ll have undue pressure on one side of the pool.
One of the first things you should do is take a string and a couple of stakes with a line level that hooks to the string. Then, pull the string tight across the area to see how much of a slope there actually is. You might be surprised — sometimes there’s a 5- or 6-inch drop!
If you need to level the ground, you can take a straight, 12-foot-long 2×4 and nestle it into the ground about three inches on the high side. Hold it out, and then put the 4-foot level on top to see how much dirt you’ll have to move.
Then, you can use a shovel or a rented skid steer to remove soil from the high areas and place it in the low areas, compacting it with a plate compactor or a rented tamper.
Many times it’s as simple as taking dirt off the high side and raking it to the low side, then using the 2×4 as a screed board to level it out.
If you want to provide a little more substantial ground, I’ve seen people use pea gravel and paver base.
The ground may settle over time, so you may need to periodically check and adjust the level of your pool.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional landscaper or pool installer for advice and assistance.
How to Cool Off a Hot Garage
A homeowner’s attached two-car garage gets unbearably hot during the summer. (The temperature reached 104 degrees last July!).
And it’s affecting more than just that space, as household energy bills skyrocket.
He says, “ The hot air flows up into the house and kicks on the A/C unit even when we aren’t home. I don’t want to leave the garage door open. What should I do?”
One way to cool down a hot garage is to install a ventilation fan or exhaust system to help circulate the air and remove excess heat. I recommend a small, louvered one from Dayton that mounts on the exterior wall.
To install it, mount it on the wall with the louvers facing outside. These louvers will stay closed until the fan turns on.
And what turns on the fan, you ask? Well, that would be a thermostat that you can set to turn on the fan when the temperature reaches 90 degrees.
Once it kicks on, the exhaust fan will bring cooler air into the garage and keep the temperature down to the level you set it to.
This is a great way to keep your garage cool and comfortable during those hot summer months, and it can even help save you money on your energy bill by preventing your air conditioning unit from kicking on unnecessarily.
Read: How to Choose the Best Exhaust Fan for Your Garage
Best New Products
Vigoro Weed and Feed Weed Killer Plus Lawn Fertilizer
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It distributes more particles per square foot, to deliver even feeding and even greening with no burning guaranteed. The fertilizer greens in just 72 hours and treats weeds down to the roots. The formula also contains time-released nitrogen for extended feeding that lasts up to two months.
The fertilizer can be applied in all seasons to improve the lawn’s ability to absorb water and nutrients while controlling the growth of weeds like common chickweed, dandelion and clover.
Listen to learn all about this Best New Product!
Find the Vigoro Weed and Feed Weed Killer Plus Lawn Fertilizer at The Home Depot.
Watch: Vigoro Weed and Feed: An All-in-One Lawn Care Solution
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Non-toxic Ant Trap — Here’s a safe, non-toxic way to get rid of ants.
- Get a small plastic tub with a lid, like an empty sour cream or cream cheese container.
- Drill four evenly spaced 3/16-inch-diameter holes through the sides of the tub, about a half inch up from the bottom.
- Next, in a small bowl mix three teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of borax, and a quarter cup of warm water. Mix well to dissolve sugar.
- Put a piece of bread (or waffle) into the bottom of the tub.
- Pour into the tub enough of the sugar/borax water to completely soak the bread.
- Snap on the lid and set the tub wherever you see ants.
The trap will start attracting ants within a day or so. The ants will eat the borax-soaked bread, and carry bits of it back to the colony to feed other ants, where it will kill the ants. Check the tub every couple of days, adding more sugar/borax water, and bread, as needed.
Fast Fix for Bent A/C Fins — If the thin aluminum fins on your A/C unit have become crushed or bent out of shape, it’ll struggle to draw air through the condenser, greatly diminishing its cooling capacity. You can try straightening out the bent fins with a stiff-bristle toothbrush or putty knife, but here’s a quicker, better way — Buy a condenser fin comb (about $8), which has rows of tiny steel teeth. Simply pull the comb along the outside of the condenser to straighten out any bent fins.