As the lawn and garden editor for the Around the Yard section of our website, Julie Day has written hundreds of articles on everything from growing a vegetable garden to caring for your lawn.
Here are some of her tips on how to make your lawn and garden grow.
Dealing with Weeds
To keep weeds in your yard under control:
- Make sure to get the roots when pulling weeds.
- Spot spray stubborn weeds with the proper herbicide.
- Dispose of pulled weeds to keep from spreading seeds.
- Maintain a layer of mulch in garden beds and around shrubs.
A healthy lawn will crowd out most weeds. If your lawn is plagued by weeds, test and amend the soil to improve your grass and reduce weeds.
Find out more at How to Control Weeds in Your Yard.
Lawn Mower Maintenance
To keep your lawn mower running its best, at the start of each mowing season:
- Replace the spark plug
- Replace the air filter
- Change the oil
- Sharpen or replace the blade
After cutting your grass, allow the mower to cool, disconnect the spark plug, and:
- Check and replace the air filter if needed.
- Check and sharpen or replace the blade when dull.
- Clean the blade and under the mower deck with a garden hose.
Keeping the underside of the deck and blade on your lawn mower clean, can reduce the amount of gas used by up to 20%!
Find out more at Lawn Mower Maintenance.
Spring is usually the best time to apply fertilizer to your lawn. A balanced fertilizer with the same ratio on all three numbers (such as 10-10-10), is best for trees and shrubs.
The three numbers on a fertilizer bag, from left to right, are:
- Nitrogen: Makes plants green and causes stems and leaves to grow.
- Phosphorus: Helps grow roots, blooms, and fruits.
- Potassium: All around nutrient that prepares plants for winter or stress.
If you’re concerned about environmental problems caused by fertilizer run-off, choose a fertilizer that doesn’t contain phosphorus.
Find out more at Fertilizer 101.
Building a Raised Planting Bed
Raised planting beds provide better drainage, improved weed and pest control, and ease of use.
The wood frame on a raised planting bed is perfect for attaching trellis or a frame for bird netting.
Find out more at Raised Planting Beds for Your Garden.
Pruning Trees and Shrubs
When pruning shrubs in your yard:
- Prune evergreens in the winter.
- Prune flowering shrubs when they finish blooming.
- Remove some outer limbs to allow light into the interior of the shrub.
- Manual hedge clippers tear the leaves less than powered trimmers.
Find out more at Basic Shrub Pruning Techniques.
When watering plants in your yard:
- Check container plants outdoors daily during hot weather.
- Use a rain gauge to see that plants receive at least 1” of water a week.
- Use an extension wand on your hose to water individual plants.
Watering foliage on plants is a good way to remove dirt and insects, and won’t harm plants unless your water contains high levels of salt or minerals or you live in a very humid climate.
Find out more at Water-Saving Gadgets for Your Lawn or Garden.
Mulch in planting beds and around shrubs helps retain water and reduce weeds. There are a number of different types of mulch available:
- Cypress Mulch: Looks good and is easy to spread, but may not be the most eco-friendly option, since manufacturers harvest more cypress trees than they plant each year.
- Red Mulch: Made from dyed wood waste. The dye can bleed and stain concrete, and deplete nitrogen in the soil.
- Pine Bark: Looks good and lasts a long time, but can wash out of beds during heavy rains.
- Rubber Mulch: Made from ground up tires. It looks good and lasts a very long time, but is more expensive and can have a rubber smell.
Find out more at Using Mulch in Your Garden.
Bird Feeder Protection
To keep squirrels and raccoons from damaging your bird feeder, make a baffle from a piece of 6” stovepipe and end cap:
- Drill a hole in the center of the cap the diameter of the bird feeder pole.
- Attach the cap to the stovepipe with screws.
- Use a hose clamp on the pipe to hold the baffle at the right height.
- Slide the baffle over the pole onto the hose clamp.
- Reattach the feeder to the top of the pole.
Find out more at How to Make a Squirrel and Raccoon Bird Feeder Baffle.
Watch Videos from This Episode
- How to Keep Your Lawn Mower Running Efficiently
- Choosing Fertilizer for Your Lawn or Garden
- Landscape Borders and Lawn Edging for Your Yard
- How to Make a Wood Raised Planting Bed for Your Garden
- How to Prune Shrubs in Your Yard
- How to Water Plants in Your Yard
- Types of Mulch for Your Yard
- DIY Squirrel and Raccoon Bird Feeder Guard
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini: Using Wire Shelving for Drying
A piece of wire shelving suspended over a utility sink is a great way to dry paint rollers, sponges, and rags after cleaning. Simply cut the shelving with a hacksaw so it’s a little longer than the sink, place the wire shelf over the front of the sink, and lay the items to dry on it.
Best New Products with Jodi Marks: Miracle-Gro Shake ’n Feed
Miracle-Gro Shake ’n Feed for fruits and vegetables is easy to use and contains calcium to fortify the roots, stems, and fruit on your garden plants continuously for up to three months. Miracle-Gro Shake ’n Feed is available at The Home Depot in a number of different formulations for all your planting needs.
Thinking Green with Danny Lipford: Cardboard Weed Barrier
Cardboard boxes make a great weed barrier for your planting beds. Just break down cardboard boxes, and lay them on the ground on top of the weeds. Wet the cardboard down with a garden hose, cover with mulch, and cut holes in the cardboard when planting your plants. As the cardboard breaks down, it produces a sugar that attracts earthworms to improve your soil.