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Building a Healthy Lawn and Garden on a Budget: Soil Prep Tips for Fall

Whether you’re growing grass or growing vegetables, quality soil is essential for good results. However, the very act of growing plants can deplete your soil’s nutrients from one season to the next. That makes end-of-year maintenance essential for getting the ground ready for next year’s demands -- but thankfully, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. As warm weather is winding down, here’s what you need to do to prepare for a productive spring on a budget.
In The Yard
Fall maintenance is essential for a lush green lawn next year. This is the time to reseed bare patches and pull weeds before they go to seed, but a healthy lawn is about more than appearances. Since lawns get compacted from foot traffic over the active summer months, homeowners should aerate lawns each fall to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach plant roots. A garden fork will do the job just fine, but renting or buying a plug lawn aerator speeds up the process. If you want to invest in an aerator, look for promo codes and coupons or in-store savings at stores like Lowes.

While it’s common advice to fertilize lawns every year, adding fertilizer to a lawn that doesn’t need it pollutes the local water supply. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends applying fertilizer in moderation and only when necessary. A soil test kit lets you find out if your yard needs fertilization and which nutrients it’s lacking. You’ll get the most accurate and comprehensive results by sending a sample to the soil testing laboratory recommended by your local cooperative extension. Your local garden center or nursery can also provide at-home kits, and they often offer end-of-summer discounts, so be on the lookout for deals.
In The Garden
Fall garden clean-up saves you labor in the spring. It’s also an opportunity to add to your garden’s soil organic matter and fertility. As you clear out dead plants and debris, remember that bare ground is bad for your garden’s health. Exposed earth is vulnerable to being blown or washed away in windy and wet weather. This strips the topsoil, those upper few inches of dirt that hold the majority of the nutrients plants need to grow.

Rather than pulling plants out of the ground, cut them down at the base of the plant and leave roots in the soil. As root systems decompose, they provide nutrition to the beneficial microorganisms that live in the soil. Once old plants are cleared out, consider how you can keep the ground covered over the winter. Planting a cover crop, especially a legume like clover or vetch, adds organic matter and nitrogen to the earth. However, cover crops can add spring labor, as gardeners must till in the plants before new crops go in. For a labor-saving alternative, consider mulching your garden or covering it with a tarp to prevent erosion and maintain moisture. To keep your budget in check, look for coupons on sites like JoinHoney and for your favorite garden center. It’s worth it to spend a little extra for mulch and a tarp, because covered soil also stays warmer than bare earth, which means a head start on spring planting.

As you gather dead plants out of your garden, don’t throw them in the trash bin. When green waste ends up in a landfill, it becomes a significant source of harmful greenhouse gases. Composting plant matter instead not only reduces its environmental impact, it also can be an incredible source of fertility for the backyard garden. When dead plants, fallen leaves, shredded branches, and fruit and vegetable scraps decompose, they turn into the rich soil-like material known as compost. By creating compost and adding it to the garden before planting in the spring, gardeners can improve the quality of their soil year after year, not to mention save money on buying soil to keep their gardens lush. Compost is best created in a bin that’s easy to turn and aerate, like these DIY compost tumbler designs from, which can all be made on the cheap.

Healthy soil is the foundation for a beautiful landscape, and although it’s worth the investment, it doesn’t have to cost a lot to maintain. As you’re working outside this fall, think about how you can improve the health of your lawn and garden for a more vibrant growing season.

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How to Have an Incredible Yard Even with a Busy Schedule

Image by Paul Henri, Find on Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay by Paul_Henri
Once warm weather comes around, many homeowners start thinking about what they can do to make their lawns look beautiful without putting in hours on the landscaping every week. When you have a busy schedule, it can be difficult to consider taking the time to mow every five days, pull weeds, or trim the shrubs. That’s why it’s important to do a little planning in the beginning so you won’t have to scramble to get the yard work done -- or spend a fortune on hiring a landscaping service.

It also helps to stay organized and arrange for certain jobs to be done on certain days. This way, not only does the yard work get done no matter what else you have going on, but it also allows you to spread it out a little at a time so you’re not working in the hot sun for hours on end. You might make a list of all the outside chores, such as mulching, weeding, mowing, fertilizing, and trimming hedges and trees. Since different plants, trees, and grasses grow at different rates, you won’t have to get them all done at once.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to have an award-winning yard even when you’re busy
Plan Out a Landscape First

The easiest way to save time when it comes to yard work is to plan out a landscape that won’t need much of your attention but still adds to your home’s curb appeal. This might include evergreen shrubs, mulch, and hardy or potted plants that can withstand heat without wilting if you can’t get them watered every day.

You can also take up grass space -- meaning areas where you won’t need to mow -- by laying down a brick pathway, stepping stones, or mulch. Just make sure you do it the right way to prevent weeds from growing up.
Make a Checklist

Remember that even the most simple of landscapes will still need your attention, especially if you want to add to your home’s value. Shaggy lawns, weeds, and unattended plants can all draw negative attention to your house and, should you decide to sell, will be a big turnoff for buyers. To avoid becoming overwhelmed with tasks, make a checklist of all the things you need to do within a given week. Pulling weeds may not take any time at all, depending on the size of your yard, but it can add quite a bit of appeal to the aesthetics. Click here for some wonderful tips on how to start a checklist for your lawn.
Turn It Into a Family Affair

If you have kids, chances are they can help out in the yard, whether it’s just to pick up leaves or to mow now and then. Getting them involved will not only help you stay on top of your chores, it will teach them about responsibility and how to care for other living things as they grow up.
Create a Functional Space

Depending on the size of your lawn and the way your home is situated, you may be able to add on a patio or extend the front porch area in order to cut down on the amount of lawn you need to take care of. Creating a functional space can add value to your home if it’s done properly and will save you time in the long run when it comes to mowing and watering. Taking care of your lawn doesn’t have to be a stressful ordeal. With a good plan and a little time management, you can create an outdoor space that is personalized, functional, and beautiful without sacrificing hours of your precious weekend time.
Article Written by Clara Beaufort
For Additional information on the subject. Please check out this link
How to Bring Great Landscaping Home

How To Keep Your Children and Pets Safe

Your lawn should be a place of play and relaxation, where your children’s imagination can flourish and their seemingly endless energy can be spent. While you want their imaginations running wild, you don’t want your lawn to go wild and create needless hazards or dangers for them and your pets when they do venture outdoors. As warmer weather approaches, it’s time to think about the things you can do to keep your yard safe.

It’s not likely you’ll be able to remove all danger from your child’s path at all times, but taking a few precautions can ensure that certain accidents be avoided. As Forbes reports, parents often go to great detail to childproof the interior of the house, but the exterior can also pose dangers.
The following are some tips for childproofing your yard:

  • Look for pointy objects or loose wires from fencing that might injure your child.
  • Look for holes or big rocks that are hidden and can cause your child to trip.
  • Make sure lawn tools are put away and locked.
  • Aim for soft and cushioned play areas with grass and sand. Avoid pea gravel, as it can be a choking hazard and not the ideal surface for rolling and tumbling around.
  • Avoid dangerous, toxic, or prickly plants like English ivy, poison oak, or morning glory.

Dog Proofing
Dogs are awfully curious and can get into trouble by ingesting or breathing in harmful chemicals. The Huffington Post reported that pets should be kept away from areas sprayed with chemical pesticides in order to avoid poisoning and even cancer. There are plenty of natural weed killers that are pet- and child-safe. Some steps to killing your weeds include:

  • Using 10-20% vinegar: Go to a home maintenance store because regular vinegar from the grocery store will not do the trick. Then spray around as needed.
  • Using BurnOut weed killer: This is a prepared mix of vinegar and clove oil.
  • Pulling them out: To keep your yard chemical free for your pooch and children, you might have to put on some gloves and pull them out yourself.
The Spruce reports of several backyard plants that are poisonous to dogs. These include English ivy, morning glory, lily of the valley, and foxglove.

Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs can improve the look of your lawn and home while providing a great hangout spot. Shrubs can bring a lawn together and add some beautiful flowers, colorful leaves, or berries. Trees have many benefits to our homes and neighborhoods. They provide shade, clean air, and a place to relax, but like shrubs, they also need care and attention.

Keep your shrubs clean and trimmed to avoid pests and to maintain an orderly look. This also prevents hazardous branches or prickly plants from growing outward and posing danger. A dead or dying tree may ultimately have to be removed for health and safety purposes.

Pruning helps to maintain a tree and keep branches under control, and can be done in three ways:

  • Cleaning: Removing dead or dying branches or limbs
  • Thinning: Removing certain branches to thin out the tree, which removes weight from the branches
  • Reduction: This reduces the size of the tree without harming the tree’s structure

Other Yard Safety Precautions
Many yard precautions depend on the size and nature of your yard, but you might also install other kinds of safety guards to improve safety. Here are some tips:
  • Install and tighten railings and/or steps to help avoid injury. Handrails can assist children and seniors as they walk outside. Handrails loosen over time, so make sure to check and tighten them often to ensure they serve their purpose.
  • Fence off your lawn. With children and dogs running around, you don’t want to worry about them going off into the street or traffic. Make sure you have a high and safe fence so you can keep an eye on them.

As the warmer temperatures come, ensure your family is safe so that they can make the most of the outdoors. Use these tips to maintain and clear your trees when necessary and keep your lawn beautiful and safe for children and pets.

Article Written By: Clara Beaufort

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Easy Summer Lawncare Tips to keep Your Lawn Green

The summer is here! Because the summer heat can be so damaging it is crucial you change your lawn care routine accordingly. Here are 4 easy things you could start doing now to protect your lawn this summer.

1. Be sure to raise the deck of your lawn mower. This will make your grass blades longer. The extra density will protect the root from burning in the sun. Nothing ruin's a summer party like brown dead grass!

2. Water your lawn only in the morning or at night time. If you water your lawn at midday you will burn your grass. The beads of water will act like a magnifying glass and burn your lawn at the height of the day.

3. Control the weeds with all natural pet safe solutions. Did you know you can create your own weed killer? All you need is some vinegar. Douse weeds with white vinegar (or even the leftover liquid from a jar of pickles) and they'll be dead a few days later. This is a good method for exterminating weeds with long taproots, like dandelions, dock, and plantain.

4. Sharpen your lawn mower blades now. This will not only cut your lawn mowing time in half. It will also slice your grass clean, allowing it to recover quickly.

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