Category: Garden

What is Aeration?

lawn1First-time homeowners or those just beginning to embrace their inner landscaper may notice their neighbors using a machine to punch holes in their lawns and wonder what they’re doing. While aeration is slightly more complicated than simply punching holes in a lawn, that’s likely what your neighbors are up to when you see them manning an unfamiliar machine in their lawns.

Aeration may be a foreign concept to men and women with little lawn care experience, but it’s a relatively simple way to ensure your lawn stays healthy.

What is aeration?

Lawn aeration is the practice of perforating the surface of a lawn in an effort to promote stronger roots and a healthier landscape. A host of factors, from inclement weather to kids using the yard as a playground to the type of grass in a yard, can make it difficult for lawns to thrive. Aerating is a way to counter some of the things that prevent lawns from looking lush.

Why should I aerate?

Aeration is practiced so lawns can grow deeper roots, as poking holes in the surface breaks up compacted soil, thereby allowing air, nutrients and water to reach the root system.

Over time, a lawn that is not aerated is likely to feature compacted soil that won’t absorb water and nutrients, which are essential to maintaining a healthy lawn.

Lawns that are not aerated also tend to build up thatch. Thatch is a matted layer of materials that can build up in a lawn over time. Grass clippings and other debris might not stick to your shoe when you walk through the yard, but they are combining to create thatch just below the surface of the grass. That thatch also makes it difficult for water and nutrients to reach the soil where they can promote strong, healthy root systems. Aeration helps to combat the buildup of thatch and promote a healthy lawn.

Can I do it myself?

Homeowners with little experience caring for their lawns may want to consult professionals before tackling the project themselves. Many professional landscaping services have experience in aerating lawns, which can be labor-intensive. Aerating is not necessarily a difficult task, but some aerators do not cover much soil surface with each pass they make, so it can take a while to complete a full aeration of your lawn. In addition, some homeowners may be uncomfortable operating an aerator, and that can lead to mistakes that can harm a lawn. Homeowners pressed for time or those concerned about their ability to operate an aerator may benefit from hiring professionals and then watching how the pros do it. If you watch carefully, you might be more confident come the next time your lawn needs to be aerated.

How often should I aerate?

Lawns that are not subject to heavy use can go longer between aerations than those with more frequent use. If kids play in the yard every day or if you routinely host parties where guests spend lots of time in the yard, your lawn will benefit from more frequent aeration. Speak to a landscaping professional about how often your property needs to be aerated, as there may be certain region-specific variables that will influence how frequently a lawn should be aerated.

When should I aerate?

Landscaping professionals recommend aerating lawns during the growing season, when holes created by aeration can be filled by growing grass. Homeowners should consult with a landscaping professional about when to aerate their lawns, as the type of grass may also determine the best time to aerate.

Aeration is a great way for homeowners to ensure their lawns stay lush and healthy for years to come.


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Deer-Proofing a Garden

Creating a beautiful and bountiful garden is a popular pastime for people all across the country. It is important to keep in mind that aesthetically appealing plants may be appetizing to area wildlife, including deer. Those who do not want their gardens to turn into all-you-can-eat buffets for deer, rabbits and other wild animals can take a more proactive approach to gardening.

Deer are opportunists who will no doubt see your garden as a salad bar ripe with all of their favorite foods. As housing developments continue to encroach on the natural habitats of deer and other animals, these animals are becoming more visible. Deer may not be able to forage for food effectively in their smaller, natural surroundings, or they may become accustomed to the “easy pickings” they find in neighborhood yards. Either way, you may encounter a deer in or around your area.

Keeping deer at bay involves some work and maintenance on the part of a homeowner. There are safe and humane methods to repelling deer, or at least blocking access to the plants worth protecting. Here are the main ways to deer-proof a garden.

Fence It

Fences are one way to deter deer from entering a yard and dining on your garden. Keep in mind that deer can jump fences that are quite tall, but they have to be especially motivated to jump an eight-foot-tall fence. Still, they tend to be weary about scaling a fence when they cannot see what is on the other side. Therefore, if you are fencing out deer, choose a fence that camouflages the garden well and completely encloses the area to be protected. If you do not want the fence to be solid, consider putting stakes or thorny plants within the garden so that the deer will hesitate to jump into the garden.

Scare Them

Deer are naturally skittish around people, but over time they can become quite complacent around human beings. Once a deer decides that something will not present a threat, the deer can adapt to its presence.

Motion-activated devices may not work, nor the presence of pets. Predator urine is typically an effective way at keeping deer at bay. Bottled coyote urine can be quite effective, although human urine may work as well. Reapplying the product weekly around the plants is a good idea.

Repel the Deer

There are many organic or chemically-based products on the market that deer may find offensive to the taste or smell.

Hot pepper, sulfur and eggs or even the use of soapy water have been successful in certain instances. The use of blood meal or even human hair around the garden may repel the deer and keep them on a different foraging path. However, remember that any deer that is very hungry may ignore unpleasant tastes or smells for a quick bite.

Change Plants

If other food sources are available, there are some species of plants and trees that deer will avoid. Filling your garden with these plants can help you maintain a beautiful, albeit untasty, environment for deer.

When planting annuals, select among:

* Alyssum

* Begonias

* Calendula

* Celosia

* Dianthus

* Foxglove

* Geraniums

* Parsley

* Poppy

* Snapdragons

In terms of perennials, plant these items once, and deer could stay away:

* Ageratum

* Anemone

* Astibe

* Bearded iris

* Catmint

* Honeysuckle

* Lantana

* Monkshood

* Rock rose

* Rosemary

* Soapwort

* Wisteria

Plant these herbs alongside flowers for even more protection:

* Chives

* Eucalyptus

* Garlic

* Mint

* Thyme

* Wintergreen

Gardeners who use a combination of methods to keep deer out of their yards and gardens may have a higher success rate at deterring these animals.

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Get Kids Excited About Gardening

Many adults understand the joy of gardening, but gardening can be equally fun for kids as well! While some adults may feel that certain children do not have the patience or perseverance to see plants grow from seeds to adulthood, selecting plants that are hardy and sprout quickly may be the key to igniting a love of gardening in children.

Choosing seeds that sprout quickly can hold the attention of children who are new to gardening. Many different plants fit this bill. Beans, peas, sunflower seeds, and bell pepper seeds are easy to start and germinate quickly. In addition, many leafy vegetables, such as chard, lettuce, spinach, and mustard, germinate in three to five days. Herbs, such as basil and parsley, also sprout fast. All of these plants are good options for introducing children to gardening, as each provides quick gratification.

It is also a good idea to plant seeds in a way that allows youngsters to monitor the progress of growth. Use a transparent container, such as rinsed-out glass jars and canisters, to house the plant. Such containers give kids an unobstructed view of the process, during which children can plot the progress of seed germination and easily spot root and stem development. Once the seedlings grow larger, they can be transplanted into different containers.

Many seedlings can sprout with water alone. Children can easily grow new plants from clippings of a mature plant left resting in a shallow cup of water, and seeds may not even need soil to germinate. Kids may have luck sprinkling seeds on a dampened, crumpled-up piece of paper towel. Cotton balls also make a good place to nestle seeds. Either material will hold on to water, keeping the seeds moist until they sprout. Afterward, the seedlings can be carefully moved into a soil-and-compost mix. The paper towel and the cotton balls will decompose and add to the organic matter already in the soil.

Edible plants often make good choices for children because kids can reap the rewards of their efforts. Herbs can be sprinkled onto food, or fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers and then served at mealtime. Kids can show pride in their accomplishments, especially if they have tangible results on the dinner plate.

Children who want to try something different can explore other types of plants. Aquatic plants, or those found at the pet store to grow in aquariums, can be easy to grow. They need little more than a container, fresh water and sunlight. Cacti and other succulents are also fun to explore. These plants are quite hardy in that they can stand up to moderate abuse, such as failure to water frequently enough. The unique appearance of cacti make them interesting focal points for an indoor garden.

A love of gardening that’s fostered inside can also be explored outdoors. Set aside a plot of dirt where kids can sow their own seeds and tend to their own gardens. This hobby can help children learn patience and hard work while fostering an appreciation of nature!           GT144069

Improve your Home & Diet with a Vegetable Garden

Planting a garden can add aesthetic appeal and functionality to a property. Vegetable gardens can transform landscapes while putting healthy and homegrown food on the table. By growing their own fruits and vegetables, homeowners have total control over what foods can be harvested, and they can ensure sustainable, safe practices are used to care for the plants.

Vegetable gardens can be compact or expansive, depending on how much space is available to cultivate. However, first-timegardeners may want to begin small so they can hone their skills and experiment to see which plants are most likely to thrive in their gardens. Expansion is always a possibility down the road.

Choose a location

Spend some time examining your landscape. Vegetables generally need ample warmth and sunlight to thrive, so find an area of the yard that gets several hours of direct sunlight per day.

A sunny spot is good, but you also want a location with adequate drainage so your garden does not succumb to flooding or fungus during and after heavy downpours. Don’t place the garden too close to rain gutters or near a pool, where splash-out may occur. Select a location that is isolated from pets so the plants are not trampled and cats and dogs do not relieve themselves nearby.

Decide what to plantveggarden2

When deciding what to plant, consider what you eat and how much produce the household consumes, then choose vegetables that fit with your diet. Some vegetables, like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and squash, produce throughout the season. Others, such as carrots and corn, produce one crop and then expire. Plan accordingly when you purchase plants or seeds, as you want enough food but not so much that it will go to waste.

Choose three to four different vegetables and plant them in thegarden. Select varieties that require similar soil conditions, so that you can adjust the pH and mix of the soil accordingly. This will serve as good practice, particularly the first year of your garden. After you have mastered the basics, you can branch out into other produce.

Know when to plant

Many of the foods grown in vegetable gardens, including tomatoes and peppers, are summer vegetables, which means they reach peak ripeness after the height of the summer season. Pumpkins, brussel sprouts and peas are planted to be harvested later on. These plants may be put in the ground a little later than others.

It is less expensive to start seedlings indoors and then transplant them to a garden when the time comes. Seeds can be started three to four weeks before they would be put outdoors. Many vegetables are planted outside in April or May, but definitely after frost conditions have waned. Read seed packets to know exactly when to plant or consult with the nursery where you purchased established seedlings. You also can visit The Garden Helper at www.thegardenhelper.com/vegtips to find out when to plant, seed depth and how long it takes plants to reach maturity.

Vegetable gardens can become central components of outdoor home landscapes. Not only do gardens add aesthetic appeal, but also they produce fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy throughout the season.


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Start Your Garden Off Right

As winter slowly winds down, many gardeners cannot wait to soak up the springtime sun and get their hands dirty in the garden. Such excitement is not just good for gardeners, but can benefit the garden in the months to come as well.

Late winter or early spring is a great time to get a head start on the gardening season. Even if gardening season is still around the corner, completing the following projects can ensure your gardengets off on the right foot.

Clear debris

One of the best things you can do for your garden as winter winds down is to clear it of debris. Winter can be especially harsh on a landscape, and gardens left to the elements are often filled with debris once spring arrives. Dead leaves, fallen branches, rocks that surfaced during the winter frost, and even garbage that might have blown about in winter winds can all pile up in a garden over a typical winter. Clearing such debris likely won’t take long, but it’s a great first step toward restoring the garden before the time comes to plant and grow the garden once again.

garden2Examine the soil

Soil plays a significant role in whether a garden thrives or struggles. Examining the soil before the season starts can helpgardeners address any issues before they plant. Ignoring the soil until a problem arises can turn the upcoming gardening season into a lost opportunity, so test the soil to determine if it has any nutrient or mineral deficiencies. This may require the help of a professional, but if a problem arises, you might be able to adjust the acidity or alkalinity of the soil and still enjoy a successfulgardening season.

Another way to examine the soil is less complex but can shed light on when would be a good time to get back to work. Reach into the soil and dig out a handful. If the soil quickly crumbles, you can start preparing for gardening seasoning. But if the soil is still clumped together, it needs more time to dry out before you can begin your prep work.

Initiate edging

Edging is another task gardeners can begin as they get ready for the season. Edge plant and flower beds, but be sure to use a spade with a flat blade or an edger designed to edge flower beds. Such tools will cut deep enough so grass roots that may eventually grow into the flower bed are severed. Depending on how large a gardenis, edging can be a time-consuming task, so getting a head start allows homeowners to spend more time planting and tending to their gardens once the season hits full swing.

Fight weeds

Though weeds likely have not survived the winter, that does not mean they won’t return once the weather starts to heat up. But as inevitable as weeds may seem, homeowners can take steps to prevent them from turning beautiful gardens into battlegrounds where plants, flowers and vegetables are pitted against unsightly and potentially harmful weeds. Spring is a good time to apply a pre-emergent weed preventer, which can stop weeds before they grow. Though such solutions are not always foolproof, they can drastically reduce the likelihood of weed growth.


Though gardeners might not be able to start planting theirgardens in late winter or early spring, they can still get outside and take steps to ensure their gardens thrive once planting season begins.


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Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

Maintaining a lush lawn is a healthy and rewarding hobby that affords homeowners to spend some time outdoors in nature. Lawn enthusiasts can make their hobby even healthier by adopting several eco-friendly lawn care strategies that not only make for a healthier lawn, but a healthier planet as well. Responsible landscaping has grown increasingly popular in recent years, as more and more homeowners are adopting eco-friendly lawn care practices in the same way they have embraced environmentally conscious behaviors in other areas of their lives. The following are a handful of ways lawn care enthusiasts can incorporate eco-friendly practices into their landscaping routines.


· Maintain an appropriate grass height. When temperatures start to peak in summer, homeowners may be tempted to cut their grass as close as possible so they can reduce the number of afternoons they spend riding or pushing a mower in the hot sun. But cutting too low makes the grass increasingly susceptible to infestations and disease, and such problems may need to be remedied with potentially harmful pesticides if no other approach proves effective. Even if it means an extra afternoon or two mowing under the hot sun, maintaining an appropriate grass height can lead to a healthier lawn, as longer grass soaks up more sunlight, allowing it to grow a deep root system that will help a lawn survive drought and other potential problems.

lawncare· Cut back on harmful pesticides. Many homeowners now prefer to avoid pesticides at all costs, but sometimes pesticides are a last resort when lawns are falling victim to harmful insects and organisms. Homeowners who want to embrace more eco-friendly lawn care practices can cut back on their use of pesticides, first trying more environmentally friendly options. For example, biopesticides are made from naturally occurring materials, including animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, biopesticides are often inherently less toxic than more conventional pesticides. In addition, biopesticides typically affect only the pest causing the problem, whereas broad spectrum pesticides may affect surrounding organisms, such as birds and mammals, in addition to the targeted pest. The EPA (www.epa.gov) advises homeowners hoping to use biopesticides first learn about managing pests so they can effectively remedy problemson their properties.

· Harvest rainwater. Lawns need water, especially when temperatures rise in the summer. But watering lawns can have an adverse effect on your community’s water supply, draining that supply and hurting the community in the long run. Homeowners who can harvest rainwater can drastically reduce their impact on their community water supply, thereby helping the planet and their community, especially if they reside in locales where water resources are traditionally scarce. When rainwater is harvested, it is collected from downspouts before it washes into nearby sewage systems. Many lawn and garden retailers sell rainwater harvesting systems, which homeowners can install themselves or pay a landscaping professional to install for them.

· Lay mulch down around trees, shrubs and flower beds. Trees, shrubs and flower beds need water, especially in the summer when rising temperatures pose a threat to plants. Homeowners can cut back on the water they use to protect those plants by laying organic mulch in the spring. Organic mulch conserves moisture in soil, promoting stronger roots in plants and helping homeowners cut back on the amount of watering they need to maintain a garden that’s both healthy and pleasing to the eye. Organic mulch, which might be made of bark, is also heavy, making it hard for ugly weeds that rob plants of water to thrive.


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Why Shamrocks are “Lucky”

Various symbols and imagery breathe life into St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. In addition to Kelly green clothing, leprechauns and Irish flags, shamrocks are commonly seen decorating homes and people.

The word “shamrock” comes from the Irish seamrog, which is the diminutive form for the Irish word for clover, and translates roughly to “young clover.” Clover is a grass-like plant, and bees frequently use clover flowers as a prime source of pollen for honey production.

Three- and four-leaf clovers are a stable of Irish imagery and are commonly referenced upon the arrival of St. Patrick’s Day. Prior to Christianity and the work of St. Patrick, the Druids believed that they could thwart evil spirits and danger by carrying a shamrock. A three-leaf shamrock would enable them to see the evil spirits and escape in time. A four-leaf clover was said to ward off bad luck and offer magical protection. The Druids helped establish the clover as a Celtic charm, and other folklore indicates clovers helped people see fairies and chase the little sprites.

cloverAround 400 AD, in many areas of the world, including Ireland, pagan beliefs were being pushed out in favor of Christianity. The Irish were slowly converted to a new method of thinking, and this included a new way of looking at some once-popular Pagan symbolism. According to Christian teachings, Eve is said to have carried a four-leaf clover out of the Garden of Eden when Adam and she were cast out by God. Some believe that those who grasp four-leaf clovers hold a bit of paradise in their hands. Some Christians also thought clovers were a symbol of the Holy Trinity, and some stories suggest that St. Patrick used a shamrock to teach principles of the Trinity to the masses. A three-leaf clover represents the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Should a four-leaf clover be found, it is considered the Trinity plus God’s grace. The four-leaf clover looks like a cross, giving four leaf clovers special meaning to some people.

Of course, the rarity of four-leaf clovers makes some people who find them feel as if luck is on their side. Among naturally occurring clovers, the odds of finding a four-leaf clover instead of the more common three-leaf clover is 10,000 to 1. It may take some effort and quite a bit of luck to locate one with four leaves, and a five-leaf clover is considered by many to be unlucky.

Since the 18th century, the shamrock has been a symbol of Ireland. It was used as an emblem by rival militias and later was incorporated into the Royal Coat of Arms in the United Kingdom, alongside the rose of England and thistle of Scotland.   [TF143998]

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Top 5 Home Improvements for Fall

It’s not just springtime when we think about clearing out clutter and getting the house and yard back in order. Fall is often a great time for an overhaul or at-home refresh. With winter on the way, it’s important to be prepped for the elements, both indoors and out.Top 5 Fall Home Improvements

    Roof & Gutter

– Clear debris from your roof & gutter now before the leaves really start to fall! Leaves can clog gutters, leading to later issues and downed branches and debris on rooftops can also be hazardous during the upcoming winter months.

    Windows & Doors

– Check doors and windows for drafts. Cool breezes coming through unwanted cracks between doors and windows can lead to higher heating costs and more $ out of your pocket.

    Outdoor Furniture

– Clean patio furniture and store for the winter. Put away furniture now before it gets frost or rain damage from stormy Fall and Winter weather.

    Prep Lawn & Garden for Winter

– Rake leaves, pull weeds and add a rich bedding of compost and mulch to summer gardens. This allows nutrients to restore naturally and get ready for next year’s growing season.

    Prep Fireplace / Wood Stove

– Tackle it yourself or call a professional but maintaining your winter heat source is a must! Clean old soot and debris to prep for wintertime use.

Not only can you gain peace of mind, knowing you’re prepped for winter, you can also make some extra $ listing your extra gear in the local classifieds!

Fall Canning – Farm Fresh Flavor

If you’re planning on preserving your produce this fall harvest, it’s important to plan ahead and have all of the tools you’ll need. Being prepared can help save time, ease stress and make clean up a breeze! Preserving local fruits and veggies is a fun way to support your local community and savor the farm-fresh flavors all year long.

Must-haves for fall canning:
• Large soup pot or pressure canner
• Tongs
• Jars and lids
• Funnel, for easy fill-up of jars (mess-free!)

-> Visit a local store like Mountain View Farm & Garden to get your fall canning supplies!

Don’t forget, you’ll also need:
• Sugar
• Pectin
• Lemon Juice
• Butter (Add 1 TB and melt before canning jam or jelly to reduce foam!)

-> Stock up on apples & fall produce at Shatzer’s Fruit Market!

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Recipe Ideas for Fall Canning

Plan ahead to stock your shelves or whip up some tasty holiday treats!

• Apple Butter
• Peach Pie Filling
• Sliced Pears
• Classic Tomato Marinara Sauce
• Garden Salsa

What’s your favorite thing to can? Leave your recipe idea in the Comments!

Simple Basil Pesto Recipe

Simple basil pesto can be a bright, flavorful twist on a classic spaghetti & red sauce. Pesto can be made ahead and frozen or canned for homemade taste anytime. Pesto can be tossed with pasta, or serve as a spread with bread!

Our featured basil pesto recipes range from sweet to spicy & even feature a nut-free pesto! Click on the links below to find the full recipe – image

*Classic Basil Pesto
*Garlic & Basil Pesto
*Walnut & Parsley Pesto
*Spinach & Basil Pesto: Nut-Free Pesto

Do you have a favorite pesto recipe? Share your recipe or post the link in the Comment section below!