How To Water Properly
Watering your lawn after it has been newly seeded:
Water heavily right after seeding to help move the seeds down into contact with the soil. Then keep the soil moist by watering every day for two weeks. After that water about one inch a week.
Normal watering practice:
Water your lawn only once about 1-1.5 inches a week. One inch of water should re-wet the soil about 6 inches deep (only 620 gallons of water is required for each 1000 sq. ft.). Watering more then once promotes shallow root growth. Make your grasses send down long roots looking for water. They will be healthier and able to survive dryer times. To calculate 1 inch of water place empty tuna cans around your lawn and water as you normally would each section timing how long it takes to fill the cans to an inch. Some areas may take longer to reach an inch. You can use an average time or record each sections time.
When watering with sprinklers buy the lowest spraying sprinklers. Spraying into the air just wastes water through evaporation and drift. Also invest in some simple timers so that your water shuts off automatically.
For best results water all areas for ten minutes prior to water at the timed intervals for each section. By watering slightly first you allow the ground to soak up water and then when you hit it again the water in the soil draws the water deeper into the ground. Water will run right off a dry sponge but a damp sponge drinks water greedily.
Watering consistently is one of the most important maintenance practices in taking care of your lawn. 80% of a grass plant is comprised of water. Without adequate water, grass soon turns brown and becomes dormant. An early clue to dryness is when grassy areas show a dark bluish-green cast. Begin applying water when the soil starts to dry out and before the grass wilts and has a chance to become brown.
A word of caution about watering. A single watering during a drought period is likely to do more harm than good. If the grass cannot be kept actively growing with sufficient water, it is best to let the grass go dormant. Inconsistent or "light" watering during extended dry periods will slow the rate of recovery when adequate rainfall does occur. Some things you can do when water is short or expensive are:
1. Water only that part of the lawn where improvement is most important.
2. Water only in the early morning.
3. Aerify the lawn to increase water penetration.
4. Mow regularly until growth slows, but at a higher, rather than lower, cutting height.
5. Make each watering consistent and one that wets the soil to a depth of six inches.
How To Make Compost
Vegetable food scraps, fruit trimmings, coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells. Pet or human hair, floor sweepings, sawdust, houseplant trimmings. Shredded newspaper helps balance soggy ingredients. Grass clippings, seedless weeds, leaves, and spent garden plants. Twigs and shrub prunings help keep compost loose but take longer to decompose. Manure from horses, cows, sheep, rabbits, and gerbils. Used bedding from hamsters, gerbils, and rabbits.
Pile materials on top of each other until pile reaches three feet high. There is no need to layer materials or turn it. Periodically poke holes into the pile and water the pile every time you water your lawn. In one year the bottom of the pile will be ready for use. Scoop out what is needed and add to the top.
When To Plant
Spring is when you want to plant in your garden. But don't rush out on a sunny breezy day to plant your garden. New transplants will loose too much water through their leaves and their young roots will not be able to remove enough water to support them. Instead wait for a gray drizzly day to plant. If you do plant on a sunny breezy day you should only plant well watered plants and keep them watered.
How to Plant
Instead of digging the deepest hole you can, encourage roots to spread outward. Dig a saucer shaped hole two to three times the size of the root ball. Make the hole just deep enough to set the plant at the same depth as the nursery.
How To Mulch
Mulch should be applied no thicker then 4 inches with 3 inches being the optimum depth. Mulch should never be applied up against the trunks of trees or shrubs. Mulch against a trunk can hold moisture against the trunk causing damage, provide insects with a cozy living and eating environment, and breed disease. Mulch that is too thick can hold too much moisture and block oxygen from the soil. A finer mulch is preferred as it breaks down quicker providing nutrients to the soil.
Fall mulching should consist of removal of all old mulch and weeds in bed. Turning of the soil should be followed by a layer of newspaper covered by 1 to 2 inches of fine mulch. Fall mulch should decompose through out the winter and be ready to be turned into the soil with the newspaper in the Spring.
During the Spring check beds pulling weeds by hand and turning the existing mulch from fall. If the mulch appears diseased remove it. If you are to trim and prune hedges do so before adding new mulch. Clean up the edge with and edger and shovels. If this is a new bed with little or no plants you can add landscaping fabric as a barrier against weeds. This landscape fabric should be removed in the Fall. Mulch is applied about 3 inches thick and leaving bare 4 to 6 inches around trees and shrubs.
The proper time to prune your tree or shrub is when it is not actively growing and only once a year if you are removing large quantities of limbs. The best time is usually in the Fall. First remove all dead and diseased branches cutting down to the trunk or main branch. Diseased limbs need to be cut 10-12 inches from the infected area. Next remove rubbing and crossing branches down to the trunk or main branch. Remember to work from the bottom up and the trunk out.
If you need to open up the tree to allow sun to reach the lawn: First raise the ceiling by removing drooping branches, or that hang down, leaving a minimum height of 7 feet from the ground. Next look for any branches that have a narrow crotch angle and target those for removal next. Narrow crotch angles are not very strong and will be one of the first to break in a storm.
Topping trees is not recommended. To Shorten a tree remove the upper part of the trunk - take it down to a main branch trying to leave a 45 degree angled cut on the trunk. Try not to cut into the collar of the branch when removing any Limb so that the tree can close over the exposed area and protect itself from rot, insects, and disease.
Do Winter Weeding
There are weeds in your bed during the Winter getting ready to dump seeds in the Spring. They germinated in the Fall and are slowly growing staying healthy and happy in the colder climate. Get them out and save yourself more work in the spring.
Leave Bulb Leaves Alone
After your bulbs have stopped flowering people wonder what to do with the leaves. Leave them alone. Don't cut them back, tie them up, or pull them out. They will naturally decompose and provide nutrients for the next years crop. If you want you can cover them with light mulch after they have fallen down.
Bulbs Which End Is Up?
When you're planting bulbs, make sure to plant them with the pointed end up. If your bulb does not have a point then plant them on their side.