Yard Work Done Now Will Let You Enjoy Your Backyard All Summer A
s we dream of summer, many of us think about the place where we spend those endless summer days and balmy summer evenings
- the backyard. But if your backyard is going to live up to the perfection you envision in your daydreams, you may need to spend a spring weekend or two shaping up your outdoor spaces for this year’s activi- ties.
Whether it’s heading out for a game of catch with
your kids or inviting the neighbors over for a bar- becue, the backyard provides a welcome extended living space in the warmer months. Since you’ll be spending so much time there, it’s worth the effort to get your yard looking and feeling good, as it will make your time there that much more relaxing. If you’re not sure where to get started, here’s a
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Pelham - Windham News
May 6, 2011 Page 14
checklist of projects to consider before the backyard enjoyment season heats up: * Take a ground-up approach. Perhaps nothing makes a backyard feel homier than a lush lawn. While ongoing maintenance will help keep your yard looking great throughout the summer, spring preparation is just as important. Check your yard for bare spots and overseed them, as necessary. Give your yard a good raking or use a dethatcher to get rid of any dead grass or leaves that can hamper growth. If you don’t have an overseeder or dethatcher, don’t worry. Your local rental stores will have tools and equipment you need. Visit RentalHQ.com
if you need help finding a rental store in your area. * Just before the spring growing season is the ideal time to prune trees and shrubs, because the trees can quickly heal and regenerate once they start growing. By pruning at this time, you’ll also make sure your plants are looking nice and shapely once they start sprouting leaves. Spring is also a great time to rent
a stump grinder and remove tree stumps once the ground thaws. As a bonus, you can use the wood- chips as bedding for plants. * Give your deck or patio a good sweep and power
wash away any debris it collected over the winter. If it’s in need of repairs or staining, take care of it in the spring so it’s ready to go for summer. * If your fence is in need of repair or replacing, spring is a great time to do the job. If your fence is still in good shape, think about adding flower boxes or other vegetation to make your yard more inviting. * If you’ve been thinking about installing an ir- rigation system, why wait until the dry summer days when your lawn will need water the most? Install- ing irrigation in the spring will allow your lawn and garden to thrive all summer long. You can make quick work of this project by renting a walk-behind trencher or vibratory plow. * Since your kids will be heading outside soon, make sure swing sets, tree houses and other play equipment are in good working condition. Winter can take a toll on these items, so testing them in the spring is important for protecting your child’s safety. Check for things like rotting wood or rusting metal. Since many of these jobs require equipment that
you might not ordinarily keep in your garage, renting is the smart way to get these projects done. To make finding the rental store nearest you even easier, the American Rental Association (ARA) offers RentalHQ. com, the world’s largest and most comprehensive rental store locator.
By taking care of all of your backyard improvement projects early in the season, you can get the most out of your yard while the weather is pleasant.
- ARA Content Gardening: America’s New Favorite Pastime M
ore than 41 million Americans planted vegetable gardens in 2009—a number expected to increase as food costs climb, accord- ing to a recent Gardening Trends Research Report. When you factor
in flowers, herbs and fruits, it’s difficult to find a home where people are not working the soil on a warm sunny day. Aside from the obvious benefits of fresh flowers and produce, gardening
provides low-impact, calorie-burning exercise. One hour of gardening burns about 375 calories. While love of gardening has not changed, methods con- tinue to evolve—and one of the top trends is raised-bed gardening. Tending a raised bed requires less bending and stooping, and is ideal
for yards with poor soil. Rather than working to improve heavy clay soil or adding body to sandy soil, you’re starting with a clean slate. Raised beds are particularly useful for community gardens and urban gardens in areas with compacted or root-bound soil. “Ninety percent of success is the prep work done ahead of planting,’’
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says Mark Dwyer, director of horticulture at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wis.” This includes finding a location that gets six to eight hours of direct sun each day. Once the site is chosen, determine the size of your garden. A first-timer should start small—don’t overwhelm yourself with a massive plot. Start with one or two raised garden beds measuring 4 feet by 8 feet. Select a location that offers room to grow, should you choose to expand your garden in subsequent years. No matter what size raised
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bed you choose, the frame needs to be structurally sound and attractive. Helping to fill this niche is the durable, decorative M Brace raised garden bed bracket from Outdoor Essentials. The patented, corner bracket, sold in sets of four, lets you create an attractive, sturdy raised garden bed in just minutes using com- mon 2-by-6 and 2-by-4 lumber and no tools. The M Brace’s sturdy, recycled metal frame keeps boards seated securely at the corners. It’s available in eight cut-out designs, and two finishes—steel that will rust gracefully over time, or powder- coated in an antique bronze finish. Once the frame is in place, fill the raised box with qual- ity soil. Garden centers offer bulk and bagged soil mixes. Or create your own blend, using equal parts peat moss, coarse-grade vermiculite and blended compost. Create pathways to your garden or build an adjacent sitting area with Tiffany-style stepping-stones from Outdoor Essentials (www.OutdoorEssentialProducts.com
). Serpen- tine jade or handcrafted Tiffany-style jade stepping stones lend visual appeal to your garden and protect soil and plants from being trampled. To keep deer, rabbits and other critters at bay, consider
a decorative enclosure using end caps and lattice. Fence posts 4-by-4 inches or 6-by-6 inches are ideal. Once fence posts are set, enclose the garden with decorative lattice,
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Pictured above: Cap off garden fence or deck posts with an elegant Planter Post Caps from Outdoor Essentials. Available in two styles and colors in 4x4 or 6x6 sizes, Planter Post Caps add dimension and color to any garden project.
At left: Te M Brace, from Outdoor
Essentials, make constructing a raised garden bed simple. No tools need- ed—just add wood and soil and you’re ready to plant your favorite vegetables or flowers.
leaving a narrow opening or a hinged gate for access. Make your enclosed garden an
eye-catching centerpiece by top- ping off the end posts with elegant Planter Post Caps. The decorative caps, available in two styles and
colors, add dimension and color to the garden. Caps are available in square or round designs, with a black or copper finish. Plant colorful flowers or trailing vines in the post cap planters to create horizontal interest. The key to a bountiful harvest—be it fruits, vegetables or flowers—is suc- cessful pollination. Brightly colored flowers attract bees and hummingbirds, as will fresh water. Add a luminous green birdbath in serpentine jade to at- tract birds all summer and to provide an architectural focal point inside your garden. “Think outside the box,” says Dwyer. Add a few herbs—or anything you
want—to make the garden uniquely yours. And don’t discount edible land- scape ornamentals: “Many fresh herbs and vegetables can contribute their own charm to an informal border or container,’’ he adds. Whether for a relaxing hobby or for the desire to grow nutritious fruits
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and vegetables for you and your neighbors, now is the perfect time to start a garden of your own.
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- ARA Content
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