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Monthly Archives: May 2018

Create Backyard Oasis

Garden ponds come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The size of your garden pond will very much depend on your personal taste. While they do differ in shape and size, most garden ponds have similar components such as aquatic plants and fish. There are countless ways to approach your garden pond maintenance. In our experience, the best way to ensure the success of your garden pond is to strike a delicate balance between nature and technology.

While many people have elaborate pumping systems and waterfalls, they are not entirely necessary. For instance, certain types of fish can minimize any issues you may have regarding algae. Goldfish are extremely popular in outdoor garden ponds. There are over 100 varieties of goldfish to choose from, many of which have delightful colors and markings. Japanese Koi are also commonly used in garden ponds, but keep in mind that they need a lot of room.

The golden rule for introducing fish into your pond is to ensure that you have established all of the plant life first. Also be sure that the water is clear and balanced before you introduce the fish. There are many types of aquatic plant life that you can use in your garden pond, and they are divided into distinct categories. Oxygenators are essential, as they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as they grow. Water lilies can add some wonderfully beautiful colors to your pond. The other types include floaters, marginals, and marsh plants.

Nature itself can pose certain problems for outdoor garden ponds. For example, a neighborhood cat could easily make a meal of your prized Koi. More often than not, animals will use the pond as a source for drinking water only. Frogs and toads can also make a home in your pond. This is generally not a problem, unless they begin breeding. This can create a population explosion that your pond is not able to sustain. If this does happen, you should receive some professional advice. Alternately, you can visit our website for more information.

About Growing Grass Under Trees

Shade tolerant grasses:

If you are determined to grow grass under and around trees you need to use a shade tolerant grass. In our area Fine Fescue is your best bet. However once again you are fighting the shade issue. Fine Fescue requires at least a 50% exposure to sunlight to thrive. This sunlight does not need to be direct as shifting intermittent from the sun as it travels through its day is fine.

Grass under spruce and pine:

As many homeowners have noticed grass growing under these conifers do even worse than under most deciduous trees. Along with the shade, lack of moisture, less nutrients and less air movement, these trees have an extra trick up their sleeves. When these trees drop their needles (needle cast) the needles cause the soil around the tree to increase in acidity. Once again it is just another form of defense trees will use to compete with other plant life.

Growing grass in the shade:

The number one thing you must do to grow grass in the shade is to use a shade tolerant grass such as Fine Fescue. Removing lower branches and a light pruning of the inner growth allows more sunlight to penetrate the lawn below. If you are mowing under the trees, raise the mower blade 1 level to leave more leaf blade to increase the grass plant’s chance at photosynthesis. These areas also require more watering during dry spells to compensate for the amount the trees will be using at this time. Light fertilization is recommended in these areas as generally the grass is under stress for most of the year.

Improve Garden Soil Naturally

Soil life eats organic matter, decomposing it and creating a crucial soil element called humus. Humus is decayed organic material. The process of decomposition releases nutrients in forms that plants can absorb. In other words, decomposition of organic material has a fertilizing effect.

But fertility is only part of the value of regularly feeding the soil with organic material. Humus also contributes to the sponge-like soil texture that allows air circulation and moisture retention. Loam — the ideal soil for growing plants – is a balanced mixture of sand, clay, silt, and organic matter. Humus will bind sandy soil or loosen hard-packed clay.

For these beneficial results (for fertility and texture), the life in soil needs fresh food. Regular doses of organic material will ensure that garden dirt is enhanced rather than depleted over the lifetime of the garden. Every year, a 30 by 40 foot garden needs around 400 pounds (equivalent to 10 bales of hay) of organic material, but it doesn’t need to be added all at once.

Additions of organic material take a variety of forms. For starters, chop garden residues into the soil: weeds, mulch, and plants left after harvest. Hauling in compost by the yard from nurseries or hauling animal manures from nearby farms is also an option. But the easiest and most cost effective method of continuous additions of organic material is to grow cover crops, also known as green manures.

Cover crops are grown and tilled into the soil, replenishing rather than removing nutrients. Even in a small garden, this is an effective method when a harvest crop and a green manure are grown in rotation. For instance, plant a late summer green manure after an early crop such as peas or broccoli.

Some suggestions for cover crops include legumes, buckwheat, and ryegrass.

Legumes such as peas and soybeans fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil when inoculated seeds that attract certain micro-organisms are used. In addition, these legumes are vegetables, making a single planting both a harvest crop and a green manure.

For bulk and quick growth, ryegrass or other annual grains are good choices. In colder climates these are especially good cover crops for the end of summer because they die over the winter and are easy to till in the spring. For the poorest soils, buckwheat is most useful.

Green manures can work with or without using powered equipment, but in larger gardens a roto-tiller certainly makes the process easier. In smaller gardens, the question of whether it makes financial sense to invest in renting or buying a roto-tiller has to be weighed against the cost of hauling in compost and animal manures.

Watering Lawn

Most grass plants have their roots at a depth of 4-6 inches. The soil should be moistened to this depth. Soil composition is the biggest factor when figuring out how much water is required to achieve this depth. Although it will vary from lawn to lawn, a good general rule to follow is; loam and clay soils require 1-1 ½ inches of water, while sandy soil requires ½ to ¾ of an inch of water to moisten to the same depth. Soils differ in the time it takes to achieve these levels of moisture. Clay soil is very compacted and water takes a long time to penetrate such a soil. Sandy soils on the other hand are very loosely compacted and require very little time to achieve the desired depth.

The time in which you water is on of the most important aspects of your success with your watering schedule. Mornings are the best time for watering. The grass has a chance to utilize the water before evaporating, and the leaf blade dries out during the day. Evenings are your 2nd best time if you are unable to water in the mornings. One of the drawbacks to watering in the evening is the leaf blade has a good chance of remaining wet throughout the night. Given the right conditions, this can lead to diseases such as Red Thread or Leaf Spot. Watering during the day is the worst time to water. Most of the water put down is lost to evaporation and the droplets can act as a magnifying glass and cause damage to the leaf blade. If this is the only time you can water, it is better than nothing, if your lawn is showing signs of drought stress.

Most lawns require 1-2 inches of water per week during the growing season. This will vary with local weather conditions. Hot, dry, windy weather creates the need for greater moisture in your lawn. An excessive thatch layer acts like a sponge and traps much of the moisture you put down. Aerating your lawn will improve water transfer to your grass’s root system. Trees in your lawn will compete aggressively for any water you put down. These areas require more moisture than other areas of your lawn. Gradually lessen your watering schedule as fall approaches. This tells your lawn to “harden off” and prepare for winter. Watering up till the first heavy frost will freeze your leaf blades causing massive damage to the cell structure of the plant. This will cause many problems come springtime.