Garden As Spring Begins

Poinsettiasmay still be showing some colour, so leave those until October if you prefer. Also cut back shrubs like acalypha, plumbago and hibiscus, before new growth starts with the onset of hot weather. Fertilise and mulch after pruning to set them up for the summer. Be sure to use a low-phosphorus formulation for sensitive natives such as grevilleas and banksias. If you have spring-flowering annuals in, keep up the water and give them a quick boost with a soluble fertiliser to keep them going as long as possible. Remove spent flowers to encourage the formation of new ones.

In the vegetable garden September is a peak planting month in South East Queensland, if you want to capitalise on the relatively mild conditions of Spring and early Summer to produce a wide variety of vegetable crops. Things will be more difficult when the punishing Summer weather really arrives. Solanaceous crops, such as tomatoes, eggplant, capsicums, tamarillo. Cucurbits, like, cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons, rockmelons. The choko is an unusual member of this family, but can be planted at this time, too. Also, try carrots, lettuce, radishes, beetroot, silverbeet, beans, and cucurbits. If you still have space, you can also begin sowings of heat lovers like rosella, okra, snakebeans and sweetcorn.

With the weather warming up, cabbages will be very susceptible to caterpillar attack. If you still want to plant them, be prepared to take precautions. Pests and diseases in general will be proliferating. Keeping on the front foot both with respect to prevention and control measures, as well as attending to the health and vigour of the plants themselves so that they can resist and outgrow attacks, will help protect the investment of time and energy you’ve already made in establishing crops.

It’s tempting to get carried away when confronted with the variety of seeds and seedlings available in the garden centres, much less the many unusual varieties in the catalogues of specialist suppliers. Most vegetables need a constant supply of moisture to do well so do bear in mind your ability to keep the water up to plantings over the coming months.

Pest control is also a major problem during the warm months. Try to minimise population build-ups by being vigilant now newly hatched pests or isolated attacks may be difficult to spot, but if you control infestations early you can help reduce more serious damage later on. For example, protect young tomatoes and other susceptible fruit from fruit fly with appropriate bags or nets and set up fruit fly traps.

Tips for Spring Foraging

Before heading out on your foraging journey there are a few tips and tricks to keep you and the plant world safe:

  • Identify the plant correctly. Always be 100% sure of the plant’s identification before you harvest and consume. Many plants have poisonous look-alikes so it is imperative you can ID with certainty. Pay attention to the old adage “when in doubt, throw it out”. There are a number of great plant ID books on the market that cover most geographical areas. You may also find foraging classes in your area which can be a fun way to learn about local plants.
  • Practice sustainable harvesting for any plants you harvest. Never take more than you need and be sure to leave enough for the plants to survive and prosper. Keep in mind that unless you are eradicating an invasive species, foraging should never negatively impact the survival of the plant population. Take time to learn what plants are invasive in your area and also what plants are endangered and should never be harvested.
  • Forage in areas you know are clean and have not been treated with chemicals. Be wary of foraging along roadsides and under power lines.
  • Harvest underground storage organs; bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, etc. with additional consideration as harvesting can kill the plant. Early spring and late fall are the best times to harvest underground storage organs as the plant’s energy is conserved below ground. In late spring and summer, the plant will redirect energy to above ground growth and production of flowers and seed. A few examples of bountiful roots to forage in spring are chicory, dandelion, and burdock.
  • Seek out leafy greens as they are the stars of spring foraging. This fresh food is available long before our gardens start producing. In most areas, there are quite a few leafy greens to choose from. Dandelion, chickweed, lamb’s quarter, garlic mustard, and violet are all commonly foraged greens. Do some research to find which greens are best eaten raw and which taste best steamed or sautéed.

Get out your rubber boots and garden tools and head outside for a foraging adventure. Foraging is free and can provide a fresh and delicious addition to your next meal. Take full advantage of spring foraging as summer is just around the corner!

Gazebos

With the increase of progress in the modern technology, the life of a typical person is getting more and more busy in his daily arrangement of works and tasks. Majority of them are always in search to seek enough time to relax and calm. According to the latest scientific research, it is clear that our brains are suffering from high stress. What better place you can have to release your tension and stress other than your backyard? It is located conveniently at your location and has the best possible surrounding at your premises. Here, the gazebos can help you massively.

Gazebos add beauty and luxury to your gardens. It will give a unique look to your gardens. It not only covers the extra space of your premises but also provide room for you. You can install gazebos, flowers, ponds, fountains, benches and hedges altogether in your backyard. If you require somewhat privacy in your gazebos, you can fix it with gazebo side panels in your yard. The open sides of the gazebos will hinder your privacy. You can surely take various steps to make it convenient for your leisure time. The intensifying structure of the gazebo will give your lawn a geometric feel. You can use them for meditations, relaxation, gatherings and other fun activities.

Gazebos add value and grace to your lawns

Different homeowners primarily concentrate on large and spacious rooms, useful garages and the necessary facilities in a house like electricity, plumbing etc. Nevertheless, nowadays they are focusing on creating a fancy look to their residential property that will also add immense value to their land. It is not only beneficial for their outlook of beautiful premises but also it will prove advantageous in future if they want to take a selling transaction.

Selecting the wrong type of gazebo can pull down the value of your property. There are many kinds of gazebos. Some of them are written below:

  • Pergola
  • Pagoda
  • Rotundas
  • Belvederes
  • Pavilion
  • The folly Gazebo

If you install belvederes in your small lawn, it will not prove a good idea because it will block the scenery you wanted to gaze at to forget and release the stress. Similarly, a pavilion built in a snowy or freezing area, cannot benefit you at all without gazebo side panels. Until it is sheltered by trees or a wall etc. the wrong choice of gazebo will defeat the purpose of it.

Accessible in various varieties

Gazebos can be constructed and purchased as kits and pop-ups. They are also available in personalised forms. The constructors can build the gazebo fulfilling your requirements. You just have to ask them the kind of gazebo you want to have for your gardens. Same designed gazebo and canopies will be at your doorstep in the fixed time. They are the little bit expensive. However, you have various other cheaper options as well. There are many manufacturers in the market, who can take custom orders from you for the ornamentation, size, colour and seating arrangements of gazebos for your backyards and lawns.

They let you spend time out of your house

Several people in our society profess a business or do a job. They do not have much time to spend at home. Whereas there are, many people found in the community too, who spend their most of the time indoors or they do not belong to a background of those persons who have jobs. Staying indoors is a tough task. It is why they need a change. For that change they get their selves indulge in other activities. Enjoying nature is one of the best exercises for them. They can do it spending their most of the time over there. In such situation, gazebos play its best role being picturesque and children friendly too.

An idyllic symbol for socialising

The gazebos play its significant role as being an attractive and functional symbol of structures for outdoor events and function. It is an excellent option for gatherings and late night parties. Those gazebos with seating arrangements are much more functional. In case you have planned to utilise them, preplan a seating plan and solid side panels as a precautionary measure for weather protection and safety.

Landscape Drainage

These situations become tiresome and many of the owners look to contractors for a solution to fix the problem. In a perfect world where everyone is honest and all the people that have companies are experts in their field this would work out fabulous. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world and their are landscape contractors that either one do not know proper drainage techniques or two try to do the job cheaper because the customer wants a better price or the drainage contractor is trying to make more money. This article is to inform you so you will know the consequence and try to avoid them First and foremost you must have positive grade on your property meaning that if you are putting a drainage system in your backyard then the backyard must be higher than where you want the water to drain (most of the time the street). How much higher the backyard needs to be depends on the length of the drain system because to have proper slope you must have one inch of drop per ten feet of drainage pipe so if you are installing a hundred foot of drain pipe than you need the street to be ten inches lower than where you place the first drain box (Catch Basin). If you do not have the slope needed than this is when you must look in to other options such as, bringing in soil and raising the backyard (only when you have enough foundation showing, you do not want to raise the ground higher than the foundation you need at least one inch showing at all times), draining into a sump pump box and pumping the water out (this option requires electricity and a much larger drain box where the pump will be located), and the final solution that I will mention is installing a series of 30 gallon landscape drainage basins and having the drains throughout the yard drain into them. The last option requires a hole twice the size of each drain basin that you will be installing because to ensure proper landscape drainage you must install pea gravel around the drain basin so the water can seep out.

These solutions are usually only used in worst case scenario situations but I wanted you to know the true options that are available that work. In most cases where there is a landscape drainage problem and let’s say there is only five inches of slope when you need ten inches a good drain expert can install a drain that will work by creating slope from the back yard to the front then leveling out to the street because water that is level still flows but not as fast. They will also be able to incorporate your downspouts from your gutter into the system so that the head pressure (the water pouring down the downspout from the roof) will help push the yard drainage water out. These are options that a good drainage contractor will be able to see, and then he will be able to let you know which drainage option will work best for you.

Now let’s say you have enough slope to do a regular drainage system in your yard. The question than is what does a regular drainage system consist of? A regular drainage system consists of catch basins, fittings and pipe. Let us look at drainage catch basins first there are many type of catch basins that drainage contractors use and all but a few are in accordance with good landscape drainage practices.

One approved type is concrete basin which these are used in residential and commercial applications the residential will usually start out as 10 inches by 10 inches and normally have metal grates. They are well constructed but can be an eyesore in a beautiful landscape. Next you have the plastic drainage basins these are made by a number of different companies and most of them are built to last a lifetime. These Drainage basins come in many different shapes and sizes but we would not suggest you go any smaller than 9 inches by 9 inches for the yard drainage basins and 6 inch round for the garden drainage basins. This type of landscape drainage basins are normally the ones used by the drain experts because they are more versatile and easier to work with. These drainage basins come with different grates (Tops) for different applications flat green grates for the grass and black flat grates for others in stone or flower beds. The grates also come in atrium grates which are grates that are built higher like a dome shape to allow water to flow if the bottom of the grate gets clogged. If you clean around the grates after each storm there will be no need to install atrium drainage grates as they are unsightly in the landscapes because of domed shape but you might want to consider them if using them directly in the flower beds to keep mulch from clogging drains. Some drainage experts but very few prefer to build their own catch basins out of brick and mortar this too is an acceptable practice and sometimes can be used to get slope on the pipe in cases where every inch counts because the slope of the land is very minute because this will allow the pipe to be raised to where they need it and a few inches at this point can mean the difference between a successful drain or unsuccessful drain. Always make sure that the drainage contractor is using actual drain catch basins and not sticking a four inch grate on the end of a fitting.

This brings us to proper fittings to be used in backyard drainage systems. The more fittings used in a drainage system or as many know as French drains (which we will discuss in this article and more in-depth in a future article soon to follow) will slow down the water so an ideal system is using the least amount of fittings as possible. The fittings used in a drainage system include a 90° long and short, 45°,22½°, Y’s, and T’s all these fittings come in different material for the different types of pipe which we will discuss next. Even though they sale short and long 90°’s the long 90° is the only one that should be used and is the only one a drain expert will use. I myself prefer to use two 45° separated so to slow the water flow as least as I possibly can. The suppliers also sell T’s but they are not an approved fitting in a lawn drainage system unless they are being used as a clean out access which is only needed if you have an extremely long run without a drainage basin for access. The Y’s are the only proper fitting to be used by the drain expert to connect another pipe into the main drainage system. All of the other fittings can be used but always try to find the straightest route possible.

The Final material in a system which is also one of the most important is the type of drain pipe. There are several types of drain pipe that are used in drainage systems such as Schedule 40 (The thickest), SDR35 (The next step down), and Sewer pipe (Thin Wall), and corrugated pipe. The only two that are considered correct installation practice by the drain experts are schedule 40 and SDR35 all others are the cheap way out and come with expensive consequences later on. The SDR35 pipe is the norm and followed by all of the drain experts because schedule 40 is considered overkill. If you choose to do a drainage system and not use the approved pipe a few years from now you may have to redo the whole system. The first of the unapproved options sewer pipe is thin and very easy to crack under pressure from roots or future digging. Once the pipe breaks dirt and roots can get into the pipe and cause the system to get clogged and no longer function as it should. Corrugated pipe which is a black flexible pipe can and will hold dirt in the ridges and after the years will get clogged with dirt slowing down or stopping the whole drainage system or another problem that can occur is a root can grow underneath it and since it is flexible will cause the pipe to raise and stop the flow of the drainage system. All of the above scenarios will cause the system to be dug up and redone which can become very costly.

Cleaning Up For Fall

In the late summer and early fall, gardeners all over set about their fall cleanup. It’s not all bad news though, as what you do in the fall will directly impact what you will find come spring and the new planting season.

Fall cleanup involves a bit more than simply cleaning up the fallen leaves, as you have to get rid of the annuals, dig over the dirt in the beds and cut back the perennials so they can grow back big and strong come spring. The experts suggest you use some of the fallen leaves to use as a blanket around newer trees and shrubs to provide some warmth throughout the winter, but if your area is prone to tough winters you may want to do this around all of your trees. You have to pick them up sooner or later anyway, so you may as well put them to good use before you do!

Fall is also a good time to prune back trees (especially after the leaves have fallen). It allows you to prune when the tree is in a resting state so you aren’t doing extra damage to the tree itself and it’s also a lot easier to see what you are doing without the leaves in the way. Just make sure you don’t over prune or you will kill the tree. The general rule of thumb is to not take off anymore than 30% of the branches.

It’s a great time in fall to get the last of the weeds out of the driveway or pathways and of course make sure everything is ready to endure a long cold winter. If you have newer trees you may want to use burlap to cover them or install a snow fence to further protect them from the coming season.

If you do your due diligence in the fall cleanup, come spring clean up time (yes, you’ll have to do it again!) you will notice that your plants are healthy and happy and getting set to grow and bloom again.

Organic Vegetable Garden Mulching

Mulching has the following benefits; suppresses weed growth, slows moisture evaporation, moderate soil temperature, and as a mulch breaks down it will improve the soil’s texture.

For trees and shrubs the type of mulch is less important than for Vegetable Gardeners. Using the wrong mulch around your vegetable plants can cause the plants to grow poorly and be susceptible to diseases.

You want to pick a mulch that has a low Carbon-to-Nitrogen (C:N) ratio. The main reason to use a mulch with a low C:N ratio is to ensure all your available nitrogen does not get tied up trying to decompose the high C materials.

In nature the first place a high C:N molecule looks for N is within the product itself. In the example of a wood chip there is not enough N available for proper microbial growth so the microbes search for sufficient N in the surrounding soil. Imagine the effect of available Nitrogen for your vegetable plants if the entire soil surface is covered with several inches of wood mulch?

Even worse, imagine if your entire soil structure was very high in carbon products such as wood chips? This would virtually tie up all the nitrogen in your soil trying to digest all the wood chips leaving very little for your plants.

The #1 rule we give our customers is to NEVER USE WOOD CHIPS, BARK, PINE NEEDLES, or SAWDUST. On the other hand the best types of compost are those with a low C:N ratio such as straw, dried grass clippings that have not been treated or fertilized with chemicals, or home-made compost.

If your choice of mulch is going to be rotted manure compost make sure you only use manures from animals where you know what they are eating. If an animal has a diet of hay that happens to be high in salts, a common occurrence, than your compost will also be high in salts. A high salt medium will prevent or slow plant growth.

The best manure to compost is from cow, pig, sheep, rabbit, lama, alpaca, and goat. The worst manure to use is from horses as it is very high in weed seeds. Chicken and duck manure is good to use, but unless you have a professional soil testing kit to test the Nitrogen content I would shy away from any fowl manures.

Removing Weed And Other Lawn Care Tips

According to the specialists in lawn care, aside from pests, weeds are the last thing you would want to see or have on your property because mainly because they are a threat to the health and beauty of the grass and other plants in your lawn.

Weeds can wipe out other plants.Weeds, particularly noxious ones, can quickly choke the life out of nearby plants, grass, and trees. They can do this by stealing away the essential nutrients and minerals that the soil holds. Your plants won’t be able to compete with all fast-growing weeds since they will take all available sunlight, water, oxygen, and minerals. Because of this, your plants’ health with start deteriorating due to their reduced access to a supply of oxygen, water, and soil minerals.

Additionally, weeds can block drainage and irrigation systems. Weeds grow at a rapid pace. As such, they can quickly expand and block out areas designated for drainage systems. They can obstruct drains and completely cover grills that are placed to catch runoff rainfall. Weeds can also interfere with your property’s sprinkler and irrigation systems; they can block sprinkler heads and disrupt the flow of irrigation spray.

When left on their own,severe weed growth can cause property flooding since your drainage systems will fail during heavy rainfall or flash flooding in the area. They can hurt the curb appeal and value of a property. Finally, when not dealt with properly and quickly, weeds can rapidly take over an entire property within a short span of time. Permitting weeds to proliferate will hurt the curb appeal of your property.

Repair and Maintain a Hose Reel

Check all the Connections

The first important step in this is to check the entire connections. A hose reel generally has around 5 diverse connectors that are situated on the beginnings to the faucet, leader hose, out-tube, garden hose and in-tube. If your hose reel is leaking, then you should try to tight every single connection before you opt out for the expensive repairs or replacements. At times, a loose connector might also be the main wrongdoer. While fixing the connectors, you must be sure to line up the threads in order to avoid any kind of damage to it.

Change the Defective O-Rings

Changing the defective O-rings is one of the common repair steps that are required generally. Sometimes, a hose reel also becomes leaked as an O-ring gets dry or gets cracked after using for the long duration of time. You can easily buy replacement O-Rings from any hardware shop or through the online shopping websites. But before purchasing an O-ring on your own, you must have a look at the guidebook or website of the manufacturer to confirm that which size of the O-Ring is suggested for your particular hose reel model.

Take out the Panel

Next step is to take out the panel after turning off the supply of the water to the hose reel. After this, detach the hose and the reel. Now, you have to use a screwdriver in order to take out the 4 bolts which are situated on the knob side of the case and place them in a secure place. Then, pull the shield away from the case to uncover the whole panel.

Fix the New O-Ring

Now, take out the middle pull nut of the knob by utilizing a 7/16-size plug jerk as well as a ratchet. Then, pull the knob away from the equipment and inspect the spindle. After this, again take out the black O-Ring through the shaft and install a new O-Ring made up of plastic. Place the knob on top of the shaft once more and make it tighter before arranging the entire panel and locking it up with the 4 bolts.

Oil the Bushings

If the shaft is still not attached, then lubricate the bushings. It can be done by smearing a degreaser to a fabric or paper dish towel and spreading it on the shaft, knob, bushings, and several other parts where the knob device moves the coil of the reel. Then set it away and let it get dry in the air totally before putting on a coat of lubricant over the bushings.

Change the other Defective Connectors

There is one more O-Ring washer in the hose reel connector which might be the reason of the hose reel leakages. In order to change this O-Ring, you have to just take out the washer from the hose reel connector with the help of an even head screwdriver and change it with a novel O-Ring. After this, if still the connection gets leaked, then a replacement connector might have to purchase.

Buy a connector of accurate size

For replacing a dripping connector, you must buy a connector which is of the correct size for your hose reel and then cut the hose just underneath the defective connector. Now, attach a new hose connector with the help of guidance that is provided in the installation manual. In any case, if the In-tube connector had to be replaced then you must buy a repair tools kit which comprises of all of the basic replacement parts.

Fix the Defective Main Hoses

If the main hose of the reel is getting leaked, then buying a hose repair tool kit is advisable as this will benefit in saving your expenditures of acquiring a replacement hose. You have to just cut the length of hose from where it is damaged and utilize the connectors of the kit to re-join the tops of the hose. By using an electrical tape’s piece or a hose repair duct tape can also fill the small cuts or cracks in the hose reel; however these alternatives generally only offer a provisional fix and incline to wear out in very short span of time.

Prevention of the leakage

There is one trick to lengthen the short life of hose rings i.e. to apply some silicone grease on them at the time they get installed. But, you should be cautious while fixing a metal hose end to the plastic one.

Stump Removal

Before you proceed there are two things that you need to do first.

When things are dry, it is much easier to burn so if the stump has not yet dried properly you should wait until it has dried. Before you start the burn, call your local fire department to make sure that you will not be breaking any rules about burning where you live. If it is okay to burn, make sure the stump is nowhere near any flammable materials or close to any building.

Stump burning steps

You will need a chain saw to cut an “X” on the top of the stump. The deeper and wider the X the better for burning the stump. Fill the area that was just made with gasoline or kerosene but do not light it. You need to give it time to soak into the stump, which can take several hours. Once the fuel has soaked in, pour more in the area until it flows over the side and leave it sit overnight.  Set fire to the stump the next morning by lighting some paper and tossing it on top of the trench. To make the burn more effective and go faster you can follow the above paragraph but before you set it on fire get a large metal barrel. How big it actual needs to be will depend on how large of a stump you need to burn. Cut off the bottom, top of the metal barrel, and place the barrel over the entire stump. Toss in some log and put some more fuel on the logs so a good fire will start.  When you are using the barrel for stump removal, put in more logs once the fire is burning good. The barrel helps to keep a high temperature so the stump will burn more efficiently because it is soaked in fuel. Keep putting in more logs and let it continue to burn until the stump removal is finished. If you need to burn it some more the next day, you can cut another X in the stump or drill some holes in, pour more gasoline or kerosene on the stump and set it on fire again.

If the stump removal involves a stump that is deep rooted and really big burning it out might not work so you may hire someone professional to do the stump removal. Make sure that you wear protective gloves to protect your hands from being burned.

Choosing The Best Landscaping Contractors

  • References – Check for company references. A legitimate landscaping company can offer you a list of references as well as customer reviews for their work and price. Checking for their references will allow you to compare for their previous year’s job performance that are of equal or greater dollar value than your current project.
  • Avoid Choosing By Price – Choosing for a company that offers the lowest bid may not always be a good idea. As we all know, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. These companies may provide you the lowest price for their services but it does not assure you of the quality of their work. Having bid lower, they have the tendency to use cheaper materials as well as unsafe equipment and poor workmanship.
  • Research – Research your local landscaping company and compare them to each other. Choose the ones that have variety of services and experience as well as those who can provide you with strong references from their past clients – especially clients that has the same needs as you.
  • Personality – One of the things you need to consider is the company’s and staff’s personality. You will be working with the company for days as well as in the future for maintenance works, so it is important to choose ones that you are comfortable with. Working with a company that is easy to approach and contact, has good communication skills, and has the patience and understanding of your needs, as well as the creativity to bring your ideas to reality is important.