Get your garden started on the right foot
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 garden gets off on the right foot.
One of the best things you can do for your garden as win-
ter winds down is to clear it of debris.
Winter can be especially harsh on a landscape, and gardens
left to the elements are often get filled with debris. Dead
leaves, fallen branches, rocks that surfaced during the winter
frost, and even garbage that might have blown about in win-
ter winds can all pile up in a garden over a typical winter.
Clearing such debris likely wonâ€™t take long, but itâ€™s a great
first step toward restoring the garden before the time comes to
plant and grow the garden once again.
Examine the soil
Soil plays a significant role in whether a garden thrives or
struggles. Examining the soil before the season starts can help
gardeners 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 deficien-
cies. This may require the help of a professional, but if a prob-
lem arises, you might be able to adjust the acidity or alkalin-
ity of the soil and still enjoy a successful gardening 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 quick-
ly 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.
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
flowerbeds. Such tools will cut deep enough so grass roots
that may eventually grow into the flowerbed are severed.
Depending on how large a garden is, 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.
Though weeds likely have not survived the winter that
does not mean they wonâ€™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 pre-
venter, 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 their
gardens in late winter or early spring, they can still get out-
side and take steps to ensure their gardens thrive once plant-
ing season begins.
Deer Park Tribune â€” March 26, 2014
A lush, green lawn is
coveted by many current
and would-be homeown-
ers. Not only can a beau-
tiful landscape make a
home feel more welcom-
ing, but it also increases
the resale value of a prop-
proper fertilization, pest
management, and mow-
ing are all essential com-
ponents of lawn mainte-
nance. But there is more
to those beautiful blades
of grass than just aesthet-
The following are
some interesting facts
about grass that even the
most devoted lawn enthu-
siasts might be surprised
â€˘ Grass is defined as any
plant of the family
Gramineae, a group of
vascular plants that grow
across the globe.
â€˘ There are as many as
10,000 varieties of grass
in the world. These range
from grass to rice to
wheat to bamboo.
â€˘ Many grasses are
annual or perennial herbs
with fibrous roots and rhi-
â€˘ Grass can withstand
many different climates
and has been discovered at
the North Pole and at the
â€˘ Twenty percent of
Earthâ€™s vegetation is com-
prised of grass.
â€˘ Grasses have been
transformed into paper and
home decor items. Bam-
boo, which is a type of
grass, is frequently used
for flooring because it is
durable and sustainable.
â€˘ Grass is mostly com-
prised of water, which
makes up about 80 per-
cent of grass and 90 per-
cent of grass clippings.
â€˘ A typical lawn will
have about six grass
plants per square inch.
Some lawns may have
millions of grass plants.
â€˘ The average lawn
releases enough oxygen to
sustain four families of
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Homeowners who want
their homes to make
strong first impressions
must prioritize curb
Homes with strong
curb appeal sell well and
can impart a welcoming
feel to all visitors.
Improving a homeâ€™s curb
appeal need not be expen-
The following are a
handful of ways to im-
prove the appearance of
â€˘ Install a bold-looking
door in a vibrant color or
one with a custom design.
This will help the home
stand out from other prop-
erties in the neighborhood.
â€˘ Edge the driveway to
create a distinct border
between the driveway and
the lawn or other landscap-
ing features. This helps
homes appear neat and
â€˘ Use outdoor lighting
to make a home more
inviting. Outdoor lighting
also makes properties safer
to traverse after dark.
â€˘ Clean a homeâ€™s exte-
rior to remove mildew or
discolorations from the
siding, driveway, patio,
and other outdoor ele-
â€˘ Improve landscapes
with fresh plants and sea-
the time to plant can con-
sider container gardens,
which donâ€™t take much
time to assemble but still
add appeal to a homeâ€™s
â€˘ Prune planting beds
and add new mulch to
â€˘ Add shutters and
accent trim to a homeâ€™s
exterior to improve on the
beauty of the house.
â€˘ Install new fencing or
give a fresh coat of paint
or stain to an existing
â€˘ Replace concrete
paths with tile or stone
walkways to make entry-
ways more impressive and
A well planned vegetable garden
can improve your home and diet
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 expan-
sive, depending on how much space is avail-
able to cultivate. However, first-time garden-
ers may want to begin small so they can hone
their skills and experiment to see which
plants are most likely to thrive in their gar-
dens. Expansion is always a possibility down
Choose a location
Spend some time examining your land-
scape. 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 dur-
ing and after heavy downpours. Donâ€™t place
the garden too close to rain gutters or near a
pool, where splash-out may occur. Select a location that is iso-
lated from pets so the plants are not trampled and cats and dogs
do not relieve themselves nearby.
Decide what to plant
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 the
garden. 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 gar-
den. 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, brus-
sel sprouts and peas are planted to be har-
vested 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 gar-
den 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.thegarden-
helper.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 through-
out the season.
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Some animals are garden-friendly
Planning and maintaining a garden requires a lot of effort,
which can result in an aesthetically pleasing addition to the
landscape. But that hard work can also fall victim to nature
when local wildlife find a garden too mouth-watering to resist.
In an effort to rid a garden of unwanted pests, gardeners may
unwittingly scare away animals and insects that might just
protect the garden from more ill-intentioned animals. Not
every creature that scurries is out to get prized petunias or to
devour tomatoes. In fact, many can prove beneficial to gar-
Bats have a bad reputation, as people unnecessarily fear bats
because they believe them to be carriers of disease. But many
bats feed off of insects or fruits and will not harm a human.
The average brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour,
so itâ€™s easy to see why bats are good to have around.
Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance but also harbor potential-
ly dangerous diseases. Bats also may eat certain rodents, which
can cut down on the number of animals burrowing in a yard.
Frogs and toads will prey on insects and make the local
insect population more manageable. Toads eat mainly slugs,
which feed on the leaves and fruits of many plants. Frogs and
toads are attracted to water, so including a pond or another
water feature in the garden will provide them with a habitat
While it is true that some birds can damage crops, many
birds are content to feed on insects attracted to the garden,
which helps to keep insect numbers in check.
Chickadees, for example, will dine on aphid eggs, while
larger birds may prey on mice or other rodents or simply scare
them out of the garden.
Jays and mockingbirds are known to be feisty and can even
deter dogs and cats from a yard. Hummingbirds will sip on the
nectar of flowers and help pollinate plants.
Snakes in a garden can be disconcerting to some people, but
snakes are ideal predators who feed on insects and rodents sev-
eral times their size. Snakes are the right size and shape to
invade the burrows of pest animals.
Butterflies and bees
Butterflies and bees are responsible for pollinating the vast
majority of plants. Avoid using pesticides that may diminish
butterfly or bee populations.
A beehive right next to a garden may not be practical, but
donâ€™t make attempts to destroy it. Consult with a profession-
al beekeeper to see what can be done to move the beehive
without destroying it.
Many animals and insects can be detrimental to the health
of a garden. However, several animals are handy to have
around and should be welcomed to the landscape.
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Thereâ€™s some easy steps to keep your lawn green
Proper watering is essential
when trying to restore or
maintain a lush green lawn. If
watered incorrectly, a lawn
can be susceptible to a host of
problems, including insect
infestation, weak roots and
When watering a lawn,
especially when temperatures
start to soar in the summer,
itâ€™s easy to think a lawn needs
more water and needs it dur-
ing those hours of the day
when the sun is at its most
intense. However, those are
two common misconceptions
The following are a handful
of tips for homeowners who
want to help their lawns
endure the summer heat and
maintain their lush appeal
into the fall.
â€˘ Water when temperatures
are mild. In the summertime,
humans typically need water
when temperatures are at their
most extreme, but that does
not mean lawns should be
watered when temperatures
Water attracts the sun, so
watering when temperatures
are at their hottest, which is
typically around midday and
into early afternoon, will
likely lead to brown spots
indicative of a burned lawn.
Thatâ€™s because the sun will be
drawn to the water, bearing
down on the lawn and burn-
ing the grass as a result.
When summer arrives, a
lawn is best watered when
temperatures are at their most
mild. That often translates to
early morning or early
evening. An added benefit of
watering when temperatures
are on the mild side is less
water will be lost to evapora-
tion during this time, mean-
ing you wonâ€™t be wasting
â€˘ Situate sprinklers to con-
serve water. Homeowners
who wonâ€™t be hand watering
their lawns should make sure
their sprinklers are placed
properly throughout their
Situate sprinklers so they
arenâ€™t watering driveways,
walkways or patios. All of
the water should be going to
the grass, especially when
drought restrictions are in
place and the amount of
watering the law allows is
Itâ€™s also important to make
sure water from sprinklers
isnâ€™t being blocked from
reaching the grass by trees.
Homeowners with especially
large trees on their property
should consider hand watering
the grass beneath such trees
to ensure these areas receive
â€˘ Lean on mulch.
Homeowners tend to fear
drought for a variety of rea-
sons, not the least of which is
that drought can cause a green
lawn to turn brown, poten-
tially affecting property value
and robbing a landscape of its
beauty. But there are ways to
help the soil retain moisture
when temperatures are espe-
cially hot and dry.
Mulch around trees, flower
beds, gardens and shrubs can
help homeowners get the
most bang for their watering
buck. Thatâ€™s because mulch
retains moisture, even when
temperatures are especially
hot. This helps foster
stronger root growth and
healthier landscapes that are
less susceptible to disease and
â€˘ Get to know your lawn.
Several variables combine to
determine how much water a
lawn needs. Understanding
these variables helps home-
owners understand how much
to water their own lawns.
Local climate is a variable
to consider, as is whether or
not a lawn was fertilized
(experts typically recommend
a lawn be fertilized several
times, beginning in the
spring and ending in
Soil type and grass type
also help to determine how
much water a lawn needs, and
homeowners who need to
determine the type of soil and
grass on their property can
consult a local lawn care cen-
ter or landscaping profession-
Proper watering can help a
lawn survive the dog days of
Gardening can be fun for kids
Many adults understand the joy of gardening, but garden-
ing can be equally fun for children 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 chil-
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.
To further interest children, it is a good idea to plant seeds
in a way that allows youngsters to monitor the progress of
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, crum-
pled-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
A love of gardening thatâ€™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.
Try to avoid many landscaping mistakes
When designing their landscapes, homeowners may envi-
sion grandiose gardens and lush lawns that are the envy of the
neighborhood. But such designs can be difficult to maintain,
and homeowners often find they are not worth the time or
Avoiding costly mistakes allows homeowners to fully
enjoy their lawns.
The following are a few landscaping mistakes homeowners
may want to avoid so they can spend more time enjoying their
landscapes and less time working around the yard.
Planting the wrong trees and shrubs â€”When plant-
ing new trees and shrubs, choose varieties that wonâ€™t over-
whelm the property by growing too large. Such trees and
shrubs can mask other elements of a landscape, and can take a
substantial amount of effort to maintain. Avoid spending too
much time pruning trees and shrubs by opting for those that
only grow to a particular size.
Choosing non-native plants â€” Itâ€™s always best to
choose plants that are native to a particular region. Native
plants have already adapted to the local climate, meaning they
can withstand the worst weather that climate has to offer with-
out homeowners having to put in much effort.
Exotic plants might add aesthetic appeal to a property, but
that appeal is often short-lived or costly to maintain.
Too much lawn â€” While a large and lush lawn appeals
to many homeowners, a yard that is all grass can be difficult
and expensive to maintain.
Lawns without trees are susceptible to damage from the hot
summer sun, and homeowners often respond to that threat by
overwatering their lawns. Overwatering not only weakens root
systems, but it also leads to higher water bills.
Homeowners can downsize their lawns by planting more
trees, adding a garden in the backyard or even adding landscape
features to their property.
Planting without a plan â€” When planting new trees,
some homeowners plant without first considering the ideal
locations for new trees. This can prove an expensive mistake.
Planting too close to your house may eventually threaten
your homeâ€™s foundation, as roots grow deeper and deeper into
Tribune, Deer Park, WA 12 Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 15
Tribune, Deer Park, WA
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o you need to tidy up your home
for spring? This vibrant season
lends natural inspiration to
home cleanup projects in every room. Whether
you need to provide some overdue TLC to
the tub, want a solution to freshen up the
floors or long for laundry care that is safe for
your family, refer to this guide for tips that
will make your home feel shiny and newagain.
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Tribune Deer Park, WA
16 Wednesday, March 26, 2014
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