Cyclone Rake Blog: March 2015

Monday, March 30, 2015

Get Ready for Spring … It’s Coming … We Promise!

Photo credit: mjhccl / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Homeowners the country over can’t wait for spring. The winter seemed longer and harder than usual in much of the North, and much of the Southeast welcomed spring with cold, wet conditions. At the opposite extreme, drought still persists in much of the West. No matter where you live, keep these time-tested tips in mind as you ready your lawn and landscape for spring.

Be Patient with Soil…

The first sunny day of spring unleashes the urge in many of us to get digging. But tilling up soil still wet can adversely impact soil structure – and leave clods that can last for months. One easy test: if a clump of soil breaks apart while you bounce it up and down in your hand, the soil is likely ready to till.

But rather than tilling as soon as possible, here’s a better idea: it’s still not too late to pull a soil sample for testing. Then stock up on soil amendments, like lime and sulfur, which you’ll need in your lawn or garden.

…and Be Patient with Sod

Photo credit: slgckgc / Foter / CC BY
Be patient with your lawn, too. Spots that look winter-killed might surprise you by bouncing back this spring. Bare spots bigger than 4-inches square will likely need repair; but cool-season turf is best established from seed in the fall.

In most regions, lawns may be renovated with sod in the spring; still, waiting until the fall can usually save some watering for sod establishment, too. Here’s something you can do this spring: incorporate generous amounts of organic matter, like compost, into your lawn’s trouble spots. If you’re willing to live with some brownish-black spots this summer, you’ll reap the reward of far better soil fertility for fall seeding.

Get Composting

In most areas, temperatures are almost back to where the microbes that break down compost piles start waking up and doing their thing. Turn (aerate) your compost after the winter weighed it down. Feed it with carbon sources - leaves and other “brown” yard waste that you have picked up with your Cyclone Rake. Follow that with nitrogen-rich “greens” that will come with early mowing and weeding.

A compost pile “remodel” – if your pile could use some new walls or other sprucing up – is a great early spring project. Try two or three 3-foot by 3-foot bins, moving compost to the next bin to aerate it as it decomposes.

Tree and Shrub Checkup

Photo credit: j-ster / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Winter dormancy, the ideal time for pruning many trees, is passing quickly as trees wake up from winter. But most spring-flowering shrubs are best pruned after flowering. Patience is also a pruning virtue; wait until the blooms are gone.

Trees and shrubs may be thirsty, especially in areas where snowfall was less than average. Consider early spring watering, especially for flowering trees and perennials.

Some emergency care may be required for trees and plants damaged by spring storms; a clean cut for splintered branches helps keep possible disease problems at bay. If a tree must be removed, try to avoid excessive foot traffic and heavy equipment that can compact damp soils.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Welcome Spring with a New Design

Signs of spring are in the air as air temperatures warm and birds return; but the ground in many regions is still too cold or too wet for planting. That gives you another week or two to polish up your landscape and garden design plans. Here are some time-tested tips as you get ready to garden.

Plan with Purpose
Plan your landscape or garden with its purpose in mind. Installing a raised bed to grow fresh vegetables for your family to eat will take a different direction than a butterfly garden. Turning a ragged patch of lawn into something attractive is a different purpose than planting a hedge or trees for privacy. Be sure to have a goal or use for your landscaping project in mind as you start to design.

Plan for Practicality
Landscape designers have perfected the science and art of creating outdoor space that is appealing – and practical. Remember your time and budget limitations as you think through your project. Consider the needs of you and your family. And realize how much time you wish to spend maintaining your new planting or hardscape project.

Test the Soil
Your soil can tell you a lot. Invest in a complete soil test – probably not much more than $20 – no matter the size of your project area. The test helps identify soil amendments and fertilizers needed for the plants you want to thrive. Most local Extension offices offer soil testing; your local garden center may be another source.

Be sure to follow soil test instructions; moist soil must dry for best results. While you’re at it, identify your soil’s drainage limitations to determine if more drainage is needed or if plants that tolerate saturated or dry soils should be selected.

Use Lines
Professional landscape designers advise using designs that incorporate bold lines to create outdoor “rooms,” or areas that serve a purpose. A walkway along a garage, for example, can both physically and visually invite the observer to the backyard. Longer, curved lines are more appealing than straight and short zigzags.

Match and Contrast Plant Form, Texture and Color
Plants offer a natural wealth of design options. Matching and contrasting plant form – the 3-D appearance of plant growth – helps guide the eye. Texture can vary with the distance of the observer. Color accentuates and highlights the landscape design.

Use graph paper to sketch out your design; before digging, use string, rope or twine to outline the shape of your new beds. Garden centers may also provide design services, sometimes for no cost, as you plan your plantings.

Your local garden center, library or university extension office can provide resources to help you landscape and plant well. A free online resource, Principle of Landscape Design, is available from Colorado State University:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

10 Reasons to Try Cyclone Rake for Spring Clean Up

The Cyclone Rake offers unique features you won't find anywhere else, while offering easy property care for spring. View the infographic below to learn about ten reasons to try the Cyclone Rake for spring clean up.

(Click to Enlarge)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring Planning for Your Lawn 101: Answers to Your Most FAQs

There may still be snow on the ground, but believe it or not, spring is on its way now that it's finally February. While it may not feel that spring is approaching shortly, there are some things you can do to start preparing your lawn for spring. Below, we've compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions:

Q: When should I fertilize my lawn?
A: Late spring (late May/early June)

It's no secret that grass needs an even supply of nitrogen and other nutrients in order to grow but it's important to avoid fertilizing your lawn until late spring. Applying fertilizer too early in the season could throw off the whole process; grass "wakes up" in the spring and enters a natural growth cycle. Instead, wait until late May/early June to fertilize your lawn, just before the summer heat rolls in.

Q: When can I begin planting a vegetable garden?
A: Early spring or after the last frost, depending on the vegetable

In early spring, approximately two weeks before the last average frost date in your area, you can plant the following vegetables outdoors: lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes, dill, cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, celery, kale, and potatoes. The following must wait until the average last frost date before planting outdoors: plant beans, corn, melons, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, eggplant, and basil.

Q: When can I begin planting flower seeds?
A: February, March, and April, depending on the type of flower

Hardier flowers that are tolerant to the cold may be planted outdoors as early as February but ones that are tender to the cold must be started indoors if planted before the last frost of the season. Below is a guide to which flowers to plant outdoors when.

February: Alendula (Calendula officinalis), bachelor button (Cenia turbinata), wallflower (Erysimum spp.) and clarkia (Clarkia spp.)

March: Cosmos (Cosmos spp.), dianthus (Dianthus spp.), nicotiana (Nicotiana spp.) and zinnias (Zinnia spp.)

April: All warm season flowers may be planted outdoors.

Q: What can I do about leftover leaves and debris?
A: A great yard vacuum system can eliminate the backbreaking work of raking

After all the snow and ice melts, it's likely you're stuck with a nice coating of old leaves and debris left over from late fall if you didn't opt for leaf removal in November. The Cyclone Rake can make this grueling step easy for you by picking up any debris that isn't hard frozen to the ground; a task that would've taken days of hard labor can take just a few easy hours with the Cyclone Rake. This yard vacuum system is able to pick up pine needles, pinecones, acorns, and other nuts easily.

Learn more about the Cyclone Rake by contacting us today! We are happy to help.