Monthly Archives: February 2016

Tips for Spotting Dangers When Mowing Grass

So, you have your lawnmower and are about to launch on that much overdue grass cutting exercise.

Before doing so though, there are certain dangers that you should protect yourself against – and here are a few top tips as to how to go about doing so.

1. Walk around the area to be mown before you start. Make sure you remove any branches, sticks, stones and anything else that could fly up into your cutting machinery. If you hit such obstacles, they could damage your cutting edges or shoot off at odd directions and be potentially dangerous.

Even if it is an area you have mown before, check for new additions such as branches that might have fallen out of nearby trees or bones that your dog might have helpfully left in the grass for you to find with your lawnmower!

2. If it is an area you have not mown previously, try to make sure that it is at least reasonably flat. Things such as raised bumps or creases in the land can be devastating for a lawnmower. If the ground looks particularly bumpy, it will be very sensible to consider rolling it and eliminating those crinkles and bumps before you start on it with your mower.

3. Keep an eye open for electric cables. These can be particularly dangerous if they were buried underground and not in compliance with regulations. That means that although they should be at a certain minimum depth and protected, some people in the past might have simply buried them at a shallow depth and in ordinary electric sheathing which might mean they start to protrude above ground over time. Hit those with a lawnmower and you could be facing serious problems.

If you are mowing in an area where there are electrically-driven fountains or lights, be sure you know where the cables run and that they are safe.

4. Be clear that you know how to safely operate or drive your lawnmower. It doesn’t matter whether it is a zero-turn lawnmower or a walk-behind model, there are certain techniques and operating instructions that must be understood if the machine is to be used safely. Be certain you have read up on these

5. Do not let young children play anywhere even remotely near your lawnmower while you are using it. Kids are notoriously unaware of danger and that game of football can be some metres away and apparently safe when suddenly one of the children, in the excitement, will run towards the lawnmower.

Ban children from the area altogether for the duration of your cutting.

6. Be cautious with slopes and inclines. This is perhaps more likely to be an issue with sit-on lawnmowers and it can be extremely dangerous if you’re trying to tackle a gradient that is beyond the maximum capacity of your machine. People have been seriously injured and even killed in this fashion. So, be certain you understand the maximum incline you can safely tackle.

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Hardscape Ideas for Your Small Backyard

For those that are not sure what hardscape is, it includes the heavier elements in designing your backyard like your patio, driveway, rocks, stones, stone benches, arbors, etc. It can also include installing sprinkler systems and installation of swimming pools and fountains. Now that you know what hardscape includes let us look at some design ideas for your small backyard.

• Visual levels – to give your backyard a dramatic look create some levels there. You can add a pathway laced with flowers, bushes, etc to give it an aesthetic appeal. You can also convert a wall into a vertical garden. You could even use the top portion of the wall to hold your plants. You can use steps to reach this high wall and the area that surrounds the area can be a seating area with a nice stone bench or two.

• Living water flows – you might think that it would not be possible to add a water feature to your small backyard but it can be done. Doing this will add dimension to your yard and it will also make a soothing area to come to when you want to relax and unwind.

• Isolated islands – to make this happen you will need to choose a spot that is the center of your backyard. Using tiles to create an island make sure that it is big enough to accommodate a couple of chairs with a side table between them. Another type of hardscape would be a trellis or two behind the chairs so you could plant climbing roses or other climber plants, ivy, or creepers. You could also plant some plants. In a few months you will have your own special island.

• Interesting pathways – you can make a special pathway from your backdoor to your special island or the living water oasis. Use artistic blocks to spruce up your pathway. You can plant palms or bamboo shoots along the boundary of the pathway or keep flowering plants there. Put in some solar lights to light up your pathway.

• Decor – keep any decor that you use simple so it will not take away from your special areas. You want to use hardscape elements that will breathe space into your special island or water oasis.

Make sure that anything you have built is easy maintained. You want to make sure that you spend more time enjoying your special area instead of maintaining it. In your area you may want to include some lighting so you can enjoy it at night. If you do make sure that you include citronella candles to keep the bugs away.

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Five Things to Know About Synthetic Grass

Artificial turf has changed a great deal since it first came on the market. Today’s turf systems usually consist of a drainage layer, a multi-layered backing system, and synthetic grass blades. Today’s systems are usually infilled, meaning that the blades are dispersed among top soil, which can be made of a variety of different materials. This is designed to make the turf more stable and resilient. If you are considering artificial turf, here are five things to help you understand this product.

Cost

The cost of an artificial lawn varies but is usually $10-$20 per square foot. The price fluctuates depending on the characteristics of the area in which the turf is being installed including the area’s size, condition, and geographic location. The specific type of turf used also impacts the cost.

Maintenance

Synthetic grass does not require watering or weeding, but there are some necessary maintenance steps to undertake to keep it in good condition. Because artificial turf is not self-sanitizing like a natural lawn, it does need to be periodically sprayed clean and treated with a disinfectant. If pets use the turf, it will need to be cleaned more often.

Warranty and Disposal

Artificial lawns usually carry a warranty of 8-15 years. The length of the warranty is how the long the consumer can usually expect the imitation lawn to last. When disposing of synthetic grass, it may be possible to recycle certain components. Consumers can contact recycling centers in their area to find a place that handles this type of product.

Installation

Imitation lawn is installed in a manner similar to carpet. It is usually tightly stretched over a base. Care must also be taken to avoid the appearance of seams. Usually, there is a base of decomposed granite with a weed barrier. The lawn is cut to size and nailed into place, and the installer uses a treatment to conceal seams. Once the turf is in place, the infill material is applied.

Types of Infill

There are many different types the installer may use with synthetic grass. Crumb rubber, which comes from recycled tires, is one option. Crumb rubber can also be coated with a colorant, an anti-microbial product, or a sealer. There are also many organic options made from natural materials including cork and coconut shell fibers. Silica sand, or coated silica sand, is another type of material. EDPM, a polymer elastomer, usually comes in green and tan shades and is an infill product that remains in the same solid form at high temperatures. Thermo Plastic Elastomer, or TPE, is considered a non-toxic that is free of heavy metals and can also be recycled and reused at the end of the turf’s lifespan. TPE is also available in many colors. It is important for consumers to research each type of infill extensively to understand its pros and cons, as well as to understand which purposes it is best suited for.

When shopping for synthetic grass, be a savvy consumer. Research the ins and outs of artificial turf so you can choose the option that best meets your needs for long-lasting enjoyment.

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Steps to Providing Total Lawn Care in the Spring

As the weather warms up, you may find yourself engaging in some spring cleaning to tidy up the inside of your home. This season is also perfect for sprucing up the outside of your home and creating an outdoor space to enjoy throughout the warmer months. Here are five ways to provide total lawn care for your yard in the spring.

Complete a Soil Test

After a long winter, you may find your yard has some bare or brown spots. Before you begin maintenance on these areas, it is important to test the soil to find out if there is an underlying reason why grass is not growing in these areas. Many local cooperative extension services will test a sample of your soil. Once a soil test is done, you can find out if there are any nutrients you need to add to get it up to par.

Reseed Your Yard

After correcting any soil issues, your next step in total lawn care is reseeding your yard. Aerating your outdoor space is a critical first step, as it will alleviate soil compaction. Be sure to choose grass seed that is suited to your area’s climate. If you’re seeding a large area, using a broadcast spreader is a good idea. If you do not have access to one, you can easily seed by hand. After reseeding, be sure to water the area regularly and consider using fertilizer to be sure the seed has a successful start.

Give Your Yard a Good Mowing

Though it may be tempting to cut your grass short, this is not really beneficial to your yard. The best way to provide total lawn care is to only cut your grass down to the tallest height recommended for your type of grass. Allowing the grass to be a little taller is more effective at keeping weeds out because taller grass has a bigger root system and is able to handle hot temperatures better. Taller grass also shades the underlying soil, which provides better water retention. Each time you mow, you should only take off the top one-third of each blade of grass. Leave the clippings on the yard as this provides valuable organic matter.

Give Your Mower a Tune-Up

Once you have pulled your mower back out for the season, it is a great opportunity to give it a tune up. You can learn how to do this yourself or have someone else do it for you. Mowers need tune-ups about once a year, and this is the perfect time to get it done before the busy mowing season. During the tune-up, be sure to sharpen your mower’s blades and change its oil.

Get Watering… But Not Too Soon

Watering your lawn is important, but it is crucial not to start doing so too early. Spring tends to be a rainy time, and watering is often not necessary until late in the season. Hold off on watering your grass until the weather is hot and dry. Even if the grass begins exhibiting drought stress signs, it is still fine to wait. Doing so allows the grass roots to grow deeper as they look for water. This deep rooting will help your yard handle the summer heat.

By following a few key steps, you can provide total lawn care for your yard this spring. With a little time and effort, you can have an outdoor space that you can enjoy throughout the warm months to follow.

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