Fall Cleanup Tips

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Cleaning Up For Fall

No season lasts forever and although most people dread the end of summer, it too happens and cooler air prevails.

Of course, this means that those pretty summer flowers you planted in the garden, in the patio pots and in the hanging baskets will be stating to fade and the perennials will be starting to look a bit done.

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!

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Lawn Mower Cleaning And Maintenance Tips

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

lawn-mowerCleaning And Maintenance Tips For Your Lawn Mower

The ability of your turf to have healthy and good-looking grass depends greatly on your lawn mower.

Your turf will suffer greatly if you are using a poor piece of equipment when mowing. You will have a hard time as well getting the result you want for your lawn with a poorly performing equipment.

To avoid such problems, it is important to properly and regularly maintain and clean your lawn mower.

Below are some of the key lawn mower cleaning, care, and maintenance tips you should follow:

Regularly check and change your mower’s oil. Experts say that you should check the condition and level of your equipment’s oil every eight hours of use. Fresh oil will have a golden or amber color and it will darken as it ages.

True-Value-Hardware-store-reedsburg-wisconsin-lawn-mowersAt least once per season or after every 50 hours of use, change the oil. Also, always use oil that is recommended by the manufacturer for that model.

Add a fuel stabilizing product to fresh fuel. Adding the right amount of fuel stabilizer will keep fuel fresher longer.

However, make sure you follow the equipment’s manual for instructions on leaving fuel in the engine during storage since this usually varies depending on the brand or manufacturer.

Always clean the air filter properly in place. The air filter of a lawn mower prevents dirt, dust, and debris from entering the carburetor and engine. It should be cleaned or changed every 25 hours of engine operation or at least once per mowing season.

Also, you need to replace the pleated, paper air filters regularly as well. You can clean the foam air filters with hot water and a small amount of detergent and leave it to air dry before being saturated with new engine oil and reinstalled.

Get rid of oil stain using a degreaser. Spray a good brand of degreaser on oil stains. Leave the degreaser on the stain for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping it off with a clean cloth and rinse everything off with a hose.

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Garden Composting Basics

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

compost-gardeningUnderstanding How To Incorporate Garden Compost Into Your Garden

Just like people gardens need nutrients to grow and flourish. Incorporating garden compost into your garden allows you to feed your plants and vegetables and improve overall soil quality.

You can obtain ready prepared bags of garden compost from most garden nurseries or garden supply stores.

Many garden supply companies and gardening websites offer an online service and will deliver. It is important that you choose the right garden compost for your soil and particular needs.

natures-care-compostSome plants and garden shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas require special compost to make the soil more acid. While other garden compost is suitable for general use for vegetable and flower gardening.

The main advantage of using compost on your garden is to improve the soil structure. Good garden soil needs to be loose and be able to hold water but with adequate drainage.

Clay soil can be very heavy, so adding garden compost will improve the structure and drainage. For soils that are sandy, garden compost will absorb water and improve the water-holding capacity of the soil.

As well as improving the structure and water retaining properties of soil, the decomposing compost will gradually release nutrients vital for healthy plant growth.

Nitrogen is a vital nutrient in plant growth which can be obtained from garden compost. The use of adding manure as well as compost will ensure a good supply of nitrogen if growing highly productive crops.

homemade-compost-binsFor those who do not want to buy their garden compost, making your own compost in your garden has several advantages.

Firstly, it allows the gardener to recycle garden wastes. This means less waste to have to dispose of. Secondly, you will know what has gone into your garden compost.

So if you want to be an organic gardener, you will have control over what has gone into your compost.

When deciding on your home garden compost bin it is best to design it into your garden. Making a home compost can be made from ready made plastic drums which turn, to wooden enclosures made yourself or from kits ready to assemble.

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The Health Benefits of Gardening

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The Many Health Benefits of Gardening

Spring is in the air. And when spring is on the horizon, many of us are aching to get out and plant a garden.

In the interim, there are a lot of garden shows and seeds that we can buy to plan our ultimate garden outside. Spring is such a hopeful time of year.

But did you know that gardening had a lot of health benefits too. When we are out in nature to garden, we get to commune with nature and we get to feel so much better about ourselves and about life in general. Many times, our problems just melt away, and we release a lot of feel good endorphins.

But there are more benefits than this even. In this article I will outline some of these benefits of gardening in more detail so that you can also get urge to start planning your garden earlier this year than ever.

So, without further ado, here are the known benefits of gardening.

• When you plant your seeds in the ground and watch them grow, you have a sense of achievement and accomplishment. This can help you to feel better and more motivated.

• You will weed out negative thoughts. As you are weeding your garden, you can think of your negative thoughts just like weeds that you can get rid of. And as you pull out your weeds, imagine weeding your negative thoughts one at a time. This will help you feel better overall and less depressed.

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How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

vegetable-gardenStart a Vegetable Garden Today

Spring Fever!

Kick up your heels, the sun is finally shining! Get out and smell the flowers and dig in the earth and grow your dinner and your breakfast too!

It’s easy to grow your own organic food and beat the high prices, for free. You can also grow beautiful flowers. Spring is the time to start.

The first step to growing your garden is to find a good spot with at least 6 hours of direct sun. Next, visualize your dream garden and imagine all your favorite vegetables. Then make a garden plan. Finally prepare your garden beds and plant your garden!

garden-vegetablesGarden Plan:

So what goes into a garden plan? What do you like to eat most and what will grow well in your location? Every good plan will consist of:

* A list of your favorite garden vegetables and flowers

* Garden bed layout: type, shape and placement of your garden beds and perennial plants

* First and last frost dates

* Compost Area

* Water system

* Optional – green house or cold frame

raised-garden-bedsAll these elements will interrelate and enhance each other, creating a fine-looking garden. Draw out a plan and order your seeds! Although gardening is flexible and always growing, having a solid plan in place first will help you avoid frustration and give you a good start.

You can draw out your plans by hand or use some of the new on-line garden planning programs. I have been having fun working with an on-line planner this season for the first time. I have always done my garden planning on paper and there was always lots of erasing, changes and rough drafts.

Making garden plans used to be an unpleasant and messy chore for me. Now I am having fun using an on-line gardening tool for making my garden plan, and changing it and playing around as much as I want in just seconds. Once you have a good plan and a list of all your favorite veggies’ it is time to order your seeds or buy some from your local nursery or feed store.

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For a Healthy Lawn Don’t Shred Your Grass!

Friday, May 5th, 2017

lawn-mowingAre You Cutting Your Grass or Shredding It?

Have you ever had your mower blade checked to ensure it is sharp enough to cut your grass correctly? Did you know that a dull mower blade can cause severe damage to grass which can lead to greater turf maintenance costs and requirements? Hopefully you’ve answered “Yes!” to the above questions, please, read on!

Regardless of how sharp you keep you mower blade, every time you mow the grass the blade is put through a period of “shock” from the cutting. When a blade of grass is severed, the remaining grass plant must go through a period of healing to seal the cut.

healthy-grass-lawnA sharp blade cuts cleanly through the grass and leaves a nice, straight slice, which minimizes the shock to the plant and the time required for healing. On the other hand, a dull blade will basically shred the grass. Even though the grass is “cut,” it’s shredded, ripped, and severely torn, which causes the grass plant to endure an extended period of healing and water loss. Not to mention, a greater risk of becoming infected or infested with microbes or insects. A grass plant that endures a nice, clean slice is far less likely to suffer prolonged damage or disease.

lawn-mower-bladeIf you’re handy with tools and know your way around a mower, sharpening your own blade isn’t that difficult. Many retail locations sell a sharpening grinding stone designed specifically for mower blades. You can also purchase a tool that will hold the blade in place when you are removing the bolt that secures the blade to the engine shaft. Use a permanent marker or awl to mark the bottom of the blade before you remove it. And, safety first, which means always removing the spark plug wire from the spark plug before doing anything under or around the mower!

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Lawn Mower Maintenance

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Seven Steps For Lawn Mower Maintenance

Your lawnmower is an investment that will keep your lawn turning heads-as long as you take care of the engine. Proper lawnmower care is crucial to for smooth performance.

The changing seasons require certain precautions to properly store the lawn mower while it is not in use.

Here are six steps you should take to protect your lawn mower throughout the year:

1. Check the Battery
Recharge the battery throughout the off-season starting the engine from time to time or simply attach the battery to a charger.

2. Check the Fuel
All engines can be damaged by old or deteriorated fuel. In as little as just one month, gasoline can deteriorate damage your lawnmower’s small engine by clogging the carburetor, thus preventing the engine from starting properly. The keep your lawnmower’s engine clean, add a fuel stabilizer each time you fill the tank.

3. Check the Oil
Just like automotive engines, small engines must undergo regular oil changes. Oil lubricates the engine during use, which prevents premature damage. Before starting the lawn mower in the spring, give it an oil change. This is especially important if you did not change the oil before storing it for the winter.

True-value-hardware-store-equipment-rental-center4. Lubricate Moving Parts
The engine is not the only part of your lawn mower that requires proper lubrication. It is a good idea to keep all moving parts, including the wheels and cables, adequately lubricated with oil or grease.

If you still have the owner’s manual, check it for details on properly lubricating moving parts.

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Four Tips for Buying the Right Lawn Mower

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

true-value-riding-lawn-mowersFour Tips For Purchasing The Right Lawn Mower

If you have a lawn at your house but its care isn’t protected by rental or home agreement then chances are high that sometime in your life you’ll feel the need of a lawn mower.

They’re machines with one or two revolving blades for cutting down the grass of your lawn in such a way that it becomes of even height.

However, with so many options available in the market purchasing one can be confusing sometimes. If you go out for purchasing a lawn mower without proper knowledge you’ll find yourselves baffled by the large number of options that are available.

In this article, I’m going to make the entire process easier for you by breaking it down into four tips:

lawn-garden-mowers-tools1. Determine the type of mower that you want to purchase:

There are several types of lawn mowers available in the market.

For example:

Push mowers
Robotic mowers
Self-propelled mowers
Riding mowers
Lawn tractors etc.

Which one you choose will depend on the type of lawn that you have. If you’ve a small lawn then a push mower will be fine for it. If you like to try gadgets in every bit of your life then a robotic mower can do the job for you. If you’ve a lawn with hills or slopes then a self-propelled mower will be required and if area of your lawn is larger than ½ acre then you’ll be better off with a riding mower. Determine the right type and you’re half done!

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Planting Tips for Your Autumn Garden

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Planting Tips for Fall Color

Fall Garden Planting Tips

Want to plant a colorful fall garden? Learn which plants are hardy enough to thrive until the first snowfall with these helpful fall garden tips.

Find out which plant varieties are the best choices when planting for fall colors, for almost any region.

Here are some colorful options for a beautiful fall garden:

Plant hardiness varies slightly by region but these examples will look great almost anywhere.

Asters are often a colorful garden choice. The purple dome Aster grows almost anywhere, in full or partial sunlight and blooms a bright vivid pink. Fertilize when you plant them and all they need is water and an occassional pruning to thrive.

The Tophat Blueberry plant seems like an unlikely choice but white blossoms in spring, blueberries in summer, then stunning red leaves in fall make it a beautiful, easy addition to any color scheme.

Another fall garden favorite is the Chrysanthemum. They come in a wide array of colors, even the green buds that haven’t fully bloomed are particularly beautiful. Hardy and frost tolerant, Chrysanthemums also retain their beautiful colors well into late fall.

The autumn Ember Encore Azalea is a small hardy evergreen that blooms semi-double flowers throughout spring, summer and fall longer than most other Azaleas.

There you have it, a beautiful landscape to ease you into the colder months of winter.

Need more expert advice? Stop by Martens Reedsburg True Value Garden center.

True Value. Start Right, Start Here.

True Value brings do-it-yourselfers together to share advice & inspiration to complete home improvement projects. Find more DIY landscaping tips from True Value at our Blog

Why We Should Protect Bees

Friday, August 5th, 2016

gardening-vegetablesWhy Are Honey Bees Important?

Why are honey bees so important?

You hear rumblings about how populations are declining. Colony Collapse Disorder gets a little bit of press every now and then.

But so what? What makes this news? Do we really need honey?

Honey bees are very important.

They are important on the level with oxygen and fresh water. In a global sense, they are even more important than oil.

Because if there were no honey bees, there would be no food.

It is that simple. This doesn’t mean there would be no honey, this means there would be no food.

breakfast-coffeeThink of the food you eat each day starting with a typical breakfast. Let’s say cereal and a cup of coffee. Cereals are made of grains like oats or wheat. Coffee is made by roasting coffee beans harvested from coffee plants. These are all plants.

Plants reproduce by flowering and then getting pollinated. Once pollinated, a seed or fruit grows. The seeds or fruits are our food. Honey bees are the world’s great pollinators. Without honey bees, plants don’t get pollinated. If plants don’t get pollinated, they do not produce the food we eat.

Someone argued once that we could rely more on meat instead of plants for food. Really? What do you think we feed the animals who become our meat? Ever heard of grass fed beef? Grain-fed chicken? If there are no plants to eat, there will be no meat for humans to consume.

Again, if there are no bees, there is no food. No strawberries, no bread, no ice cream and no Big Macs. It’s becoming clearer why honey bees are so important.

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How to Choose the Right Leaf Blower

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

leaf-blower-cordlessConsiderations To Make When Purchasing A Leaf Blower

A leaf blower is a handy gardening tool that is used to move debris and leaves using propelled air.

A blower can be backpack mounted or handheld depending on the model to efficiently complete necessary outdoor cleaning tasks. There are so many options in the market and you might need some understanding of the tool to make the right decision when buying for your use.

It is a great tool to invest in and by making a few important considerations you will definitely have an easier time selecting the most suitable for your yard cleaning needs.

1. Power level

Important to remember when buying your leaf blower is that there are light duty, medium duty and heady duty blowers out there.

Heavy duty machine might be bigger in size, but it will definitely do so much more than just clear your driveway off any debris. It however might turn to be noisier than the smaller light duty tools and cost you more gasoline to operate.

Understand the power levels that are suitable for your intended usage of the tool when buying.

stihl-wall-display-true-value2. Power source

Leaf blowers can be electric or gas powered. If your cleaning tasks are light, then a cordless blower can be a good choice to clear your deck, patios and driveway. Electric blowers on the other hand need not be recharged when operating and they can clear a large yard at a go. Think about cord length and your power outlets when getting an electric blower for convenience.

When you choose a gas powered blower, you will enjoy the benefit of portability and power saving. It might be noisier than an electric blower but it is a viable option nonetheless. Weigh all power source pros and cons and make the right choice in relation to your preferences and needs.

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Benefits of LED Lights for Outdoor Recreation

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

led-flashlight-colemanLED Light Uses for Camping and Outdoors

With the invention of LED lights, summertime nights, whether camping or enjoying your backyard, have become so much brighter. LED lighting packs a huge amount of light into a tiny little bulb. Due to its tiny size, manufacturers are putting these handy little lights into more and more products and forms. Better lighting can increase safety at night for your family and friends, with their popularity increasing yearly, the prices have also seen a precipitous drop.

Here are some ways you can incorporate LED lighting for your outdoor activities this summer.

LED Flashlights

There’s no better way to use LED’s than to buy yourself some handy LED based flashlights. Traditional flashlights used to require large batteries to give off bright light, but that isn’t the case when you choose LED flashlights. You get the advantage of brighter light but with less battery power needed. This makes them the ideal choice for camping, traveling and even led-lamp-lantern-campingaround the house.

Choose LED flashlights in many forms. For the kids, choose small handheld lights which are attached to a carabiner. They can attach the light to a necklace, belt or clothing so they won’t lose it. For older kids, choose slightly larger flashlights that include extra features like additional modes to adjust brightness.

LED Lamps

For outdoor camping, LED lamps will light up inside your tent or around your campsite much better than traditional light bulbs and much safer than using torches or flame based lighting. Nearly every tent comes with hooks on the inside where you can hang things. Use these to hang handy LED lamps which will light up your entire tent without taking up a huge amount of space and without the risk of setting your tent on fire.

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