There are three different types of soils....
how do I find my soil type?
There are three basic different types of soils. The three soil types are
clayey soils, loamy soils and sandy soils. Loamy soils are the ideal; the other
two soil types present challenges for irrigation. But how do you find out which
type of soil you have? Although there are more sophisticated ways to find out
your soil type, I present the simplest way below. It literally involves taking
matters into your own hands:
- Pick up a marble-sized hunk of moist soil and roll it between your thumb,
forefinger and middle finger, as if trying to shape it into a little ball.
- With a clayey soil, your rolling will be successful: you’ll end up with a
ball the size of a marble.
- With a sandy soil, your attempt at forming a ball will be completely
unsuccessful: it will fall apart.
- With a loamy soil, your attempt will show some promise, but ultimately
fail: the ball will fall apart once you leave off applying pressure.
What is the difference between garden mulch and
Compost should be worked into the soil (eventually, at least) to make
it more fertile. Mulch, by contrast, is spread atop the soil, both to
protect the soil from the elements and to suppress weeds. While it is true that
organic mulches will eventually decompose, thereby themselves becoming
compost, their function as long as they serve as mulch is distinct from the
function of compost.
I mulched my perennial beds in the fall. Do I
just wait for my perennials to push up through the mulch in spring?
No. While perennials sometimes will successfully break through a thick layer
of mulch, other times damage will result. Don't take a chance with your
perennials! In late winter or early spring (depending on the weather) you should
begin checking to see whether the ground is thawing or not. If the ground is
thawing, leaving landscaping mulch on top of your perennials can smother them --
it is time to remove the mulch, to let your perennials breathe. Once the
perennials have pushed up (so that you know where they are), you can re-apply
mulch around them to suppress weeds.
For transplants, it's safe to plant when the last frost date is past. For
seeds that are expected to sprout in 2 weeks, plant seeds 2 weeks prior to the
last frost date.
When I'm done mowing in fall, what lawn mower
care do you advise?
When the lawnmowing season is over in fall, empty the gas tank by allowing
the lawnmower run until its gas tank is empty. Leave the lawnmower's tank empty
until spring comes. You'll be glad that you did, next spring, when you go to
start up the lawnmower again for another season of mowing. When old gas lies
around in the lawnmower all winter, it becomes gummy. At the same time, drain
oil tank and refill with fresh oil.
How and Why should I sharpen my lawn mower's blade?
Every month or two, you should sharpen the lawn mower's blade. The reason for
sharpening lawn mower blades is that dull blades have a tendency to rip grass
blades instead of cutting cleanly, leaving grass susceptible to diseases. Here's
how to sharpen a lawn mower blade:
- First remove the spark plug wire to ensure the lawn mower doesn't start up
accidentally, resulting in injury.
- With a wrench, remove the nut that holds the lawn mower blade up against
the deck, then remove the blade.
- Use a file to do the sharpening. Follow the angle of the cutting edge
that's already there (the angle will be roughly 45 degrees).
What would be the first landscaping issue
that I should begin to look into?
Your home is your best investment. Therefore, its safety is of paramount
concern. If there are large old trees whose branches are looming ominously over
the roof of your home, you may have a significant hazard on your hands.
What is hardscape, or "hardscaping?" Is it just
landscaping with rock, or does it encompass other topics?
Hardscape, or "hardscaping" refers to the inanimate (i.e., non-living)
elements of a landscape. This includes elements made from wood, even though wood
was once animate (in the form of trees). Living plants, by contrast, constitute
the "softscape." In particular, as the name implies, "hardscape" refers to
hard elements such as those composed of concrete, brick or stone, in
addition to wood. For instance, constructing a patio or deck is a hardscape
project, as is a brick walkway, a stone wall, or a wooden fence. But hardscape
goes beyond large-scale projects such as these. Any non-living ornamentation in
your landscaping is, technically, part of the hardscape.
Should I protect my evergreen shrubs from the
damage caused by the snow and ice of winter?
Unlike most deciduous shrubs, evergreen shrubs are the cornerstone of visual
of interest on the winter landscape. Therefore, it wouldn't make sense to
shelter them in the manner suggested for deciduous shrubs. However, there is
still something you can do for evergreen shrubs, too. The winter damage that
shrubs and trees sustain often stems from their inability to draw water from the
frozen earth. Proper watering practices, then, are an effective means of
protecting evergreen shrubs from winter damage. Watering tips for evergreen
shrubs can be found in the next FAQ, on trees.
*questions and answers provided by About.com