Why add organic matter?

Why add organic matter?

Organic matter is any compound that contains carbon.  It is generally obtained from living substances, which may include either animal or plant material.  In the instance of soil or mulch, organic matter may be composted material obtained from grass clippings, animal waste (which is nitrogen rich) tree trimmings (which may include bark, leaf material or ground hardwood).  Each product will differ in the amount and type of organic matter that it contains.

Northeast Ohio’s native soil typically contains heavy amounts of clay.  Through the use of organic matter you can physically improve your soil’s quality.  By incorporating organic matter, like shredded bark mulch, sweet peet™ or leaf humus, you’ll increase moisture retention and nutrient absorption which is fundamental in ensuring healthy plant growth.

Fall into Spring

Fall into Spring

You know when you see sunny yellow daffodils that spring has arrived. If you plant the bulbs in September or October they will bloom in late winter or early spring.  Select healthy firm bulbs at a trusted garden center.  Steer away from any bulbs that are soft or moldy.  Look for large bulbs the bigger the bulb the more they will bloom when compared with a smaller one.

Daffodils are beautiful when paired with crocus or miniature crested iris.  Both plants enjoy moist but well drained soil.  Choose a site that gets full sun or light shade.  You can plant your bulbs in the fall up to about 2-4 weeks before the ground freezes.  The general rule for planting is three times as deep as the bulb‘s height.  When digging your hole for bulb placement, you can add organic material (like sweet peet® or leaf humus) for your bulbs roots to grow into & get nourishment.   A topdressing of organic mulch will protect your bulbs through winter & keep the soil moist while maintaining a cool, stable soil temperature during the spring.

You can celebrate the end of winter’s dismal weather with a colorful dramatic spring garden!

Installing a New Lawn

Installing a New Lawn

When planting a new lawn, the first step is to kill and remove any poor-quality turf. This process can be accomplished through the application of herbicides.   To kill unwanted grass and weeds to the roots select an herbicide that degrades quickly (does not last long in the environment), such as glyphosate (Roundup or Killzall).  Mix according to the manufacturer’s directions, add just a few drops of dishwashing liquid soap or another surfactant to help the herbicide stick to vegetation.  Then completely cover all grass plants and weeds. Take care not to spray on garden plants.  Apply on a sunny, windless day when the temperature is above 60°F.  If the turf has not completely died after four weeks reapply the herbicide and then wait one week after the last application before tilling the dead turf into your soil.

A healthy lawn needs good soil.  Once the old lawn has been removed grade the soil for your new lawn.  Use a metal landscaping rake if the grading adjustments are minor.  The finished grade should be at the level of surrounding areas like a patio or sidewalk.    Lawns started from seed are best planted in the early fall.   Select the seed that works best for your application & our cool grass season. Sow the seed evenly from a spreader, walking at a slow, steady pace and allowing a 6 inch overlap of seeds.   Protect the grass seed by covering with either straw or peat moss.  Water frequently to keep the seed moist (don’t saturate).  Morning is the best time to water.  Watering in the evening is acceptable but does increase the risk of turf fungus.  Cut watering back to once a day when the grass reaches about 1 inch in high.

End of the Road

End of the Road

Throughout Ohio stone driveways are a common sight. Limestone driveways are easy to work with and extremely affordable.  It also provides you with versatility in terms of layout and style.

If the wet spring & summer weather had you seeing puddles in your stone driveway, now is the time to fill in those low areas.  The timing is right when your driveway is dry & there are no wet spots. Over time, your stone drive will inevitably develop potholes and ruts.  The best way to repair these areas is to fill them with #304 or #411 crushed limestone.  Fill the hole in layers tamping each layer as you go.  A simple way to compact the area is to run the wheels of your car up & down the repair site a few times.

So don’t ignore those trouble spots.  The sooner you take care of them the less likely they will grow into major holes & ruts.

Finding the Right Path

Finding the Right Path

Creating a garden path is mostly common sense. But it does require a lot of elbow grease and some skill.   There are a few different types of material that can be used but it is up to you to decide what suits your need. Here are some path ideas that can be done on a budget.

Consider a gravel path (pea gravel / #8 washed gravel) for a low budget and time project.  You can then edge the pathway with round boulders.  Mulch is another inexpensive option for paths.  Wood chips & playground mulch can both be used as a decorative covering for paths and walkways.

The path should be generous enough in width to accommodate more than one traveler side by side.  The minimum recommended width for a two person walkway is 42 inches.  This is especially important for paths that will be used frequently.  Some people like to make a little garden out of life and walk down a path.

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?”
― Garth Nix, Sabriel

Tips for building pathways
•    Spray or remove any vegetation that is growing in the pathway
•    Remove or fill over any rocks or roots that will create an uneven walking surface
•    Cover the soil with landscape fabric to deter weeds and prevent the fill material from mixing with the soil. Don’t use plastic. It will catch water and create a soggy path.
•    Have gravel delivered, especially if you need more than a ton.
•    If you want a path that’s firm enough to roll a wheelbarrow on, use crushed limestone and tamp it after leveling it. (Pea rock or other rounded stone won’t compact.) Use a hand tamper for short paths. Rent a vibrating-plate tamper for long paths.

Thinking Outside the Sandbox

Thinking Outside the Sandbox

We can all agree that creating a backyard oasis is tough but well worth it.  One way to transform your yard into a summer haven is by adding an above ground pool. A pool is a perfect way to entertain and to keep cool.  If you prepare beforehand, installing a pool can be done quickly.

How long does it take to install an above ground pool?  Most above ground pools can be installed in one day.  You can also hire a professional installer.  To install a pool you need a level surface that will support the pool shell.  The ground must be covered by sand to protect the liner.  Mason sand should be used for this.  Mason sand is tan, fairly fine textured sand and is also known as play sand.   It does not have any pebbles or stones which means it is ideal for protecting pool liners.

So keep cool and enjoy some fun water activities during these hot summer days!

Mason sand has many uses:
•    Under pool liners
•    In sandboxes or play areas
•    Under paving stones or bricks
•    In mixing concrete or mortar
•    Golf course sand traps