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The Difference Between Annual and Perennial Plants

Perennial Plant Information - What Is Definition Of Perennial Plant

All flowering plants follow the same basic steps in their life cycle. Annuals complete that cycle in one growing season, whereas perennials live on for three years or longer. But, if you begin studying the labels on your new plant or seed packet purchases, you’ll discover many twists on this basic definition. You’ll come across terms such as “hardy” and “half-hardy” annual, or tender perennial. Plus there’s a third plant category, biennials, that combines some of the characteristics of both plant types.

What is clear when comparing annuals and perennials is that neither is superior to the other. Integrating both types into your garden designs (along with shrubs and trees) gives you the best of both worlds and unlimited options in color, texture, form, and bloom time.

WHAT IS AN ANNUAL?

True annuals are plants that germinate, flower, set seed, and die all in one season. Their ultimate goal is to reproduce themselves (set seed), which is good news for gardeners because most annuals will flower like mad until their mission is accomplished. And, if you use methods such as deadheading to prevent seed formation, many annuals will amp up their flower production and continue to bloom profusely until the first frost arrives. Although you’ll need to replant most annuals the following spring to get a repeat performance, some will readily self-sow and return for an encore, such as sweet alyssum, bachelor’s button, and forget-me-nots.

Top Red Annual Flowers for Your Garden | HGTV

Types of Annuals


Not all annuals are equal. They are typically subdivided into three groups:

  • Hardy or cool-season annuals, such as forget-me-not and larkspur, thrive in the cool to moderate temperatures of early spring and fall and can tolerate exposure to light frost without being protected.
  • Tender or warm-season annuals, such as marigolds and petunias, are native to tropical or subtropical climates and require heat to grow and thrive, often growing poorly during cold weather. To ensure their survival, it’s best to wait until late spring to add these plants to your garden beds or containers.
  • Half-hardy annuals are most common and fall in the middle-of-the-road. They tolerate a wide range of temperatures, including periods of cooler weather near the beginning or end of the gardening season.

Why choose annuals?

  • Growing annuals can be a great way to take gardening one year at a time; experiment with new plants and color schemes without making a long-term commitment.
  • Annuals are perfect for temporarily filling in bare spots in established gardens or refreshing containers through the season.
  • Add annuals to a vegetable garden for a splash of color, to fill in gaps when early-season crops are harvested, and attract pollinators to increase production of edible crops.
  • Annuals provide nearly instant gratification, maturing faster than perennials or biennials, and often bloom from planting time until frost, and in some cases beyond.
  • If you want a lot of blooms, annuals are the answer. They put all of their energy into developing flowers.

WHAT IS A PERENNIAL?

Unlike their short-lived counterparts, perennials are typically cold-hardy plants that will return again in the spring. They usually bloom for only one season each year (either spring, summer, or fall), but there are also reblooming and long-blooming perennials, such as fern-leaved bleeding heart.

When grown in favorable conditions, perennials often live a long time, but don’t assume they will last forever. Their life span is variable, and some may live for only three to five years. Perennials also vary greatly in terms of their care and maintenance. Some may need to be pruned and divided regularly to maintain their vigor and keep them tidy, while others are tough and undemanding, seeming to thrive on neglect.

20 Best Perennial Flowers - Easy Perennial Plants to Grow

Why choose perennials?

  • Although perennials tend to cost more initially, they are a good long-term investment because they return year after year.
  • Even perennials that don’t have a long life span can often be propagated by division* or reseeding to perpetuate their population.
  • Most perennials require less water once established, which can be especially advantageous for those who garden in drought-prone areas and want to reduce their water consumption.
  • Planting perennials that are native to your region offers the additional benefit of creating a welcome habitat for pollinators and local wildlife.
Tulip Pink Impression | White Flower Farm

PLANTS THAT BREAK THE RULES

Not all flowering plants fall neatly into the categories of annual, perennial, or biennial. Here are a few that break the rules.

Tulips: Although most bulbs are considered to be perennials, tulips are often an exception. Native to Central Asia, they require cold winters and hot, dry summers to return each year. But in climates that don’t offer these conditions, they don’t rebloom reliably and are often treated as annuals.

Tender perennials: You may be surprised to discover that some of the most popular annuals may actually perform as perennials in certain regions of the country. These tender perennials, sometimes called “temperennials,” are winter hardy in warmer growing zones but not in northern gardens, where they are typically grown as annuals or even houseplants. Many succulents and tropical plants fit into this category, such as begonias, Alternanthera, elephant ears, and agave.

Where To Place Landscape Lighting

Lite the Nite

Landscape lighting placement varies depending on the techniques utilized.

  • Highlighting – at the base of an outdoor feature
  • Silhouetting – behind the feature, towards a close wall
  • Shadowing – at the base of feature towards a wall
  • Washing – a few feet away at an indirect angle to a wall or shrubs
  • Up-lighting – low at the base light like washing, but more direct
  • Down-lighting – bright and fixed in an eave, trellis, or hardscape
  • Moonlighting – soft large fixture(s) high in tree angled down
  • Accenting – angled up or down with a narrow beam from a hidden position
  • Path-lighting – often staggered, illuminate the entire path, especially steps and obstacles
  • In-grade – installed in surface, often at the base of stone wall or hardscape for shadow
  • Pool/shoreline – less than 12” submerged near steps, or above, utilizing end or spaced placement

Let’s explore each technique a little bit more.


HIGHLIGHTING

Provide shape, color, and form using this style of landscape lighting. Start by placing your spotlight(s) at the base of what you would like to feature – a garden trellis, statue, a portion of your house or water feature are a few examples. Vary the distance and angle to achieve the desired highlight effect. The closer the light is, the more precise the area highlighted. Change the colors of the bulbs for a festive or seasonal look of your home, retaining wall, fence or garden.


SILHOUETTING

Create a dramatic effect at night in your landscape with silhouette lighting. Begin by placing a spotlight behind the landscape feature, aiming it at a wall or fence behind the feature. The object will be silhouetted against a soft light background. Multiple fixtures may be necessary, depending on the amount of lighted surface area needed to effectively silhouette the landscape feature. Some of the most striking execution of silhouetting uses dense subjects like planters, well-manicured evergreen shrubs, and arbored trees with dense foliage.


SHADOWING

Washing a feature with soft light, and illuminating the background surface casts an often magical set of shadows to appear on walls or the facade of a building. Low lighting angled up creates a grand shadow bigger than the original.

Consider playing with the distances and angles, as well as incorporating plants that provide movement in the breeze, like ornamental grasses.


WASHING

Washing is a technique that is most commonly applied to walls and rows of shrubs. This technique utilizes an indirect angle of light that creates a soft, almost ambient glow.

For best results, a wide-angle flood light with low wattage is preferred over a spotlight. Experimenting with height and angle is also recommended to find the perfect light.


UP-LIGHTING

A variety of fixtures are appropriate for up-lighting depending on the subject being lit. Essentially, this is light from below that can shadow, wash or silhouette.

This technique is great for featuring objects, or creating a contrast of shadow and light for varying depths of a structure’s wall, creating a stately and majestic appearance.


DOWN-LIGHTING

Attach lighting to a tree or a structure like a wall or building and aim the light down. Depending on what the light is attached to, the results may vary. While With fixtures that are attached to a home, under the eaves, for example, tend to highlight the structure of the house.

Down-lighting creates a directly illuminated area at the base of the structure the fixture is attached to.


MOONLIGHTING

True to its name, moonlighting creates a glow similar to moonlight. Moonlighting is created by placing light fixtures high inside the foliage of a tree, angled down.

The lighting within a tree’s branches and foliage make interesting shadows on the ground, as well as a soft glow from within.


ACCENTING

Use this technique to draw attention to a featured object such as a statue. Accenting uses up-lighting or down-lighting to emphasize the object, creating a unique contrast of shadows.

One key to this technique is to utilize a narrow beam of light from a hidden fixture, keeping all of the focus on the object itself.


PATH-LIGHTING

Just because you want your paths safely navigable, doesn’t mean you can’t guide them with a sense of romance or intriguing adventure.

When placing fixtures along a walkway or path, consider risks like being kicked or struck by a mower, and be sure they are angled down to avoid glare. A variety of down-lighting techniques can be used when lighting a path.


IN-GRADE

In-grade lighting is often installed at the base of a stone wall or other hardscape feature.

These fixtures (usually well lights) are often installed flush with the surface. This technique is best applied where other fixtures might create a tripping hazard or unwanted obstacle.


POOLS, SPAS, SHORELINE, FOUNTAINS, AND PONDS

Water lighting can be installed both above and below the surface. To properly illuminate underwater stairs in a spa or pool, fixtures in that area should be no more than 12 inches below the surface.

In general, fixtures placed at either end or spaced along the side wall are the most practical location – taking into consideration coverage for curves. Moving water can be especially striking when it is illuminated from below, showcasing the movement of the water on the surface. This style of lighting should be done by a licensed professional for safety

Landscaping with Rocks

Limestone Boulders | Indiana Limestone Co. A Polycor Inc Company

There are literally 101 ways of landscaping with rocks, and probably hundreds more. When many people think about landscaping they focus only on flowers, ground covers, shrubs and trees. The elements missing in this type of landscape design are stones and rocks, which provide varying heights and contours that keep the backyard landscape interesting and unique. Successfully integrating rocks into your landscape turns them into a focal point – each rock being placed to create a specific look and feel.

Additionally if you’re using natural rock, it looks like it’s part of your yard’s natural environment even if you purchased the stone elsewhere. Of course the greatest advantage of using rocks in your garden is they require no watering, trimming, or fuss.

Having rocks in your landscape changes the overall feel of your yard. Think of a Zen rock garden as one example. It’s both beautiful and relaxing, and has a practical application for individuals who enjoy moving meditations. Other ideas include using stone in combination with water features for a deep-forest atmosphere, or lava rock for a tropical paradise. The potential combinations are only limited by the space available, the budget and your imagination.

Choosing Rocks for your Landscape

Landscaping with rocks means taking a little time to educate yourself on the different types of rocks available to you. There’s a huge difference in cost and materials comparing a water feature with stone to decorative ground cover. Not all rock is the same in terms of durability.

Additionally you also have fake rock from which to choose. Fake rock is lighter and comes in custom sizes and colors. These stones offer the advantage of having hollow areas that are perfect for storing tools or hiding unappealing eyesores (like exposed piping).

Accent Landscape Boulders

Accent boulders help you build levels into your landscape without bringing in extra soil. They also give the whole landscape design a unique character that impacts the view with a little drama and interesting angles.

One of the keys to using accent boulders effectively is making them appear as if they literally grew out of that spot. Putting the bottom of the stone down about 4″-6″ achieves that effect, particularly in combination with decorative grasses nearby.

images boulder retaining walls - Bing Images | Landscaping with boulders,  Rock wall gardens, Rock wall landscape

Planning and Placement of your Landscape Rocks

Use graph paper and try a couple of different plans for the landscape. Landscaping with rocks, and particularly boulders, is heavy work. You want to get the placement right on the first try. When drawing your rock design I would suggest grouping your rocks in sets of three, four, or five, in various sizes and shapes. This type of plan creates a natural appeal rather than something that seems formal and contrived.

Types of Landscape Rocks

Gallery | WLM

Small to medium sized rocks have a lot of flexibility in your landscape design. Use small stones in place of mulch in combination with landscape fabric for weed control, for example. Small stones help with drainage around pools and patios, and make a textural filler around trees too.

Place medium sized stones so as to create garden pathways. Or, use them as a natural support for a top heavy plant. Medium sized stones also create rustic borders and low-lying walls with a little engineering.

Three very popular natural stones for landscaping with rocks are flagstone, schist and river rock. The flat nature of flagstone and its unique shape makes it ideal for creating patios and pathways. Smaller pieces can be attached to garden boxes or fountains for a cobbled look.

Schist comes in a wide variety of colors, which is one reason why people like using it in landscape design. Schist has long, thin rock layers that work well in small garden streams. Blueschist provides striking appeal for wallscapes. Greenschist stands out when polished to a marble finish, and Chert has stripes of black for a dramatic backdrop in ponds.

Drainage/Dry Creek Beds » French Drain Installation | Backyard Drainage | Dry  River Beds | Landscapes by Terra

As the name implies, river rock comes from rivers and has soft, round edges. This makes it a good option for landscape designs requiring draining. Of course river rock also suits water features beautifully. Scatter a few river rocks around areas that attract butterflies to give them a soft surface for landing.

Whether you want a splash of texture and natural colors for ground covering or a full-out rock garden, landscaping with rocks is a great choice. Rocks endure the elements and truly offer one-of-a-kind uniqueness in sizes and shapes, some of which are sure to fit your plans.

Use artificial rocks to cover unattractive areas or as clever hiding holes for tools, then bring natural rocks of all sizes into the landscape to tie your theme together perfectly.

DekoRRa Rock Medium Rock Enclosure - Faux Rock - 109

Is Sprinkler Winterizing Necessary?

Winterize your Sprinkler System - [Exclusive] Guide -

Recently we received a question asking if it really is necessary to winterize sprinklers, “Do I need to worry about winterizing my sprinkler system?” Great question.

Most people want to protect their sprinkler system. They know there is a significant investment and they want to protect it. By blowing out the sprinkler system with compressed air, they gain a sense of confidence that they have protected the investment. They want to ensure that the sprinklers will work properly for years to come.

The full answer

The main thought here seems to be—if it’s underground how can it freeze? The simple answer goes something like this. During periods of freezing weather, the frost level sinks deeper and deeper into the soil. How deep the frost goes depends on how cold it is and for how long. After temperatures rise above freezing, the soil gradually thaws out.

Ok, so how deep is your sprinkler sytem buried? Most sprinkler system lateral lines are at a depth of 8-12 inches; valves are around 12 inches; and the double check anti-siphon device at between 12 inches and 24 inches.

Now let’s look at the variables

  • You really don’t know what’s under the ground and you don’t know how deep it is!
  • Sometimes it gets really cold and it lasts a long time. When this happens the frost line goes deeper.
  • Micro climates matter.
    • If there is a very windy spot the cold goes deeper in that area.
    • Maybe there is a concrete retaining wall with sprinkler pipes just on the other side. The cold comes from the top and from the side, so it penetrates a lot more.
  • Even soil conditions, mulch or the lack thereof, vegetation, and other things influence how deep the frost penetrates.
Winterizing Your Irrigation System - TLC Incorporated

What may break in a freeze and what happens then?

  • Pipes can crack if they freeze when filled with water.
  • Similarly the pipe fittings can crack.
  • Valves can also be affected. These are the most expensive parts.

For some parts, especially those made of metal, the affects of alternately freezing and thawing are cumulative. You may get by for years and then something breaks.

No Frozen Pipe Bibs Here-What to do to prevent a disaster! - Water  Extraction Experts

The Full Package

Winterizing your sprinklers is just one part of ongoing care for your sprinkler system. Possibly an even more helpful service is the Spring Start Up. That service activates the sprinkler system by closing drain valves, turning the water on, and then cleaning and adjusting the sprinklers as needed. If the sprinklers are not cleaned and adjusted regularly, sprinkler system performance will deteriorate. This is also an opportune time to do any needed repairs just before the watering season begins.

Symptoms Of A Dying Tree

SIGNS OF A DYING OR DEAD TREE

You should be aware of the signs of a dying or dead tree to prevent unwanted damage to your property. When trees begin to die they become a hazard. Dead branches can fall on cars, homes, garages, sheds, fences, pools, power lines, pets, and people. There are warning signs you should look for to help determine the health of your tree.

  • Leaves are brown when they should not be during growth season.
  • Red or Brown needles on your Evergreen is a sign that the tree is dying.
  • Branches that have lost its bark is a sign of a dead branch.
  • Fungus on the branches is a telltale sign that the branch is dead.
  • The bark is dry, loose, and falling off.
  • There are holes in the bark that indicate insect infestation.
  • The trunk has fungus.
  • The trunk and roots are slimy indicate a dead tree.
  • Missing bark at the trunk.
  • Carpenter ants at the base and around the tree.
  • If you peel away the bark and the tree is dry then you have a dying tree.
10 Signs of a Dying Tree You Shouldn't Ignore

WHAT TIME OF YEAR SHOULD TREES BE PRUNED?

Winter is a great time to cut most trees. As a general rule, trees and woody shrubs that don’t bloom are usually fully dormant in late winter – and should be pruned in the “dead” of winter. Blooming trees and shrubs should be pruned after they bloom.

Occasionally, pruning species such as maple and birch should be done in mid-summer for minimal sap loss. Prune trees for the importance of both health and safety. Trees that already dead should come down before they become a source of injury or property damage – any time of year!

How to Prune Trees Without Killing Them (step-by-step with pictures) -  BestLife52

Patio Ideas

Patio shade | Small backyard landscaping, Backyard patio designs, Patio  pavers design

Creative patio ideas can transform a mundane outdoor area into an oasis of tranquility or the hub of your family’s summer activities. While patio decorating ideas abound, you have to have a plan to achieve the effect you want. Initial considerations should be the space available, budget, and needs of your family.

First, sketch your patio and floor plan with the elements you know you will want. A patio water garden definitely adds ambience as does a fire pit. Depending upon the space required for your patio landscaping ideas, you may not have room for both. Of course, small patio ideas will differ from those patio designs suitable for the Gardens of Babylon. However, you know you will need furniture so that is a good place to begin.

Choosing The Right Furniture For Your Patio

Polywood Stylish Outdoor Furniture

Usually, when you walk onto a patio the first thing you do is to sit down. After all, your patio is an extension of your home so you want the furniture to be comfortable and inviting. Patio furniture has to be able to endure moisture, heat, cold, and sunlight. Most commonly, patio furniture is made out of metal, wicker, wood, or resin.

Wood

The most prevalent woods for manufacturing outdoor furniture are redwood, cedar and teak because they can endure the elements and retain their beauty. Teak is relatively maintenance-free. Applying teak oil will help the wood retain its warm color or simply let it weather to an attractive grayish coloration. Cheaper woods will need to be painted or stained to preserve them.

Wicker

Wicker can be made from any number of materials and its soft feel and elegant style fits a number of patio ideas. Lightweight and sturdy, wicker is durable but heat is its enemy. To prevent wicker from drying out, place it in the shade if possible and cover it when not in use. You may also need to revarnish it at some point.

Metal

When considering metal furniture in your patio ideas, aluminum has many advantages. Whether cast or extruded, aluminum resists corrosion. With intricate patterns, cast aluminum furniture resembles wrought iron without its disadvantages. Extruded aluminum furniture is lightweight and easy to move and store.

Resin

Available with cushions or mesh seats and backs, resin patio furniture is lightweight and can be molded to resemble wicker or wrought iron. Resistant to heat and cold, the paint is molded into the resin so chipping and fading paint won’t ever detract from the furniture’s beauty.

Patio Decorating Ideas

The vision and scope of your patio ideas will be defined by its amenities. If your patio is open to the world perhaps tall wooden shutters attached to each other by hinges would provide a windbreak and add privacy. Adding a fire pit or free standing fireplace will provide warmth and charm on cool evenings. A major patio activity is barbecuing so deciding on the type of grill you want is key. A portable propane grill is convenient, but a bricked and tiled grill adds elegance.

For a soothing touch consider a water feature in your patio ideas. The sound of running water creates mood and atmosphere. Speaking of sound, consider adding a sound system, large or small, to increase your enjoyment. Using a theme for your patio is one of the easiest ways to decorate your patio. Here are some patio decorating ideas using tropical, Asian and nautical themes. Finally, embellish your patio with decorative accessories that appeal to you such as an old wheelbarrow, whiskey barrels, wind chimes, pottery, or rugs.

Outdoor Patio Rugs

Choosing the Best Outdoor Rug - Bob Vila

Think outside the box and include an outdoor rug in your patio ideas. Outdoor area rugs  are mold, mildew, and stain resistant. Designed to dry quickly, they can be washed off with a garden hose and will not fade with constant exposure to sunlight. Besides lending elegance, they are useful to visually separate different zones on the patio.

Lighting

Patio Lights - Yard Envy

More than just enabling you to use your patio after dark, patio lighting can be used to accentuate the most attractive elements you have incorporated into your design. Solar lighting is appealing because it doesn’t require any additional wiring and uses no electricity from the grid. All their energy is generated by small solar panels. Low voltage lighting is wired but uses little current and is more reliable than solar.

Solar or low voltage lighting can be used to illuminate areas. For mood lighting, strategically string Christmas lights in trees or shrubs. Small strings of lights can also be strung around patio umbrellas. Japanese lanterns, wall scones, and even candles will make the patio unique.

Planters

Prestige Large 28x28 Patio Planter - 3 Colors

Patio planters can be used to help define the boundaries of your patio or use them to add a pop of color. A large planter filled with a combination of plants can become a great focal point. Planters can be used to frame spaces, by placing them on the corners you are defining that space, planters can also be used to divide larger patios into smaller sections.

Choose from the myriad styles and materials to complement your theme. Besides planter boxes and window boxes, urns and old wheelbarrows can be pressed into service as a home for beautiful flowers and fragrant vines. Planters can be used to create privacy by surrounding benches and seating areas with vines or potted trees. For plant ideas for your patio. Use these patio landscaping ideas to spruce up your patio.

Privacy

New Modern Rustic Outdoor Privacy Screen + The Rest Of My Patio | Privacy  screen outdoor, Outdoor privacy, Privacy wall outdoor

Your patio planning should account for some element of seclusion. A chain link fence covered with a profusion of vines or a thick hedge will provide solitude. Of course, a sturdy wooden privacy fence will also help to insulate you from any annoying noise pollution. A lattice wall will inexpensively zone your private Eden from the rest of the world. Again, a lush covering of flowering vines will accentuate the beauty and increase the privacy of your patio.

Your patio ideas should reflect your tastes and extend your living area into your backyard. Whether simple or elegant, the patio you design will be a focal point of your fair weather activities.

Landscaping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Pavers & Retaining Walls – Garcias Landscaping

While there is nothing that can’t be fixed with a little hard work, the key to your satisfaction and peace of mind is learning how to avoid landscaping mistakes before they happen.

Failure to Plan

Thumbing through gardening magazines or strolling through your local nursery may spark your imagination and enthusiasm but coming home with a carload of plants before deciding where to put them may leave you disappointed with the finished result. In addition to researching the unique requirements and potential growth of each species, it’s important to strive for balance, harmony, and sustainability when considering your design. The team of landscape design experts at The Grounds Guys can help you achieve the look you desire while adding beauty and value to your home.

Neglecting the Front Yard

Many homeowners make the mistake of focusing on the backyard where they spend the majority of their time, to the detriment of the front yard space. In addition to consideration for your view of the yard from your indoor living area, focus on your curb appeal by adding some color and dimension and defining the pathway to your front door.

Bad Pruning Habits

Pruning is a vital component of landscape maintenance, which, when done correctly can encourage and control the growth of your plants. When done incorrectly, however, pruning can cause damage to your plants and cause your landscaping to appear unprofessional and unhealthy.

Cutting Your Grass Too Low

Whether your intention is to mimic the look of your favorite golf course, or to stretch out the amount of time in between mowing, cutting your grass too low can have dire consequences to its health and appearance. When too much of the stalk is removed the grass is unable to properly endure photosynthesis and root growth may be stunted. For best results, aim for a height that matches the variety and species of turf.

Excessive Ornamentation

Decorative items serve a unique function in most outdoor designs, but one of the biggest landscape design mistakes you can make is allowing them to take over your yard. Focus your efforts on creating a more natural and varied decor, incorporating a mixture of shrubs, grasses, flowers, and trees, with just a few strategically placed, high-quality decorations to attract the eye.

Not Using the Correct Irrigation

Adequate levels of moisture are crucial to a healthy lawn and garden, and both overwatering and underwatering can have detrimental effects. A professionally installed irrigation system takes the guesswork out of watering your plants and can be customized to meet the unique requirements of the various plants around your property.

Neglecting to Think About Color

Choose your color palette prior to planting, to ensure the colors work together with each other and the exterior of your home. Too many colors or too much of one color can be overwhelming, while too little may appear boring. Factor in seasonal color variations by researching flowering shrubs and variations in foliage prior to installation.

Spring Landscaping in NJ – The Best Time to Get Started - Landscape  Solutions

Lawn Mowing Tricks No One Ever Told You

When to Start Mowing in the Spring | The Turfgrass Group Inc

Mowing the grass is a pretty straightforward task, but are you unintentionally making the chore harder than it needs to be? Follow these 10 tips from Lowe’s to make mowing the lawn easier for you and more beneficial for your grass.

Sharpen the Blades

At first you may think this tip simply lengthens your to-do list, but sharp blades prevent you from having to make multiple passes. A quick investment of your time at the start of summer can make mowing the lawn easier all season long.

Top Off the Tank

There’s nothing more annoying than running out of fuel mid-mow. Plus, you’re advised not to refuel a hot lawn mower. If you think the tank is running low, remember to top it off before you start the mower next time.

Check the Lawn for Debris

The last thing you need is for a rock, stick or baseball to dull your lawn mower’s freshly sharpened blades. To prevent frustration and potential injury, clear these items from the grass before you start mowing.

Time Your Mowing Just Right

The best time of day to mow is when it’s cool outside, so in the morning or evening. Mowing when it’s cool helps keep moisture in the roots where it’s needed. It also reduces the chance of heat exhaustion.

Still, the evening is preferable to the morning, because this gives the grass 12 hours of darkness to heal before the sun comes up. The grass also tends to be dewy or wet from being watered in the morning, and you shouldn’t mow when the grass is wet for your own personal safety and the health of your grass.

Keep the Grass Long Enough

You may think giving your grass an extreme cut will prolong the time until you need to mow again, but cutting more than one-third of the blade at a time can damage the grass. Plus, longer blades shade the ground, which slows evaporation and helps prevent weeds from sprouting. In this way, more frequent, less extreme cuts result in a healthier lawn and fewer weeds.

Keep Grass Even Longer in the Shade

Longer grass signifies longer roots. Since grass growing under a tree must compete with tree roots for water and nutrients, help the grass stay as healthy as possible by leaving it longer than the grass growing in full sun.

Rethink Your Mowing Schedule

It’s easy to cut the grass on a set weekly schedule, but keep in mind that hot, dry weather slows the growth of cool-season grass. In these conditions, you’ll be happy to hear you can mow less frequently without harming the grass.

Speaking of schedules, check out these cleaning schedules, checklists and charts from Molly Maid, a fellow Neighborly company!

Change Up Your Mowing Pattern

You may fall into the habit of always mowing along the same route, but since grass tends to lean in the direction you mow, you’ll encourage more upward growth and avoid ruts if you switch up the way you mow each time with different mowing patterns.

Skip the Bag

Do you think leaving grass clippings behind looks messy? Maybe so, but this organic fertilizing technique returns nitrogen and other valuable nutrients to the soil. Make sure you shoot grass clippings onto areas you’ve already mowed as a free way to promote a healthier lawn.

Use Caution on Hills

If you have a steep yard, never mow straight up and down. This could make you slip and injure yourself. For easier lawn mowing and a reduced chance of injury, mow from side to side across the hill.

Low Maintenance Lawn Care Services in Minneapolis

Charcoal vs. Gas Grills: Which Is Better?

Charcoal Grill Vs Gas Grill : Pros And Cons - For Your Grill

Charcoal vs. gas grill, also known as the “Great Debate.” Our simple pros and cons list will help you decide which grill is best for your family.

Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to charcoal and gas grilling. Which type of grill is the best? Is there a correct choice for whipping up amazing grilling recipes? Rather than guessing which to use at your next cookout, we’ve rounded up the pros and cons of charcoal and gas grills so you can make a well-informed decision for what will be the tastiest choice of the summer.

Charcoal Grills

How to Cook on a Charcoal Grill - Consumer Reports

According to some die-hard barbecue fans, the only way to grill is with charcoal. Charcoal provides that rich, smoky flavor that, even with an attached smoker box, gas just can’t meet. Learn more about how to use a charcoal grill.

Pros of charcoal grills:

  • Typically, charcoal grills reach a higher temperature than gas grills. A grill has to reach a temperature of at least 600 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve a nice sear on your meat. This is no problem for a kettle grill filled with red-hot charcoals as it can reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit. While there are gas grills that can reach higher temperatures, they’re usually on the pricier end.
  • You get that scrumptious, smoky flavor. Ever wonder how charcoal grills give so much flavor? Turns out, that higher heat is key. When the drippings from your steak, chicken or veggies fall on the hot coals, they turn into flavor-packed steam and smoke that goes right back into the meat, resulting in the amazingly unique taste of charcoal grilling.
  • They are easier on your wallet. A basic charcoal grill will run you about $25, while a moderately priced one can be found for around $150. Of course, higher-end models go up from there, but in comparison, charcoal grills are far less expensive than gas grills which usually cost between $130-$300.

Cons of charcoal grills:

  • Longer heat up time. Charcoal grills, on average, take about 15-20 minutes to reach the proper cooking temperature (not including the time it takes to light the charcoal), whereas gas grills instantly light up and take about 10 minutes to reach cooking temperature. There are a few different ways to start a charcoal grill, too.
  • Fuel cost adds up. A 20-pound propane cylinder can provide around 25 days of cooking time, whereas a 20-pound bag of charcoal will only yield three grilling sessions. The type of charcoal you cook with can change the way your food tastes as well. Clean-burning hardwood/lump charcoal can go for $35 to $40 for a 20-pound bag.
  • The cleanup is a bit more cumbersome. As opposed to the gas grill that only needs a quick scrub with a brush, a charcoal grill has to be emptied of its used ashes before it can be scrubbed. Be sure to follow these grill cleaning tips, too.

Gas Grills

How To Use a Gas Grill - The Home Depot

There’s no denying how convenient gas grills are in terms of start-up and temperature control, but that ease comes with a price.

Pros of gas grills:

  • They are better for you and the environment. It’s scientifically proven! In regards to your health, The Healthy says opt for a gas grill. Why? Because gas-grilled meats contain fewer carcinogens compared to char-kissed charcoal-grilled meats. As for the environment, it’s been studied that gas grills’ carbon footprint is about one-third of charcoal grills’ carbon footprint.
  • Quick start-up and temperature control. With a simple press of the ignition button and a turn of the dial, your gas grill will spark to life. After a quick preheat, you’ll be ready to grill, rather than having to wait for coals to heat up. You can also go from low heat needed for bone-in chicken to searing hot for kebobs or steak without having to worry about moving around hot coals, too. (By the way, here’s the difference between propane and natural gas).
  • Versatility. With a gas grill, you can easily cook delicate foods such as fruit and vegetables without the worry of overpowering the food with the smoke flavor that comes along with charcoal grilling.

Cons of gas grills:

  • Assembly time. As opposed to the charcoal grill that can be set up in a jiffy, a mid-range gas model is a bit more complicated to assemble and hook up to a propane tank.
  • Safety. While there are safety precautions to follow with any form of cooking, you have to be extra careful when cooking with a gas grill. Always make sure that your propane tank is properly attached without leaks, your grill is at least ten feet from your home and deck and that the grill is free from grease. Not sure how to best clean your grill? Follow this simple grill cleaning check-list that’ll leave your grill looking brand-new!
  • Portability. Though travel-sized gas grills are available, it would be much too difficult, and dangerous, to tow a full-sized gas grill around to the park or the beach.

The Bottom Line

Charcoal and gas grills each have their pro and cons, but only you can decide which would be best for your family and lifestyle. With so many delicious grilling recipes to cook up this summer, you can’t go wrong either way.

How to Grill Burgers: 8 Secrets Every Cook Should Know

Best Time to Water Lawn

Lawn Watering Tips - Green Earth Solutions, Inc - Lawn Care in  Jacksonville, Florida

Like all living things, your lawn needs sunlight, food, and water in order to survive. While factors such as climate and soil conditions may cause variations with regards to the frequency and amount of water that is needed, the best time of day to water your lawn remains the same. Here are some helpful tips to keep your lawn looking its best.

What is the Best Time to Water Your Lawn?

While it is important to provide your lawn with adequate amounts of water, it is equally as important to water at the right time of day to maximize absorption and reduce the likelihood of disease or infestation. For best results, water your lawn in the early part of the day before temperatures or the wind start to pick up. Opt to have your watering completed by 10 a.m. to allow time for the water to penetrate the soil before evaporation can occur.

If you must water later in the day, choose a time between four and six p.m. to allow time for the grass to dry before nightfall, when the absence of sunlight and lower temperatures can result in a lawn that is wet for 12 to 15 hours, contributing to fungal or bacterial diseases.

How Long Should You Water Your Lawn?

Aim for an average of one inch of water per week, divided among two to three watering sessions during hotter weather. Under normal conditions, it takes approximately 30 minutes to deliver one-half inch of water. Slow and steady delivery allows the water to soak deep into the root system, while allowing for proper airflow and drainage.

Watering Requirements for Different Lawn Types

The best time to water lawn varieties depends on a number of factors including which zone you reside in, the season, and the type of grass. Use these guidelines for best results:

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses thrive in climates where temperatures are between 80 and 95 degrees and include varieties such as Zoysia, Bermuda, and St. Augustine. Continue to actively water as long as the grass is growing and requires regular mowing, keeping in mind that warm-season grasses may require less water than their counterparts.

Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescues, and ryegrass are ideally found in northern climates with active growth well into the fall season. While evaporation rates may slow in cooler weather, continue to provide between one and one-and-a-half inches of water each week up until the first frost.

Lawn Watering Tips

Don’t overwater. Allow the lawn to dry out in between watering to establish a strong root system, which will kill the weeds and fungi.

Raise your mower height. Cut higher during periods of excessive heat or drought to provide a shade canopy to protect the base of the grass.

Make exceptions. Pay close attention to moisture levels around large trees where the water requirements may be higher, and water sloped areas more slowly to allow time for proper absorption.

Check the soil. Use a screwdriver to check the soil during your first watering to determine how long it takes for the water to reach a depth of six inches, and set your sprinkler system accordingly.

How Long to Water Your Lawn (2021) - This Old House