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Spring Lawn Care Tips

Spring lawn chores aren’t difficult, but they do play a vital role in getting your grass on track for a healthy, productive growing season.

Tackling spring lawn care provides a just-right dose of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise—and sets your lawn on its way to season-long glory. Spring lawn chores aren’t difficult, but they do play a vital role in getting your grass on track for a healthy, productive growing season.

Here are our top spring lawn care tips:

Early Spring

  • Tune up your mower. Change the oil, air filter and spark plug. Clean the top and undercarriage, removing dirt and grass clippings-just be sure to detach the spark plug wire before working around the cutting blade. Don’t flip a gas mower over to clean underneath; simply lift one side and brush away dried grass. If dried grass has hardened, loosen with a hand trowel or putty knife. Sharpen the mower blade, and replace it if it has large nicks or gouges. It’s a good idea to keep an extra blade on hand so you always cut with a sharp edge. Last but not least, fill the fuel tank. If you prefer a hands-off approach, take your mower to the shop, though you will want to do it in late fall or winter to avoid spring crowds. Note, too, that a cold mower can be hard to start in early spring. Warm it up by placing it in the sun for an hour or two prior to starting. Enhance warming by placing a dark trash bag over the engine while it’s soaking up some rays. (Remove the bag before you start the mower, though!)
  • Clean up. Walk over your lawn and gather any twigs, branches or other debris that has appeared over winter. Dispose of trash, and add small twigs and leaves to your compost pile. Then, rake out dead grass. It can also go on the compost pile unless it contains weeds.
  • Repair bare spots in Northern lawns. Fix bare patches in cool-season turf using Scotts® EZ Seed®. Water newly seeded areas daily for at least a week, but ideally until grass reaches mow-able height. Avoid mowing until grass is at least 2 inches tall or the same height as surrounding lawn. (Wait until late spring for Southern lawns.)
  • Prevent weeds in the North. For Northern lawns where crabgrass has been a problem in the past, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food in early spring. Follow label directions, and only use this product if no spring seeding projects are planned.
  • Kill weeds in the South. For weedy Southern lawns, fertilize with Scotts® Turf Builder® Bonus® S Southern Weed & Feed, which kills dollarweed and clover, plus many other weeds commonly found in the South. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the label.
  • Feed the grass. If crabgrass wasn’t a problem, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food to Northern lawns around the time of the first mowing. This will give nourishment to plant roots for strong growth. If weeds weren’t an issue last year on your Southern lawn, feed grass with Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Lawn Food to help protect your lawn against heat and drought. With all lawn fertilizers, follow label directions carefully for best results.
  • Mow high. Adjust the mower deck to cut grass at the highest possible setting for your lawn’s type of grass. Tall grass sinks deeper roots (which can seek out moisture) and crowds out weeds. Most turf types thrive with a 3- to 4-inch blade height, which usually corresponds to a mower’s highest setting. Choose a middle setting for Zoysia grass and Centipede grass, and the lowest setting for Bermuda grass and creeping bentgrass. The rule of thumb for mowing is to remove only one-third of the total grass blade length at a time.
  • Edge beds. In early spring, soft soil makes edging beds a cinch. Using a sharp garden spade or half-moon edger, cut a 2- to 3-inch deep, V-shaped trench along beds to keep grass out. Maintain this edge with a string trimmer throughout the growing season, recutting only as needed. If you’re refreshing existing trench edges in spring by digging out soil or mulch that has filled the trench, toss weed-free material onto planting beds as mulch or add it to your compost pile.
  • Apply mulch. Wait until soil has warmed to refresh mulch for the growing season. Shredded mulch provides a polished finish to planting beds, which you’ll get when you use any variety of Scotts mulch. Scotts mulches provide vibrant year-long color and help prevent weed growth by blocking access to the sun. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer around (but not on top of) your plants.

Late Spring:

  • Repair bare spots in Southern lawns. Use Scotts® EZ Seed® to seed bare patches in warm-season turf. Until it becomes high enough to mow (at least 2 inches tall), water newly seeded areas daily. Begin to mow when the new grass reaches the height of the surrounding lawn.
  • Overseed. Thicken a thin lawn by overseeding. If you have a cool-season grass type (Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, or tall fescue) use Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™  which combines grass seed, fertilizer, and a soil improver into an easy-to-use product you apply with a spreader. If you have a warm-season grass type (bermuda, zoysia, centipede, or bahia) use the appropriate Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed product for your grass type, and get your grass off to its best start by using Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass. Water newly seeded areas daily for at least the first 2 weeks.
  • Wipe out dandelions. Kill these pesky weeds with Scotts® Spot Weed Control For Lawns, which attacks weeds without harming grass. It’s a good way to kill dandelions because it avoids the pitfalls of hand-digging, which include disturbing grass roots and unearthing dormant weed seeds.
  • Go after grubs. Late spring is the time that hibernating grubs in the lawn begin to crawl toward the surface to chew grass roots, before turning into beetles and flying off to find mates. Apply Scotts® GrubEx®to deal with awakening grubs and new grubs that will hatch in coming weeks. Definitely, treat for grubs if you had a problem last year or know that a neighbor is having a problem with grubs.

February’s Outdoor Column

The month of February brings on the hope for spring and warmer weather in the Midwest. As the angle of the suns becomes more direct with earth’s surface this will affect your ice fishing somewhat as the darker objects on a pond or lake will absorb more heat and radiate it out to the water.  Stay away from rocks, boat docks, or anything that might absorb heat and pass it along to the ice. February produces some nice fish, but caution is more important the later the month progresses.

Shop at your local Big R Store. Big R is receiving their spring fishing equipment and now is a great time to check out the new items they have on their shelves.  Now is a great time to not only stock up on fishing supplies but also to clean and organize your fishing tackle.  Now is the time because many times I’ve been fishing in late February and that’s just around the corner. Fishing line can go bad over the winter as well as during the summer.  I always replace line on my reels each spring just for peace of mind.  I just hate to hang a big bass only to have my line break because I didn’t change it.

When I was younger and had little available money, I would tie my line to a pole and walk until the spool was empty.  I would then tie that end down and go back and begin winding up the used end, making the part that was deeper in the spool than the top.  This will work if you are low on funds providing you have loaded up you spool, and the bottom part is kept away from the summer sun’s rays.

Fishing and Cleaning Tips: Fishing reels need to be cleaned and oiled simply because they get dirty, especially if you are bank fishing.  You can keep your reels clean by buying a reel sock or just placing an ordinary sock around them once your fishing trip is complete. Heavily caked grease can harden in your reels over the winter.  A good solvent will break it free.  There are some solvents that can be used indoors that have no odor, gasoline has nasty fumes and is simply too dangerous to use indoors. Get ready; spring is coming, and it will be here very soon.

Shop your local Big R Stores for all your spring fishing needs!

Don’t forget the 64th Annual Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show at the Indiana State Fairground in Indianapolis February 16th through February 25th.  Coinciding with this show is the Indiana Deer, Turkey, and Waterfowl Expo also held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds February 22nd through February 25th.  Purchase your tickets online to save a wait in line.

 

 

Common Gardening Tools and Their Uses

Common Gardening Tools and Their Uses

Common Gardening Tools and Their Uses

The sun is shining and the birds are chirping! Spring has sprung and it’s time to get those flower beds cleared out and the garden ready to plant! When it comes to gardening, every tool has a purpose. The amount of actual tools associated with gardening activities can be overwhelming, especially for beginner-level gardeners who are just getting started. Determining which tools are most essential for your personal garden and lawn will ensure that your plants and vegetation are well-maintained and are as healthy as can be. Get the scoop on which tools can make your gardening life easier!

Maintaining & Fertilizing Soil

Because the soil is the foundation of each and every one of your plants, it is single-handedly one of the most important tasks in gardening to ensure that your soil is tilled, nourished, and properly prepared for planting. While the specific fertilizer mixture is up to you, it is crucial to tend to your soil, no matter the mixture. Even if you don’t have a garden, these tools are still essential for getting the job done efficiently:

  • Gloves: Essential for most, if not all, gardening tasks; protect skin on hands from drawbacks such as blisters, calluses, cuts, and sun damage; keeps pre-existing wounds from becoming contaminated or infected
  • Garden Hoe: Great for moving and digging soil as well as uprooting unwanted weeds
  • Digging Fork: Useful for loosening up soil and mixing soil amendments
  • Ground Rake: Helps smooth new and existing soil surfaces and removes clumps
  • Rotary Blender: Highly useful for blending fertilizer mixtures
  • Sprayer: Applies liquid fertilizer easily and effectively in smaller areas such as residences

Planting

Interested in expanding the range of your garden with some new plants or vegetation? Take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of the best tools for planting new fruits, vegetables and flowers:

  • Garden Hoe: Great for hilling and drilling soil in preparation for planting
  • Hose: Essential for the watering of plants; also useful for cleaning, has numerous mounts, nozzles, lengths, and adapters pertinent to your specific needs
  • Watering Can: Useful for the watering of plants on a smaller scale
  • Trowel: Facilitates the digging of holes; useful for transplanting plants and vegetables whose roots are still intact
  • Spade: Essential for digging and moving soil for planting

Weeding

Weeds have a tendency to take over everything if not managed properly. If you are looking for an alternative to the traditional do-it-yourself weeding, there are a number of tools that can make your task easier and complete it more efficiently. Try these tools for your arduous weeding tasks:

  • Garden Hoe: Removes weeds by first agitating then grooming the surface of gardening soil
  • Scuffle Hoe: Cuts the roots of shallow weeds closer to the soil’s surface
  • Weeder: Removes weeds from lawns while preventing grass damage; effective for use in small places
  • Hand Cultivator: Removes weed roots that are in tight areas and close to the surface of soil without disturbing nearby plant roots

Pruning

To maximize plant growth, it is incredibly important to tend to your plants frequently and prune them. It’s also vital to trim stems, leaves, or branches that are either dead or overgrown. Not doing so will impact your plants in a negative way and stunt their continued growth. Prevent your plants from overgrowth with tools like:

  • Pruning Knife: Useful for delicate pruning based on various blade shapes and sizes, i.e. cutting flower stems and trimming small branches
  • Pruning Shears: Cut thin branches from small trees, bushes, and small plants
  • Loppers: Extend to cut thicker, higher branches on trees
  • Pruning Saw: Uses power and larger teeth on its blade to cut small branches

Maintaining Garden & Lawn

  • Shredder: Recycles gardening waste; helps to make waste easily containable; provides useful material from accumulated waste, such as compost
  • Round Point Shovel: One of many types that digs large holes; transports heavier materials like rocks
  • Leaf Rake: Removes light debris from lawns and gardens, such as leaves and sticks
  • Pressure Washer: Cleans objects and surfaces by adding power to the flow of water; removes layers of undesired buildup
  • Lawn Mower: Cuts grass to even lengths
  • Leaf Blower: Blows light debris, like leaves and dirt, from lawns and walkways

In short, your choice of gardening tools can make or break your plants’ growth! Therefore, it is very important that you choose the right vendor for your gardening necessities. Discover some essential tools you need to add to your gardening collection? Still have some questions about gardening dos and don’ts?  Head over to your nearest Big R location to ask one of our garden experts or view more gardening tips here.