A Gardener’s Dream: Free Compost & Mulch

Wood Bark Mulch
Wood Bark Mulch

Where would a gardener or landscaper be without compost and mulch?  What better way to build up the soil and smother the weeds?  Adding mulch of any kind to your garden or landscape helps keep moisture content in the soil, dresses up the landscape and helps control weeds.

By definition, mulch can consist of anything that is placed on the ground to prevent evaporation of moisture, the freezing of roots, and the growth of weeds. Common materials used for mulch include rock, wood chips, plastic, pine needles, and shredded leaves.  However, there are many materials that work well including recycled rubber, sawdust, and oyster shells.

When considering what materials to use for mulching landscape and gardens, it is helpful to consider the purpose of the mulch and what the area will be used for long term.  Landscape rock is attractive and doesn’t break down like organic mulch, but it is more difficult to work with because of the volume and weight.  It also needs to be cleaned periodically to keep seedlings from overtaking the area.  An application of a corn gluten product such as St. Gabriel Laboratories Premerge All Natural Weed Control is an effective way to prevent growth of weeds in mulched areas.

Organic materials such as bark chips, shredded leaves, and pine needles are an excellent choice for mulching gardens and around walkways.  The material breaks down over a period of time and creates a rich, organic addition to the garden.  Turning the mulch periodically helps it break down and reduces the growth of molds and fungus, which can be an issue in areas that are very moist.   The decomposed bottom layer of mulch can be removed and added to gardens for an organic boost, and a top layer of fresh mulch can be added each season to freshen up the look.

Many communities offer residents access to organic mulch that can be picked up from a designated site, usually for little or no cost.  Lawn and garden centers offer packaged bags of mulch which is an affordable way to obtain it.  Bagged mulch is often easier to handle since the bags can be transported in the trunk of a vehicle and moved to the location to be covered one or two bags at a time.

If you have a large area to cover and don’t have a truck or trailer to haul mulch, you’ll probably want to check with a local landscape supply center and have it delivered by the  truck.  Mulch in bulk is sold by the “yard.”  To determine how much mulch you will need to cover an area, Click Here.

We are fortunate to live just a few blocks from the community mulch pile, and added bonus – free compost!  Truly a gardener’s dream come true.  Even better is the 15 bags of shredded oak leaf mulch that the gorgeous oak trees in the front and back yard produce each fall.  Last year I emptied the shredder bag right onto a tarp and dragged the tarp to the landscape area and unloaded, so I didn’t even bother with lawn bags.  It’s a scramble to get the leaves mulched before the snow falls, especially if it’s a very wet fall, but once the leaves dry out enough, I can shred both the front and back lawns in a few hours.  It’s not necessary to shred the leaves, but they seem to stay put better and break down faster when they’re reduced to dime-sized pieces.

By using mulch to maintain moisture and reduce weed growth, a gardener can spend more time tending gardens and less time fighting the growth of unwanted vegetation.

Landscape Lighting Tips and Bright Ideas

Owning a home these days no longer just takes a good building structure and a working interior design and décor. Since we are drawn to physical appearances of people and how they exude their personalities with how they dress and present themselves, homes have taken on the same ideals of having that certain curb appeal.

Gone are the days when garden gnomes were just about the only way to dress up your lawn or your yard. Nowadays, even the smallest square footage available for a potted garden is turned into a perfectly designed outdoor recluse for a homeowner. Whether it be a little Zen garden located in a corner of a cramped balcony in a high rise apartment or a cookie cutter home out in the burbs, gardens and yards are now made into something much more than just a patch of grass with some shrubs.

Outdoor areas of homes are now landscaped to add more value to them. Not only does it take just some architectural details and elements, but much more thought is put in the lay out and composition of plants, its texture and even it aromatic effects. Specific trees, shrubs, foliage and ground cover are carefully picked out and coordinated to suit the overall style or theme of the garden. However, at night, everything just seems like it’s been cloaked in a veil of darkness. And if you’re entertaining guests outdoors, your beautiful garden just can’t be totally appreciated. This is when you wish you said yes to landscape lighting while you were in the works of your landscape project.

Outdoor lights used to make up of merely a porch light and maybe a lighting fixture or two around the back or along a pathway. These days, there is so much more for you to play around with and beautify your outdoor living space. Read up on some useful landscape lighting tips and bright ideas to illuminate all your hard work. A landscaped garden without lights is like a beautiful painting hanging on a wall in the dark.

Draw up a plan as to which features you would like to highlight around your home. With the right placement of lights, you can showcase some architectural points of your house, or an exotic bonsai plant, a fountain or a small Koi pond, a topiary or even just a simple flower pot. Lighting up your walk way or a path doesn’t mean simply putting a row of lights. Strategic placements will serve both lighting needs and highlighting as well.

If you enjoy barbeque nights with friends and you’ve purchased a pretty pimp outdoor grill, you might want to install some low voltage lights in the eaves to show off your cooking area. Outdoor seating areas do need to be lighted but need some ambiance. Choose some soft lights that you can strategically place around converging areas of guests such as behind a garden bench, or you can even have them hang on trees or posts.

There are many ways to illuminate and bring a cozy atmosphere to your garden. Before you go out and shop for anything, read up on the many types of landscape lighting fixtures available in the market today. Choose the ones that you can benefit from most especially if you need them to run all night as this means higher energy consumption for you. It is always best to plan ahead or at least consult a professional if you are not so knowledgeable about electrical wiring requirements. Lastly, keep in mind that these outdoor lighting fixtures are not only for decorative purposes but they are also meant to make your home safe enough for you to enjoy being outdoors at night.

Buying a Lawnmower

Whatever your reason – saving on gas, acquiring more exercise, or helping the environment – regard ing the purchase of a reel mower and grass catcher is a good decision.

Reel mowers, those push lawn mowers that need no electrical ity, no gas, and just the energy of human ride, are becoming plain again.

These types of mowers, which can also be called walk- tail end lawn mowers, are best for yards that are less than a half acre in size. Remember, you’re going to be walking behind this push reel mower and although they are easier to push than in previous days?, they still take a bit more effort than gas powered or electric mowers.

There are a few things to consider when thinking about purchasing a reel mower or grass catcher. First, you’ll have to keep your lawn mowed regularly. Most push lawn mowers can’t handle grass that’s more than 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall, so if you let your grass go without mowing too long, you’ll have to seek other methods for cutting it.

Second, you can’t mulch when using a reel mower, so if this is important to you, consider a different type of lawn mower.

Third, if you are interested in saving money, a walk-behind lawn mower – or reel mower – is an excellent choice. They don’t take gas or electrical energy and are generally less expensive to purchase than other types of lawn mowers.

Many reside purchase grass catchers and reel mowers for environmental or personal reasons. Push mowers produce no noise or emissions, so they are good for the environment and the vicinity. If you get up early on a Saturday, feel free to roll out your walk behind mower and mow while the neighborhood sleeps. Nobody will hear a thing and your yard work will be done before they even wake up.

With any purchase, you want to be informed before making a decision. Therefore, compare lawn mower types and various lawn mowers so you can make an informed decision.