Real Estate Blog
Thursday, September 06 2012
Don’t assume your storm-damaged tree needs to be cut down. Trees can easily bounce back if you follow these tips for pruning and storm protection
Many tree-care professionals don’t have experience working on battered trees, cautions Ed Gilman, a University of Florida professor who researches the restoration of storm-damaged trees.
Too often, inexperienced arborists recommend thinning interior branches. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do to avoid storm damage.
“For storm protection and recovery, you should be doing the opposite,” Gilman says. “Removing branches from the end of long limbs and retaining the interior branches.”
Even if a storm is strong enough to blow the leaves completely off a tree and bust branches, the tree can remain viable and ready for a comeback. “One episode from a storm is not enough to kill the tree,” Gilman says. The energy reserved in the tree’s roots and limbs will fuel new leaves either that year or the next year.
Storm recovery tips for trees
- Remove broken, separated, or hanging branches, but don’t prune any live wood that’s healthy. The tree needs the energy stored in its limbs to heal itself.
- Check for cracks where branches connect to larger limbs. If you see cracks, cut the limb back to the next healthy, whole branch.
- Make smooth pruning cuts — don’t leave small stumps or ragged pieces jutting out from your damaged tree. Leave the collar — the thickened base of a limb where it attaches to the tree — intact. Collars help heal pruning cuts.
- Straighten and stake a small damaged tree (4” trunk diameter or less) that’s knocked down. Water it frequently as you would a new tree.
- After flooding from a hurricane, water trees and plants freely to flush the salt water out of the soil.
When a tree can’t be saved
- If a tree leans over your house, car, or areas where people walk or play, it has to come down.
- If your tree is hanging over or touching power lines, removing it isn’t a do-it-yourself task. Call a professional tree removal firm for help.
Cost for tree removal varies according to the size and location of the tree. Expect to pay between $800 and $3,000 to remove a medium-sized tree.
Check tree roots after the storm
A few months after the storm, use a pitch fork to check the big roots coming out of the trunk to make sure they’re alive beyond the first foot or two of their length. Healthy roots are brownish or gray with hard, whitish centers. Dying roots are soft.
If your pitchfork hits solid root, great. If not, you may have to take down your tree before it falls down.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/plants-trees/save-tree-storm-damage/#ixzz25hBa5pwg
Thursday, March 22 2012
Nothing ruins your garden or yard like weeds, those uninvited guests that rob your plants of space and nutrients. So murder those weeds most foul, but without harmful chemicals that can do you in, too.
Here are 7 ways to kill weeds with weapons you already have around your house.
1. Newspaper: A carpet of newspaper, which blocks sunlight and oxygen from reaching the soil, will smother weeds already sprouted and prevent new ones from growing. Throw down newspaper in 10-sheet layers, wet to hold it down, and cover with an inch or two of mulch. If weeds begin to grow in the mulch, add more layers, making a mulch-newspaper lasagna, which eventually will decompose and nourish the soil.
2. Old shower curtains and carpet samples: Spreading these useless items in garden paths or between rows will keeps weeds from ever showing their unwanted heads. Cover with mulch.
3. Corn gluten meal: This corn by-product stops seeds from growing into weeds. Since the meal will prevent germination, spread it around established plants, and after seedlings and transplants have taken hold in the soil. After harvest, spread the meal to prevent late-season weeds.
4. Vinegar: The acetic acid in 5% vinegar is a desiccant that sucks the life out of plant leaves. It’s most destructive to young plants with immature roots, though it just rolls off weeds with waxy leaves, like pennywort or thistle.
Make sure you cover desirables before spraying, because vinegar is an equal opportunity killer. Keep your spray on-target by removing the bottom from a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, and placing it over the weed. Spray vinegar into the mouth of the bottle, which will keep it from splattering on your vegetables.
5. Vodka: Don’t know if vodka makes weeds fall down dead or drunk, but 1 ounce mixed with 2 cups of water and a couple of drops of dish soap will dry out weeds that live in the sun. Doesn’t work that well on shade-loving weeds. Protect desirables, because vodka will dry them out, too.
6. Soap: The oil in soap can break down waxy or hairy weed surfaces, making them vulnerable to desiccants. So add a few drops of liquid dish detergent to vinegar or vodka sprays to keep the solution on leaves. The soap also makes leaves shiny, which will help you keep track of what you’ve sprayed.
7. Boiling water: After you’ve made yourself a cup of tea, take the kettle outside and pour the boiling water on weeds, which will burn up. This is a particularly good way to whack driveway and walkway weeds, because the boiling water can run off impervious surfaces and cool before it reaches border plants.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/landscaping-gardening/how-to-get-rid-of-weeds-naturally/#ixzz1pgaGDfcJ
Saturday, October 22 2011
Having trouble starting your leaf blower or chain saw? You’re not alone.
In the past few years small engine repair shops have been reporting an increase in problems with outdoor power equipment and landscape tools, such as leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and string trimmers. The culprit? Ethanol-blended gasoline.
Ethanol is a solvent that contributes to the deterioration of rubber gaskets, plastic nozzles, and aluminum — parts and materials common to small engines. Although heavy use and age contribute to wear and tear on internal components, ethanol speeds up the process.
In addition, ethanol contributes to deposits in fuel lines and carburetors, blocking fuel flow and causing engines to refuse to start.
In low concentrations, ethanol isn’t especially harmful to small engines. E10 ethanol blend, which is made up of 10% ethanol, is considered acceptable.
However, the EPA recently approved higher concentrations that are readily available at many gas station pumps: E15, a 15% blend, and E85 made for flex-fuel vehicles.
The reasoning, of course, is commendable: Using higher concentrations of domestically produced biofuels reduces gasoline consumption and yields better mileage for vehicles. Large, modern car and truck engines are designed to run ethanol-blended gas.
These higher concentrations, however, can wreak havoc on small engines. Small engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton, for example, voids the warranty on its power equipment if you use gas with a higher concentration of ethanol than E10.
And E10 itself isn’t completely off the hook. Ethanol combines easily with water, meaning that it tends to grab and hold onto any moisture lingering in cans and fuel tanks. The result is an uneven fuel mixture that contains water — a bummer for engines.
The problem occurs when fuel cans and equipment containing old gas are left sitting around for months – chances increase that ethanol has made the fuel mixture potentially hazardous to your leaf blower and chain saw.
The potential frustration – and cost – to home owners is considerable. Briggs & Stratton estimates there are more than $50 billion worth of lawn mowers in garages all over the country.
Want to protect your investment, and avoid trips to the repair shop just when the leaves are falling? Here’s what to do:
- Use clean, fresh unleaded gasoline with a minimum of 87 octane.
- At the gas pump, check ethanol ratings carefully. Don’t use gas with a blend ratio higher than 10% (E10).
- Change fuel frequently. Gas that’s been sitting around for more than 60 days should be replaced with fresh gas.
- Gently slosh fuel containers to remix gas before adding fuel to small engines.
- Add a fuel stabilizer to your gas mixture. Ask your equipment dealer to recommend a product that’s formulated to reduce water absorption caused by ethanol gas.
- When storing equipment, such as your lawn mower over the winter, run the engine dry. Buy fresh gas next year.
Have you had a problem with your gas-powered leaf blower or trimmer? Was ethanol the culprit?
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/landscaping-gardening/problems-leaf-blower-ethanol-gas/#ixzz1aVJtAGRs