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Lawn and Garden

Maintaining a healthy lawn and garden keeps up your curb appeal. The basics of landscaping aren't difficult to master, but you'll need a solid understanding before making more elaborate improvements. Here are a few tips to get your lawn or garden looking great.

Lawn Care

Maintain the Mower. Always be sure you're cutting with sharp blades. Check your grass after a mow to see if you need sharpening. Grass blades will have a brown line at the tip if your mowing blade is dull. Try to sharpen your mower's blades twice a year.

The height of your mower should be set differently for each season. Try to keep it at 2 to 3 inches in the spring and fall. Set the trim height a little higher during the summer months. And never adjust your mower below 1¬Ω inches.

After a mow, don't rake your clippings. Leave them on the lawn. Clippings will deposit nutrients back into the ground, acting as a fertilizer. Save some money by reducing the bags of fertilizer you need each year.

Edge. A power edger makes quick work of patches and scruff, and sets clean lines along your lawn's perimeter.

Know Your H2O. Over saturating your lawn can cause more harm than not watering at all. Don't try to guesstimate how much water your lawn needs. Use a rain gauge to know if it needs water, or if you can wait. Lawns can handle a dry spell better than a flood. When watering, remember that quantity trumps frequency. Deep water your lawn so moisture reaches the soil under the grass. If you're using a sprinkler, make sure you know how much water it delivers.

Don't Forget Food and Air. Try to fertilize your lawn three times a year: spring, summer and early fall. Follow manufacturer's instructions for amount and application. You should also aerate your lawn once a year, preferably when the soil temperature is cool.

Weeds. To combat the spread of weeds, raise your mower height before mowing. Afterward, feed your lawn with a fertilizer that includes an herbicide.

Thin Your Thickets. Collect the leaves and sticks scattered throughout your lawn. Use a chipper to convert this debris into mulch or compost. Turn your attention skyward and prune diseased or dead limbs from your trees and shrubs.

Apply Mulch. Mulch adds nutrients to the soil, prevents weeds from growing, and retains moisture. It also enhances the look of your landscape. Decide what type of mulch works best for your lawn. Use our mulch calculator to get enough for your project. If you have already laid mulch, rake it to freshen its appearance.

Gardens

Pick Your Location and Layout. First decide whether your garden will showcase flowers and foliage, or fruits and vegetables. The latter option is harder to maintain, but could make for better dinners. If you're setting up a vegetable garden, divide the garden into four separate plots. This will deter the spread of disease.

Try to find an area that is facing south, since this location will get the most sun. It's also important to find a spot with good water drainage. Like your lawn, your garden will suffer if it floods. Be sure you protect your garden against wind damage as well. Don't plant under trees or any structures that could cast overwhelming shade. If wildlife is plentiful in your neck of the woods, you'll want to set up some protection against rabbits and other critters. A fence protects you from the usual suspects. Lastly, be sure you include easily navigable walkways in your layout. You'll be carrying a lot of tools, and bending and kneeling as you tend your garden, so keep paths wide.

Pretty the Perimeter. Accent your garden by building a garden wall or installing lawn edging. Garden walls lend a cleaner, more defined look to any divided areas you may have. If you already have lawn edging, try spicing it up by adding edging with a complementary color.

Use Containers of a Different Color. Add flowers or plants that aren't found in your garden with containers or planters. Have fun with your selection and placement. Choose plants that will accent the garden vegetation for a simple yet stunning detail.

Install a Pond and Fountain. Add a serene scene with a rock pond and fountain. Line the pond edge with flowers or start growing water plants like lilies and irises. The fountain will keep the pond water from growing stagnant, and will add soothing sound to the visual aesthetic.

Add Animals. Invite birds over by installing a feeder or shelter. Besides adding movement and color to the overall experience, birds also eat insects and help pollinate flowers. If you have a pond, add freshwater fish or turtles.

Set-up an Arbor. Add an arbor to your garden to provide a shelter where you and guests can enjoy the garden, and hide from the sun. Cover the arbor with ivy to add continuity to your plot. Arbors can also be used as storage to keep gardening tools out of sight.

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