How to Prep Your Lawn and Garden for Autumn

As autumn colors set in this season, make sure your all-important home and garden upkeep checklist is ready.

Although the lawn is often overlooked during the fall, it’s actually the perfect time to make sure everything is organized before the harsher winter elements take hold. Paul James, host of HGTV’s “Gardening by the Yard,” advises homeowners to start early – approximately six weeks before the first good freeze.

Here is a list of some of the tasks and items you should add to your fall checklist this year:

TLC Tips for Lawn and Garden Maintenance

Whether you’re considering the resale value of your home or are simply resigned to doing maintenance projects to keep your house in good condition, your lawn and garden could certainly benefit from some TLC of the home improvement variety.

The exterior of your house commands most first impressions, and even mild winters inflict seasonal damage. If you don’t know where to start, a home improvement project checklist may help. Consider the following lawn and garden maintenance tips from home and garden experts at HGTV and MarthaStewart.com:

Spring Checklist for Home and Lawn Care

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Whether you’re considering the resale value of your home or are simply resigned to doing maintenance projects to keep your house in good condition, your lawn and garden could certainly benefit from some TLC of the home- and lawn-improvement variety this spring.
The exterior of your house commands most first impressions, and even mild winters inflict seasonal damage. If you don’t know where to start, a home-improvement project checklist may help. Consider the following lawn- and garden-maintenance tips from home and garden experts at HGTV and MarthaStewart.com:
* Remove piles of dead leaves from the lawn. Not only will your grass grow greener, a clean lawn helps maximize fertilizers and pesticides. Don’t make the mistake of fertilizing your grass too early though. April is the general benchmark; any sooner might result in yellow spots and dried-out patches of grass.
* Check gutters for leaks and debris. Loose gutters cause improper drainage, so water can collect in basements and crawl spaces. Downspouts should point away from the foundation of the house and must be clear of all debris.
* Start a roof fund. It’s a good rule of thumb to check your roof for rotted, buckled, loose or missing shingles after winter because summer sun will only worsen the damage. Since roof maintenance is so expensive, it’s also smart to start a fund before you need it.
* Remove piles of wood or debris stacked near the home. Firewood should be kept far away from the foundation, and stacked 18 inches off the ground. These preventative measures help keep insect pests from exploring your home.
* Don’t strain yourself, and stay hydrated. This might be the first time you’ve done any heavy lifting or spent hours in the sun for months. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, take breaks and stretch your muscles. If you suffer from backaches and muscle strains, keep some relief like Absorbine Jr. (www.absorbinejr.com) on hand. Its herbal ingredients and uncanny ability to ease muscle and back pain make it a must-have for yard work.
* Call a professional to clean your AC unit. Heating and cooling experts recommend an annual servicing since clean coils work more efficiently. When the summer’s blazing heat drives you indoors, your family will appreciate having an AC operating at peak levels.

Lurking in Tall Grass, a Hidden Danger Awaits

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Hiking in the woods is a fun activity for many people, and it increases in popularity when the seasons begin to beautifully change. But being outdoors brings with it an increased risk of tick-borne illnesses. Different species in different regions of the country are responsible for a variety of extremely serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and tick paralysis.
Lyme disease is typically the most worrisome as nearly 20,000 Americans are diagnosed every year, according to the Infectious Disease Society of America. Most cases of Lyme disease occur in late summer and fall months when people are more active outdoors. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a non-profit committed to the protection of public health, food and property, urges families to take extra measures to protect themselves and their pets from tick bites. Blacklegged ticks, often called “deer ticks,” can carry the Lyme disease bacteria.
As people take part in outdoor activities, the risk of being bitten by a tick increases. Avoid tick bites by following these preventive guidelines from the NPMA.
* When in an area where ticks are common, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light-colored so ticks will be easy to detect.
* Tuck pants into socks.
* Use a tick repellent.
* Upon returning indoors, inspect clothing and your entire body, including your head, for ticks. Don’t forget to check your family members who may have been out with you and/or your dog as well.
* After spending time in a tick habitat, it’s a good idea to take a shower because it will afford you the opportunity to thoroughly inspect your entire body.
* Wash clothes immediately.
* Keep grass cut low, including around fence lines, sheds, trees, shrubs, swing sets and other difficult-to-cut locations and remove weeds, woodpiles and other debris from the yard.
* Inquire about lawn tick treatments; especially those that focus on the edges of the lawn where it interfaces with natural areas. This method has the greatest chance of preventing ticks from establishing themselves in your back yard.
* Pet owners should speak to their veterinarians about preventative flea and tick treatments, as these can help to deter pet pests and kill ticks on contact/upon being bitten.
For more pest control and management tips, visit www.pestworld.org.

Kill the Weeds, Spare the Grass

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As temperatures warm, thoughts turn to picnics and barbecues on the lawn — and that means doing some yard maintenance.

But attacking weeds without doing your research could lead to some unsightly brown patches. So, how do you rid your lawn of pesky weeds without harming your grass?

The maker of Spectracide herbicides and pesticides offers the following tips for defending your lawn against weeds:

* Choose the best herbicide to kill the weeds. Most herbicides fall into two categories: selective and non-selective. You’ll need a selective herbicide to kill the weeds in established lawns or on small patches around trees, shrubs and flower beds.

Choose a non-selective herbicide for large jobs or where you don’t want any plants to grow, like on concrete and brick walkways, driveways, patios and around fences.

Take a few minutes to read labels carefully. Labels should clearly tell you whether a herbicide is selective or non-selective. Remember, non-selective kills any vegetation it comes into contact with, while selective herbicides control only the weeds listed on the label, and do not harm non-target plants.

* Consider the size of the area that you’ll be treating. Selective and non-selective herbicides typically come with three choices for application: concentrate, ready-to-spray and ready-to-use. For large areas, use a concentrated formula, mix it with water and apply with a tank sprayer, or use a ready-to-spray bottle with a hose-end attachment. For spot treatments, a ready-to-use spray bottle will suffice.

* Time your attack wisely. For optimal results, apply herbicides on a sunny day when temperatures are 60 degrees or higher. If there’s any chance of rain, hold off until a drier day. Always read and follow label directions carefully. Different products have different usages and application rates.

* Know what to expect. Once the herbicide dries, you don’t have to worry about the rain washing it away. However, because many herbicides only kill what’s there — they aren’t preventative — you’ll have to deal with new weeds as they appear.

Spectracide brand’s Web site has an educational guide available for download titled “Targeting the Enemy: Weeds & Grass — Make Your Lawn a Weed-Free Zone,” as well as online videos that offer tips for selecting and applying herbicides. For more information, visit www.spectracide.com.