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Renovation & Design

Now's not the time to let your lawn care fall off

With fall arriving soon, you won’t need to weed or mow your lawn quite as often. But don’t neglect your lawn care just yet.

In fact, the actions you take in the next several weeks play a big role in ensuring a healthy lawn for years to come. Here are some steps that will help keep your lawn in the best shape possible:

Continue mowing as long as new growth appears: Raise your mower blade to a height of about three inches — don’t assume mowing short will reduce time spent on lawn care. During fall, lawns focus more energy on root growth than blade growth. "Scalping" your lawn puts a lot of stress on the root system, making it harder for lawns to resist weeds and pests or survive the winter chill.

Control weeds: You have several options for battling weeds, including pulling them out by hand and applying herbicides. Some people make their own weed-killer using vinegar and water.

For large infestations, consider using a broadleaf herbicide. It comes in selective and non-selective forms. Selective means the herbicide only attacks specific plants, such as dandelions or clover, while non-selective herbicides kill everything they touch. For weeds within the lawn, use a selective herbicide, otherwise you’ll kill the grass.

If you’d rather not use a herbicide, you can always dig out weeds by hand. Just make sure you pull out the root system or they’ll return the following spring.

Seed your lawn: Cooler temperatures and warm soil conditions make late summer to early fall an optimal time to sow grass seed. Just don’t wait until too late in the season, or the grass won’t establish by the time temperatures drop.

To repair dead patches in the lawn, remove the dead grass down to the bare soil, use a rake to rough up the dirt so seeds will stick better and then add grass seed.

Germination usually takes around 10 to 15 days. It’s important to keep the soil moist but not drenched during this period. After it starts to grow, you should continue to water on a daily basis to encourage root growth and prevent drying out.

Create a compost pile: If you don’t already have a compost pile, now is an excellent time to start one. First, select a dry, shady or partly shady spot near a water source outside. You can use a bin or just designate an area of ground for your pile. Next, gather branches, leaves, twigs, wood chips, coffee filters — the "brown stuff" —and spread a layer several inches deep. Then, add the "green stuff" — fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings and coffee grounds. Water the layers so they’re damp, then rotate the pile every few weeks. In a few months, you’ll have crumbly, dark brown compost to fertilize your garden.

Mulch vital areas: Mulch feels like a spring job, but you can help your yard by doing it in the fall. Mulch insulates soil and plant roots to help your garden survive the cold weather. It also helps prevent erosion. Lay mulch when the temperature is dropping rather than going up for an easier project. Plus, you’ll get ahead on your spring tasks.

— Tribune News Service

Paul F.P. Pogue
September 14

Renovation & Design

When it comes to renovations, have a plan for your contractor

Remodelling your home and other contracting jobs can be stressful, expensive and time-consuming. But when you work with a contractor, you’re establishing a temporary but crucial interaction in your life. A contractor may spend days, weeks or even months in your home. The relationship you build with them will help determine the success of your project. Here are some tips to build the best bond with your pro:

Be realistic

TV shows, websites, magazines and Pinterest boards offer a wide array of content and inspirational ideas to help launch your home projects. But never forget that media can be edited and curated. Hours or days of effort can disappear behind a single scene cut. So don’t let mass media give you the wrong impression about the remodelling process. When you talk to a pro, make sure you have a realistic idea in mind of how things work — and trust their judgment.

Know what you’re getting into

The least expensive change to make to your project is the one you make before a single nail has been hammered. The clearer your idea of the scope and direction of your project, the more easily you’ll head off delays or extra costs. Every project changes over time, but a clear plan and understanding of what you’re doing will work wonders for the final product.

Give them space

One of the biggest ways you can help a remodeller is by providing a dedicated space for them to keep their tools and materials. This helps keep the project running smoothly. Plus, you’ll save them time required to set up and remove equipment. Not only does this get the job done faster, it translates directly into dollars saved on your cost.

Don’t put off decisions

Remodelling requires a steady flow of logistics, supplies and workers. If you don’t make timely decisions on questions with hard deadlines, you can cause delays — not only on your own job, but those of other homeowners as well. You expect your contractor to hit their deadlines, so respect their time by doing the same in return. Ultimately, you’re responsible for keeping your project on schedule.

Be mindful of your presence

There’s nothing wrong with being a hands-on client — in fact, an engaged homeowner can lead to the best outcome. But be careful how you interact with workers on the job site. You can distract workers and prolong their process. And if you have an issue with how individual workers are doing their jobs, it’s best to take it up with the supervisor or general contractor, rather than try to intervene yourself. Micromanaging tends to create more problems than it solves. Make an effort to stay involved without being obtrusive. For instance, by requesting regular walkthroughs and status updates, you’ll stay engaged without disrupting work.

— Tribune News Service

Paul F. P. Pogue
September 14

Renovation & Design

Could make wine if deer weren't so hungry

Laurie Mustard Mustard on Everything! 
September 7

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