lawn & garden tips
The tiller is used to break up and turn soil for a variety of landscaping and gardening jobs. Its rotating blades slice into the earth, breaking up the soil, turning and mixing.
There are tillers with tines positioned in front of the wheels, others with tines mounted behind the wheels, and mid-tine designs with tines between the wheels.
Small front-tine tillers are easily moved around the work site on rubber tires. For tilling, wheels either are removed or repositioned so they do not restrict the tilling action. Larger models may be self-propelled.
The digging depth of a tiller is adjustable, and for ease of use, the throttle and clutch controls are mounted on the handlebars.
1. The ground to be tilled should be moist -- either from a recent rain or from watering. Tilling in dry, hard soil is difficult and hard on equipment.
2. Till in parallel lines. If the soil is difficult to break, make a second pass.
3. If mulch or fertilizer is to be added, till the area first, spread material evenly across the top and retill to mix additives thoroughly in the soil.
Starting a Lawn
Buying Grass Seed
By learning to read the label on a bag of grass seed, you can save yourself many dollars and hours of hard work.
Cheap grass seed is exactly what the word says. And it can end up costing you more in the long run. It's full of weeds and other things that will take you months -- even years -- to eliminate in your lawn. This is why it is crucial to start with good seed. Even though it it costs more, you'll be rewarded with a lawn that costs you less to maintain in terms of time and money.
By law, growers and packagers of grass seed must print an analysis of the contents of each seed bag, and this usually has six classifications stamped on it.
To get your money's worth, you need to know what each of these classifications mean, and we will explain them below.
Purity. The basic type of seed will be named, i.e. Kentucky bluegrass, and its percentage of the total weight will be given. There may be other types of improved seeds listed, such as Victa, Windsor, Merion, etc. You should look for at least 35% to 40% purity.
Under the seed analysis, you will probably find two more categories: Fine Textured Grasses and Coarse Textured Grasses. Fine textured grasses will include bluegrass, bentgrass, and fine fescue, including strains such as Windsor, Merion, and Victa. Coarse textured grasses will usually include perennial ryegrass, or others such as: redtop, timothy, tall fescue, or Kentucky 31.
There should always be at least 40% of ryegrass or other strain of coarse grass in the package.
Germination. Usually labeled "Germ.," this tells you how much of the seed is capable of growth. This is % figure is usually determined in laboratory tests under ideal conditions. Your yield may not be as high -- or it may even be higher, and you must remember that all seeds do not germinate at the same time. As a rule of thumb, if the germ. figure is 85%, you can reasonably expect 80% to 85% growth under normal conditions.
Crop. Crop seeds are a critical figure in lawn seed. The lower
the % the better.
Weeds. Since all grass seed mixtures contain some weed seed, the lower the % the better. Even 0.1% chickweed in a pound of seed can result in half a million chickweed plants in 10,000 sq. feet of lawn. Look for grass seed with the lowest % of weed seed, or you'll have to buy a lot of weed killer. That can cost you plenty before the lawn-growing season is over. So weed out your choices before you buy.
Noxious weeds. These weeds are more of a problem in farm fields than in lawns, but they must be listed by name and count on the label. Classification of these noxious weeds varies from state to state. It's better to be safe and buy grass seed products that contain no noxious weeds.
Inert Matter. Matter such as sand, ground-up corn cobs, and empty
seed hulls are considered inert. It serves to add weight to the package
-- and nothing more.
Quality blends of seed suitable for different lawn conditions are offered by growers and packagers. Once company may offer a blend of bluegrass to provide high density, thick texture and deep, rich color. One may offer a blend especially for shady areas; while another is made specifically for lawns subject to hard use, such as baseball, football, tennis, etc. Blends for covering bare spots with grass quickly are also available.
Growing a handsome new lawn begins with proper seeding. You can seed it using about 2 pounds of quality seed for each 1000 sq. ft. For best results, we recommend overseeding a new lawn with another 1/2 pound of seed per 1000 sq. ft. This will help compensate for those seeds that will not germinate.
Buying quality seed and doing the job right will eliminate a lot of work and aggravation later. It will be money well-spent on a lawn you can be proud of.
1. When starting from scratch, prepare the soil first. If your lawn has lots of hills and holes (if it is a new building lot), rent a Bobcat with scarifier rake from A to Z Rentals and Sales. You can also do the job yourself with a spade and/or hoe, and a wheelbarrow if you have the time and energy.
2. After leveling, remove all loose debris (sticks and stones) and prepare the soil for seeding. The soil should be tilled about 3 to 4 inches deep to loosen it.
3. Let the soil settle for a week or so. Sprinkle it lightly to help settle the soil, if it does not rain during this period. Avoid overwatering, which can turn the soil into hardpan.
4. After the soil has settled, fertilize the entire area. Use a quality new grass fertilizer with a high phosphorous content to establish a strong root system.
5a. Sow the grass seed. It is best to use a spreader with controls
for seeding rather than broadcasting the seeds with your hands or using
a whirling spreader.
5b. Divide the lawn into quarters. It's much easier to keep track
of your work in this way. Apply the seed to one section at a time and
then rake it down into the soil. Be sure to cover as much seed as possible
with a reasonable amount of raking. Seed and rake the other quarters in
the same way.
5c. Water the earth with a garden hose. Set the nozzle on the light spray setting and water the soil until it is damp, but not muddy. Keep watering on a daily basis, and don't skimp on water. You can skip the watering on rainy days, but always be sure to water adequately otherwise.
6a. Cut the grass when it reaches a height of about 3 inches. For best results, you should set the mower height set between 2 to 2-1/2 inches until your lawn is fully established (usually about two years). After that, you can lower the cutting height to 1-1/2 inches for most grass.
6b. Re-fertilize your lawn. Between 30 to 40 days after planting, fertilize the soil again using a quality fertilizer. Once your lawn is established, you can continue to fertilize it between February and April and again between August and October.