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Become A Master At Pulling Weeds

7/9/2015

Nothing is certain in lawn and garden care — except for weeds, which often take the form of dandelions. These wild, pesky plants grow where you don’t want them to grow, and they can keep you busy pulling them all summer long.

The key to long-term weed removal is stopping the plant at its root. But in order for that to happen, you must first identify a weed and make sure that it is not actually a beneficial plant. Some plants look like weeds, while some weeds look like legitimate plants. Also, to provide protection against toxic plants, consider wearing gloves when weeding.

Once you’ve ID’d the weeds, keep in mind that the softer the ground, the easier it is to remove them. If possible, plan your weeding work for after a rainfall.

The Weeding Process

  1. Use your hands to grip the stem as far down as possible and pull the weed from the ground. A small weed-removal tool will do the trick, too — especially when dealing with dandelions — and will help you attack and remove the root faster and more easily.
     
  2. To remove larger weeds, you may need to loosen the dirt around the weed to access its roots. After the weed is gone, use your hands or the digging tool to smooth over the newly weed-free surface and prevent further weed growth. In gardens, a small hoe can help rework the disturbed dirt.
     
  3. Collect all removed weeds in a bucket or bag and dispose of them. Tossing weeds to another part of your lawn increases the odds of their seeds taking new root. You don’t want the elimination of one problem to be the beginning of the next problem.
     
  4. In grassy areas where weeds keep returning, consider using a spot spray. Just remember to keep children and pets away from the affected areas until the spray has settled.

Controlling Weed Growth
Keep in mind that proper lawn care and preventive maintenance are the best ways to reduce the prevalence of weeds. Fertilizing your lawn will keep it healthy and dense, allowing less room for weeds to fester. And because some products combine fertilizer with weed control, you can complete two important lawn care tasks at the same time.

Photo credit:  Cameron Whitman | iStock Photo

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Trim Your Own Shrubs And Hedges

7/2/2015

Overgrown shrubs and hedges look unsightly — even if you maintain the lushest lawn on the block in a yard full of healthy trees and vibrant landscaping.

Trimming shrubs and hedges is a commonly overlooked task. But doing so once or twice every season will allow more air and sunlight in, maximizing growth and reducing the likelihood of fungus and other diseases developing. Think of the task as preventive maintenance.

Four Steps to Follow
While The Lawnsmith provides complete trimming services, we want to let homeowners know they can accomplish basic trimming on their own with a combination of tools (pruners, loppers, shears and hedge trimmers), plus a ladder and safety goggles. Here are four general steps to follow:

  1. Depending on the form and type of the plant, remove dead or damaged branches with loppers or shears first. Leave smooth and clean cuts at a 45-degree angle, which will allow rainwater to slide off rather than gather and invite fungus.
     
  2. Electric shearing or trimming works well for hedges, while pines and evergreens with needles require a small hand pruner or lopper.
     
  3. Unless you want to turn your hedges and shrubs into unusual or ornamental art forms — for that, we recommend you hire a professional, such as The Lawnsmith— you should opt for a natural look with a uniform height. Trim branches beginning with the tallest ones and aligning them with shorter branches until you reach the overall desired height. It will be helpful to step back and take a look at your work every so often to ensure you’re maintaining a consistent shape and height.
     
  4. Remember that every new cut encourages new growth. So be sure to thin out the sides (and not just trim the top branches). Keep the shrub or hedge wider at the base than at the top, which will let in sunlight and foster healthy growth.

One Final Reminder
Given the climate in Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Extension office recommends trimming shrubs and hedges whenever growth reaches another six to eight inches, and pruning to within two inches of the last trim.

Photo credit:  Wylius | iStock Photo

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