Posts Tagged compost

13 Ways to Get your Yard Ready for Winter

The weather is becoming more chilly!  So, before winter weather really sets in, here are 13 tips for getting your yard ready for the colder weather:

#1. Aerate, overseed, and fertilize your lawn.

#2. Remove any dead tree limbs or plants.

#3. Use that compost pile by mulching your yard.0rainbarrell

#4. Plant a “cover crop” like clover on bare areas or over a garden that won’t be used.

#5. Cut back on your watering, but don’t cut it off.  It sure isn’t raining every day just yet!

#6. Transplant anything you want to move and plant anything else you want in the ground.  Remember, if you have particularly hard soil, be sure to dig a larger hole than the area of the plant – and be sure to loosen plenty of soil all around the planting area.

#7. Add winter flowers to your border.

#8. Clean out your pond, stream, fountain, or other water feature.  Also, take a look at your water feature equipment and see if anything needs to be replaced.

#9. Add any fallen leaves and chipped branches to your compost pile.  iStock_000009122825XSmall

#10. Move any outdoor furniture into your covered porch or into its winter storage area.

#11. Clean out your gutters and make sure they are directed properly.

#12.  Consider getting a rain barrel for your gutter system.

#13. Keep that bird feeder and bird bath stocked.

Here’s to a beautiful yard – all prepared for winter!

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Landscape Maintenance for Fall

Fall is usually a great time to help your plants get ready for chilly weather.  Even though it’s not quite Fall yet, I wanted to start you off with a few maintenance ideas.

– Overseed your lawn: Adding extra seed to your lawn will help it recover from the summer heat.  Overseeding is described here and is best done in Fall and/or in Spring. iStock_000005983963XSmall

– Feed your roses: Fertilize your roses each time the blooms die off – and stop fertilizing about two months before the first frost.

– Clean up: Cut off anything that is dead, rake up dead leaves, trim down dead plants, and generally get your yard ship shape.

– Compost: This one has a double meaning.  You should both feed your plants with compost, and use your grass clippings, dead leaves, and yanked up plants create new compost. wooden compost bin

– Plant: Fall is always a good time to install trees and shrubs.  It might be better to wait until October/November, so the plants are more dormant, but check out plant sales and see if there’s anything you should get into the ground right away.

– Harvest: Take advantage of your Fall flowers, veggies, and fruits.  Either harvest plants in your own yard or have fun at a pumpkin patch or other pick-your-own farm.

– Pull up the weeds: Any weeds should be yanked out by the roots so they can’t establish their roots over the winter.Pulling Weeds


Here’s to a great Fall and a healthy yard!



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New Years Resolutions for your Landscape

It’s almost 2013!  It’s the time of year we look around and make plans for the future.  Here are some ideas for resolutions for your landscape:

– Install a rain barrel in your gutter system.  This time of year is the best time to 0rainbarrellget rain barrels installed – since it’s getting rainier.

– Compile a compost pile.  A compost heap is a great way to get organic matter into your soil.  Getting one set up is easy, just make sure to get the right mix of organic matter so it decays properly – and don’t put processed foods or meat into the pile.

– Create a plan for your yard and decide what parts of it you can implement this coming year.  Can you install a water feature?  Are you going for a yard your kids can play in?  Are you looking to have a vegetable garden?

– Decide to create a better and safer entry way.  It may need new lights, to be refinished, or completely redone.

– Finally, enjoy your yard.  Your yard is the place for you, friends, and family should enjoy.  Make sure you utilize the space and have fun!

Are there any resolutions you’ve made this year?


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Keeping Your Landscape Green

Around this time of year is where we finally get to see some scattered showers once in a while – like in Agoura Hills, Children feet in green grassWoodland Hills, and Malibu. But, in between those showers, what is the best tactic for keeping everything green and happy?

1. Schedule your sprinklers.  Keep your sprinklers on a consistent schedule until rain becomes more regular.  Water your lawn deeply, every few days, in order to keep the roots growing deeper into the soil.  Right now, all we can count on when it comes to rain is inconsistent, shallow watering.

Another factor in this is that it’s still pretty warm out, so keep your watering schedule in the early morning.

2. Reseed.  It’s a little late in the year for reseeding, but you can try it and see what pops up.  A better idea is to decide weather you want to reseed next year, or if you want to get a whole new landscape installed.

3. Compost. Any areas where you think grass or other plants didn’t grow healthily last year are great areas to lay down compost this time of year.

4. As hard as it is this time of year, try to keep people and decorations off your lawn as much as possible.  One easy way to keep people from hurting your lawn is to have clear, well-lit paths or walkways.  This will direct people to walk where you want them in the predominantly dark hours of the day.

5. Maintain your mowing patterns.  Keep mowing consistently to keep your grass looking spiffy.

6. Leave some of your clippings behind.  This is a really easy way to compost your lawn.  Do a little “maintenance mowing” (meaning, don’t wait a really long time between mowings) and leave the short grass clippings on top of your lawn.

7. Try to keep your pets off the grass.  This is a hard one, but dog urine can cause yellow spots in your lawn.  If they have no other place to go to the bathroom, just make sure to spray the area they peed on afterwards with lots of water.  The pee itself is actually a great fertilizer, it’s just in such a concentrated form that it will “burn” your grass.  If you disperse the urine, the grass may even benefit from it.

Here’s to a green, lovely landscape for the holidays!

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Ideas for Organic Weed Control

Southern California has gorgeous weather year-round, which means we get wonderful flowers, bountiful crops, and lots of weeds.  Here are some organic weed control ideas for your yard:

If it’s your lawn that’s getting weedy, try these ideas:

  • Keep your lawn mowed.  This means the weeds can’t get too big and cannot develop seed heads.
  • Compost and/or fertilize.  Keeping your lawn fertilized and healthy allows your grass to fight any encroaching weeds.  Just make sure that if you area using manure, it’s been well cured to kill off any weed seeds before you use it.  You don’t want to add to the problem!
  • Overseed your lawn.  It’s not the time of year for it, but if your lawn is patchy and weedy this year, try overseeding in fall or winter for a better lawn next year.
  • Aerate.  If your lawn has never been a happy one, consult with a landscaper and see if you may need to aerate it.  Some weeds can live on dense, clay soil, but grass has a hard time with this kind of soil, so won’t be able to prevent weeds from taking over.
  • Find an organic weed and feed.  There are products you can buy which actually are organic, and help your lawn while harming the weeds.
  • Yank ’em out.  This is always an easy way to organically get rid of weeds.  Try to pull them up and get their roots out of there.

If it’s your yard or garden which is getting weedy, try these ideas:

  • Compost and/or fertilize.  This helps in three ways:  1. The fertilizer and/or compost will leach nutrients into your soil which will help your plants grow strong and fend off parasites and weeds, 2. Adding content to your soil structure can make your soil nice and crumbly – perfect for yanking out weeds without pulling a muscle, and 3. The compost prevents light from reaching the weeds, killing them off.
  • Pour boiling water over the weeds.  If you have just a few weeds, or the weeds are pretty isolated, try pouring boiling water over them for a few days.  Experiments show that this can kill them.
  • Get a sharp hoe and cut them off just your topsoil.  A sharp hoe can go a long way toward cutting weeds out of your property.
  • Spread corn gluten meal over areas where you’ve already pulled up weeds, and you don’t want them to return.  The corn gluten meal is supposed to stop new seeds from sprouting – so don’t plant seeds in those beds, just plants that have already been started.
  • Find an organic weed killer.  There are several you can find in garden stores which are organic.
  • If your yard is taken over by weeds and you have no idea what to do, try this: Rake out as many weeds a possible.  Wet the soil.  Cover it with plastic for about six weeks.  The heat and sun will kill the weeds, leaving you with soil that can now be planted.  This is best done around late spring/early summer.

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Revamping Your Landscape

My parents are doing a landscaping project where they are keeping parts of their original landscape, but are tearing apart parts in order to accommodate space for a veggy garden, a cactus garden, and maybe a fruit tree or two.

Here’s the plan:

– Tear out two existing fruit trees.  One is a lime tree which has cross-pollinated with an orange tree.  This caused the orange and lime trees to have gross, half-lime/half-oranges.

– Move the existing, inactive and unusable compost pile into a contained space where they can put the correct mix and easily turn it.

– Install wood planters in the area where the orange tree used to be.  Right now there is a tiered network of planters, so this will be another, higher planter.

– Plant a new orange tree where the old lime tree used to be, along with a small cactus garden next to it.  (She already has cactuses in the area).

– Additionally have a block wall in the back which they want to make more exciting by adding bougainvillea.

It’s a great idea to revamp your landscape by keeping the features you like, removing what you don’t like, and adding in additional features you do like.

Here’s to an enjoyable and useable yard.

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Ideas for greening up your lawn

It’s Spring!  Happy Spring!  Here’s some ideas for getting your yard nice and green:

1. Feed me Seymour!  Feed your lawn with fertilizer.  Organic fertilizers are generally safe if you don’t know your soil quality.  If you use a chemical fertilizer, make sure to mix them correctly so you don’t burn your lawn.  Water in your fertilizers.

2. Add quick compost. A really easy (and cheap) way to do this is to mow your lawn and leave the clippings.

3. Get a whole new lawn.  If your lawn is hopeless, filled with weeds, dried up grass, etc, consider getting a new lawn installed.  Another idea is to get a hardscape installed.  You can even mix up the green and cement, like they did here.

4. This time of year is when your lawn will grow best.  Help the roots grow deeper for the summertime by giving your lawn long, slow drinks so the water soaks below the surface.

Here’s to a green spring!  Check out additional lawn care tips here for a brighter year.

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Getting your compost together

Compost is a great way to improve your soil quality and it’s easy to cultivate, when done correctly.

Here are some things to think about:

Tip 1: If you decide to set up a compost pile, make sure you have your brown/green ratio all set.   The basic idea is you want to put well chopped, 6″ layer of brown matter at the bottom of your compost pile (like dead leaves, hay, straw, sawdust, etc).  Once you have your “brown” layer down, add about 3″ of “green” organic matter (grass clippings, old vegatables, etc).  Next you rinse and repeat – literally.  You want to water each new layer thoroughly before adding more organic materials in.   After about two days, mix your layers together thoroughly.

Tip 2: It’s important that if you add in table scraps, you ensure they consist only of organic plant matter.   If you put in meat, bread, or other processed foods, your compost pile will become smelly and attract rats.  No good.

Tip 3: If you see heavy weather coming, throw a tarp over your compost pile.  If it gets too wet, it’ll have difficulty heating up and breaking down the materials which compose it properly.

Tip 4: Make sure you have a good spot for your compost pile.  You can put it in a pre-fabricated bin, have an area built, or stow your compost behind a barn or out-building.  It’s not the most attractive thing to look at, but should be easily accessable.  My compost pile is behind raised planters which conceal it completely from view.

Here’s to the new rich, fabulous soil.

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