DIY Frequently Asked Questions

Lawn & Garden FAQ's

What is the best type of gutter cover to install?

There are many different types that perform well, and others that don’t perform well at all. Eventually, debris will get into the gutter. So the best type of gutter cover is probably one that can easily be removed for periodic removal of debris.

How do I fix a leak in my gutter?

For some types of guttering, there are repair tapes that quickly and easily patch holes. Or, you can patch it using cement and a patch of the same material as the gutter. For larger holes, you may want to replace the entire section of gutter.

How big of an access hole should I drill in my birdhouse?

It varies depending on what type of bird you’re trying to attract, but a good average size is
1½-inch diameter.

How much of a slope should my gutters have?

Allow a fall of about 1-1/4” for each 20’ of guttering.

The squirrels keep chewing through the wood around the access hole in my birdhouse. How do I prevent this?

Add a second piece of wood over the access hole before drilling the hole. This will double the thickness around the hole, which will help keep predators out.

Is there any advantage of a metal leaf rake over a plastic leaf rake?

A metal rake usually has more spring and is better suited for large areas. It is easier to clean around flowerbeds, shrubs and bushes and does not rake up essential thatch in a lawn.

Do I need to turn the water off to my outdoor spigots during the winter?

It’s a good idea to keep them from freezing, especially if you don’t have a frost-free sillcock supplying water to your outdoor spigots.

Is one thick coat of blacktop sealer just as good if not better than two thin coats?

No. In fact, two thin coats are always better. Thick coats lead to problems such as tracking, cracking and discoloration.

How do I clean up engine oil or grease from my driveway?

Use a driveway cleaner formulated especially for that purpose.

What’s the purpose of sealing an asphalt driveway?

Sealing the driveway protects the asphalt from sun, moisture and grease that can damage the asphalt underneath.

What is the difference between annual, perennial weeds and biennial weeds?

Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, germinate from seeds each spring. After maturing, they drop seeds before dying. These are the seeds that germinate the following year. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, do not die at the end of growing season. They may lay dormant in the winter, but will become noticeable in the spring. There are also biennial weeds, such as thistle, which grow vegetation in the first year and then flower and die the second year.

When do I apply a pre-emergent herbicide?

These are applied in late winter or early spring before seeds begin to germinate.

What is the nitrogen needed for?

It’s the “up.” It promotes plant growth and greening, thus providing more foliage, color and density.

What does the phosphorous do?

This is the “down” number. It stimulates cell building and root growth, and is particularly beneficial in helping seedlings, flowers and vegetables to develop

What does the potassium do?

It assists plants in forming starches and proteins, thus promoting plant hardiness, disease resistance and a tolerance to drought and cold. It’s the “all-around” number.

When do I apply a post-emergent herbicide?

These are used on weeds that are actively growing, and should be applied in mid spring. Another excellent time is in early fall.

What is a good all-around, multi-purpose fertilizer?

A 12-12-12 helps promote growth and is good for all vegetables, flowers, fruit and nut trees, shade trees, evergreens and shrubs. A 1-1-1 ratio (10-10-10,15-15-15, 20-20-20, etc.) is widely used at the time of lawn establishment, but established lawns generally respond better to fertilizer ratios high in nitrogen. Two of the more common complete fertilizers used by homeowners for flowers and vegetables are 10-10-10 and 5-10-10. A high phosphorus fertilizer such as 6-18-6 is often recommended for vegetables when transplants are set out.

What are micronutrients?

These are nutrients, such as sulfur and iron, that plants need in tiny amounts. Generally, micronutrient deficiencies are not common because organic matter and most soils and fertilizers contain sufficient amounts.

What are special purpose fertilizers?

Some fertilizers are designed for certain uses or types of plants such as citrus food, rose food or azalea food. For example, the azalea fertilizer has been specifically formulated to acidify the planting medium. Packaging of other fertilizers for specific types of plants is often based more on marketing then reliable research. Pick the least expensive product that supplies the correct amount of needed nutrients.

What are the advantages of a synthetic fertilizer?

They’re faster acting than organic, making them a good choice for aiding plants in severe distress from nutrient deficiencies. These fertilizers, which come as dry, granular pellets or water-soluble products, also provide even, consistent feeding.

What are the advantages of the granular pellets?

They are usually less expensive than their organic counterparts. They can be applied by simply spreading them around plants or using a spreader to apply them to a lawn.

What are time-released granular pellets?

These controlled-release fertilizers provide consistent feeding for three to nine months depending on the product. The fertilizer granules are coated with a permeable substance. With each watering, a bit of fertilizer diffuses through the coating and into the soil. Advantages include the need for fewer applications and less of a chance of burning the plant. However, they do not provide as quick a boost and they cost more.

What are the advantages of water-soluble fertilizers?

These dry or liquid concentrates must be diluted in water before application. They are applied with a hose-end sprayer or a watering can. They are relatively expensive, but they are easy to apply and provide even feeding. They are easy to use, especially on container plants. There is no risk of burning a plant as long as you follow label directions for dilution, and the nutrients, in solution, are available to plant roots immediately. They are less practical than the solids for large-scale use because of their greater cost and because they must be reapplied more often (their nutrients in solution leach through the root zone more rapidly).

What are the advantages and disadvantages of organic fertilizers?

The word “organic” simply means that the nutrients contained in the product are derived from a once-living organism. Most are high in just one of the three major nutrients and low in the other two. Their major advantage is adding bulk to the soil. Except for manure, the organics generally release their nutrients over a fairly long period. However, the potential drawback is that they may not release enough of their principal nutrient at a time to give a plant what it needs for best growth. Because they depend on soil organisms to break them down, most organic fertilizers are effective only when the soil is moist and warm.

When should I apply fertilizers to plants and trees?

Don’t apply liquid fertilizer at the same time you plant. Some root hairs will break, and the fertilizer will burn them. Wait 2 to 3 weeks after planting before you fertilize. In general, apply fertilizers to plants at the beginning of the growing season. For deciduous trees fertilize when leaves appear; and for evergreens, when it turns cold. Shrubs do not require much fertilizing.

Can I spray my fruit trees from the ground?

Yes, a hose-end tree sprayer will do the job, but will often end up applying the chemical to other surrounding plants and the lawn. Consider using a ladder and a regular hose-end sprayer or pump sprayer.

Do you have a grass and weed killer that can be safely used around a flowerbed?

There are many brands, but they will all harm flowers. You can try to shield the plants from overspray, but the best way is to simply pull the weeds.

When do I apply a pre-emergent herbicide?

This is applied in late winter or early spring before seeds begin to germinate.

When do I apply a post-emergent herbicide?

This is used on weeds that are actively growing, and should be applied in mid spring. Another excellent time is in early fall.

How much ground will lawn fertilizer cover?

Lawn needs are usually based on nitrogen needs and vary from 1 to 6 pounds needed per 1,000 square feet per year. Specific amounts depend on the type of grass. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn usually reduces this number by 1 pound.

I have some bare spots in my lawn. What do you recommend for starting grass growth?

There are lawn patching products that are specifically formulated for these situations. It is a mulch that contains seed and fertilizer. You apply the mulch to the bare spot and keep it watered.

I want to fertilize my lawn and prevent crabgrass, but I just spread grass seeding on my lawn. What should I use?

There is a product specially formulated as a pre-emergent that prevents crabgrass but allows grass seed to germinate.

How long does it take before my plants are ready to be transplanted outdoors?

It depends on when you started your seeds. It’s usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks before plants are hearty enough to be transplanted outside. Just make sure it’s late enough in the spring that there isn’t any chance of frost.

Do you have an ice melter that will not damage concrete or adjoining grass?

Yes, one option is a product that uses a specially formulated corn derivative.

What is lawn thatch?

It’s a layer of stems and the crowns of dead grass just above the soil. While clippings decompose quickly, thatch decomposes slowly and if it builds up it creates a problem. Either use a de-thatching machine or a core-aerating machine to fix the problem.

How do I plant grass seed?

Start with top-quality grass seed. Work the soil up a little with a rake. If you are over-seeding consider using a slicing machine. Evenly sowing larger areas by hand is difficult, so use a spreader. Cover the seeds by raking a little soil over them. Fertilize and mulch only if it’s on a hillside. Use very little mulch. Water, water water.

How short should I cut my grass?

About 2” or 3”, but never more than about 1/3 of its length.

I used a shade-tolerant grass seed in a shady area, but the seeding won’t grow. What’s going on?

Make sure you keep this area well watered, and do not cut it as short as the rest of the lawn. In addition, rake the leaves in the winter. If you still have a problem, you may have to trim the branches on a tree that is blocking the light or cover the area with mulch.

How do I rid my lawn of moles?

You must first get rid of the food source—grubs, sod webworms and some beetles. Then you can use either a toxic cartridge that “smokes” their holes or a toxic pellet that you place in the burrows.

Do you have anything that can clear an outside area of flying insects?

There are electric insect foggers and for smaller areas there are outdoor foggers that come in an aerosol can.

Wasps have built a nest on our patio. How can I get rid of them?

There are sprays that have a range of 20’ so that you can stand far away and still be effective. Some sprays leave a foam so that returning pests will also be killed.

How can I keep rabbits out of my garden?

There is a galvanized fence that is 28” high.

When do I apply insect controls?

These can be applied anytime there is a problem. However, a preventative application for surface insects should be made in late spring. The best time to attack insects below the surface are in late July and early August. This application should include watering the lawn before and after the application to ensure the insecticide gets down to the root zones where the grubs are active.

How do insecticides work?

There are basically two types: systemic and non-systemic. The systemic is absorbed by the plant and makes it poisonous. The non-systemic provides a coating on the outside of the plant.

I have bugs damaging my plants, what insecticide should I use?

It’s difficult to tell unless you can identify the bug. There are books we can look through and many insects are illustrated on the bottles of insecticide.

I need to re-pot my houseplants. What soil should I use?

You need a good potting soil that allows for air movement, moisture retention and will not shrink away from the sides of the pot. Look for one that contains vermiculite, perlite and sphagnum peat.

How deep of a hole should I dig for fence posts?

Put line posts at least 24” into the ground. Gate and corner posts will carry more stress, so they should be at least 30” into the ground.

What does vermiculite do for the soil?

It lightens and loosens heavy soil for root aeration. It guards against soil compaction.

What can I use to keep outdoor faucets from freezing?

Install a frost-free lawn faucet that is angled down to drain. For existing faucets, you can use an insulating cover.

Why should I use mulch in my beds?

It retains moisture in the soil, reduces the growth of weeds, protects ground temperature, prevents erosion, attracts earthworms, enriches the soil and adds to the beauty of the planting.

What tools make up a basic gardening set?

A basic gardening tool set would include a spading fork, a garden hoe, a watering can, a round-ended shovel, a bow-head garden rake and a pair of garden shears.

When and how do I apply mulch?

Summer is the best time. Applying in the spring slows the soil’s ability to warm naturally. Coarse mulches should be applied 3” to 4” deep, and fine mulches 1” to 2” deep. It should be wet thoroughly after application. One cubic foot of coarse mulch should cover about 3 to 4 square feet of space.

What is the difference between a standard sheet of plastic and a landscape fabric?

A landscape fabric lets water through while preventing weeds from growing. While plastic will stop weeds, it does not allow moisture penetration. Cutting small holes for your plants in weed block prevents weeds from growing in the bed, but still allows your plants to get moisture. A sheet of plastic could be used if you are trying to keep anything from growing in an area, such as under a deck.

Is there anything I need to do to winterize a young tree in my yard?

Some people recommend that you use a wrap to help prevent damage from a frost.

How do I compost?

Compost converts waste material into a fertilizer. Bins should be almost 30 cubic feet to ensure it retains enough heat to spur composting. Choose a location for your bin that is partially shaded. A pile can contain leaves, grass clippings, prunings, straw, spoiled hay, coffee grounds, eggshells, paper and wood ash. Remember you should add equal parts of green material (nitrogen) like fresh grass clippings and food scraps to one part brown (carbon) such as leaves. Keep it as wet as a wrung-out sponge and aerate your pile by stirring it once a week. You can layer in manure, garden soil and commercial fertilizer to speed bacterial action. You should have finished compost in about three months.

When should I plant flower bulbs?

Planting times vary, but as a general rule, earlier in the fall is better than later. Bulbs need to establish strong root systems, before the frosts of winter set in and the bulbs enter a new cycle in preparation for spring blooming. Remember to plant bulbs in an area that drains well and water newly planted bulbs to help those roots get going.

How close should bulbs be planted together?

Groups of bulbs make a much nicer show. To create greater color impact in the garden, plant clusters of same-color flowers together in blocks or “bouquets.” Generally, larger bulbs should be planted 3 to 6 inches apart, smaller bulbs 1 to 2 inches apart.

How do I transplant flowers?

First, dig a hole a little larger than the plant’s rootball. Put your hand over the rootball and turn the container over. Now, you can gently pull off the container with your other hand. Set the rootball in the hole, cover with loose soil, press down firmly and water thoroughly.

How long will it take to replant flowers?

If the soil is well prepared, you can plant a flat of 36 flowers in about 30 minutes.

What do the three numbers on a bag of fertilizer mean?

They represent the percentages of plant nutrients by weight. Just remember “up, down and all around.” The first number represents the nitrogen, the second represents the phosphorus and the last one represents the potassium. These numbers are always expressed in the same order.

  • What is the nitrogen needed for? It’s the up. It promotes plant growth and greening thus providing more foliage, color and density.
  • What does the phosphorous do? This is the “down” number. It stimulates cell building and root growth, and is particularly beneficial in helping seedlings, flowers and vegetables to develop.
  • What does the potassium do? It assists plants in forming starches and proteins thus promoting plant hardiness, disease resistance and a tolerance to drought and cold. It’s the “all-around” number.

What is a perennial?

These flowers will survive winter and return the next summer. If you plant perennials, you will not have to replant them next year, unless you want to move them to a new location.

What is an annual?

These plants last one season and die out.

How do I plant a tree?

For best results, choose at least a five-foot-tall tree. Select a site with enough room for roots and branches to reach full size, and don’t forget to avoid overhead and underground utilities. Prepare the area by loosening the soil three to five times the diameter of the root ball. Dig a hole in the middle and set the root ball even with the ground level. Then, water the soil. If the tree will not stand up in the wind, stake it down. Spread a 2” or 3” layer of mulch on prepared area, but do not put any mulch within 6” of the tree trunk.

Click here for our detailed video on how to plant a tree.

how do i plant a tree

How should I go about trimming my evergreens?

For heavier cutting, a lopping shear with more leverage will be needed. For other trees, a bypass shear provides a cleaner cut that those trees prefer.

How do I fertilize my tree?

Use fertilizer spikes. The size of the tree’s trunk will tell us how many you should use, and always put them in the ground at the drip line of the tree not the base of the trunk.

I am trying to decide which is better for me—a gas or electric chain saw.

Gas chain saws can be used anywhere and are more powerful. Plus, they come in larger bar sizes. Electric chain saws must stay within the limits of an extension cord.

What is the difference between a two-cycle and a four cycle-engine?

With a two-cycle engine, you will have to mix oil with the gasoline. Four-stroke engines tend to be more efficient and usually require less maintenance.

How do I maintain my mower after each use?

After each mowing, wait until then engine cools and then use a hose to spray the clippings and grass debris that may be clinging to the underside of your mower. Some people recommend that you get your blade sharpened about once a month.

What are the advantages of snow shovels with curved handles?

These are called back savers because they allow you to work without bending over.

What should I look for when buying a lawn mower?

For a mulching or self-propelled mower, you need plenty of horsepower so look for one that has a 5 to 6 horsepower engine.

How often should I sharpen my mower blade?

Once a month if it receives a lot of use. Otherwise, once or twice a year.

What is lawn thatch?

It’s a layer of stems and the crowns of dead grass just above the soil. While clippings decompose quickly, thatch decomposes slowly. When it builds up, it creates a problem. Either use a de-thatching machine or a core-aerating machine to fix the problem.

How should I trim?

Most people use a power trimmer that spins a nylon line.  Try to keep it at the same height as your mowed grass. Remember cutting grass too short can damage it.  And always remember to wear protective eyewear and heavy clothing on your legs.

What annual maintenance needs to be done on my mower?

If you are going to store your mower for the winter, disconnect the spark plug and drain the fuel from the tank. Then, reconnect the spark plug and run the engine until it runs out of gas. This keeps aging fuel from going bad inside the engine. In the spring, change the oil in the mower if you have a four-stroke engine. In addition, replace the spark plug, the fuel filter and air filter.

What is an outdoor edger?

These tools provide a vertical cut into the soil, to create a clean line between a lawn and a flowerbed, driveway, sidewalk or some other structure. The fastest models are powered models. A non-powered edging tool looks like a shovel with a small blade shaped like a half moon. You can push the blade in with your foot so that it slices off a thin piece of turf, leaving a clean, straight edge of soil along the edge of the lawn.

When should I dethatch my lawn?

Dethatch after thatch on the ground has built up past 1/2 inch. Some thatch on the ground is useful as it acts as insulation, holding in moisture and keeping out high heat. Too much thatch can prevent moisture, air and nutrients from reaching the soil. It also encourages pests and lawn disease.

When buying a trimmer or edger, should I buy a gas-powered or electric model?

If you can reach every corner of your yard with a 150-foot extension cord, you should consider an electric model. They typically cost less, are quieter and require less maintenance. If you have a larger yard then a gas-powered model may be better.

What should I look for when buying a new mower?

Ask yourself some questions:
Do I want a self-propelled lawnmower or a manual push?
Am I going to use it as a mulcher or a bagger? If it’s a mulcher, look for one with a 5-6 horse power engine.

I need a tool to trim my evergreens.

Anvil pruning shears work well on light foliage. For heavier cutting, a lopping shear with more leverage will be needed. For other trees, a bypass shear provides a cleaner cut that those trees prefer.

Is there a power tool that I can use to trim evergreens with?

Yes, there are electric hedge trimmers. They come in different sizes. The larger units are more powerful, but do not buy a model that is too heavy for you to handle.

What time of year should I plant grass seed?

As long as the soil temperature is 50 degrees for higher, you can plant seed. However, the best two times are in the spring, when the soil is moist, and in the early fall, when temperatures are still warm enough for the seed to germinate, and there is still enough time for the grass to get established before the first frost. Fall has an advantage because the new grass seedlings won’t be competing with common lawn weeds which are starting to go dormant at this time.

What’s the difference between a plug-type aerator and a spike-type aerator and which one should I use?

A plug-type aerator actually pulls plugs out of the ground so air and moisture can get into the soil. A spike-type aerator punches holes in the ground without removing the dirt. If you have a serious problem with compacted soil, the plug-type aerator is best. A spike aerator is best for small areas or for minor aeration problems.

I’m buying outdoor power tools. Which is better: an electric or gas leaf blower?

A gas blower provides mobility and is more powerful.

Are there tree trimmers you can use from the ground?

Yes, pole tree trimmers typically extend 12’ to 20’. Shears with a pulley and rope can cut about a 1” diameter branch, and saws are used on branches up to about 6”. For these and larger branches you may want to consider a chain saw.

How often should I aerate my lawn?

It depends on what type of soil and grass you have. Aerate clay soil twice a year and sandy soil once a year. Spring and fall are the best times for this project.

What size of string do I need to buy for my string trimmer?

This varies greatly. You either need to bring in your old string or know what brand and model you have. If you don’t know, we can make a guess. If we are right, you won’t have to come back. If you have an electric trimmer its probably .064 and if you have a gas trimmer is most likely .080.

Are lawnmower blades specific to particular mowers?

Yes, you need to know the brand, width of the cut and whether it is a mulching mower. Some blades come with adapter kits that allow them to be used on different brands.

How often should I apply fertilizer to my lawn?

You should feed your lawn every six to eight weeks during the growing season. This usually means April, June, August and October, but your lawn may require more or less feeding depending on the type of grass you have and your soil conditions. Always be sure to check with your local extension agent to get growing tips for your area and for your type of soil.

I need a glove to work in chemicals.

Use a neoprene-treated glove. It is chemical resistant.

I need a glove to work in the yard.

If you are using tools or equipment such as a rake, ax, shovel, lawn mower or string trimmer, you should consider a leather glove. It will offer comfort and protection, while a standard canvas or cloth glove can be your choice if all you want to do is keep your hands clean.

What are some of the various sizes of wheelbarrows?

For general use around the yard, there are 3-cubic-foot and 4-cubic-foot models. The heavy-duty 6-cubic-foot model is designed for commercial use.

What’s a better choice in edgers: electric or gas?

Since all gas-powered equipment is noisy, some people prefer the electric models. The cordless models have run times of about one hour, which is generally sufficient for homeowners.

When purchasing outdoor power equipment, what should I consider in a leaf blower?

It’s best to buy a blower that can be reversed and also used as a vac. This allows you to sweep up the leaves, and some models even have a mulching feature.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders?

A drop spreader allows for precise applications, such as along flower beds, where you might not want to distribute seed or fertilizer. But it typically takes a little longer and requires you to make sure that you do not put too much or too little in one area. Broadcast spreaders are quicker and require less precision.

I’m buying outdoor power tools. Are cordless electric hedge trimmers a good choice?

For general use they are more than adequate, but most only offer run times of less than one hour and some corded models are more heavy duty.

How can I make sure my potted plant is getting enough but not too much water?

Use a water meter or gauge to monitor water levels.

What should a good potted plant fertilizer mixture contain?

Planting mixtures usually contain vermiculite, peat moss, fertilizer and a small amount of sterile soil.

Is there any advantage of a metal leaf rake over a plastic leaf rake?

A metal rake usually has more spring and is better suited for large areas. It is easier to clean around flowerbeds, shrubs and bushes and does not rake up essential thatch in a lawn.

What sizes of wheelbarrows are there?

For general use around the yard, there are 3-cubic-foot and 4-cubic-foot models. The heavy-duty, 6-cubic-foot model is designed for commercial use.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of drop spreader and broadcast spreaders?

A drop spreader allows for precise applications, such as along flower beds, but it typically takes a little longer and requires you to make sure that you do not put too much or too little in one area. Broadcast spreaders are quicker and require less precision.

Which are better, plastic or metal trashcans

? Most people prefer the heavy-duty plastic models because they do not bend or get out of shape as easily. However, metal cans make good storage containers for things such as birdseed, when you want to protect the contents from mice, rats, squirrels and insects.

What type of pump sprayer do you recommend?

For the homeowner, the plastic ones are often a good choice because they will not rust. Some of these have metal wands and tips, which are stronger, more durable and easier to clean.

What’s the difference between a 2- and 4-cycle engine?

With a two-cycle engine, you will have to mix oil with the gasoline. Two-cycle engines tend to be more efficient and usually require less maintenance, but only if properly maintained. However, they are also known for producing more pollution.

Can I repair my pump sprayer that has quit working?

Usually, this is the result of damaged seals in the pump. Most manufacturers sell a repair kit. In addition, the sprayer will not work if the tip is clogged and needs cleaning.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of anvil and bypass pruners?

Anvils provide one blade that is pushed up against a flat surface. These are less expensive and are good on dried wood. Some experts also believe evergreens also prefer this type of cut. Bypass pruners allow you to cut larger branches (up to about ¾”).

What are compound pruners?

These use mechanical action so the tool does more of the work. It requires less effort and force.

What do I use to cut branches more than ¾”?

Loppers are used on small trees and bushes up to 2 inches in diameter. They are essentially oversized pruners and are also available in compound models. For larger branches, you will need a saw. These come in a variety of styles. Essentially, you need to pick one that will allow you to get at the branches.

When is the best time to apply fertilizer?

Every 4-6 weeks beginning in February.

What’s the best way to trim large branches with a saw?

About 6” to one foot away from the trunk of the tree, cut about half way up through the branch. Next, cut down from the top. Finally, cut off the stub at its collar on the trunk.

When should I prune?

Typically, it’s best to do this trimming when the plant is dormant before it is budding.

Is there a sprinkler that I can restrict to a small rectangular area between two buildings?

Yes, an oscillating sprinkler can be set so that it will direct water to a specific area. There are also pattern sprinklers.

What should I look for when buying a lawnmower?

For a mulching or self-propelled mower, you need plenty of horsepower so look for one that has a 5 to 6 horsepower engine.

What is an impulse sprinkler and what are its advantages?

It will water a large area, with minimum evaporation.

I have a large area to water, but I don’t want to be bothered with moving the sprinkler

. Use a traveling sprinkler, it moves under its own power along a track of hose and has an automatic shutoff feature.

What is the best way to water a lawn?

Once a week for an extended period (slow watering) rather than more often for shorter periods of time. This allows moisture to go deeper into the soil.

I have a good hose but it has a small break in the middle, can I patch this?

Cut out the bad section and connect the two lengths with a hose mender. Simply slide on the compression fitting and screw on the connector. There are also replacement male and female hose couplers that can replace damaged ends. The plastic ones are easier to use.

I notice there is quite a price range in hoses. What do I get for my money?

The less expensive hose is ½” and not reinforced. Medium-priced hoses are usually 5/8” and have some reinforcement in the walls. Higher-priced hoses have more reinforcement and ¾” hose is usually made with rubber.

Which is better, rubber or vinyl hose?

Rubber hose will last longer and will not kink as easily. However, it is heavier and more cumbersome to handle.

When is the best time of day to water?

Some people mistakenly believe that daytime watering can burn their grass, but the best time to water is actually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If that is not possible then morning or early evening.

What is a soaker hose?

It is a hose that is blocked at the end and moisture seeps through its walls. It can be woven through a garden to provide water directly onto the soil.

How much of this chemical should I use?

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, because overuse can often lead to poor results. For example, too much fertilizer can damage your lawn.

Will this pesticide work on bugs other than the ones mentioned on the can?

I don’t have the education to fully understand the specific chemicals used in these products, so I am not certified to make those types of recommendations.  It’s best to find a pesticide that is specifically designed for your current needs.

Is there a fertilizer that I can use on my gardens that last a long time?

There are time released fertilizers that can last several months.

Which pump should I buy for my water garden?

There are two factors that determine the pump you need. How high you want to raise the water and how fast you want the water to flow. Once these are known, we can look on a chart to see what pump you need. You can always go with a larger pump to get the height you want and restrict the hose with a clamp to slow down the speed.

How can I make sure my pump sprayer and my hose end sprayer lasts a long time?

The best thing to do is to always clean it out after every use. You should run water mixed with a mild soap through the sprayer tip.

What size pump sprayer should I buy?

The bigger the sprayer the longer you can use it without refilling it. The disadvantage is that when they are full they can be heavy. Liquids weigh about eight pounds per gallon.

I am not having success with my garden or my lawn, what do you think the problem might be?

The three factors to consider are water, light and soil. You already know if it is getting enough light and water, but I recommend that you buy a simple soil tester to let you know what your soil’s strengths and weaknesses are.

What time of year should I plant my container garden?

The same time of year that is recommended for planting the plants you choose outdoors.

Can I use soil from my garden to grow pots in containers?

Not by itself. Garden soil has a lot of great trace minerals that are good for growing plants, but it doesn’t have the proper drainage characteristics that potting soil does. When used by itself, it won’t drain quickly enough, which will restrict air getting to the roots. It will also dry out and pull away from the sides of the pot.

What ingredients are in container potting soil?

Potting soil is a mix of several ingredients, including peat moss, compost perlite and vermiculite. Some compost also contains fertilizer, which generally last for 8 to 12 weeks.

I always clean the grates on my grill, but do I need to clean my burner cover bars after each use to keep pests away?

No, just use a wire brush on them from time to time. They sit close enough to the flame from the burner that any drips from above will burn away when the grill is turned on high.

How often should I give my grill a thorough scrubbing?

Be sure to do it at the beginning of the grilling season. Then, it depends on how often you use it. Three times a year is probably adequate.

My mower won’t start. What’s most likely the problem?

Some of the common reasons mowers won’t start include the following:
1. It’s out of gas.

2. It’s flooded. Let it sit for an hour or two or overnight
until the strong gas smell goes away, then try again.

3. It needs a new spark plug. Check the tip of the plug for
corrosion and rust and replace it if necessary.

4. The fuel is stale. Replace with fresh fuel.

What will happen if you put straight gas in a 2-cycle engine?

Without any oil in the fuel for lubricating, the engine will seize up and will probably be ruined. Always remember to use the oil/gas mixture in the proper ratio recommended by the mower manufacturer.

My gutters are letting out water at the ends. What can I do to fix it?

The endcap of the gutter is one of the most common places for leaks to develop. You can by a silicone based product specifically designed to seal gutters. It comes in a caulk-like tube and can be applied with a caulk gun.

How do I keep the water from pooling beneath my downspouts? Do I need to adjust the position my gutters?

There are several products designed to help carry water away from the foundation. The first is a splash block which sits directly under your downspout elbow to help carry the water that extra couple of feet away from the house. The other product is a downspout extender which is generally four-feet long. If after using these products the water is still pooling under your downspouts, you probably need to check the grade of your foundation, which is how much the land slopes away from your house.

Do I need to sand my deck before staining it?

Sanding deck boards before proceeding with the staining process helps ensure that the surface of the deck is level and there are no tripping hazards. It also removes stubborn stains left behind after the stripping process. Perhaps most importantly, it removes old cellulose fibers that will soon wear away from exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

Should I use a special type of soil or add any fertilizer when backfilling the hole around the root ball?

You should always backfill the hole with the same soil you dug out of the hole to begin with. However, it’s a good idea to add some plant food fertilizer and some root stimulator to avoid transplant shock. Be sure to carefully read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

What is an ice dam?

An ice dam is a condition where the temperature is just below freezing and the snow has fallen on the roof. The combination of heat from the sun and the escaping building heat causes the snow above the heated space to melt. The melted snow runs down the roof until it hits the unheated eave overhang. If the weather is cold enough, the runoff freezes and forms a small ridge. As the process continues, the ridge grows. Soon, water is backed up over the house and flows under the shingles, leaking into the home.

So how do I prevent ice dams from happening on my roof?

Three ways. If you are installing a new roof, you can install an ice/water shield as an underlayment to the shingles. Second, you should have adequate insulation in the attic to keep heat from escaping, which causes the snow to melt. Third, the attic should have adequate ventilation to allow the roof deck to evenly cool and help prevent snow on the roof from melting.

How often should I inspect the gutters on my house?

Inspect them at least twice a year, in the spring and fall. Be sure to clear out all leaves and debris.

I have a sloped driveway. Should I buy a sealer with more sand content for extra traction?

Sealers with more sand contain less coal tar emulsion, which is what actually seals your driveway. Since most sealers are rubberized, they will aid in traction without having to sacrifice the products’ actual sealing capabilities.

How much should I water my newly planted tree?

Regular watering is vital to a new tree’s health. New trees need at least 1” of water per week, whether it’s by irrigation or from rainfall.

What are some problem areas in the guttering system that I should be aware of?

Check for high spots where water might not flow or low spots in the gutter where water might collect. Correct that problem by either installing additional spikes and ferrules or by bending the hanger that supports the gutter. Fix leaks or holes in the gutter by patching or replacing a section of the gutter.

Is there a way to keep leaves out of the gutter?

There are several different types of gutter covers that keeps leaves out of the gutter and makes them easier to maintain.

I’ve heard I need to mix both brown and green materials in my compost pile. What does this mean?

Brown ingredients are carbon-based materials, such as dried leaves. Green ingredients are nitrogen-based materials, such as fresh grass clippings. Mix these two ingredients together in equal parts.

How big of a hole should I dig when planting a tree?

Make the hole 6 inches wider than the diameter of the container it came in. Also don’t dig the hole any deeper than the depth of the container, measured from the top of the soil surface to the bottom of the container.

How often should I turn my compost pile?

Once a week. This will continue to mix everything together and help aerate the pile. If the microbes deep within the pile don’t get enough oxygen, they’ll create hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs. That’s a telltale sign that it’s time to turn the pile.

How can I tell when the compost is ready to use?

It will look like rich, organic soil, without any large clumps in it. To test if it’s ready, plant a few grass seeds in a small pot using some of the compost, and if the seeds sprout in a couple days, it’s ready.

What type of grass seed should I use for a bare spot?

There are many types of grass for different regions of the country. But the things to consider include—is the area shaded or sunny and how much foot traffic the area gets.