Say Goodbye to the Serenity of Winter (Apr. 2016)

mowSpring is around the corner, and soon the serenity of winter will be broken by the sounds of lawn mowers and weed whackers. Now is the time to do some spring maintenance on your garden equipment to ensure that your tools and equipment are ready for that first cut, and the delicious scent of fresh mown grass.  You don’t want to be caught in a long line-up at the repair shop, as your lawn turns into a pasture and you need to hire a flock of sheep to keep it in check while your lawn mower is getting an overhaul.

Even if your equipment appears to be in good working order, now is the time to at least sharpen the blade. This will ensure a cleaner, more manicured cut, and less wear and tear on your mower. Cleaning under the deck of the lawnmower and then spraying it with cooking oil will keep the grass from compacting on the underside and make clean-up easer.  Spraying with cooking oil a few times during the summer will ensure easier clean-ups, and the grass will be safe for your composter.  Better still, why not use the grass clippings as mulch on your gardens, to help retain moisture, discourage weed growth and return their nutrients to the soil.  It makes for less garbage on the curb side too, and that’s a good thing.  It’s always puzzled me, why we water our grass to make it grow, and then, just throw it away.

Speaking of curb side garbage pickup, fast-forward to the fall, when the trees have dropped truckloads of dead leaves on your yard. Hopefully, they are maple, ash, willow or perhaps fruit tree leaves.  You don’t want walnut leaves, that contain a natural substance called “juglone” that is a respiratory inhibitor and can kill a number of our plants including apples, tomatoes, and white birch. Oak, cedar, pine and spruce leaves and needles tend to add acidity to your soil. But then again, extra acid can be a bonus if your are growing azaleas or blueberries.  Don’t just rake them up, put them in paper bags that trees were cut down to make and add them to your curb side collection.  Instead, spread them out on your driveway and drag your mower, backwards, over a the pile a few times. You will be amazed at how a huge pile of dry leaves can be reduced to a small one, after a few passes.  Now, you have some lovely brown mulch to cover your perennials and rose bushes, that will keep them securely down in the earth during the January thaw and continue to retain moisture, discourage weeds and feed your gardens over the next summer. 

There are many ways to practice the 3 R’s, and sometimes it comes with an added bonus. 

Happy Gardening, Happy Summer.

Judy Kennedy

2012 CKL Environmental Hero

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