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If there is one common reason we spend hours in our yards maintaining and caring for our lawns, It is the enjoyable sight of a lush, healthy green lawn. Regardless of who’s lawn you are looking at, seeing a perfectly manicured, lush green lawn is a very pleasing picture to behold. Those of us that struggle with achieving that beautiful, healthy, thick grass can use all the tips and tricks we can find to assist us in our quest for the perfect lawn.

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The lawn care season is in full swing. Every year more and more people are opting to hire a lawn care professional to tend their yards for them. Some choose this option to save them time, some to avoid being out in the heat, and some to ensure their yard is as beautiful as can be. Regardless of the reason(s) people choose to hire a professional, one should always be careful and research a company completely before entering into any contract for lawn care.

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We all know that regular maintenance for your lawn mower is important and helps keep the mower running and operating reliably. Most mower owners think about tune ups and maintenance in the spring, when the grass begins to grow again and the spring yard work season starts.

However, in the winter a large majority of people simply park their mower in the garage or shed, where it sits until it is time to start mowing again. This ‘down-time’ for your mower can cause a multitude of problems which can and will foster reliability headaches such as start/run issues, quality of cut issues, internal engine problems and external rust/corrosion to the cutting deck, wheel axles and brackets, etc.

In our shop, we see this happen year after year. A significant segment of these mowers need additional repairs outside of normal maintenance. Simply put, proper winterization of your lawnmower will help you avoid spring time headaches and help keep your mower running reliably. I have compiled a short list of action items that are integral to keeping your mower running, healthy and reliable for many years. These are all items we address when performing a winterizing tune up on a customer’s mower and we highly recommend that each list item be performed on your mower regularly. Your mower’s manufacturer also recommends them as part of normal, regular maintenance. In fact, some manufacturers state clearly right in the owner’s manual that failure to perform the recommended regular maintenance could void your warranty.

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It is time for part 2 in my Fall Yard care Checklist series. In the last article, we covered prepping your lawn for the coming winter, and how to give your lawn the best chances for winter survival and rebound in the springtime. We also covered the importance of cleaning up and removing the leaves. As the weather continues to get colder, your lawn’s growth slows down and now it is time to start focusing on your trees. Snow and ice build up can cause branches and tree limbs to break off and fall, posing possible problems such as damage to your home, and causing electrical outages if those limbs happen to fall onto a power line. Trimming back branches and removing the old, dead limbs in the fall will help avoid additional clean up and potential property damage from fallen limbs during the winter.

Now that most of the leaves are gone from the trees, it is time to take a look at the trees in your yard. Take note of which trees are closest to your home/garage/shed; Are any of the branches or limbs touching or over hanging your structures? Also take a look at any trees that might be over your drive way as these branches and limbs could fall onto your vehicles, fall down blocking your driveway completely. Next, you will want to pay attention to any power lines that run near by or through your trees. Any potential falling limb in these areas could also cause power lines to come down, causing a loss of power to your home and your neighbors; not to mention how dangerous a downed power line on your property can be.

Once you have thoroughly surveyed your property and have a solid idea of which branches and limbs need to be trimmed back and/or removed, the next step is to decide whether you want do the work, or hire a professional to handle the job. Keep in mind the difficulty of the job – How high are the branches/limbs in question? How big those branches and limbs are, and if there are any that need to be removed/trimmed away from power lines. All of these questions need to be addressed and safety must be considered in order to achieve the desired result safely with no collateral damage to people and property. Hiring a pro and doing the job yourself both have their own challenges.

HANDLING THE WORK YOURSELF

If you choose to do the work yourself, then you will want to consider the equipment needed for the job, the cost of renting or purchasing the equipment you do not currently have, as well as safety and of course your experience with tree trimming and limb removal. Overall, You will want to address safety concerns seriously and be completely honest with yourself on your experience, skills and ability to perform the work safely. This is especially true if you need to work near/around power lines, the branches are high in the tree and/or are particularly large in size. Failure to accurately access the job, the areas you will work in, your experience level and dealing with branches/limbs that are close to power lines could spell disaster. If you hesitate at or even slightly doubt any of the items in the checklist below, STOP and hire a professional to handle the work. The money you spend will be well worth avoiding serious injury, property damage and possibly having to deal with downed power lines.

1) Do you have the right tools for the job?

Depending on the size and scope of the job, Equipment such as a pole pruner saw, chain saw, and wood chipper may be required. At the very least, a pole saw and a good chain saw will be necessary. Regardless of the tools required for your job, being knowledgeable and able to safely use them is the top priority. If you need to purchase power equipment, your local power equipment dealer is able to help by making recommendations based upon your needs, your experience and your ability to properly and safely operate and control the equipment. Once you have the equipment you will need, make sure you fully read and understand the owner’s manual. Good operation not only includes adhering to safe use practices, but also the ability to be in full control of your equipment regardless of the situation.

2) Consider the difficulty of the job.

Tree branches and limbs can be heavy and unwieldy. Because you will be working over your head, it is easy to misjudge how and where a limb or branch may fall. The larger the limb, the bigger the safety concern. Serious injury and property damage can result from felling limbs, so you must decide if your experience and skill level is up to the task. Once again, if you doubt your ability at all, STOP and look into hiring a professional tree service.  Again, the money spent is well worth avoiding injury and property damage.

3) Consider how you will dispose of unwanted branches, limbs and debris.

You essentially have two options for disposal; 1) haul tree waster to the local dump, or recycle the waste by utilizing a wood chipper. Dropping off the tree waste at the dump requires a vehicle big enough to haul the waste

If you plan to recycle the freshly felled limbs, branches and related debris, You will need to purchase or rent a wood chipper. This machine will chop up your tree waste into a usable mulch that is perfect for landscaping and to protect your garden and flower bed’s soil during the winter. chipper machines must also be operated in a safe manner, as these machines can also cause serious injury. Wood chippers are usually larger machines that either require a trailer to transport to and from the job. There are small form factor chippers available to purchase. However, you will want to keep in mind the diameter of the branches you plan to run through a chipper. Wood chippers come in different sizes designed to handle different diameter branches and limbs, so you need to choose one that will handle the needs of your particular job. Also, keep in ind that wood chippers will produce a fair amount of dust and smaller debris, so post job clean up will be necessary depending on where you need to use a chipper.

HIRING A PROFESSIONAL TREE SERVICE

If you choose to hire a professional, the first thing to remember is that this time of the year is busy for tree service companies and also the most competitive. Many of these companies offer free quotes so take advantage of this and shop around. Make sure you ask questions and get all the information you need to make an educated decision. Here is a checklist of things you will want in a qualified professional tree service:

1) Is the company licensed and insured / How much is their per-incident coverage?
2) What are the company’s procedures for dealing with trimming/removing branches around power lines? Are they required to get the local power company involved?
3) Are there additional charges for working around power lines?
4) Is Clean up/removal included? Will their vehicles need to be driven onto your lawn?

 

 

hondaemergAs we approach the end of the fall season and begin to prepare for winter weather, homeowners commonly consider purchasing a generator for emergency power during a storm. One can be tempted to purchase a generator because of a low price or a sale. I advise anyone considering such a purchase to do your research and hold off purchasing your generator until you can be sure you are not only getting a good deal, but the generator you buy will serve your needs effectively. This will ensure you not only buy a quality product, but also will have plenty of power to operate the essentials to help you survive a storm comfortably providing sufficient power for lighting, heat, and whatever you deem necessary during a power outage.

 

 

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storm clean up

Summer is in full swing and most of us have been using our mowers, trimmers, edgers and other various implements of yard beautification for months now. Along with the summer season comes summer storms and as the fall season approaches, those of us near coast lines will deal the coming hurricane season as well. Summer storms and hurricanes bring with them the possibility of damage to property, fallen limbs, uprooted/toppled trees, and more. The days and even weeks following a damaging storm can prove to be dangerous and a stressful time for people trying to return things to normal.

For homeowners and landscape professionals alike, preparing for storm clean up is just as important as emergency preparedness for the home. Having chain saws and generators, fuel and work gloves at the ready is equally as important as stocking up on supplies, food and water before a storm. Alternatively, lack of preparation can cause additional stress and difficulty, making it hard to return life to normal.

Below is a list of tips to help both homeowners and landscape professionals alike to plan ahead and be prepared for clean up after a storm.

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The spring yard work season is here. Be sure to maintain a safe working environment.

The spring yard work season is here. Be sure to maintain a safe working environment.

Spring is here, and temperatures are warming up. Warmer temperatures means that it’s also time for yard work. With many people using their lawn mowers, power edgers, string trimmers this time of year, proper equipment maintenance and safety are two very important topics. While these action items should be viewed as a year-round priority, this is the time of year to pay special attention to the safe operation of your lawn care equipment.

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broken mower

 

Spring is coming fast, and that means it is time to start thinking about your lawn. For some, that means it’s time to start shopping for a new lawn mower. If you are one of us looking for a new grass chopper, you probably want a mower that will make the task of mowing your lawn enjoyable, and to accomplish that without breaking the bank.

“Out with the old and in with the new!” My Father exclaimed the year he bought a brand new lawn mower to replace the old, rusty “hunk of junk” as dad so eloquently referred to it. As we waited for the salesman, He attempted to educate me on buying tools and equipment.

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Garden-weeds

 

In the Southern region of the United States, we see vegetation growth year round. Even though the winter months mean dormant, brown lawns, just waiting to grow and be manicured back to their lush green beauty, it means the opposite for the weeds in your lawn. While your lawn equipment may be enjoying lazier days during the winter, weeds may be taking advantage of this and could cause issues for your lawn later in the year, especially after the spring season hits full swing, and vegetation is growing fast.

Dormant brown lawns will not compete with the weeds, and therefore, the weeds have unhampered access to water and sunlight. The soil in your yard remains moist and due to the cooler weather, the soil also remains cool as well. This also means less evaporation of moisture, creating efficient growing conditions for weeds. Winter weather that brings higher than average precipitation promotes growth spurts for common low-lying weeds.

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lawn-mower-safety-tips

Lawn cutting season is just around the corner in Marietta, the Atlanta metro area, and just about everywhere else in the Southern United States. This also means its time to be vigilant and safe while using your power equipment. 253,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010.

Of that number, 17,000 were children who required care in the emergency room because of mower accidents according to the The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In Fact, approximately 200,000 people are injured in lawn mower-related accidents each year. This statistic is reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. One reason for this staggering number of injuries each year is because even though lawn mowers are to be viewed as adult tools, many people consider them toys. The reality is virtually all lawn mower related accidents are completely preventable. Here are some steps to ensure your mowing task is a safe experience for you and others in the mowing vicinity.

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