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Front Page » May 12, 2011 » Home and Garden Focus » Yards can be more than just a lawn
Published 1,238 days ago

Yards can be more than just a lawn


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First-time homeowners can be overwhelmed at the responsibility that comes with home ownership. While some of those responsibilities can be stressful, others can prove therapeutic.

Many homeowners find caring for their lawns to be an enjoyable hobby that helps relieve stress. Time spent outdoors in the warm sun helps improve mood, and a lush lawn and garden can instill a sense of pride in homeowners. First-time homeowners with no history of caring for a lawn can still turn their lawn into a lush oasis to be proud of.

Start With the Soil

Soil is the foundation for any good lawn or garden. Healthy soil will result in healthy plants and vegetables. Unfortunately, not all homeowners are lawncare enthusiasts, and first-time homeowners might discover their lawn sand gardens need lots of work. That work should begin with a soil test. Do-it-yourself soil kits are available at most major home improvement and lawn and garden centers. For those who prefer to trust a professional, the United States Department of Agriculture has Cooperative Extension System offices in every state and U.S. territory. Such offices provide valuable information to homeowners, and many even provide free or low-cost soil tests. These tests can help homeowners learn more about their soil and what, if anything, they need to do improve its health.

Find the Right Grass

Some lawns might be an eyesore because the grass is not the right type of grass for that particular region. If a grass is not a good fit for the region and local climate, it likely won't thrive or will require considerable and often costly maintenance to stay lush.

Bermuda and tall fescue grasses are popular options in many areas of North America, but it's still best to consult a lawncare professional to determine which grass is best for a given region. Learn the ins and outs of caring for the grass, including which types of seed and fertilizer are the best fit, as well as the recommended watering guidelines.

Plant Properly

Planting new grass might seem like a big undertaking, but it's actually quite easy, even for first-time homeowners. Once a person has determined the correct type of grass to install, planting is much more simple that one might think.

* Aerate the soil. Soil compaction is a problem for many homeowners. Heavy usage often compacts the soil, making it very difficult for the lawn to hold oxygen and water that roots need to grow and absorb valuable nutrients.

Aerating increases nutrient, oxygen and water movement into the soil, improving rooting and controlling thatch buildup.

Hand aerators might prove effective on smaller lawns, but most lawns would benefit from a core aeration machine.

For first-time homeowners, it might be best to enlist the services of a professional the first time aeration is done to learn the process.

* Spread seed evenly. Grass seed should be spread evenly over all tilled areas. Spreading can be done by hand or by using a seed spreader.

* Add a light layer of soil over the seed. Once the seed has been spread, cover the seeded areas with a light layer of soil. Some soils are treated, and these treated soils provide nutrients that encourage growth.

* Water well but don't overdo it. The soil around the seed should be moist until the grass has grown in to its desired height. However, avoid overwatering, which can drown the seed and make new grass growth impossible.

Fertilize

Fertilizer is a friend to lawns, providing the nutrients a lawn needs to grow in thick. When fertilizing, use a spreader.

The type of spreader is up to the homeowners, but know that drop spreaders, which drop the fertilizer directly below the spreader, tend to be more accurate but take more time, while broadcast spreaders, which drop fertilizer in a pattern away from the spreader, are less accurate but cover large areas in a much shorter period of time.

Avoid fertilizing the same area twice, and be patient. Fertilizing might seem like a tedious process, but if done correctly, it should lead to a lush lawn.

When fertilizing, it's best to do so during the fall and spring. The exact time to fertilize depends on the region, but it's generally best to fertilize between April and early June, and then in the fall between late September and early November.

A yard can also be greatly enhanced with other features including statues, water fountains and benches.

These features can add a personal touch to a yard and make it stand out from the house next door.

When it comes to lawn care, first- time homeowners should not be intimidated by this sudden responsibility.

Caring for a lawn can be a relaxing and rewarding hobby.

Creating your own garden shed Creating your own garden shed Home gardeners and lawn enthusiasts generally accumulate a number of tools of the trade in order to successfully manage their gardening needs.

As a result, many homeowners build a garden shed to store all their tools and lawn care accessories.

A garden shed presents an ideal way to store all of the tools and appliances needed for the weekend hobby.

Plus, it enables homeowners to clear out clutter from the garage or basement.

A locked garden shed can be a safe place in which to store sharp tools, fuel and some chemical products.

Just because the shed will have utility doesn't mean it has to be an eyesore on the property. There are ways to create or purchase garden sheds that are aesthetically appealing and will blend in with the landscape or the main house.

Do-it-yourselfers who have decided to build a garden shed and want to do so affordably can shop around for lower-priced material.

It may be a good idea to purchase a framing kit from a home-improvement store or online retailer and then shop around for exterior materials.

Individuals can also find used sheds from auction sites or newspaper classifieds and simply retrofit these structures to meet individual needs.

Although sheds will be exposed to the elements, because they are not liveable structures they don't require the same level of construction as a home or addition, like a garage.

This means that a homeowner is able to save some money with materials. Pressboard may be durable enough and less expensive than plywood.

There's little need for insulation or expensive windows. In fact, unless it is for a decorative standpoint, windows are unnecessary altogether.

It is likely that people who have had recent upgrades made on their homes may have leftover materials that can be put to use on a garden shed.

Roofing shingles, extra aluminum siding and wood trim can be used on the shed. Even leftover latex paints and stains can be use on the shed.

Homeowners should visit a retailer of prefabricated sheds to see how they are made.

This can provide insight as to the size and structure and the type of construction that will be needed.

If budget is not a concern, homeowners may want to purchase pre-made sheds that can be customized to mimic the architecture and color of the person's home.

Stained glass and cottage features can make a shed seem like an intimate retreat nestled in the yard.

In addition to being a fine place to store garden tools, a shed can also be constructed to serve as a child's play space.

A miniature home in the yard can be a fun play zone for kids and be the centerpiece for hours of imaginative outdoor fun.

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