October Landscape Maintenance Tips

Happy Autumn! A very special thanks goes to this month’s guest writer, Matt from kebony.com, a Norwegian company which aims to be the “leading wood brand and technology organization.”

October Landscape & Maintenance Tips

From Lawnaholic: Some people think that it’s not important to maintain your lawn during colder months, but that is absolutely not true. Being able to keep many aspects of your yard in tip-top shape will help ease into Spring with better soil and growth.

The content below is all about October (and other fall months) Landscaping Tips —

Spring and summer are naturally the busiest months for landscape care but don’t stop regular maintenance and lawn care just because fall has arrived. It is all too common for novice homeowners and property managers to become lax on fall maintenance which only leaves more work to be done come spring.

Remember – the work you put into your landscape in the fall will pay off come spring when the snow has melted. Most of normal fall maintenance involves simple, but important, care that will help ensure your property comes through winter looking great.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while caring for your property in early to mid fall:

Don’t Stop Mowing Just Because Grass Growth Has Slowed

Grass growth slows down quite a bit in the fall but that doesn’t mean you should completely stop mowing. While you won’t need to mow very often you should mow if the length of the grass gets too long. There is a bit of a sweet spot for grass length in the fall. To ensure the grass survives and regrows you’ll want it to be at least 2″ tall. However, once you get to 3″ or more you risk the grass matting together which can mold once snow falls.

Don’t forget to check grass length around decking as well. You should mow here or weedwack if you find the grass or weeds are touching, especially if you have a wood deck as they are more sensitive to pest and moisture damage.

Stay on Top of Leaf and Debris Removal

Raking up leaves is the most obvious fall landscaping chore, but it’s important to routinely rake up leaves as they cover the ground rather than allowing them to sit until the last minute. Leaving leaves and other debris to sit can kill grass and groundcover fairly quickly. Wet leaves and debris can also potentially cause mold or fungus growth under the pile.

Be sure to safely dispose of leaves, branches, and other organic debris safely. In some areas it’s customary, and even somewhat traditional, to burn leaves. This can potentially be unsafe, not to mention it is a waste of a potentially useful organic matter. A better idea is to compost the leaves. If you live in a rural area, go the eco-friendly route and move the leaves on the outskirts of your property for insects and wildlife to use.

Use This Opportunity to Reseed or Start a New Lawn

Early fall is a great time to reseed your lawn or rip out your old lawn to start a new one. Many people make the mistake of reseeding in the spring, which often isn’t the most effective time to be replanting. Reseeding during the fall helps ensure that the seeds themselves can properly take hold in the soil and not be disrupted by family activities on the lawn or heavy snow. Come spring time you will see more growth and healthier grass.

Keep in mind that if you live in a very cold climate you may need to reseed fairly early on in September. Those in more regions with mild winters may be able to reseed as late as November.

Deep Water Shrubs, Hedges and Trees Right Before First Freeze

Depending on your gardening zone there is going to be a “sweet spot” of time between the time deciduous trees or shrubs go dormant and when the ground begins to freeze. This period of time is ideal for deep water around any trees, shrubs, hedges, etc. Thoroughly saturating this foliage will help them get through winter more easily. Just be sure to do this deep watering before the ground begins to freeze as watering combined with freezing ground may have the opposite effect.

Drain Water Systems and Irrigation Hoses

Late October, or earlier depending on when your region hits freezing temperatures at night, is a great time to drain out any irrigation hoses or watering systems around your landscape. You should also shut off outdoor water lines at night. This is a common practice in cooler climates but may not be common sense for everyone. Clearing out irrigation lines and watering systems may need to be done with compressed air to ensure all water is out.

Water trapped in hoses can freeze, expand and bust the lines, leaving you with a mess to clean up in the spring. Failing to shut off outdoor water lines in outbuildings can also cause pipes to break. To be safe, whenever your forecast shows freezing temperatures at night it’s time to consider draining hoses and turning off outdoor water lines.

Clean Off Walkways and Tidy Around Outbuildings

Part of landscaping maintenance includes caring for boardwalks, pathways, gazebos, and any other outbuildings. Allowing leaves or dirt to sit on walkways, especially on wood, can lead to algae or fungus growth and staining. If you live in a region that gets snow, the combination of snow (and ice) on top of loose debris on walkways is potentially a very dangerous slipping hazard as well. Ensure pathways are clear and outbuildings are prepared for winter.

When you properly maintain your landscape throughout fall you are ensuring that all the hard work you put into your property will once again pay off come spring.

 

patio furniture for cool outdoor gadgets

5 Cool Outdoor Gadgets to Spice Up Your Yard

Out of all the cool outdoor gadgets, some of these on this list make me wonder how people even think of them! Enjoy this list of things you might consider.

1. Terra Grass Armchair Gets Your Yard Involved

If you’re lacking a couple of lawn chairs (you know, the portable kind) and want to sit in the grass, but not on a flat surface, you should check out the Terra Grass Armchair (Amazon Italy) to see what you think. The project was on KickStarter and raised enough money to make the products.

The whole thing is just cardboard and what you can do is build it, plant your seed in dirt and wait for it to grow. Different kits are available which will let you upgrade one of your seats to a sofa. That sounds pretty awesome!

2. Edyn Wi-Fi Garden Sensor

The Edyn garden sensor sets up continuous monitoring of your garden to inform you of any changes in light, humidity, temperature, moisture, and even soil nutrition! Depending on the weather forecast, you’ll be notified of changes and comparisons with a plant database.

Download the app to see how your garden is doing from anywhere (since it’s Wi-Fi connected). Another cool feature about this gadget. It’s solar powered.One of the best parts about the features are that it will recommend certain plants according to your soil and climate region. That’s something an ordinary person can’t do without years of experience.

Check out the Edyn Garden Sensor on Amazon! Wi-Fi connected, real-time monitoring of your plant and garden needs.

3. TreePod’s Original Hanging TreePod Backyard Tree House

hanging treehouse

For this one, you’re going to need a tree, but it will definitely be worth your time. With a capacity of up to 500 lbs., the Treepod Hanging Tree House is fully portable and breaks down to be used for camping, parks, or just your backyard. Certifiably an outdoor gadget worth mentioning.

Right now it’s offered in four different colors and built with nylon and an aluminum framing. The fabric is (of course) weather resistant, so if you want to be outside in the rain, no big deal. Measures 7.5 feet tall x 5 feet wide.

4. GoSun Sport Portable Solar Cooker

portable solar cooker

You might have a grill in your backyard, but when it’s full, you can resort to using the GoSun Portable Solar Cooker for steaming, frying, baking, or even boiling. It’s perfect for a pack of hot dogs (you know, the vegetarian kind) or pretty much anything you can fit. As long as the sun is shining, you’ll be able to cook on it. It has mirrors to help retain the heat from the sun to be used as a stove. But, remember to get a backup charcoal grill for the nighttime.

5. Outdoor Bluetooth Rock Speakers

You might have one of the bluetooth speakers that to carry around with you from place to place, but how well does it blend into a backyard? Unless it gets painted the same color as grass, these rock speakers are probably going to blend in better! They are designed to withstand extreme heat or cold – without reduced life or failing and have a 40W output to put out enough sound for medium or large sized backyards and patios. Click here to see the bluetooth speakers on Amazon.

Hope you enjoyed these! I know I’m looking forward to getting a hanging tree house once we plant a tree in the backyard…but, the garden sensor seems promising!

uses for coffee grounds and tea

7 Outdoor Uses for Coffee Grounds (and Tea)

It’s hard to know what to do with leftovers in your home – especially coffee grounds. With many Americans drinking over 3 cups a day and spending nearly $20 each week, there’s a ton of waste! No worries though, because in this article, you’ll find many uses for coffee grounds (and tea) to help be green on the Earth.

uses for coffee grounds and tea

Source: Fix.com Blog




1. Use Your Coffee Grounds as Mulch

You can mix your used coffee grounds with another type of mulch in order to see benefits. You’ll want to be careful though as too much coffee can be a barrier to moisture and air. A perfect mix of coffee and existing mulch can help improve the growth of certain plants.

2. Make a Better Compost Pile

With a high nitrogen content, coffee grounds are perfect for adding into your compost. Another benefit is that worms can be attracted to the compost which will help with even more garden benefits.

3. Change the Color of Flowering Plants

In case you weren’t aware, some flowers actually change color when the pH level of soil is changed. Reducing the level will help give you bright blue flowers in something like a hydrangea.

4. Create Your Own Fertilizer

Mix 1/2 cup of coffee grounds per 1 gallon of water and you can use this for your plants. What develops is a homemade fertilizer that is kid-friendly for any area of your yard or garden. Plus, you can save a few bucks compared to a pre-made organic fertilizer.

5. Repel Insects like Ants and Slugs

Create a ring around your most precious plants to make these insects turn away from nipping on your plants. As an added option, take some used egg shells, grind them up, and add them in the mixture. Bugs will opt for another path around.

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6. Store Used Coffee Grounds for Garden

When you decided to reuse your grounds, they need to be dry. From our experience at home, storing them inside of a container with a lid is not a good idea! You need a place for them to dry out – maybe consider following these directions with a baker’s tray.

7. Suppress Those Weeds You Love

While not as surefire as some of the other ways to use your coffee, adding it to keep the weeds down can help. Although you’ll want to be careful as some plants that may be around the weeds (like tomatoes) will have an adverse effect.

How are your coffee grounds used? Leave something in the comments below to let others know your creative thoughts!

swing set playground

The Ultimate Swing Set Buying Guide: Your Kids, Your Money

Once spring arrives, the kids hopefully will start heading outdoors to enjoy the great weather. One thing that might be in the finances this year is a swing set. And, depending on the number of kids you have, their ages, and other factors, your family might just be looking at getting a new residential playground right in the backyard.


1

Find the Right Size Area

​Although this may seem like a common sense question, find the right part of the yard where the swing set (or playground) will go. One important consideration is to think about the kids on the swings.

Will there be enough room for multiple children to be actively swinging and other kids to run around the swing set?

Further down in the guide we'll talk about things like terrain and safety features, but finding the right area is important. Remember changes outside including where the sun will be and whether or not there is adequate space for all of the features of the playground.


2

How Big Is Your Family?

Even though your children may not be toddler age, think about the next couple of years and how that may have an impact on your investment. Yes, that's right, having a swing set is an investment and will make a world of difference when the kids start to grow older than five years old and are ready for something other than a swing or small slide.

If you get the right swing set, you might even be able to add on this climbing cargo net or outdoor rhythm band for the clubhouse area.

Here are questions you may be able to answer:

  • Are you a stay-at-home parent or will you be?
  • How many children do you and your spouse plan to have?
  • Do your kids have friends that come to play?
  • Are there enough activities on the swing set to accommodate all of the kids?

As you picture the little guys (or girls) playing on the set, try to understand the highest number of kids that will be present on each activity. If friends plan to come over, how often will this be? Is there a part of the extended family that is going to get to enjoy the fun?

​Really think about the size of your family and whether or not your next swing set will fit for everyone. The cost over time will work itself out and will help with future growth should you decided to have more kids.


Want to skip this guide and find your next swing set? Here's best selling swing sets on Amazon or best sellers at Walmart.


3

Overall Design and Material

Choosing your design is going to help fulfill your child's needs and/or wants. Each playset is different and will have an impact on individual needs for children. For example, if you have monkey bars, a slide, and some type of rock climbing wall, the kids will be sure to get their workout in for the day.

The typical options for a swing set are wood and metal. You can also find sets that are a blend of plastic with metal, or wood with plastic parts (i.e. the canopy on top of the clubhouse).

Choosing Wood
Wood is definitely the higher-end and recommended playset. It offers a very robust and sturdy setup as a long term solution. Cedar wood offers the natural decay, rot, and insect and insect resistance along with a great color and look for your yard. You can also find southern yellow pine swing sets that are treated with non-toxic chemicals.

Wood Maintenance:
Normally, for wood sets staining and checking the nuts/bolts will need done after a couple of years.

Wood Swing Set Benefits

  • Naturally does not rot or decay
  • Very sturdy with heavy-duty bolts/hardware
  • Very long-term solution

Wood Swing Set Disadvantages

  • Longer installation time
  • Overall playground is heavy
  • Possibility of termite damage

Choosing a Metal Set
Depending on the quality of the metal used by the manufacturer, you might just be able to find a great swing set for the price. If you have kids that like to rough house or are on the older side, the metal can bend.

You should find that on average choosing metal over wood will be the more affordable option, but it also depends on what you're looking for. Specifically, what are the size of your children and their ages?

Metal Maintenance:
Metal swing sets are practically maintenance-free due to the powder coated finish on them. You won't have to worry about them rusting unless the finish starts to come off.

Metal Set Benefits

  • Typically less expensive than wood
  • Faster/easier to put together
  • Metal is not prone to rust

Metal Set Disadvantages

  • May not support the weight of older kids
  • Not as sturdy/stable as wood
  • May bend or break if metal is exposed

Backyard Discovery has an awesome selection of wooden swing sets and other outdoor items. You can find their Amazon page here with all different types of cedar wood playsets and even smaller playhouses.

Listed below are some examples of both wooden and metal swing sets so you can compare quick features of both items. Remember that with a wooden setup, you'll generally spend more time to set it up. Although the complexity of the product may change whether or not the installation will take very long.

prescott all cedar wood playset
Backyard Discovery Prescott All Cedar Wood Playset Swing Set on Amazon

Backyard Discovery Prescott Cedar

  • Built with lightweight, heavy-duty cedar wood
  • Age range 5-11 years
  • Site to store shipping (from Walmart)
  • 7-12 hours for installation

sportspower super 8 metal swing set
Sportspower Super 8 Fun Metal Swing Set on Amazon

Super 8 Metal Set

  • Powder coated paint finish (weather resistant)
  • Components are pre-drilled for easy setup
  • Offer electric starting (less pull starting)
  • 90-day limited warranty

Their Own Kind: All Plastic Swing Set

little tike clubhouse swing set
Little Tikes Clubhouse Swing Set on Amazon

An all plastic swing set will help you to not worry about bends in metal or wood getting attacked by termites.

Another advantage to having only plastic is easy assembly. Plastic can last an extremely long time given that it is properly cared for and put together correctly.


4

Playground Features


swing set feature - rocking horse

How do you find out what the kids like? Especially if this is your first swing set, it may be hard to tell what features are going to be the best.

A great way is to just take the kids to the local playground. See what they are interested in and what they play with most. Maybe they need to go a couple of times or they've been in the past, so the swings or slide might be the favorite.​

The features of your swing set will go a long way and hopefully help the kids discover more fun outdoors.​


5

Terrain, Yard Type, and Playground Surfacing

Generally speaking, you'll want to find an area of the yard that's relatively flat. This is not to say that it will be hard to work with an uneven surface. Some swing sets will give the ability to adjust them to compensate; however, it's best to have a flatter area for stability.

Do You Have a Movable Shed?​
We have an 8x10 shed in our backyard, so finding an oversized playground is not exactly going to fit in that corner. The good thing is that we could move it to a different part of the yard given the fact that we want to put our swing set there.

Would You Consider Laying a Foundation?​
If you're yard doesn't have the best foundation like wood, mulch, sand, or gravel, you might consider laying it down to have a "playground area". This is common out at the neighborhood playgrounds and really helps with a soft landing from the swings and slides.

Fall Height Rating for Surfacing
There's a reason for the rubber mulch that's used in commercial playground areas. It's used for what's known as a fall height rating. This shows how bad the impact of falling into the surface will be. Keep this in mind when searching for the right surface.


Swing sets just aren't the same without a slide. You know it's true. @Lawnaholic

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6

Safety Features & Concerns


Remember that we were talking about having the correct amount of space around the swing set when other children are active on it.

Using a 6' safety zone will help you allocate the correct space for safety reasons. For example, if a child were to fall after standing up from the slide, they would still be in the zone.

​Take a look at the wood being provided. Are they 2x4, 4x4, or 4x6 beams? It can also be two 2x6 pieces glued together (bad move!).

Think about the following when you are deciding on the safety of your children:

  • Does the set come with recessed hardware (not sticking out)
  • Is it commercial grade or cheap hardware?
  • Is the wood pre-drilled for convenience?

There's an entire Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook that covers everything about playground safety.

7

What's the Budget Look Like?

Of course, if we all had our choice, we'd definitely go for the Skyfort II All Cedar Wood Swing Set. C'mon, it's got a clubhouse, which means windows and a door. Plus, there's multiple swings, a sandbox, AND monkey bars.

(The thing's so nice I had to include a video below)

But we all simply don't have that luxury, so we're forced to make a decision about features vs. cost. 

Price of Wood
A good estimate for wooden swing sets will cost around $500-$1,500. It's an important thought to consider how long these will last though. It's an investment, not just the next toy that's going to get left outside in the rain.

Price of Metal
You can find metal sets from about $100-$400. There are some above that price range, but for the most average purchases, this is the typical cost. For
a good quality set with standard features, the average cost is close to $300.

All Plastic Swing Sets
These materials are in the price range of $500-$1,000 depending of the added accessories and features.

The Skyfort II Backyard Discovery Skyfort Playset Video


8

Installation (Don't Forget Labor Costs)

Unless your family is the DIY kind, you'll have to find someone to install your swing set and/or help you unpackage the delivery.

*Some of the wooden playsets can weight up to 800 pounds! In some cases, that means an 18 wheeler might even show up in your neighborhood (or driveway in the country).

The swingset that you purchase will most likely come with an instruction manual that could include upwards of 100+ steps to follow. This means that yes any person can follow the instructions, but it may be more beneficial to have someone experienced/willing to help with the installation.

Believe it or not, Amazon offers swing set assembly pros to help with your installation. Head over there to enter your zip code and see if there is someone available in your area.

If you can't find Amazon to connect you with someone, simply go to Google and type in "swing set assembly near me" after your set is delivered to find a local contractor.


Wrapping It Up

Purchasing a swing set is a big deal. Having the right amount of safety features, something that is going to last a long time and make the kids happy all at the same time is a challenging decision.

Keep in mind the benefits of the different types of swing sets and you'll be golden. It should be easier to decide when you know the features that you're looking for and the quality of products your family likes.

You can also visit Playground Safety for recalls and state regulations for playgrounds in your area.

Take care of yourself -- and your fun playground!

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--Nick