Thursday, 27 June 2013

The most effective methods to control Dandelions

A perennial plant with broad leaves that grows in any type of soil with full sunlight is the Dandelion. During the early spring season, new sprouts emerge from the taproot which is around 2 to 3 feet in depth in the soil. Dandelions produce yellow flowers that grow and mature turning into white puffballs which contains numerous seeds. These seeds spread to other lawns by floating in the wind. These plants usually disappear during the fall season but the taproot survives as it is embedded deep in the soil and starts the whole cycle again in spring. Dandelions do have benefits as they are used in herbal medicine and the young leaves are eaten for its nutritive value. However they are considered to be weeds by most people and the root must be killed to keep them out of the yard. Controlling or eradicating dandelions from your yard can be a big job and it can also become an obsession with some homeowners. 

The best way to keep dandelions out of the yard is to kill the main root which is the taproot and then prevent new weeds from entering and establishing themselves inside. You can use chemical preparations to kill the weeds like a Weed-B-Bone which is a selective herbicide that targets only broad leaf weeds and not your grass. This herbicide is available at all lawn and garden stores and come in concentrated forms. You need to mix the chemical with water and always follow label directions carefully before attempting to use it. You can take hand sprayer bottles and pre-mix the chemicals to be sprayed on leaves until its wet. The chemical is rain proof after it dries in a couple of hours. 

A lawn with thick green grass is also effective in keeping out dandelions. You can mow the lawn at the highest setting and follow a feeding program that encourages good grass growth which is thick in texture and appearance. This will prevent weeds from establishing themselves in your yard in the first place. Fall season is also the best time of year to control dandelions as the plant goes dormant during this time. The sap runs from the leaves into the root which will encourage the weeds to grow next season, so you should spray the leaves with pesticide. This will carry it down to the root and cause a more complete kill. 

If you would like to go organic, try using vinegar also known as acetic acid for controlling and preventing dandelions. The concentration of the mixture should be really high so that it will be a strong contender as an herbicide. Vinegar sold in grocery stores are 5% acidic but they can be strengthened by boiling it down to a higher concentration level. When there is no forecast of rain in your area, you can spray the plant and leaves until it is wet. If you plant to spray any chemicals on the dandelions, make sure that you don’t mow the lawn for a few days. A large leaf surface is required for effective spraying and mowing the lawn will only cause the leaf surface to reduce. To help you locate the weeds, the yellow flowers serve as good tags, but just make sure you get the plant before they go to seed. Salt is another organic material used to get rid of dandelions. A good teaspoonful of salt sprinkled at the base of each plant will work well to kill them. It may take some time to work but after a few reapplications, the salt kills the plants, root and all.

Another safe and organic way to eradicate the dandelions is to simply dig them out. There are garden tools to help in effectively digging out the dandelions from the roots. But one main disadvantage is that the plant has a long taproot, so if a part of it is left behind or broken while digging, it will regenerate in due time. 

Maintaining lawn health is the right method to effectively control dandelions. If it is managed properly, your lawn can combat the presence of weeds and also prevent the laborious task of complete dandelion removal.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Basic Landscaping Ideas for Side Yards

The side yard is the transition zone for a residential property which links the house to the landscape. It is sometimes the most neglected space in your garden or yard and can be renovated for an attractive appearance. A side yard which is narrow and long in nature might present a design challenge. If you need some ideas to change the way it looks, ask yourself a few questions before beginning any landscaping project on your side yard. The first question to ask is whether you will be using that area as an important path for getting from one location to another in your property. The second question is if the side yard area is wide enough to be used for purposes like planting or installing a pathway/walkway. 

If you have undertaken landscaping for your front and back yard, then you can link both these areas with a well-done up side yard. Follow these simple landscaping ideas to make full use of your side yard and give it the credit it deserves.
  • Create a dramatic effect - To give it some drama and an offbeat look, you can match some features of your landscape with the side yard and leave a partial view between the two to add balance and create an illusion that will make the outdoors look much bigger.
  • Decorate with pots and containers – If space is at a premium, you can go ahead and spatter the yard with beautiful pots and containers by securely attaching them to walls to provide color and texture. The right kind of pots and containers are works of art in themselves. However make sure to check how much sun that area is getting before decorating.
  • Get a workstation – If you are an outdoors person, the side yard would be the perfect place to set up a workstation for any kind of interesting hobby like a makeshift nursery or a pottery bench. To give that area some more privacy, you can install shrubbery or fencing
  • Make an additional room – A side yard will make a great room as it has a distinct courtyard feel to it with beautiful lush plantings and foliage. To add some more fun and vibrancy, consider installing geometric paving patterns and also a bold focal point which will create as much interest as the plants.
  • Relax in Privacy – Wouldn’t the outdoor patio be a great place to unwind and relax with a good book or have tea with your friends and family? You can install a hedge or fence strategically to block the view from the neighbor’s windows, then add a patio from a material you like.
  • Tame the slope – If there is a slope in your yard, you can get rid of the grass and make it easy to mow. Some low maintenance plants and simple paving option will make it easier on the eyes and also on the work required to sustain it. Another useful thing you can do is to keep the slope from eroding by installing a good layer of groundcover or mulch beneath the plants.
  • Add a sense of style – To give your side yard a distinct feel and look and make it stand out from the rest of the landscape, you can add its own sense of style and personality. You can try installing a relaxing Zen garden or a lush cottage garden or even a classic country garden. If it’s a new gardening style you’re opting for, you can install a barrier or fence to separate the side yard from the rest of the landscape so that both the designs and elements don’t clash.
  • Make a bold and grand entrance – You can install a wide, attractive walkway in your side yard to add aesthetic and visual appeal. Some of the options you can consider are concrete pavers or paving bricks.
  • Grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables – Growing your own produce can be an enjoyable and satisfying experience. So go ahead and plant them on your side yard and make sure that the area gets at least eight hours of direct sunlight in a day.
  • Create a Shady Escape – Cool off from the hot summer heat by giving yourself a private shaded area in your side yard. You can make a path and plant some of your favourite shade-loving plants suitable for the region.