Compost piles trap heat generated by the activity of millions of microorganisms. A 3-foot by 3-foot by 3-foot compost pile is considered a minimum size for hot, fast composting. Piles wider or taller than 5 feet don't allow enough air to reach the microorganisms at the center.
The chemicals used in swimming pools can injure plants when the filter is backwashed and the water is dumped in the root zones of plants. The foliage will turn brown as the plants die from repeated doses of the chemicals.
The most common cause of annual mower repairs results from leaving gas or gas-oil mix inside the engine's tank and carburetor over the winter season. Avoid expensive service shop charges by either 1) running the engine until all gas has been used up, or 2) adding a commercially-available gas stabilizer to the tank before putting the mower away in the fall. A $3 investment may save you a $60 repair bill.
Vines provide shading and cooling. Grown on trellises, vines can shade windows or the whole side of a house.
Making separate holes is time-consuming, so an easy way to plant a large area is to remove the top layer of soil to the appropriate depth, add low nitrogen fertilizer according to package directions, set the bulbs in place, and then cover the area with soil. For a natural look, some gardeners gently toss the bulbs in and plant them where they land.
Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. The following two federal standards have been set for lead hazards in residential soil: 400 parts per million (ppm) and higher in play areas of bare soil; 1,200 ppm (average) and higher in bare soil in the remainder of the yard. The only way to find out if soil lead hazards exist is to test.
Heavily harvested herb plants can look untidy. Consider interplanting herb beds with annual flowers to camouflage the trimmed plants.
Wet snow that accumulates on tree and shrub branches can bend them over. Some may break and so must be removed. Bending damages the bark and cambium tissue, leading to cankers or death of the stem the following growing season. Shrubs that would collapse under heavy snow loads can be protected or supported. To protect small shrubs, place crates or wooden frames over them in the fall. The crate or the slats on the frame will support some of the snow load. Taller shrubs can be wrapped with cord. Tie the cord to the base of a stem and then wind it around the shrub. The tied bundle of stems will help support one another.
Water new shrubs once a week the first summer with 5 to 10 gallons of water for each depending on the size of the bush. Take care to get the water under any mulch, which absorbs a great deal of moisture and robs the soil below. Pour water right down the stems so it goes into the root ball, and does not run off on the ground. During very hot sunny days, spray the tops and water lightly in addition to the weekly deep watering. Do not fertilize the first year, except possibly for half strength liquid fertilizer at planting time, or plant rooting hormone additives one can use. Fertilize normally the second year in the spring.
Deflect winter winds by planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west sides of your house; deflect summer winds by planting on the south and west sides of your house.