A sharp mower blade is a key to a perfect cutting job. However, whenever you sharpen a blade yourself, always check it for balance. An out-of-balance blade can cause excess mower vibration and wear. One way to check is to tie a metal washer onto a string, thread the string through the center hole of the blade, then hold the blade up with the washer supporting it. The washer should be on center and turned perpendicular to the blade. The blade should stay level. If it doesn't, grind it for balance on the back side of the blade. Always disconnect the lawnmower's sparkplug wire before removing or replacing any blade.
Water new trees once a week, regularly, during the first season, with 10 gallons of water. More for large trees. Pour the water down the trunks so it goes into the root ball, not along the top of the ground. In addition, whenever the leaves droop down or it is very hot, water again and mist the tops with the hose. Do not fertilize the first year except for shrubs.
Choose a grass type that thrives in your climate. The right type of grass, one that suits your needs and likes the local weather, will always give better results. Grasses vary in the type of climate they prefer, the amount of water and nutrients they need, their resistance to pests, their tolerance for shade, and the degree of wear they can withstand.
Put a large mulched circle over the roots of new trees and shrubs, but do not mound bark mulch up around the trunk. Trees and shrubs grown under mulch develop stronger roots and are healthier. Be aware that mulch should be no more than 2-3 inches total or plant health can suffer.
If you dread the tedious task of raking leaves each fall, you'll be amazed at the ease of using a leaf blower. These gasoline or electric-powered machines force a stream of fast-moving air through a handheld nozzle. The air stream quickly propels into neat piles of leaves and debris from your lawn, driveway, walkway or patio. Some models also vacuum and deposit leaves into attached bags or shred them into small "mulch" particles, which protect your plants and soil from the winter cold.
Perennial herbs that are not hardy in your region can be overwintered indoors, then brought back outdoors in the spring. For example, in USDA Zones 7 and colder, bring rosemary and lavender plants indoors in late fall. Maintain them in a cool, bright spot over the winter, and move them outdoors again in the spring. In USDA Zones 8 and warmer, rosemary and lavender can be left outdoors year-round.
Regular fertilizer applications are necessary for good perennial growth. Apply 5-10-5 fertilizer in a ring around each perennial in the spring just as growth starts. Make two additional applications at six week intervals. Late bloomers such as chrysanthemum need an additional application in late summer. Always water the perennial bed after fertilizing.
As a rule, you should fertilize at least three times a year; spring, summer and early fall.
To hold either a round or square post plumb inside a post hole while you pack dirt around it, make up a couple of wedges of 2x6 about 30 in. long. Cut to length, then make an angled cut from a corner of one end to the center of the other end. Insert a wedge on each side of the post; they will adjust in the hole for either post size or hole size.
Pruning cuts should be made so that only branch tissue is removed and stem tissue is not damaged. At the point where the branch attaches to the stem, branch and stem tissues remain separate, but are contiguous. If only branch tissues are cut when pruning, the stem tissues of the tree will probably not become decayed, and the wound will seal more effectively.