Trees that lose their leaves in the fall (i.e., deciduous) are the most effective at reducing heating and cooling energy costs. When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house. The height, growth rate, branch spread, and shape are all factors to consider in choosing a tree.
If deer are hungry enough, they will eat almost any plant. However, some plants are less appealing than others, depending on what your local population has learned to eat so far. Daffodils are often cited as being deerproof, along with glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) and crocus. Unfortunately, tulips and lilies are deer favorites. You might ask some of your neighbors if they have had luck with any particular plants, then try those in small quantities as an experiment. Many gardeners use repellent sprays with varying success, but to be as effective as possible they must be applied and reapplied according to the instructions. Home remedies include using soap, blood meal, human hair, and so on, but in the end the only truly reliable solution is a deer-proof fence.
When water flows backward through the water supply system, it is called backsiphonage or backflow. When that water is accidentally mixed with hazardous chemicals or bacteria, it is called dangerous! For this reason, never use spray attachments without a backflow prevention device. The chemicals used on your lawn are toxic and can be fatal if ingested.
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.