Monday, August 3, 2020


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Home and Garden Tips


Floyd Braun

Greetings everyone and thanks as always for your continued following. I will begin this week with some home improvement tips in preparation for spring’s approach. Some of the tips are specific for readers outside of South Dakota and in order not to confuse anyone, I will note each region as I give a tip.

Here in South Dakota, we are still about 8 weeks from our typical beginning of spring, but out west, there are blooms on some trees that are beginning to fill in and are preparing to blossom.

West Coast home improvement and garden tips

Now is a great time to start planning for your spring repairs and lining up of your seasonal service providers for inside and outside work.

• Clean your gutters before the spring storms. You may also want to consider installing a lead guard-style gutter system now, before prices go up in March and April. These will not keep out fir needles completely but you will only need to wash out the gutters once every 2-3 years.

• Call your irrigation tech now to schedule your backflow-prevention test and cut out your sprinkler heads in March. By scheduling now, you can get a winter discount. Total Grounds Maintenance serving Washington and Oregon gives a 5% discount for spring work scheduled now.

• February is also the best time to treat your yard for European crane flies. Treatment is needed if you have more than 5 larvae per square foot of lawn or garden. If you fall under this criterion, a high nitrogen fertilizer will outpace their eating and your lawns and ornamentals will be fine.

• Put out dolomite lime in heavy wet clay soils to help bring your soil closer to neutral acidity. I use 50 pounds per 1000 square feet.

• If you have a gardener, most year-round contracts for services can have things added in now, early in the season. Contact your sales rep to add on services such as thatching and aerating- but do it soon because these spots fill up fast. Most West Coast companies will switch from twice monthly service to weekly service on March 1. If you are in a 10-month service plan, you may not see your first cut of the lawn until April 1.

East Coast and Midwest Regions home improvement and tips

• Change your furnace filters again- they should be getting changed every 3 months, but if you use a single layer filter, then change once a month.

• Check your vent stacks to see if they are visible to the roof level before the next snow storm. If they appear broken off from ice, a new piece of a white pipe may be needed. Repairs will need to be professionally done because these pipes keep dangerous exhaust and gasses out of your home.

• Before the next storm, make sure you still have ice melt. Tip: you can get a better deal in 50 lbs. bags from a janitorial supply company than at your home improvement store. It seems like every February we get a short break from the harsh cold and then reality strikes with 6 inches of new snow and the return of colder tempatures.

• I would not turn your off your pipe heaters off just yet- remember they only heat the pipe when needed so you are not wasting power. Tip: For mobile homes, you can unplug the pipeheaters after temperatures remain above 20 degrees. For stick built homes, you can unplug without worry after temperatures remain above 5 degrees.

Indoor garden seed starting

If you are interested in trying some indoor gardening, now would be a good time to experiment with your lighting situation. You can do this by planting lettuce indoors. Lettuce of all varieties required sunlight or a grow light. If things go well, you can start tomato plants beginning in March. The starters that you will eventual plant outside in late April to mid-May will need to either be grown in larger pots or transplanted to larger pots in mid to late March.

This is also a great time to start trees from seed indoors. You can then transplant to a larger pot or out in the ground in mid-May. Try to think outside the box when it comes to fruit trees- many start varieties do very well in large concrete planters on decks and patios. Be sure to check what varieties you are planting as some fruit trees require a companion to fruit, while most trees will not fruit for 3 to 5 years. But once they do, you will have the best kind of fruit- your own that you grew.

Have a great week and remember spring will come.