As a kid, I loved trimming shrubs. Trim a bit there, trim a bit here. Like a haircut, except no one is upset if you take a little too much off the back. Perhaps why I later went to beauty school.
Around here, autumn is a great time to trim the trees. Here are some tips and tricks to giving the trees a haircut.
I like to use a pair of bypass loppers to cut the thicker branches. The red handles on our pair also make it easier to spot when you lay them down in the grass, and then forget where you put them.
I start by trimming some of the too-low hanging branches. Start with just a little, because you will be surprised how much the tree will spring up once its relieved of just that little weight. For instance, if you like the way a tree hangs in front of a window, don’t go chopping a huge limb all at once, because the existing branches might spring up and not hang the same anymore.
Be sure to trim the dead branches too, and any of the growing straight up suckers that you don’t care for. You want the tree to grow in the shape of a tree, and sometimes it needs to be reminded of that.
Another big plus of trimming the trees before the leaves all fall- proactive leaf collection.
Happy tree trimming! Don’t go crazy because there is always next year!
Have you seen these? It reminds me of a game board. Growing a garden is kind of like a game, so at least it gets you in the right mindset. You follow the directions, and hope for the best results, but who knows what might happen along the way!
We’ve found that adding mulch is the quickest way to make your flower bed look extra pro. In some places of the world, the dirt is nice and soft, but here, our dirt looks like rubble rocks. If you spent the time and effort to plant some pretty flowers, let’s get our money’s worth!
First, you will need to obtain some mulch. We do this through our local garden store. This whole cart of mulch is less than $20.
Next, you need to prepare the ground for mulching. You can level out the ground a bit with a sturdy rake or hoe. Get your plants in the dirt. If you are discouraging a particularly nasty weed, lay down some black weed control fabric.
Finally, add your mulch! You will need to cover the ground evenly with several inches of mulch. Be sure to use gloves so you don’t get slivers!
Not only does it add some nice contrast to make your flowers really stand out, mulch also discourages weeds and helps water control! Big fans.
Our love of garden stores is no secret. Whenever we have out-of-town guests, my usual suggestion for activities is to go on a tour of garden stores.
This past weekend on our road trip, we got to visit the Desert Museum, which is kinda like a garden store of every type of cactus, but nothing is for sale. They had the cactus rock garden of my dreams, and we learned all the cactus facts. I’m thinking about labeling all our plants now, including the quiz facts.
We were only allowed to take one rock each, which I am still carrying around in my purse.
If you are going into battle, you need the proper armor. If you are going to spend a bit of time outside, you should be dressed and ready for it! Here are some basic essentials for spending a morning doing yardwork:
1. Staying well hydrated is common sense, and helps keep you cool. I like a cup with a lid and straw, so I can feel more sure a stray bug or something isn’t swimming around in there. 2. Most of the time, I wear a watch. Its easy to lose track of time, and if you need to be showered and somewhere else later, you’ll be glad you wore one.
3. I’m a fan of hats. They keep hair out of my face, and make my crazy hair a little more manageable. I like baseball hats, or big floppy garden hats, and braids. 4. And finally, a good pair of garden gloves. My fingers still tend to get sore and I occasionally get a little cut, and I can only imagine what my hands would look like if I didn’t wear gloves.
Optional essential- bug spray. Mosquitoes can be nasty, but I kinda hate bug spray, so I try to go as long as possible without it. Wearing long pants and sleeves helps a lot.
What is your go-to garden gear?
The unknown is one of the most terrifying things in the world. Possibly because we can’t see it. We are in the dark. Reaching your arm into a bunch of plants to clear them out is pretty scary. Who knows what is living in there. But we learn from Dumbledore: “You know happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.”
So instead of being paralyzed by the thought of weird bugs flying out at you, let’s turn on the light.
The secret is to start on the outside, and just start cutting what you can see. It will start to thin out, and you’ll be able to see more and more.
As you see more, you will feel a bit more comfortable with pulling and clipping, and you can work your way down to the base and roots. It will take some time, but you can do it!
Our rock path was our first big outdoor improvement. This was once bare dirt, turning to mud in the rain, and dust in the summer. Now the path has a rustic charm that looks like its been there for centuries.
Here’s how to make one of your own!
You will need:
- Rocks (we got ours from a local quarry)
Our rocks are set into the dirt a little bit, so they are flatter to the ground. To lay rocks this way, you will need to clear some of the dirt away with a shovel, making the ground as even as possible. We tried to do this in large areas at a time, to be more efficient.
Next, you can lay the rocks down in a pleasing arrangement, much like rock tetris. For each rock, you will need to customize the hole depending on any rock surface irregularities or depth differences. Add dirt in some places, or remove some in others.
After you are satisfied, fill the area around the rock with leftover dirt, packing it around the edges.
Repeat one million more times, and you will have a path!
Our soil solarization experiment was going well. It was very hot out, and after 2 weeks, we decided to move the tarp to another area. We failed to take a picture, but we were very pleased to see that the weeds under the tarp had in fact died. We were very optimistic.
But after a couple days of multiple inches of rain, we are sorry to report that the weeds appear to be making their return.
For curiosity’s sake, we peeked under the currently tarped area. Growing under there is an army of giant crickets, and some funk. The weeds haven’t quite fully died, and its a moist mess.
Hopefully we will start to dry out a little bit by next weekend, and we can launch another attack. For now, we shall hide from the cricket monsters, and try to find something to do with these similarly giant okra.
In the past month or so, its been the blazing hot Austin weather you associate with book bag induced back sweat from walking across campus. We knew it was coming. It comes every year.
We spent most of spring and early summer preparing our plants for it. We did our planning early. We planted the drought-tolerant native plants. We did the deep waterings to encourage the roots to seek the water. But unfortunately, a couple of plants did not take their training as seriously as others.
But this morning, the sun took a nap, and it almost felt like a tiny bit of cool breeze could be around the corner. We know you are tired, and being thirsty and hot is hard, but hang in there- a break is coming soon. Just a few more reps and we’ll get you all a nice big protein shake.
1. We did a transplant of the pumpkins, zucchini, and melon to make room for the tarp. We knew there was a 90% chance they might not make it, but it was a save the many situation. One of the pumpkins is doing pretty well, so not all is lost.
2. Our tomato plants are making a final push. They have really been good sports about August. We even got a couple cute peppers to add to salads.
3. There are so many fancy hamburgers out there. The classic burger will always be #1 to us. Our unofficial ranking of hamburgers in Austin is coming soon.
4. We have been stealing snippets of hens and chicks from my mom, but we have a heck of a time trying to get them to grow. Its probably a bit of a climate shock. But this one started to grow a friend, and I couldn’t be more happy for them to have each other.
5. It rained. Thank goodness we decided to trust the weatherman and not put on the sprinkler the night before. We would have looked so dumb.
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