Tag Archives: salt

Greener Days Ahead

January 18, 2014 by

It is in the throes of winter that memories of summer are the most persistent. Even though your lawnmower is now snoring away for the season, there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure that your property enters greener times at its blooming best.

 The Basics

Just like the icicles hanging from your eaves, your lawn becomes brittle during its winter slumber. Keep foot traffic to a minimum during the colder months. And it’s never too late to apply an insulating blanket of mulch to a depth of at least three inches around plants and shrubs.

Watering

For maximum root nourishment, don’t forget that watering is a 12-month task. “Any time that the temperature climbs above 40 degrees, it’s a good time to water,” says John Fech, an extension educator at the University of Nebraska Extension Division in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. “This is particularly important for new plantings of any kind.”

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Evergreens

Unlike trees that drop foliage in the fall, evergreens continue to transpire year-round, meaning that moisture absorbed through the soil is lost through leaves and needles.

“Apply an anti-desiccant spray on days above freezing,” Fech says. “This will protect against damage from the wind and cold.” Fech recommends a rotation of three applications. “A good memory-jogger to use here is to think in terms of spraying on New Year’s Day, Valentines Day, and Easter,” or as close to those days as the weather allows.

A loose wrapping of burlap around shrubs provides extra protection against the elements while still allowing the plant to breathe.

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Snip-Snip

Pruning, especially for fruit trees, ensures that any given plant doesn’t have to work too hard to feed itself. For a host of videos on this and other topics, Fech recommends visiting the YouTube channel of Backyard Farmer, the NET television program produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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To Salt or Not to Salt?

“There needs to be a balance between traction safety and plant safety,” Fech says. De-icing products are great for what they are designed to do, but you pay a price when neighboring shrubs, ground covers, trees, and grass absorb all that salt.

“Nobody likes the brown-outs that these products can cause,” Fech says, “especially because the plant materials can take until mid-summer to recover, if at all—so use 
them sparingly.”

For more information on sustainable horticulture, visit the University of Nebraska Extension Division in Douglas and Sarpy Counties’ website at douglas-sarpy.unl.edu.

Spring Cleaning

March 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It’s that time of year again. Spring cleaning not only applies to our homes but to our vehicles as well. After the long winter, it’s time to give your vehicle some TLC. After all, the best way to avoid having to spend a lot of money on your vehicle is by doing regular upkeep.

All of the sand, salt, and other chemicals that are thrown on the streets during the winter can really wreak havoc on your vehicle. To begin with, an extremely good wash is in order. This doesn’t just mean rolling through a carwash on your way home from work. That will not get the areas that are in desperate need of cleaning.

It’s extremely important to clean underneath your vehicle as well. That’s where the majority of all of the gunk is hanging out. Also, the wheel wells need to really be cleaned and scrubbed. This is a prime spot for rust to start. Open your doors and make sure that you clean the door jambs, where the hinges are, and the bottom of the interior door. This is another place that salt and chemicals hang out and can begin to create rust issues. Anything that can be done to prevent the beginning of rust needs to be done. Once it starts, there aren’t a lot of great options.

After giving your vehicle a good wash, paying close attention to all the “hot spots,” you should be in good shape to begin the spring. My last advice is that if you notice your vehicle driving a little funny, pulling one way or another, you may need an alignment. The potholes can create this issue very easily, and it’s better to get it taken care of right away than to drive around with your alignment off. One result of driving with your alignment off—it can wear your tires unevenly, possibly causing you to need new tires.