September 2017

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Fall Clean Up Tips

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10 time-saving tips to give your backyard a head start on spring

Aaaah, autumn. The kids are headed back to school, the leaves are turning, and a chill is in the air. If you’re like most homeowners, fall also means an opportunity to spruce up your yard and cut down on the work you’ll need to do when the weather turns warm again.

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  • Rake those leaves. Once the snow flies, an unraked layer of leaves can get matted down over the turf and smother it all winter long. Raking or using a mulching mower in the fall helps avoid dead patches in the spring. But don’t worry about getting every last leaf, especially in the garden. They help insulate plants, and as they decompose, they provide valuable nutrients.
  • Feed the grass. Fertilizing in the fall is like a day at the spa for your lawn. Using a slow-release fertilizer allows the grass to soak up nutrients and – just as important – spend the cool days and nights of autumn recovering from summer heat and stress. And building a healthy, rejuvenated lawn is one of the best ways to protect against heat, cold, drought, insects and other stresses.
  • Weed all about it. Weeding in the fall is probably the most valuable thing you can do to prepare for spring, and it’s one that many people overlook. The good news: Pulling weeds used to be a backbreaking chore, but tools like the Weed Hound have come a long way from the tiny weeding forks of “the good old days.” There’s no reason to get down on your hands and knees and gouge at the turf. All you do is place the tool over the weed, step lightly on the footrest, and pull.
  • Pick up the poop. When the snow melts next spring, the last thing you want to see on your lawn is pet waste. Fall is the perfect time to get out there and clean up Rover’s little leftovers. Don’t look forward to getting on your hands and knees? Hire a neighborhood kid to do the dirty work, or invest in a long-handled pooper scooper.
  • Remove thatch build-up. A build-up of aboveground roots called thatch prevents sunlight, oxygen and moisture from getting to the nutrient-hungry soil below. But it’s easy to remove, especially if you don’t wait until it overwhelms the yard. Just go at the yard with a dethatching rake in early fall, or for an easier – but more expensive – option, rent a power dethatcher.
  • Aerate. Heavy use throughout the summer can cause soil to become compacted. Perforating your lawn with small holes helps reduce compaction and lets water, air and fertilizer get down to the soil, which strengthens the grass plant’s root structure. For smaller yards, a manual aerating tool that removes plugs from the turf while you step should be just fine. If you’ve got a larger yard, consider renting a power aerator.
  • Water trees and shrubs. Dehydration during the colder months is an all-too-common cause of tree damage, but it’s easily preventable. To sustain them over the long winter, it’s important to give trees a drink before putting them to bed. After they go fully dormant – but before the ground freezes – use a soaker hose or root irrigator to water them thoroughly.
  • Clean out your garden. Fruits and vegetables left in the garden can rot all winter long, and provide a comfy home for insect eggs. Gross? Not as gross as they’ll be in the spring. Now’s the time to get rid of diseased plants, too, but keep them out of the compost pile so the problem doesn’t spread to the rest of your garden next year.
  • Plant spring bulbs. Fall is not all about closing up shop. It’s also the perfect time to plant spring flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips. But pay attention to the weather in your area; planting too early can cause bulbs to sprout before winter, and planting them too late can mean their roots don’t have enough time to develop before the ground freezes.
  • Give your tools a tune-up. When it comes time to put away the backyard tools for the season, don’t just shove them into the garage or shed. Spend a few minutes wiping them down and removing debris and dirt, then apply a light layer of oil to keep them from rusting over the winter. That way they’ll be all set to go again come spring.

How To Properly Close Your Pool For The Season

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The main purpose in winterizing your swimming pool is to protect it from damage due to freezing water. You also want to keep your swimming pool as clean as possible for the next season. Closing your swim pool properly can save you a lot of work when it comes time to open the above ground swimming pool for the summer.

  • The first step in the winterization procedure is to make sure your water chemistry is balanced. You should make sure that your pH, Total Alkalinity, and Calcium Hardness are all balanced. By balancing your water chemistry you are protecting the surface of the above ground pool from staining and etching. Adding a winterizing chemical kit to your water will help keep it blue and clear for the next season. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the kit.
  • Do not use a floater that contains a strong oxidizer (chlorine or bromine) as the floater will stick against the wall and stain and/or bleach your wall, especially a vinyl liner. For the same reasons DO NOT throw chlorine or bromine tablets into the above ground pool. They will sink to the bottom and damage your above ground pool’s surface.
  • When water freezes, it expands. This can cause great damage to your above ground pool, pool plumbing, and its filter system. If you are closing up your above ground pool for the winter, you should always take precautions to protect from freeze damage no matter where you live. You can never be sure that it will not drop below freezing, even in the Sun Belt.
  • Lower swimming pool water level below the mouth of the skimmer. This will get the water out of the throat of the skimmer which can be easily damaged if water were to freeze here.
  • Another option is to put an Aquador over the mouth of the skimmer. This is a plastic dam which holds out the water from the skimmer, allowing you to leave the water level up for the winter.
  • The water left in the pool, along with air pillow(s) will help in supporting your cover.
  • Drain all the water from your filter equipment and hoses.
    • Start by putting a plug in your return fitting (where water returns to above ground pool).
    • Disconnect your hoses from the return and skimmer or at the filter system and drain them.
    • The filter should have a plug at the bottom that will allow it to drain.
    • Put the multiport valve in the closed or “winterize” position and remove the pressure gauge.
    • Drain the pump by removing the drain plug(s). There may be two plugs to remove here.
    • After draining the pump, turn it on for a brief second to get the water out of the veins of the impeller. Do not run the pump more than a second or two because you can burn out the seal very quickly.
    • If possible take the pump inside to protect it for the winter.
    • If you have a chemical feeder, you should have let the chemicals (chlorine/bromine tablets) run out of your feeder so that no chemicals are left in it. Leaving chemicals in your feeder over the winter can cause damage to it and other equipment.
    • You will now be able to drain your chemical feeder.
    • If you put all the plugs that you have removed into the pump strainer basket, they will be easily found in the spring.
    • It is a good idea to take the pressure gauge inside for the winter because water collects in its tube which can freeze and cause breakage.
    • Do not put the plugs back on the equipment. If the equipment should get water in it, the plugs will prevent proper drainage.
  • The final step is to cover your above ground swim pool to keep out the debris.Solid covers keeps out all debris and sunlight. This will keep the pool totally clean and prevent most algae growth.