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Tips for Opening Your Swimming Pool This Spring

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Time to open the swimming pool!

Spring is here and the swimming pool season is about to kick off.

Maybe you just bought a home with a swimming pool, or you just installed a pool last summer and this is your first swimming pool opening, and maybe your going to attempt your own opening this year after watching the pool guy do it for years, and just maybe your a veteran and just want to pickup some new tips. Whatever your station opening a pool for the Summer is easy, just follow this guide and you will be swimming in no time.

Tip #1 If you are wondering when the best time to open your pool, opening the pool early is best, if you wait too long you will risk the chance of opening up to a huge mess. Always try to open the pool either before the first hot day or shortly after. Hot days heat up the stagnate water under your pool cover and that will create algae.

Tip #2 Every backyard with a swimming pool or a hot tub needs to have a few basic essentials in the backyard shed.

  1. Submersible pump is needed to drain water from the pool, hot tub, off the pool cover etc… great addition to your toys/equipment
  2. Shop-vac is great for not only sucking up wet and dry debris, but also is needed to blowing out lines in the winter.
  3. Pressure washer, garden hose, & deluxe spray gun these all go into one heading but basically have a good system for cleaning stuff off. Better to pay a little more and have a good hose and spray gun, and a pressure washer will help you keep your whole house clean.
  4. Sponges & rags are great for cleaning up around the pool, patio, and hot tub.

Tip #3 if you found that you were losing pressure at the end of the pool season the year before it might be a good idea to check the filter media and see if it needs replacing. This is something you can do weeks or days in advance of your pool opening and will save you time on the day you do open your pool.

When your ready to open the swimming pool the first step is to use the submersible pump and remove the water from the top of the winter pool cover. Its best not to try and remove the winter cover before the water is removed because you risk the chance of having the debris on top of the winter cover falling into the pool. Unfortunately I have learned this from experience, and I would add to be patient and let all the water possible be drained from the top of the winter pool cover before attempting to remove the cover.

Tip #4 start filling your pool while you are draining the water off the top of your winter cover. If you live in a rural community and use well water use a carbon pre filter on your hose when filling your pool. Locate and replace all fittings, plugs, and drain covers from your filter, pumps, and heaters but do not turn anything on yet. Remove all plugs, gizmos, foam etc. from pipes and skimmer and replace jets, skimmer and any other accessories. This saves time and you will be able to start your equipment sooner.

The next thing you must do is to remove the debris from the top of the winter cover. You can start this process with your leaf net when you are removing the water from the top of the cover. Try to remove as much debris as possible because the more that is on the winter cover when you remove the cover the more chance of debris getting into your pool when you remove the winter cover.

Once you have removed the debris it is time to take the winter cover off. I start by removing the water bags from one end of the pool and slowly roll the cover towards the end removing water bags on either side as I move down the pool. The same technique can be used for all covers and at the end you should have caught all remaining debris that should be easily lifted away from the pool with the winter cover.

Once your water is up to level which is about 2/3 up the skimmer, you can do a final check of all the connections and plugs, put your filter in the waste selection, roll out your backwash hose, open up your air relief at the top of your filter, fill your pump basket with water to get your prime, and start your system. Once all the air is released you will see water spraying out the top of your filter, close the valve and turn off your system. Change your filter setting to filter and turn the system back on.  I add a concentrated algaecide at this point making sure to broadcast it around the perimeter of the swimming pool. After 24 hours of circulation test your pool water for PH and Chlorine and adjust accordingly. The chemical levels should be PH 7.2 – 7.6 ppm and chlorine 1.5 – 2.0 ppm.

Take your swimming pool cover  and water bags out to the driveway remove all debris and wash them, let them dry out fold and store for the fall. Replace all your steps, ladders, and diving boards and tighten them down. Power wash the deck, and clean the scum line of your pool. And your done.

Tip #5 If you have a hot tub open it at the same time, or if it was running all winter this is a great time to change the water and clean or replace your hot tub filters. Use a carbon pre filter on your hose when filling your hot tub. Also clean and and remove debris from your hot tub cover, and replace it if it weighs more then 100 lbs. or is deteriorated beyond use.

Enjoy the swimming season!

Content provided by Backyard Blast By The Cover Guy

The Best Spring Gardening Flowers

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Pair Bulbs & Hardy Annuals

Container with red Tulip (Tulipa) and Primrose (Primulas)


Gerry Whitmont/Photolibrary/Getty Images

If your digging arm ran out of steam after planting the first bag of fifty tulips last fall, your spring flower show may not be as lush as you wanted it to be. Interplant your large bulbs, like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, with cold hardy annuals. The resulting look will resemble a gardening magazine spread or public garden display you have admired.

The careful digging that allows you to install a nursery six-pack of hardy annual transplants won’t disturb large bulbs, which should be plantedMORE 4-8 inches deep. Plant the annuals as soon as they are offered in your nursery, as you should already see green foliage tips emerging from the bulbs. Try these four planting partners this spring:

  • Tulips and primroses
  • Hyacinths and pansies
  • Daffodils and scented stock
  • Dutch iris and sweet alyssum
    Azaleas


    Chris Parrfitt

    When creating a flowering landscape, follow the garden design principle of starting with trees, then shrubs, then plants. Shrubs not only give the garden texture and dimension, many offer reliable spring flowers for sunny or shady situations. Azaleas herald the arrival of spring in many southern gardens, and forsythia does the same in temperate climates. If the thought of a plain green shrub amidst your flowers doesn’t thrill you, choose a shrub that displays bright berries after its flowersMORE fall, like viburnum. You can also look for newer cultivars of old favorites that have variegated foliage, like daphne ‘Marginata’ in warm climates or elderberry ‘Madonna’ in cold climates.

  • Daffodils and Primroses


    Mickmft/ Flickr

    When you include flowering containers in your spring garden, you can get earlier blooms in your garden than when you plant in the ground. You can bring small hanging baskets into a shed or garage when temperatures plummet at night, and even large containers can move to a sheltered area if you employ planters on casters. Some of the most beloved container plants thrive in cool spring temperatures, including snapdragons, petunias, and annual lobelia. These cool season annuals are at theirMORE flowering peak when daytime temperatures are in the 70s. Other container flowers, like viola and nasturtium, can tolerate early spring frosts.

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    Crocus Lawn


    Amanda Slater

    Planting bulbs under a lawn doesn’t take any special skill; the most important care tip for naturalizing flower bulbs in a lawn is to delay mowing until the bulb foliage matures. Therefore, choose the earliest blooming bulbs to plant, unless you don’t mind letting your grass grow as long as strappy bulb foliage. Crocus bulbs are the most commonly grown flowers in a lawn, but you can also try snowdrops or iris reticulata. Slice your sod with a sharp spade, and plant groups of bulbs at least threeMORE inches below the soil surface.

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    Snowdrop Flowers


    Matt Cardy/Getty Images

    The colder the climate, the more anxious gardeners are for signs of spring in the landscape. Planting very early bloomers can make you feel like you’ve cheated part of winter, because these hardy bulbs may begin to bloom when the holiday decorations are just coming down. These petite flowers don’t make much of a statement when planted in groups of a dozen or less, but the low price of the so-called minor bulbs makes a planting of a hundred or more affordable.

    The common snowdrop, GalanthusMORE nivalis, sports dainty white bell-shaped flowers on six-inch stalks. They bloom as early as January, and naturalize easily in an undisturbed spot. If white flowers are lost in your snowy garden, consider the winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, which produce bright yellow flowers atop a ruffled collar of green foliage. Finally, glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa luciliae, produces masses of blue, pink, or white star-shaped flowers to satisfy your pastel flower cravings.

 

Our Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Bunny visit was a great success!!

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What a great time we had this past weekend at our Easter Egg hunt and Easter Bunny Visit! Stop on by this week for some great savings as well as checking out our new spring plant arrivals!

Don’t forget our Mulch Madness sale is still going on!

spring daniels easter 5 daniels easter 7 daniels easter 6 daniels easter 1 daniels easter 3 daniels easter 2 daniels easter 1 daniels easter 3 daniels easter 4 daniels easter 5 daniels easter 7 daniels easter 6 daniels easter 2 daniels easter 4

Mulching Tips For Spring

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Mulching is a must for every yard. A properly applied layer of mulch provides a wealth of benefits to a landscape by suppressing weeds, enriching the soil, preventing moisture loss, regulating soil temperature, and more. Read on to learn five mulching tips that can help improve the health of your plants and soil.

1) Weed First

Mulch smothers weeds from growing by blocking their access to sunlight. Already existing weeds, however, can still grow without sun, so pull all weeds by the root in the area before applying mulch.

2) Winter Warning

Lawns often experience frost heaving in the winter. This is the process of the soil freezing and then thawing out, which causes a gradual expanding and contracting motion. This means that the soil swells and pushes out plants, exposing the roots to freezing temperatures. Mulching with evergreen boughs, chopped leaves, or straw can help keep your soil stay frozen until the final thaw at the beginning of spring.

3) The Rule of Trees

While gardens require the entire plant bed to be mulched, trees have different needs. An individual tree on your lawn should have a circle of mulch surrounding it. Start with a circle that measures 2′ in diameter and continue to add mulch as the tree grows, gradually increasing the size of the mulch circle. Make sure that the mulch does not touch the base of the tree trunk, though, as this traps moisture and invites disease and pests. The same goes for flower stems.

4) Depth Control

Generally speaking, the layer of mulch you apply should be about 2″ to 3″ thick. If your mulch is less than 2″ deep, it is less capable of retaining moisture. Any deeper than 3″ and the mulch will prevent plant roots from accessing sun, air, water, and other nutrients it needs. Too thick of a layer can also result in your plants taking root in the mulch instead of the soil.

5) Newsflash

Believe it or not, newspaper is an effective mulching material. It’s great for smothering weeds by blocking the sunlight. It then decomposes into the soil (don’t worry, it’s non-toxic). Just cover a layer of newspaper with a more attractive organic mulch, like wood chips or bark, and enjoy your weed-free garden.

Planting Trees and Shrubs

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Before You Plant

Always plant in a well drained soil. To test for soil drainage, dig a hole for your new plant and fill it with water. If the water doesn’t drain in 12 hours, the soil in that area will need to be amended dramatically.

What Plant Form are You Transplanting?

Your tree or shrub will come in two forms: Balled and burlapped (B&B); or containerized. Containerized or B&B plants can be planted any time the ground is not frozen. If possible plant your tree or shrub as soon as you get it home. Otherwise, it may dry out and become injured. If you can’t plant it immediately, place it in a shady and/or sheltered location. Keep the soil moist until planted.

The Planting Hole

To plant your tree or shrub dig a hole twice as wide as the diameter and 6”-8” deeper than the root ball, replacing the 6”-8” of soil with enriched backfill. Compact this 6”-8” of soil. Once the plant is placed in the hole, the top of the root ball should be slightly above or level with the surface of the ground. Placing Your Plant in the Hole Remove all tags, wires or ropes from the stems or trunk, and do the following: Balled & Burlapped Plants: DO NOT remove the wire basket. Once the enriched soil has been placed ¾ of the way up the

Placing Your Plant in the Hole

placing-plant

Remove all tags, wires or ropes from the stems or trunk, and do the following:

Balled & Burlapped Plants
DO NOT remove the wire basket. Once the enriched soil has been placed 3/4 of the way up the root ball, cut & fold down the top 1/4 of the basket & burlap, remove any strings around the tree trunk. Fill the remaining hole with enriched soil to its original level.

Container Plants
Ease the pot off without disturbing the root ball. If the roots are extremely compacted, you may need to make a few shallow cuts through the roots on the side and bottom of the root ball.

Enriching Your Soil & Backfilling

Mix the soil taken out of the hole with Bumper Crop then backfill around the root ball. Tamp the soil lightly every 2”-3”, and fill the hole with the enriched soil to its original level. Use excess soil to build a ring 6” –10” from the outside of the hole. This will help the water to move slowly down to the root zone of the plant as well as minimize the runoff.

Watering

Water your newly planted tree or shrub by using a slow, deep watering method. B&B and container plant roots dry out faster than the soil around them, so it is important to monitor their soil moisture. Water slowly to attain deep water penetration which encourages widespread root development. You will need to water once every 7-10 days (or more during hot dry periods). Apply Root Master B1 after every watering

hoseGeneral Watering guidelines:
1 gal. Pot – trickle water for approx. 15-20 minutes
2 gal. Pot – trickle water for approx 30-40 minutes
3 gal. Pot – trickle water for approx 40-50 minutes
4 gal. To 7 gal. – trickle water for approx 60 minutes
B&B – trickle water for 60-70 minutes
Remember, if it rains for 1 hr, it probably was not enough water for a newly planted shrub or tree.

waterWater your plants thoroughly, then remove them from their pots by inverting them and supporting the root ball. If the roots are compacted, you may need to make a few shallow cuts through the roots on the side and bottom of the root ball. Place your plant into the hole. Add the enriched soil to ground level. Water the plant thoroughly to ensure the soil fills in completely around the roots, eliminating air pockets. Apply Rootmaster B1 at this time. Reapply Rootmaster B1 at every watering for the first year. Monitor your plants daily. Water slowly to attain deep water penetration which encourages widespread root development. Feed perennials bi-weekly with Bud & Bloom fertilizer. Add a 2”- 3” mulch layer around the plant. This will prevent water loss and keep mowers & trimmers from getting too close to the plant. Avoid overly deep mulch against the stem or trunk of the plant, as this can promote disease or pest injury.

Staking

Unless necessary, trees should not be staked. If your tree or shrub is top heavy or in an exposed area, you may stake the plant to anchor the root ball so roots can develop rapidly into the new soil around the tree. Connect the stakes to the trunk with flexible lines and straps designed for this use. Allow for some movement in the plant for strong growth. Remove the stakes and lines after one growing season so you do not inhibit trunk development.

Mulching

mulchAdd a 2”-3” layer of shredded mulch or chips around the plant. This will prevent water loss and keep mowers and trimmers from getting too close to the plant. Avoid overly deep mulch against the trunk or stem of the plant as this can promote disease or pest injury.

Planting Perennial & Annual Plants

planting-perennials

Plant your plants around your planting area while still in their pots. Make sure you have taken into consideration the mature height of the plants as well as the sun or shade requirements. Determine an appropriate location for planting, then dig a hole2 times the width & 6”-8” deeper, replacing with enriched soil (compact this 6”-8” of soil) Add a generous amount of Bumper Crop to enrich the soil. Blend into the soil.

For Successful Planting

mn-prodsBumper Crop
An all-organic soil builder with high organic nutrient content and endo- and ecto-mycorrhizal fungi.

Master Start
A fertilizer for all new plantings of sod or seeded lawns, shrubs, ground covers, flowers, or bare root plantings. Provides the right nutrient mix to develop a sturdy root system and strong top growth.

Root Master B1
Formulated to reduce plant shock and improve resistance to stress. Improves water and nutrient uptake.

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Steve C. Very nice large center with huge selection.

Health benefits of using the hot tub in the winter

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hot tub winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

With winter months bringing the usual bouts of flu and other illnesses, you may think that using the hot tub in the cold is not the best idea. But believe it or not, using the hot tub in the winter has health benefits that can prevent or help heal a winter cold, aid in purifying your skin, and reduce muscle aches and pains.

The air may be cold, but the water set at the suggested temperature between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit is actually far cozier than sitting in a chilly house, even under blankets.

The key health benefits of using a hot tub in the winter (and practically anytime) are:

  • Stress relief: Soaking in a spa hot tub can be soothing, recuperative, and key factor in helping to relax. In fact, your blood pressure decreases every time you sit in a hot tub.
  • Clearer Skin: With heat, the pores of your face will open up and unclog leading to clearer skin, but the benefits go further than just your face. “Heat therapy” can assist in purification of acne, eczema, psoriasis, wrinkles, or even burns.
  • Muscle Recovery: Warm water can increase circulation, thus helping to heal muscles that need to recover. When soaking in a hot tub (especially one with warm jets), circulation is increased — which allows the blood to supply nutrients that help cells and tissues regenerate.
  • Aches and Pains: Using the hot tub in the cold to soak has therapeutic benefits and can help relieve arthritis, neck, and back pain.

You can also stay energy-efficient while using the hot tub in the winter by turning off the breaker that runs the heater and protects the electrical switches. Every hot tub has a circulation pump that runs 24 hours a day, and heats up cold water using much less energy than if the heater was running. Once the water reaches 75 degrees, you can turn the heater back on to heat the water up to the recommended temperature of just under 104 degrees.

You can also run the jets with the cover of the hot tub closed while the spa is heating. The heat from the pumps can warm up the water using much less energy as well.

Using the hot tub in the winter can reduce the amount of illnesses you catch, as long as you keep up good hygiene and sanitation measures, and keep your water at the correct temperature. When hot-tubbing it, be sure to check the water balance/cleanliness, keep temperatures raised, soak often (but not more than 30 minutes at a time), and stay hydrated.

Planting Bulbs In The Winter

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Plant bulbs are generally planted in the fall or spring, but in reality, they can be planted anytime so long as you can physically dig a hole. There are many types of bulb plants, including lilies, hyacinths, daffodils and tulips, just to name a few. While each plant is different, you can generally plant them in the same manner, but you should always adhere to the planting instructions that come with your specific bulbs.

Step 1

Plant your bulbs in early winter if possible. You cannot plant bulbs while the ground is frozen, so if it is, place your bulbs in a thick plastic bag called a poly bag, which is available at your local home and garden store. Then store them in a cool, dark and dry place like your garage. However, plant them as soon as possible when you can successfully dig some holes.

Step 2

Plan to plant bulbs about three to six inches apart, depending on the type of bulbs. For instance, tulips and daffodils spread and grow quickly and should be planted about six inches apart, but crocuses and snowdrops should be planted only three inches apart

Step 3

Plan to cluster your bulbs together. You can even mix varieties. Place smaller growing plants in front and larger ones in the back.

Step 4

Dig holes that are about five inches deep for small bulbs and eight inches deep for large bulbs. The diameter of the hole should be twice as large as the bulb.

Step 5

Put the bulbs in the ground with the pointed end facing up. This is the end from which the sprout will emerge.

Step 6

Mix some compost or peat moss in with the soil you just dug up. Use that new soil mix to cover the bulbs. Pat the soil down with your hands to avoid any air pockets.

Step 7

Mulch over the area. A couple inches of mulch will help keep your bulbs in the ground warm until spring when you may see the green sprouts begin to emerge and then bloom soon thereafter. If not, they should bloom the next season.

Tips on using rock salt in the Winter

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5 Steps To Improving Results When Melting Ice

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Step 1: Get rid of the snow. Sounds easy enough. Clear any snow accumulations using a shovel, broom or snow blower. Lets face it, you cant just throw salt on 8″ of snow and hope it melts.

Step 2: Apply it right.  If you have one, use a spreader. A fertilizer spreader with wheels or handheld spreader ensures that you apply ice melt in a thin, even layer. Rinse the spreader between uses.  Or sprinkle it on using an old coffee can with holes punched in the bottom. Always wear gloves if applying by hand. If you apply too much spread it out with a broom.

Step 3: Protect concrete, grass and shrubs when melting ice.  Most of the damage to concrete surfaces is caused by using too much ice melt and, especially for concrete, the freeze/thaw cycle that they’re subjected to. If your concrete is less than a year old, its not recommended to use rock salt or magnesium chloride products.

Follow the application amount on the packaging. If you’re concerned about surface damage, consider kitty litter, playsand, or sawdust. Avoid spreading ice melt close to plants and shrubs and getting too much on your lawn.

Step 4: Protect your family and neighbors.  Ice melt pebbles are most commonly brought into the house by winter boots and shoes. If you have small children or toddlers, be sure you are cleaning off your shoes before coming into the house.

If anyone ingests ice melt, call 911 or the  American Association of Poison Control Centers (800-222-1222).  before visiting the ER because they’re equipped to handle these exposures.

Step 5: Protect your pets.  Pets can develop dryness and irritation on their paws and skin if they walk through ice melting products. Pets can also develop mouth irritation if they eat the chemicals or the resulting water. Consider using a salt-free ice melt that is safe for pets.

How To Care For Poinsettias

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Selecting Your Poinsettia

The plant you choose should have dark green foliage. fallen yet low or damaged leaves indicate poor handling or fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem. The colorful flower bracts (red, pink, white or bicolor pink and white) Should be in proportion to the plant and pot size. Little or no pollen should be showing oil the actual flowers (those red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts).

Christmas Care

Be sure the plant is well wrapped when you take it outside on your trip home because exposure to low temperatures for even a short time can injure leaves and bracts. Unwrap the plant as soon as possible because the petioles (stems of the leaves and bracts) can droop and twist if the plant is left wrapped for too long.

For maximum plant life, place your poinsettia near a sunny window Or Some other well-lighted areas Do not let any part of the plant touch cold window panes. Poinsettias are tropical plants and are usually grown at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F in greenhouses, so this temperature range ill the home is best for long plant life. High temperatures will shorten the file of the bracts Poinsettias do no[ tolerate warm or cold drafts so keep them away from radiators, air registers, and fans as well as open windows or doors. Place your poinsettia in a cooler room at night (55 to 60 degrees F is ideal) to extend the blooming time.

Examine the soil daily and water only when it feels dry. Always water enough to soak the soil to the bottom of the pot and discard the excess water. If you don’t water enough, the plant will wilt mid the lower leaves will drop. If you water too much the lower leaves will yellow and then drop. If you keep your plant for several months, apply a soluble houseplant fertilizer, once or twice a month according to the manufacturers recommendations.

Reflowering

If you plan on saving your poinsettia and reflowering it next year, follow the procedure explained below and illustrated below.

Late Winter and Early Spring Care

Poinsettias have long-lasting flowers – their bracts will remain showy for several months. During this time, side shoots will develop below the bracts and grow up above the old flowering stems. To have a well-shaped plant for the following year, you need to cut each of the old flowering stems or branches back to 4 to 6 inches in height. Leave one to three leaves on each of the old stems or branches – new ,growth comes from buds located in the leaf axils. Cutting the plant back will cause the buds to grow and develop. This cutting back is usually done in February or early March. Keep the plant in I a sunny window at a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees F and water as described above. Fertilize as needed every 2 weeks.

Late Spring and Summer Care

If the plant is too large for the old pot, repot it into a larger pot. Any of he common peat moss and vermiculite/perlite potting soils sold at garden centers are satisfactory and easy to use. If you want to prepare your own growing medium, use 2 parts sterilized garden soil, I part peat moss and I part sand vermiculite or perlite plus I tablespoon of superphosphate per, pot and thoroughly mix.

After the danger of spring frost is past and night temperatures exceed 50 degrees F, sink the poinsettia pot to the rim in the ground in a well-drained, slightly shaded spot outdoors. Remember that the plant may need to be watered more frequently than the rest of your garden. Between 15 and August 1, prune all shoots to about 4 inches, leaving about one, to three leaves on each shoot and fertilize.

Fall Care

Take your poinsettia plant indoors at night well before the first frost (usually about September 15 in lower Michigan) to avoid chilling injury (this occurs when temperatures are below 45 degrees F for an extended period). The poinsettia can be placed back outdoors in the daytime when temperatures are warm enough or in a sunny window. Fertilize every 2 weeks To reflower your poinsettia, you must keep the plant in complete darkness between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. daily from the end of September until color shows in the bracts (early to mid-December). The temperature should remain between 60 and 70 degrees F. Night temperatures above 70 to 75 degrees F may delay or prevent flowering. If you follow this procedure the poinsettia will flower for Christmas.

GROWTH CYCLE OF THE POINSETTIA

 

DECEMBER

FEBRUARY

MARCH

Full Bloom. Flower fades. Lateral growth starts. Remove flower. Cut stems to 6 inches. Many laterals will start to break.

JUNE

JULY

LATE AUGUST

Repot in larger pot if necessary. Plant outside in pot. Pinch all lateral shoots to 4 inches. Root shoots if desired, then pot. Take inside.

SEPT. 20 until DEC. 1

Keep in light only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Put in dark place (no lights) 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.