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How To Select The Perfect Christmas Tree

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Step 1: Choose the Right Tree
christmas tree with ornaments and lightsSelecting the perfect tree is essential when it comes to decorating for Christmas. Get the best tree you can to ensure it lasts and looks great the entire holiday season. There are a lot of Christmas tree options out there from which to choose. Here are some examples of the most common trees out there at hardware stores and garden centers.

  • Douglas Fir. These are the most common trees available. The trees are tall, slender and aromatic and their needles are short, soft and bluish-green. They need plenty of water to avoid shedding.
  • Scotch Pine. Another common tree type. Scotch pines are the #1 sold Christmas tree in the U.S. They have very sturdy branches and also retain their needles better and last longer than some species. Needles are dark green.
  • Blue Spruce. These trees have stiff needles that are a silvery green color. When watered adequately, these trees can last for a month and still look great.
  • Fraser Fir. An attractive tree with green-and-silver, two-toned needles with good needle retention. Often referred to as the “no shed” tree.

If you are cutting your own Christmas tree, there are likely many tree farms in your area that will allow you to choose a tree and cut it down yourself. If you’ll be cutting your own, be sure you leave the house with a hand saw, some twine, a blanket for when you strap the tree to your vehicle and some gloves to protect your hands.

If you will be buying a pre-cut tree, make sure it is freshly cut. Touch the needles and branches to see if a significant amount comes off in your hand. Lightly bang the base of the tree on the ground; if an excessive amount of needles falls off, the tree is not fresh. Test the limbs to see if they are sturdy enough to hold the weight of ornaments. Also, if the tree is fresh, you should be able to smell the tree’s fragrance easily. The tree should be a dark green color all over with no areas of brown needles. Check to be sure that the bottom of the tree trunk is sticky with resin. Needles should not break when bent between your fingers. As when cutting down a tree yourself, bring twine and a blanket for strapping the tree to the top of your car, if you don’t have a truck or similar vehicle with room to stow the tree for the trip to your home.

 

  • Step 2: Find the Right Spot

    Find the right location for your tree. A little forethought will help avoid any problems once you have your tree and start decorating for Christmas. Take the time to measure the dimensions of your room. Use a measuring tape to check the height, bearing in mind the dimensions of your tree stand. It’s a good idea to leave at least 6″ from the ceiling to the top of your tree. Don’t forget to ensure that the room is wide enough for the size of tree you want if you’re going to place the tree in a corner or alcove. Write these measurements down. Take your tape measure with you when you go to purchase the tree to be sure the Christmas tree you select will fit.

    When you get your new tree home, be sure to put it into a bucket of water as you prepare to erect it. Don’t place the tree in high-traffic areas where it could get knocked over by children or pets, or where your family could trip over tree light electrical cords. Trees are usually best placed in a corner or in front of a window for optimal effect.

    Safety Alert!

    Never place your Christmas tree near a heat source, such as a radiator or fireplace, as this can present a fire hazard.

    Helpful Tip

    Consider anchoring the tree to a wall with a thin rope or heavy-duty string and an eyebolt as an added safety feature to help stabilize the tree. You can use this safety feature and easily hide it so it doesn’t detract from your tree’s appearance.

  • Step 3: Give It Water

    Water your tree daily to keep your tree alive. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. The average tree can soak up to a gallon of water a day. When choosing a tree stand, be sure to find out how much water the stand holds when a tree is in it. Consider using Tree Preserve, a water additive that extends the life of the tree, keeps it greener longer, and helps prevent the needles from drying out. Remember, a thriving tree stays green longer and it makes it less of a safety hazard, as water keeps the tree moist and more fire-resistant.

    Safety Alerts!

    A dry tree can be a fire hazard. Before stringing lights on the tree, make sure the bulbs and the light string itself is in working order and intact without fraying or tears. Use lights rated for indoor use only. Do not place the tree directly in front of a heat or air conditioning duct as this will dry out the needles faster.

    When the tree is plugged in, be careful when watering to avoid electric shock.

  • Step 4: Decorate It

    Decorate the tree the way you want. This is the fun part! When adding lights to your Christmas tree, work from the inside, close to the tree trunk and out toward the tips of the branches. When you reach the tip of a branch, wrap your way back toward the trunk. Mini lights and C7 Christmas lights are typically used to decorate indoor trees.

    Helpful Tip

    Consider using LED holiday lights. They’re more efficient than regular light strings and don’t put off as much heat.

  • Step 5: Recycle It

    Dispose of your tree properly after the holiday season—don’t just throw out your tree with the trash. Recycle or mulch it yourself. Many municipalities have recycling centers where you can take your tree or have it picked up for recycling. Check with your local officials to see what options are available.

    Happy holidays! With good care, a Christmas tree can easily stay fresh for a month or even longer.

 

Front Porch Ideas For Thanksgiving

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The great thing with Halloween and Thanksgiving in succession is that you can put up fall decorations for both occasions. In fact, with added garden lights and Hollies, it can go all the way until Christmas. Pumpkins and autumn plant colors also give a rustic charm to a Thanksgiving garden–which how this Holiday should always be through the years.

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Nothing says welcome to your guests better than a well-decorated front porch or door. Having some potted Chrysanthemums in handy for a quick and easy design will help.

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Keep the spirit of Thanksgiving in the air with a display of your garden harvests. Even dried up corn stalks can add to the feel of a good harvest this season.

Butterfly Gardens!

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Make your yard butterfly-friendly to bring color and movement to the landscape while aiding the pollination of flowers, fruit, and vegetable plants.

Unfortunately, urbanization and other development are shrinking butterflies’ natural habitat, leaving fewer places to feed, mate, and lay eggs. Here are some tips to reverse that trend.

  • Butterfly gardens don’t have to be large. You can grow plants in containers on a patio or even in hanging pots and window boxes.
  • Butterflies need the sun to maintain body temperature, so place your garden in the sunniest location possible.
  • The key to attracting butterflies is to provide them with lots of nectar sources; they also prefer to feed on open, tube-shape flowers. See our article on Plants that Attract Butterflies.
  • All butterflies start out as caterpillars that require host plants on which to feed. Many of these are native plants—weeds and wildflowers that may already be growing on or near your property. Some good choices include clovers, milkweeds, and violets.
  • After a rain, you may see butterflies congregating around a puddle or damp area in the garden to drink and extract minerals from the soil. Maintaining a puddle in the same spot will keep butterflies coming back.

Butterfly in the Garden

Butterfly gardening has become big business. Butterfly farms offer live butterflies to release at special occasions, especially weddings.

Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants

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HEALTHY SOIL, HEALTHY PLANTS

The key to successful gardening is “healthy soil.” This basic principle of organic gardening applies to all plants. Quite simply, when you feed the soil the proper nutrients, you let the soil feed the plants. So how do you “feed” the soil? First, you need to understand some elementary information about your soil and why it is so important, and then you can take steps to improve it.

To start, you should determine the soil texture by moistening the soil and rubbing it between your thumb and fingers to determine it’s “feel.” Sands are gritty and will barely hold together; clay can be squeezed into a firm shape; and silt will act in a way to allow particles to cling together. Sandy soils tend to dry out quickly because they contain high amounts of soil air. Oppositely, clay soils have a tendency to pack together, shutting out air and water. The best garden soil, “loam,” has moderate amounts of sand, silt and clay. Generally, soil in our area tends to be clayey. This condition can be improved by adding a soil conditioner, gypsum or slate particles. For sandy soils, humus should be added to help retain moisture and nutrients.

Next, you must evaluate the soil structure. Soil structure is affected by soil pH, the amount of humus and the combination of minerals in the soil. Ideal soils allow soil particles to clump together with air spaces between them for water drainage as well as oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide release from plant roots. The best way to improve soil structure is to add high amounts of organic matter like humus, dehydrated manure, composted manure, mushroom compost, alfalfa meal, peat moss, or worm castings.

You will also need to take a soil sample, to measure the pH and amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the soil as well as other nutrients. This will help determine exactly what the soil needs. Your local Master Nursery Garden Center will help you read the results and determine what to add to your soil and how much. Generally, a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is acceptable. If your pH is lower than this, your soil is too acidic and requires lime to be added. If your soil is low in organic matter, it will often have a high pH level. All plants require a proper balance of nutrients – nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Soils lacking any one of these elements will not produce healthy plants. Refer to the Organic Fertilizer Chart for suggested amendments.

When dealing with poor or improperly balanced soils, obtaining “healthy” soil may take two to five years to acquire. The best thing you can do to supplement your soil program is to use various organic fertilizers to meet your plants’ needs and regularly add organic matter; we suggest Bumper Crop Soil Amendments, and Fertilizers. Black Forest, Gardener’s Gold, Pay Dirt and Pay Dirt Plus are all excellent choices as soil amenders that will continue to help the soil structure as well as create biological activity that is also a vital part of developing productive soil.

Key Words
Soil Texture – The proportional amount of sand, silt and clay in the soil.
Soil Structure – The arrangement of soil particles in the soil.
Soil pH – The measurement of acidity or alkalinity of the soil.
Organic Matter – Various forms of living and dead plant and animal matter.

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Pink Day!!!

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PINK DAY IS COMING!!!

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Pink Day – Join us in the fight against breast cancer!
Wear your pink and join us on June 10 and support Daniel’s Lawn and Garden Center’s efforts to help find a cure for breast cancer, a cancer that affects way too many Moms, sisters, wives and friends. We donate a portion of the day’s proceeds to the Susan G. Korman Foundation!

Any questions about this event please call us at 610-287-9144 or visit www.danielslawnandgarden.com. See you there. Think Pink!!!

Pink Day Events:
Activities & Events
Moonbounce 10-3

Chair Massages 10-12

Trick Jump Rope & Hula Hoop Demo 11-12

Face Painting 11-2

Butterfly Program 12-2

Pony Rides 12-2

Boy Scouts with food & drinks 10-3
Pink Day Special Sales

Topsoil 40lb bag reg $2.99 sale $1.00 Limit 10

Chlorine 5gal liquid reg $19.99 sale $11.99

4in pot vegetable reg $2.99 sale $1.00

50% off all trees and shrubs Limit 10

Tips for Opening Your Swimming Pool This Spring

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Image result for opening a swimming pool

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!

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Health benefits of using the hot tub in the winter

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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.