5 Smart Yardwork Shortcuts
1. Put down the rake.There's no need to break your back—simply mowing over all those leaves covering your lawn will give you healthier grass next spring, according to research from Michigan State University. "This technique cuts leaves into small pieces that fertilize your lawn as they decompose," says study author Thom Nikolai, PhD, professor of crop and soil science.
2. Properly store tools to make them last longer.When you're finished gardening, keep small spades and hoes in a bucket of sand. "The grains seal out moisture, preventing the oxidation that can lead to rust," explains Sarah Browning, extension educator of horticulture at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
3. Pull weeds after it rains.Autumn may be your last chance to weed flower beds and shrub borders before it gets cold. "Dry soil only allows you to pull up the top of the weed, but damp dirt makes it easier to pluck the entire plant shaft from the ground," says Los Angeles–based landscape designer Shirley Bovshow, host of the online showGarden World Report.
4. Pick plants and flowers wrapped in eco-wraprather than plastic pots, suggests Bovshow.Similar to egg-carton cardboard, eco-wrap decomposes in soil, cutting down on planting time—and waste.
5. Keep the hose handy."Many people don't water far enough into fall," Browning says. "Keeping trees and shrubs hydrated through late November helps them recover from summer heat." To see if yours are parched, poke a pencil into the surrounding soil; if it comes up clean, it's time to water.
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