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Blog - Richardson Saw And Lawnmower | Outdoor Power Equipment

  • 5 Things You Need To Know To Keep Foliage Interesting When Landscaping Your Yard

    Flowers are the stars of landscaping. When in bloom, they're often what people first notice. They're also typically the place we want to start when planting or redesigning a landscape bed. But most flowering plants only bloom for a few weeks, or even less. If you want to keep your landscape looking good spring, summer, fall, and winter then you'll either need to plant lots of flowers with different bloom times or choose interesting foliage plants.

    Landscaping has come a long way since adding foliage meant putting in a couple green shrubs at the front of your house. More foliage plants are on the market now and most nurseries and garden centers carry quite a variety of sizes, colors, and species. Foliage plants can form the backbone of your landscape, showcasing your flowers, or make up the whole of the landscape. Whichever direction you go, keeping these 5 tips in mind will help you add interest to your landscape designs.

    interesting-foliage-for-yard-landscape

    1) Don't Limit Yourself

    The category “foliage plants” encompasses a wide variety of landscape plants. Grasses, trees, shrubs, woody perennials, ground covers, and some flowering plants can all have interesting foliage. And you can mix and match them however you like. Use an array of textures, colors, and shapes or stick with all green and just vary texture and forms. Or whatever other combination you find appealing. It's up to you.

    2) Consider Form

    “Form” refers to the plant's overall shape and size as well as how the leaves look. For example, grass leaves have a long, slender form while oakleaf hydrangea has larger, broad leaves. Their overall shape is also very different. Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia, U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5-9) forms a bushy shrub. In contrast, ornamental grasses can vary from cute little tufts of blue fescue (Festuca glauca, USDA 4-8) to stately maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis, USDA 6-9).

    3) Use Color

    Green might be the typical color for leaves, but it's not the only one. Purples, blues, yellows, and reds are also colors you'll commonly find in ornamental foliage plants, both deciduous and evergreen. And even if you just stick with green the option vary from chartreuse to deep forest green. On top of that, many plant varieties are available in variegated forms so they have multicolored leaves. To make the most of differences in color put plants with very different hues right next to each other. Blue foliage forms a nice contrast with red tones while variegated or bright leaves pop next to dark greens.

    4) Vary Texture

    When we talk about texture, we're referring to how the plant feels if you touch the leaves and what the leaves look like, including leaf size. Some plants have a shiny texture with glossy leaves that feel slick if you touch them, like holy (Ilex spp.). Others have a soft and fuzzy texture, such as lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina, USDA 4-8). And others have a fine needle-like texture, including certain coniferous shrubs. Having a variety of different textures will create a more interesting landscape than sticking with plants that have similar leaves.

    5) Remember Growing Needs

    Even though you like how two plants could look together, keep in mind that they might not like growing next to each other. Be sure to match plants' growing needs to your location and put plants with similar soil, moisture, and sunlight requirements together. You'll also want to keep the plants' mature sizes in mind and leave enough space for them to grow. Also, remember to leave enough space that you can get into the garden to trim and clean up as needed. Many foliage plants are low-maintenance, but you'll still need to cut down dead grasses in the spring (hedge trimmers work well for large clumps of grass), remove any dead stems or foliage, and prune shrubs to help maintain their shape.

  • 3 Good Reasons For You To Get A New Lawnmower

    The grass never seems to stop growing, does it? Once lawn mowing season starts it's like you mow one day and then turn around and your grass is already overgrown. Well, not quite that bad, but when grass is getting enough water and nutrients we might have to mow more than once a week.

    We use lawnmowers to take care of all this grass growth, but sometimes the mower you have isn't up to the task. It might be damaged, or old, or hard to use, but there's something wrong and you want to change that. So how do you decide whether to repair and keep using what you have or to get a new lawn mower?

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    There's Serious Damage

    Rebuilding a damaged engine can cost about half as much, or even more than, the cost of purchasing a new lawn mower. A blown engine or crankshaft damage will typically set you back at least a few hundred dollars. For riding mowers, transmission issues are another costly repair. And unless your mower is still under warranty for these repairs, you might just want to get a new mower.

    That said, repair might be cost-effective for mowers that are otherwise in good condition and are less than 3 years old. If you bring your lawnmower to our service center, we'll be able to give you a quote on the repair. And while you're here, you can look at your options for a new mower and decide whether you'd like to repair or replace.

    The Mower Is Old

    Most lawn mowers will last about 8 to 10 years if you take good care of them. But sometimes, they'll start to deteriorate faster if you start out with a lower-quality mower, you got behind on maintenance, or you use the mower more often than “normal.” So if your older mower is starting to show signs of wear and tear, it might be time for a new one.

    If your mower is starting to require more maintenance than normal or just isn't cutting as well as it used to, buying a new one can be less hassle than repairs. For example, simple repairs like replacing belts and spark plugs or cleaning filters are pretty easy. But these tasks can become a hassle if the mower needs them more often than once or twice a year.

    You Need An Upgrade

    Sometimes, even if your mower is still running well, it just can't do the job you need it to. Maybe you've moved to a larger property and you want to save time by getting a riding lawn mower. Or maybe you find that pushing a walk-behind mower is getting too tiring and you want a self-propelled model. Whatever the reason, if your mower isn't doing what you need it to then it's time to get one that will.

    You can start your search by clicking here to read our Essential Quick-Guide To Lawn Mower Types. Then come visit us at our location in Richardson, Texas. We'll be happy to show you around and answer your questions about the different mowers available. Whether your current mower is damaged, old, or just not meeting your needs, we can help you find a good replacement.

  • What To Look For In A Professional Chainsaw

    If you've done much wood cutting with different chainsaws, you know they're not all created equal. There are differences in quality between brands and there are differences between professional and homeowner models as well. If you'll be using the chainsaw professionally, then you need a chainsaw that's above average. Something that can stand up to the rigors of continuous use and tackle jobs most homeowners won't face.

    Tips-for-buyin-professional-hand-saw

    Engine Power

    Cubic centimeters is the critical number to look at when deciding how powerful a chainsaw's engine is. Chainsaws a homeowner might use for cutting firewood typically have an engine of about 50cc. Homeowner chainsaws with less powerful engines are also available.

    In contrast, professional saws typically have engines ranging from about 65cc to 110cc. When you're felling moderate to large trees, bucking logs, and doing other heavy-duty cutting you need the more powerful engines that can stand up to heavier use.

    Handle Position

    Homeowner chainsaws all have a front and a rear handle. These are called rear-handle designs. Many professional models are also rear-handle because this type of chainsaw is used for cutting jobs where you'll have your feet on the ground. But professionals can also choose from top-handle chainsaws as well, where one handle is on top the saw and the other stays in front.

    Also called arborist saws, top-handle chainsaws are designed for when you need to stand on a ladder or in a tree to cut. These chainsaws are lightweight and maneuverable, which makes them good for tree service and surgery, landscaping, and public maintenance projects. Depending on the type of cutting you do, you might want to have both a rear-handle and top-handle chainsaw on hand.

    Safety Features

    Chainsaws are designed for cutting, which means they have the potential to be dangerous tools. Wearing safety gear and reading the manual is always a good idea when using any chainsaw. You can also look for saws with specific safety features. A chain brake is essential (most modern saws have that, and some have additional chain breaking features). Also, look for saws that have a chain catch to slow the chain's rotation if it jumps off the bar or breaks.

    Though not specifically a safety feature, you'll also want to look for a chainsaw that has a balanced design. A balanced chainsaw is easier to hold and control, which will make cutting for hours more comfortable. Plus it won't wear you out as much.

    Reliable Brand

    There's a reason brands like Stihl and Echo are among the biggest names in chainsaws. They're top-sellers and they consistently make lists like Popular Mechanics' 4 Best Pro-Duty Chainsaws because these brands cut well and they last. They also offer professional/commercial warranties on their saws (1 year for Echo and 3 months for Stihl). Most brands will have a homeowner warranty, but not all cover chainsaws saws meant for professional use.

    To check out chainsaws from these top brands in-person, come visit us at our location in Richardson, Texas. We carry professional and arborist chainsaws by Stihl and Echo, so you can check out the saws for yourself and talk with the technicians trained to service these brands. We'll be happy to answer your questions and help you find the chainsaw that will work best for you.

  • 4 Hot Trends In Backyard Design

    We love decorating around our homes and turning our yards into enjoyable living spaces. Outdoor design never goes out of style. But there are always new ideas and hot new trends to give us ideas for landscaping and design projects around our homes. So if you're thinking about an upcoming backyard renovation, check out these four popular ideas.

    4-Hot-Trends-In-Backyard-Design

    Outdoor Kitchens

    If they have the room, today's home owners aren't settling for an outdoor grill. They're putting in brick ovens, refrigerators, barbecue courtyards, countertops, sinks, and much more. The outdoor kitchen trend is part of a larger movement to create more usable outdoor space.

    Putting in an outdoor kitchen comes with a wide variety of questions to answer. You'll need to decide whether or not you want running water, if you'll power equipment with gas or electricity, and what material you'll use to construct the kitchen. You also have options for which appliances to install, how to layout the kitchen, and whether you'll DIY or hire a professional.

    Fire and Water

    Fire features are also expanding beyond simple fire pits to something more elaborate. Design professionals and innovative DIYers are trying out fire pits with unique shapes, raised designs, and built-in seating. Just remember to check local codes before installing an elaborate new fire project. You don't want to finish your fire pit and then find out it's too close to your house or a neighbor's property line.

    The soothing sound of running water makes water features a perennial favorite in outdoor design. There's a huge variety of styles to choose from, but one trend that's hot right now is pondless water features. These are a good choice for homeowners looking for compact, low-maintenance water gardens our fountains.

    Unique Walks and Patios

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    Last year, Green Industry Pros reported that two of the hottest hardscaping trends were multi-level patios and innovative walkways. Multilevel patios let you separate outdoor living spaces while adding dimension to the design. Getting them installed just right can be a challenge, though, so homeowners might consider hiring a professional designer for this project.

    Traditional walkways often travel in a straight line and hug the side of the house. Newer designs pull the walkway away from the house to create more visual space and a welcoming feel. They're also incorporating more space near the home's entryway to comfortably accommodate groups of people standing around and talking.

    Sustainable Design Choices

    Natural, eco-friendly, and sustainable choices are being incorporated into every aspect of backyard design. And sustainability makes sense economically as well as environmentally. Homeowners are moving away from showy, over-the-top landscaping to create timeless backyards they can enjoy for years to come without breaking their budget on maintenance.

    From locally-sourced stone to drought-resistant landscaping, earth-friendly outdoor design is rapidly growing in popularity. Smaller lawns and low-maintenance landscaping mean you're using less water and cutting back on the fertilizer and other chemicals that end up in the local environment. Plus you save money. And for hardscaping, more and more people are opting for local stone and recycled wood. Local sourcing is on-trend, cuts down on transportation costs, and it's good for the environment.

  • 5 Ways To Take Care of Pesky Stumps In Your Yard

    Trees don't come out of your yard without leaving something behind. Whether the tree fell on its own or was cut on purpose, you've now got a stump sitting in your yard. And unless you want to mow around useless tree stumps for years to come, you'll need to do something with those pesky stumps.

    Method 1) Repurpose

    First, decide whether or not you need to take the stump out of your yard. There are loads of DIY projects using tree stumps that you can try. For example:

    • Turn large stumps into outdoor tables.
    • Paint lines onto the top of a stump to make an outdoor checkerboard.
    • Fill stumps that are starting to decay in the middle with potting soil and make a flower planter (this will also speed a stump's decomposition so it's easier to remove later).
    • Level the top of the stump and use it as the base for a birdbath bowl.
    • Make a fairy garden on top of the stump.

    Method 2) Soften

    This method works best on stumps of trees that have been dead at least a year. Using a chainsaw, cut the stump off as close to ground level as possible. Next, drill deep holes in the stump using a large drill bit. A 1-inch bit that's 8 to 12 inches long will work well. Space the holes 3 to 4 inches apart all across the top of the stump.

    Fill the holes with a chemical stump remover, such as potassium nitrate. Follow package directions for handling and activating the stump remover. Then leave things alone for a few weeks or months to let the wood decompose. Once the stump is softened by the stump remover, you can finish getting rid of it using Method 3 or 4 below.

    Method 3) Dig

    If you want to remove the stump completely, digging it out of the ground by hand is one option. This works best on smaller stumps from trees with shallow root systems or on stumps that you've already used chemical removers to soften.

    If you used a chemical stump remover, you can skip right to chopping the stump up with an ax. If not, dig a trench around the stump to expose the roots. Once the roots are visible, use an ax to chop the roots off. Continue working your way around the stump with an ax, shovel, and pickax until the stump is loosened enough to pry it out of the ground. Do not try to hook the stump up to a vehicle and pull it out – you're more likely to damage your vehicle than move the stump. After the stump is gone, fill the hole with soil.

    Method 4) Burn

    Before lighting anything on fire make sure you check your local fire codes. If your location allows burning, start out by drilling holes in the stump just like you would for Method 2. You can also burn after using a chemical stump remover. Pour kerosene or fuel oil (never gasoline) into the drill holes. Wait 1 to 2 weeks for the fuel to soak into the wood.

    Before lighting the stump, check that there aren't any temporary bans on fire in effect due to something like drought. Then drop a lighted match into each hole. The burning stump will smolder for several days, so keep a close eye on it and set up a barrier to keep kids and pets from wandering toward the fire. Once the stump has burned down completely, scoop the ashes out with a shovel and fill the hole with soil.

    Method 5) Grind

    To get rid of a stump quickly, you can't beat the stump grinder method. A stump grinder will work on large or small stumps of any age. Start out by cutting the stump off as low to the ground as you can. Next, clear away rocks in the immediate area. Before you start grinding, put on safety gear. Long sleeves, long pants, eye protection, and steel toe boots are a must.

    A stump grinder will grind or chop the stump up into wood chips. That will bring the stump below ground level faster than any other method. Once the stump is ground down, shovel the wood chips out of the hole and fill in with soil.

  • Your Quick Guide To Texas Turf Grass

    Tips for keeping lawn grass healthy vary depending on where you live. Location determines what type of grass you grow, and then that influences how often you mow, when to fertilize and aerate, and what's the best way to start a new lawn. Keep reading for a quick overview of grass types that grow in Texas and how to keep them healthy.

    guide-to-texas-turf-types

    Types of Turf Grass

    We can sort turf grasses into two broad categories: cool-season grass and warm-season grass. In Texas, warm-season grasses are the usual choice because they're more heat tolerant, though there are some cool-season grasses that grow well in northern and parts of central Texas.

    When planting a new lawn, cool-season grasses are usually started from seed. Seed is available for some warm-season grasses, but they're typically started from plugs, sprigs, or sod. In general, seed is less expensive but lawns established from growing plants are easier to care for and fill in more quickly.

    Species Overview

    Here's a brief overview of grasses commonly grown in Texas. For more information, click here to read an article from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

    • Heat-tolerant bluegrass mixes and Texas bluegrass can stay green all year in northern and central Texas even though it's a cool-season grass.
    • Cool-season tall fescue can be grown in northern Texas. It's shade tolerant and grows in a variety of soils, but needs more water than warm-season grasses and Texas bluegrass.
    • Bermudagrass is a warm-season grass that grows well throughout Texas. It's fast-growing, requires full sunlight, and is tolerant of both traffic and drought.
    • Warm-season Zoysia grass grows throughout Texas. It grows slowly, requires less fertilizer than other grasses, and has a moderate tolerance for shade and drought.
    • Buffalo grass grows best in central and west Texas. It is a low-maintenance, water-efficient warm-season grass that prefers full sun. Buffalo grass can grow in alkaline soil.
    • Centipede grass is good choice for east Texas. It prefers higher rainfall than many other warm-season grasses and is less tolerant of drought.

    Texas Grass Care

    Mowing is the lawn care task you'll do most frequently. When grass is actively growing, plan on mowing often enough that you don't take off any more than one-third of the grass in a single cutting. For example, to keep your grass at 1 inch high you should mow when it is 1½ inches high. Click here for more mowing tips.

    If you have warm-season grass in your lawn, start fertilizing in late spring after they start actively growing. Keep with the schedule recommended on your fertilizer package until early fall when the grass starts to go dormant. Aerate warm-season grass in the spring.

    For cool-season grass, you'll want to fertilize during their peak growth in the spring and fall. Hold off on fertilizer during the hot summer months unless you can water often enough to keep them actively growing. Fall is the best time to aerate cool-season grasses.

    Lawn Equipment

    To keep your lawn in top condition, you'll need quality lawn care equipment. Grass grows healthier when it's mowed regularly using a mower that cuts cleanly and leaves finely chopped clippings on the lawn (mulching your clippings returns nutrients to the soil). You might also want a string-line trimmer for cutting in places your mower can't reach and a spreader to evenly distribute fertilizer.

    If you want help picking out the perfect lawn equipment for maintaining healthy turf grass, come visit us at our Richardson location. We'll be happy to show you around and answer any questions you have.

  • Must-Have Power Equipment For Lawn Care And Landscaping Businesses

    When you're starting a lawn care and/or landscaping business, the power equipment you'll use is one of the most important investments. Transportation vehicles, storage facilities, and safety equipment are also necessary, but whether or not you have the tools to properly do the job for each service you offer can make or break your business.

    Power equipment like lawn mowers and trimmers are a key component of any good lawn care business. They're not the only tools you'll need, but they're a good place to start. Decide which services you'll be offering, then choose the right equipment for the job.

    Mowing

    The number of available options for mowers is staggering. You'll probably want at least two types of mowers to handle a variety of different lawn mowing tasks. Smaller walk-behind mowers are useful for yards less than 1/2 to 1 acre in size and for cutting in tight spaces. Since you'll be using them so much, you'll want to choose self-propelled models for the walk-behinds. For larger yards, you'll need a good-quality riding mower. These can be sit-down models or the smaller, easy-to-transport stand-on models.

    Trimming

    String-line trimmers get at grass and weeds in places mowers can't quite reach. You'll want to use trimmers for things like cutting around mailboxes and trees. Many models are also available with a brushcutter attachment for tackling sturdy, overgrown weeds.

    Hedge Trimming

    Hedge trimmers are used for maintaining hedges. If you're offering landscaping services in addition to lawn care, you'll want to invest in at least one style of hedge trimmer. A double-sided gasoline powered hedge trimmer is a good choice for most hedges. Extended reach and single-side models are also available.

    Edging

    You can get away with using string-line trimmers to maintain the edges of flower gardens and paved areas. But they won't provide the clean, professional edge you get with an edger. Edgers are designed to take care of the grass that grows right next to and over paths, sidewalks, and patios. They can also be used to cut a new, clean edge around flower gardens.

    Spreading

    If you want to offer lawn fertilization as one of your company's basic services, you'll need a reliable spreader. A good quality broadcast spreader disperses granular fertilizer evenly over the lawn so your customers don't end up with weird patches of fertilized and unfertilized grass.

    Spraying

    For spot applications of herbicide, you'll need a sprayer. Professional models range from small hand-held models to larger backpack sprayers for treating large properties without refilling. The largest, gas-powered backpack models are used for big projects, such as treating orchards.

    Aerating

    Most lawns should be aerated once a year. Aeration reduces soil compaction, which gives grass roots more room to grow and lets water and nutrients get down into the soil. Because aerators are only used once a year, most homeowners don't spend the money to purchase them. You might have some people hire you to aerate their lawn even if they're not regular customers.


    Just having these tools isn't enough to make a great impression on your clients. You'll also need equipment that's the right quality for what you want to accomplish. With power equipment, homeowner models just aren't going to stand-up to the rigors of commercial use nearly as long as commercial grade models. Same with hand-powered tools; the cheap brands simply are not designed for constant use.

    While the initial expense will be higher, you'll typically save money in the long-run by investing in quality equipment from trusted brands right from the very start of your business. For more help choosing exactly what to purchase, come visit us at Richardson Saw & Lawnmower. We'll be happy to show you around, answer your questions, and help get your business off to a great start.

  • 3 Easy Ways To Add Water To Your Landscape Design Without A Pond

    Few sounds are more soothing than moving water. Just thinking of water splashing over a rock ledge is enough for me to start relaxing. Though often considered a luxury item, water features can fit into most homeowner's budgets. You just have to pick the right kind.

    You don't need a lot of space or a pond to have a beautiful water feature in your yard. And you can make all the ones on this list yourself, though it's usually easy to find a contractor if you don't have the time or there's a part of the DIY that you'd rather not do yourself. For example, you might want an electrician to do the wiring for outside electrical sources or a landscaper to set up the reservoir for a pondless waterfall.

    Container Water Garden

    This project won't tear up any of your existing landscape, so it's perfect if you're renting or if you don't have much space (click here for a tutorial). All you need is a waterproof container that holds at least 15 gallons of water. Keep in mind that water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, so make sure wherever you place the container is sturdy enough to support it. If you want water movement, add a small pump or bubbler.

    You can fill your water garden with a variety of aquatic plants. If you place it in full sun, you can even grow small water lilies in a container water garden. You can also add fish to your water garden. For containers on the small side, tropical fish like guppies or platys will work. In containers larger than 20 gallons, you can keep one or two small goldfish. Plants and fish will need to be moved inside over winter.

    Fountain Pot

    Small fountains and bubblers require a little more work to set up, but they're just as easy to maintain as a water garden and you don't have to worry about caring for plants or fish. For this project, you'll set up a water reservoir underneath a pot and then use tubing through the base of the pot to connect with a pump. The pump moves water up into the pot, which runs over the sides of the pot into the reservoir, then gets cycled back up by the pump.

    You can do this project with an underground reservoir (click this link) or with two pots stacked inside each other (click this link). A fountain made using two pots can be placed on patios or moved around the garden. One made over a reservoir lets you use a wider variety of pot styles and you can even place more than one fountain over the same reservoir.

    DIY Waterfall

    When we think of backyard waterfalls, we usually think of ones that fall into a pond. But you can also build pondless waterfalls, which have a concealed reservoir like the fountains we talked about above. With either type of waterfall project, you can save money by using local stone to construct the waterfall. You might even have some already on-hand.

    Whichever style you go with, you'll be doing some digging. Here's where you might think of hiring a contractor with experience putting in ponds or underground water reservoirs. But if you want to do it all yourself, there are plenty of tutorials online about digging ponds and building waterfalls (click here to check one out).

    While we don't carry pond supplies at Richardson Saw, you can pick up some of the tools you'll need to build your water feature and maintain the area around it. Don't want grass clippings in your waterfall? Head on over and get a bagging lawn mower. Need to clean up weeds around your fountain? We carry string-line trimmers to cut weeds down and hand-held sprayers for applying herbicide. Digging your own reservoir? Pick up a top-quality shovel by Corona.

     

  • Designing A Winter Wonderland In Your Landscape

    Landscaping For Year-Round Interest Part 4

    Dull, drab, and brown. That's what many landscape beds look like in the winter, except for an evergreen bush or two. But there's no reason your landscape bed has to look boring during the coldest time of the year. With a little planning, it's possible to design a landscape that's beautiful in every season.

    You're reading the last post in a four-part blog series that will help you create low-maintenance, year-round interest in your landscaping. This week, we talk about the winter months.

     

    Foliage and Seedpods

    Some of the perennials you planted for summer and fall will leave interesting seed heads in the winter garden. These include coneflowers, sedum, and certain varieties of alliums. Letting plants go to seed and leaving the dead flower heads up also provides seeds that can attract colorful birds to the garden.

    Ornamental grasses can also provide winter interest. Some just flop to the ground at the end of the growing season, but others like Miscanthus species stay upright and leave attractive dried flower heads in the garden. If you like the way they look, feel free to let them stay until the grass starts to grow back in the spring.

    Time For Evergreens

    Evergreen plants look good all year-round, but they truly shine in the winter landscape. Some evergreens, like certain rhododendrons and magnolias, also bloom in the spring garden. Others are grown mainly for their interesting foliage.

    • Barberry – several barberries are evergreen and they offer unique foliage colors that last all year, including red and yellow. Check the USDA hardiness zones for each variety to make sure they grow in your area.
    • Holly – Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria, zones 7-10) and Nellie R. Stevens hollies (Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens', zones 6-9) are available in tree or bush forms. They provide boldly textured dark green foliage all year and the female plants display attractive bright-red berries in the winter.
    • Juniper – eastern redcedar juniper (Juniperus virginiana, zones 2-9) can be grown as a screening tree. Other varieties are available in bush-form and there's a wide range of foliage colors and plant styles out there.

    Winter Flowers

    Texas gardeners don't have to go without flowers during the winter months. You can plant cool-weather annuals like pansies, violas, dianthus, alyssum, and primrose for color that will last through winter and spring. Some of these plants, including dianthus and primrose, might stop blooming if the temperature dips below 32 degrees. You can get around this by planting them in containers and bringing the plants in if there's a frost in the forecast.

    Paper whites (Narcissus tazetta) and snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) are spring-blooming bulbs that can start flowering in December or January for Texas gardeners. Some shrubs also bloom in the winter. Check out leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei, zones 6-9), the evergreen Jacqueline Postill daphne (Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill', zones 7-9), and winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum, zones 5-10).

    Cool-Weather Yard Tips

    If you're planting winter annuals, make sure you add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil. Winter is also a good time to trim dormant trees and shrubs and redefine flower beds. And if you're not using your lawn equipment, be sure to take the time to clean and store it properly.

    Catch up on previous posts in the series here:

  • Keep Ponds Beautiful With Water's Edge Maintenance

    A beautiful pond can be the highlight of a backyard. Maintaining that pond is often a challenge, though. Not only do you want to keep the water healthy and clean, but you also need to maintain the pond banks. Luckily, the two are connected and if you spend time maintaining the area around your pond it will help keep the water looking good as well.

    backyard-pond

    Plant The Banks

    If your pond's edges are bare, there's nothing to catch run-off heading into the pond. Runoff can carry soil into the pond, making the water cloudy and eroding the banks. It also lets more nutrients into the pond water, which can lead to algae blooms.

    Planting vegetation along the banks of a pond helps hold soil in place and filters run-off. If you want a manicured lawn right up to the edge of the pond, you can simply use grass as your planting buffer. But a buffer zone that's at least three feet wide with taller grasses and other plants is much more effective. You can include trees and bushes in your buffer zone, but try to choose ones that won't drop a lot of fruit or leaves into the pond.

    Manage Pollutants

    If you want to keep your pond water healthy and minimize algae growth it's important to keep excessive nutrients and chemicals out of the pond. Maintaining a planted buffer zone to filter run-off will definitely help with this, and there are other steps you can take as well.

    You can't always control what your neighbors are using, but you can take care not to use pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals right next to a pond. Another thing to consider is nearby livestock. Livestock with access to the pond will muddy the water and their waste adds nutrients that can spike algae blooms. Water birds can also add natural pollutants, so if you're swimming in your pond you'll want to keep only one or two pairs of ducks or geese around.

    Mow Safely

    Mowing around a pond must be done with caution. You don't want your lawn mower to end up in the pond, especially if it might take you with it. For ponds with little or no slope down to the water's edge, you can mow along the bank with a riding or push mower and then finish off right up next to the edge with a push mower or string line trimmer. Also, use a bagging mower if possible to keep cut grass out of the water.

    For steep embankments, letting the vegetation grow naturally provides a healthy buffer zone for the pond. But if you must cut the vegetation, it's safer to use a trimmer than a mower since they're smaller and easier to control. Never use corded electric equipment to mow right next to the water.

    Come visit us at Richardson Saw & Lawnmower if you're looking for mowing and trimming equipment to maintain the area around your pond. We can answer your questions and help find something that will work for your pond area.

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