Deep Watering Stakes

Water stakes are irrigation devices that direct water deep into the soil to the roots of plants or trees. In addition to watering, stakes can be used to deliver fertilizers into the soil. Stakes are generally driven into the ground and then attached to a drip emitter, which can also be replaced with a garden hose with a very slow flow.

Water, when poured around the base of the plant, fails to penetrate deep enough to reach the entire root zone. The penetration becomes even more difficult when the soil is hard. Shallow watering often results in shallow roots that grow laterally at the surface. Plants with shallow root systems are unable to draw water from deep down during dry spells, and hence find it difficult to survive through drought or extreme summers. This causes them to wilt or die. A deep root watering device such as the stake directs water closer to the roots and helps them run deep into the soil, thus enhancing the strength of the plant’s root system. It also prevents infestation that results from dampness due to shallow watering.

Watering stakes come in varying widths and depths to suit plants of different sizes. The shorter ones are ideal for irrigating garden plants, shrubs, flowering plants and bushes, small trees, or those in their growth stage. Longer ones are suitable for average trees, especially fruit-bearing ones.

In addition to promoting deep healthy roots and preventing plant diseases, deep watering stakes offer the following benefits.

• They prevent surface water runoff and soil erosion. Stakes also prevent evaporation of water from the surface of the soil. Both these aspects help conserve water when irrigating your plants.

• Deep water stakes aerate the soil, which to promotes deeper rooting system.

• They are easy to install and remove, and can be used for plants of all sizes – from smaller shrubs in garden to larger trees in parks, orchards, or walkways.

• Such root watering system can even be placed on a slope, where watering plants is usually a concern due to run off. The stakes deliver water deep into the soil, and not downhill.

• Many stake designs come with emitters that allow the measurement of water added to the device. This is especially useful for farming and agricultural purposes.

Tree Pruning

One of the advantages of pruning during the winter is that you can see much better what needs to be cut out and what should stay. At least that’s true with deciduous plants. The other advantage is that the plants are dormant, and won’t mind you doing a little work on them.

Ornamental trees should pruned to remove competing branches. Weeping Cherries, Flowering Dogwoods, Flowering Crabapples etc. have a tendency to send branches in many different directions. It is your job to decide how you want the plant to look, and then start pruning to achieve that look.

But first stick your head inside the tree and see what you can eliminate from there. This is like looking under the hood, and when you do you’ll see a lot of small branches that have been starved of sunlight, that certainly don’t add anything to the plant. They are just there, and should be cut out.

Any branch that is growing toward the center of the tree where it will get little sunlight should be cut out. Where there are two branches that are crossing, one of them should be eliminated. Once you get the inside of the plant cleaned up, you can start shaping the outside.

Shaping the outside is actually quite easy. Just picture how you want the plant to look, and picture imaginary lines of the finished outline of the plant. Cut off anything that is outside of these imaginary lines. It is also important to cut the tips of branches that have not yet reached these imaginary lines in order to force the plant to fill out.

For the most part plants have two kinds of growth: Terminal branches and lateral branches. Each branch has one terminal bud at the very end, and many lateral branches along the sides. The terminal buds grow in an outward direction away from the plant. Left uncut they just keep growing in the same direction, and the plant grows tall and very thin. That’s why the trees in the woods are so thin and not very attractive.

When you cut a branch on a plant, the plant sets new buds just below where you cut. When you remove the terminal bud the plant will set multiple buds; this is how you make a plant nice and full. Don’t be afraid to trim your plants, they will be much nicer because of it. The more you trim them, the fuller they become.

Lots of people have a real problem with this. They just can’t bring themselves to prune. Especially when it comes to plants like Japanese Red Maples. It kills them to even think about pruning a plant like this. Just do it! You’ll have a beautiful plant because of it.

Look at the plant objectively. If you see a branch that looks like it’s growing too far in the wrong direction, cut it. If you make a mistake it will grow back. Not pruning is the only mistake you can make. I hope this helps and doesn’t get you in trouble with your significant other. Many a family feud has started over pruning.

Mower Safety

Don’t allow these incredibly dumb mistakes to occur in your family! Listen to these three responsibilities you must assume, and wedge them firmly into memory–now–before you even start the engine.

    1. You must accept the responsibility to insure that your youngsters under 14 are not allowed to operate any power mower. They are forgetful, largely irresponsible at that tender age, easily distracted, and have no business attached to the controls of a power mower.
    2. You must accept the responsibility to adequately protect yourself from catastrophic or crippling injury. How? Read the instruction manual–especially the section on safety. Then do what it says! Apply some common sense; wear protective shoes; check the lawn for rocks, kid or pet toys, or anything that might become a projectile…before you start the engine. The tip of a mower blade can attain a speed exceeding 19,000 feet per minute. It’s usually attached to a five or six horsepower engine. The force at the tip can reach more than 10,000 pounds per square inch. You stick your foot in there, or reach in with your hand to clear grass away from the chute, and it could be sliced at the rate of 120 times per second! Trust me…a lot can happen in a second or two. Keep children and pets completely off the lawn during any mowing operation. That’ll lessen the risk of their being struck by something thrown from under the machine.
    1. 3. Critically important: never,

ever

    remove or defeat safety devices on a mower. A dead-man switch (that you may have already wired or taped in the “on” position) was designed for a very specific purpose–to shut that machine down almost instantly after you release the handle. Many fingers and toes could be saved if all mowers had a functioning dead-man switch. Additionally, the discharge-chute-deflector has proven itself to be of great value in preventing broken windows, bruised shins and ankles, and dented cars. Yeah…I know all about it! It gets in the way, so off it comes. Don’t do that!

As far as I’m concerned, the most valuable safety feature is the rear toe guard–the rubber or thick flexible plastic thing that drags on the ground behind the mower. I’m here to verify the fact that taking it off because it interferes with pulling the mower backwards is incredible dangerous…and can bring about painful expense. I know what I’m talking about! Take a look at the picture of a badly chopped-up shoe (follow the link at the end of this article). The foolish person who was wearing it broke four cardinal rules: he’d removed the toe guard, had defeated the dead-man switch, was pulling his mower backwards, and was daydreaming.

I’m still paying for those foolish mistakes. (In my own defense, however, I was younger then. . .and convinced of my indestructibility and, perhaps, immortality as well. It’s a young-guy thing!)

What can you do to protect yourself and your family from the dreadful and crippling consequences of these or similar errors? Don’t allow your kids under 14 to operate power equipment…even if they are smarter than most…even if they’re “supervised”…even if they beg or if you’re too darned lazy to get off the couch or out of the lawn chair and do it yourself. Read and follow safety instructions. And never tamper with safety devices or features. Now it’s up to you. You can do it. How much do you care about your or your kids’ personal safety? How much is a foot or hand or an eye worth?

If your power equipment has had its safety devices removed or defeated, that’s tantamount to playing with fire in a gunpowder factory. You must put those safety devices back in working order. And if you’re any kind of a responsible person, you’ll do it now, before another blade of grass is cut. Fail in that responsibility and you or one of your family may soon have a shoe that looks like mine to spark memories of damage. . .or lost toes. You may never be able to forgive yourself!

Choosing Flowers For Summer

If your flowerbed is in direct sunlight for the majority of the day, you will want to choose a hardy, heat-resistant plant. Some of the better choices for full sun are marigolds, zinnias, petunias, and zinnia. Be careful to choose a variety of heat-resistant plants, as some of these full-sun varieties are prone to diseases, especially marigolds. You will want several types of flowers in your flowerbed not only for contrast and interest, but in the event that one variety does poorly or becomes diseased, you can simply pull the plants (roots and all) and cultivate your remaining varieties. Keep in mind that if any of your plants are diseased, you should pull them immediately to avoid spreading the disease to your other plants.

For areas that are in partial to full shade, consider impatiens, begonias, and vinca. All of these come in a variety of colors and grow quite well in shady areas. In choosing the colors for your flowering plants, remember that red colors make the plant seem closer and larger, while blue will give the illusion of smallness and distance. Planting a single color of flowers will draw more attention to your flowerbed, but if you want several colors make sure the flowers compliment one another. Purple goes well with pink and white will blend in nicely with any other color. Also, red goes very well with violet as odd as this may seem.

The most important thing you can do to ensure beautiful summer flowers is to prepare your flowerbed appropriately before planting. Till the soil thoroughly and remove any weeds, roots and all. Fertilize your flowerbed before planting and for the first month after planting flowers, water every other day so that the roots of the plants will be properly nourished. Use mulch as a covering in your flowerbed to preserve moisture and do not over-feed your flowers. Use fertilizer exactly as directed on the package and avoid getting the fertilizer directly on the parts of the plant that are above the ground.