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Maintaining curb appeal

A well-maintained yard can boost your property value, put you in the good graces of your neighbors, and even prevent break-ins. Here's a breakdown of four easy skills and outdoor equipment needed to keep your yard looking sharp as ever!

Trim your hedges to keep things neat

Motorized hedge trimmers are great alternatives to hedge shears as they quickly cut, level, and shape shrubs and bushes. They can be powered by gas, cord, or cordless and come in various bar lengths such as a chainsaw.

Before you begin trimming, make sure your hedge trimmer is sharp and well lubricated before each and every use. When trimming, start with vertical side first and use an upward and downward sweeping motion and move forward along the hedge. When cutting the top of the hedge, angle the blade at around 10 degrees to the horizontal and sweep cut material off the hedge. Keep a pair of manual hedge shears around for fine tuning the shape of your bushes.

Mow your lawn the right way

Mowing is pruning. Proper mowing increases the density of your lawn, which in turn decreases the growth of weeds. Each type of grass has a recommended mowing height. Find out which type of grass you have by calling us today at 701-577-6052.

Follow the 1/3 rule: never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade length at any time.A healthy lawn can survive with an occasional close cut but repeated close cut mowing can cause a brown lawn.

Here are some things to remember when mowing:

- Mow when the grass is dry. The blades will be less likely to clump when cut.

- Keep mower blades sharp and balanced. Ragged cuts caused by a dull blade can lead to pests and diseases.

- Change the mowing pattern each time you mow. Grass develops a grain based on your cutting direction, tending to lean towards the way you mow. Alternating the pattern allows upright growth and helps avoid producing ruts in the lawn.

- If your'e cutting grass that's particularly long, you can use the mower's bag and use the clippers at compost. Otherwise, ditch the clippers on the lawn and unless they form clumps or rows. This technique helps return nutrients and nitrogen to the lawn.

- Mow grass higher in shaded areas under trees. In these areas grass has to compete with tree roots for water and nutrients.

Blow away leaf mess

Leaf blowers are the best thing to help blow leaves and debris from your yard and position them them to be swept into a compost or refuse pile. Like hedge trimmers they can be available in gas, cord, or cordless models.

Choose a blower that fits the needs of your yard. A small yard can get by with a sweeper used to remove debris from hard surfaces and can be used on patios and garages. A stronger blower can make a big mess in small spaces and should be used in bigger areas and along curbs. Backpack mounted blowers provide the most power and less fatigue as the weight of the blower sits on your hips.

Before mowing, close all windows and doors to your yard to minimize the dirt and air contaminants that enter your home. Remember your ear and eye protection as well.The leaf blower is operated by a variable speed trigger on the handle. Most blowers have a "cruise control" switch that will help prevent fatigue and give you more control. Use your blower in one direction and work the debris from the corners in. Lift the blower up and down in the air to quickly ease and feather the debris into place for cleanup.

Trim and edge your lawn for a clean look

A string trimmer is a handheld device used to cut grass and trim areas around trees, gardens and walkways. Like the hedge trimmer and leaf blower, string trimmers are more popular towards cordless power but are still available in gas and corded models. To start trimming, keep the trimmer 2-3 inches from the ground and avoid hitting trees, shrubs, and roots. The string travels at up to 400 mph and can do a lot of damage to plants and trees in a short period of time.

When trimming along a sidewalk, pitch the trimmer slightly up which will taper the cut of your lawn and show a gradual transition from the sidewalk to the lawn. For a more angled cut, use the edger feature as shown below. Flip the trimmer vertical (like an airplane propeller) and work in a straight line. You'll kick up dirt and debris but will have a sharp edge when you're done.

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