Going with green cleanup gear

One piece of power equipment — the leaf blower — is particularly galling to many people. Here's a little advice that will make your life easier and keep you out of trouble with the neighbors and wild-eyed enviros like me: No blowers. Let me say that again. No bloody blowers, okay? There may be a legitimate use for these growling, pollution-flatulating, dinosaur-juice-sucking, dust-cloud-making, disease-spreading little contraptions, but I'll be darned if I know what it is.

Ordinary housekeeping tasks, such as cleaning pavement, can be done with time-honored gear: a rake, a broom, or even a palm frond. The only energy they use is yours, and unless you sing while you work, they're pretty quiet. If hardscape surfaces drain into planter beds that could use the water, feel free to hose them off, especially if you use a low-volume nozzle. If the water would go into the street or a drain and be wasted, use a broom.

Pruning Established Plants

I love to prune. It's a way of making a plant look more graceful without imposing much on its basic character. When you get hooked on real pruning, you'll never butcher another innocent plant.

Unless you're doing topiary or clipping a formal hedge, pruning is not about sculpting plants into shapes: It's about developing a sturdy, healthy, graceful branching structure and allowing the natural form of the plant to express itself with just a little help from you.

You can't achieve this goal by standing outside the plant with a clattering hedge trimmer in your hands; you have to stick your head, or your whole self, inside the plant and prune from there, using pruning shears to remove offending growth one branch at a time. Very few people, professional gardeners included, have any idea how to do this. So you're about to become one of the in crowd (or perhaps it's the in-the-shrubbery crowd). The following sections describe the proper way to prune.

First, make sure that your tools are sharp and well adjusted. Do most of your pruning in winter or spring, depending on the type of plant, but remove damaged or dangerous branches at any time. Look up specific information on the species you're working on, because pruning techniques vary from one plant to another. When trees grow too big for you to prune safely, put them in the hands of a certified arborist (see the "When it's grown: Involving an arborist" section later in this chapter).

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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