Discourage pests and invite green lawns with these tips

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 at 4:22pm.

It’s already August and fall will soon draw near, followed by winter – though it wouldn’t be unusual for winter to make an early appearance. Be prepared for the next season or two by tackling these outside chores, courtesy of MSN Real Estate, this month:

No more haven for pests

Fire protection, air circulation, drainage, attractiveness and safety are enough reasons to keep the outside walls of a home clear and free of debris. But here’s another: piles and stacks of tools, lumber, ladders, yard waste and toys create a haven for pests such as spiders, rats, mice and wood-boring insects. Take some time to circle the exterior of the home and remove anything touching the siding. Donate, discard or store what’s been removed.

To prevent firewood from becoming a home to spiders – which then make their way into a home – and harboring moisture that can damage the trim of a house, store it at least 2 feet from the house and 18 inches above the ground, then build a small shelter over the top to keep it dry.

Discourage pests by clearing out vegetation under decks, picking fruit from trees as soon as it is ripe, and keeping the ground clean under fruit and nut trees.

Seal garbage cans tightly and buy or build a small enclosure for your cans. Wash and rinse items intended for recycling, storing them indoors or in a sealed enclosure. If pet food is kept in a garage or carport, store it in containers with tight lids. Bird feeders will attract rats, so dispose of them.

Standing water breeds mosquitoes, so don’t allow it in the yard or garden. Change the birdbath and wading pool water at least weekly, and get rid of or put away pet dishes, flowerpot saucers, cans, buckets and anything else lying around that collects rain. Keep gutters clean.

Lawn care and concerns

While most homeowners’ lawns won’t come close to that of a golf course, they can keep it looking its best by mowing frequently and high (3 inches or more or just set the mower blades as high as they’ll go). This will discourage weeds and train the grass to grow in thickly. High, frequent cutting also encourages roots to grow deep and retain water, so the lawn needs watered less frequently. Let the clippings fall onto the lawn to add nourishment.

Homeowners who have been watering the lawn all summer should keep it up, but doing so infrequently though deeply, giving it an inch to an inch and a half of water each time (measure by putting an empty tuna can on the lawn). Watering early in the day avoids evaporations, while doing so at night invites disease. It’s time to water when footprints don’t spring back, when the grass gets a blue tinge or when a screwdriver or steel rod won’t push easily into the soil.

It’s no use to start watering a lawn now that has turned brown, as it’s hard on the grass plants and a waste of water. Green grass will return when it rains in the fall.

The best time to fertilize depends on the climate and the lawn’s grass type. But it’s generally good to avoid fertilizing during extremely hot weather or periods of drought. Do not use products with nitrogen when the lawn isn’t green – it can encourage weeds. Start thinking about fertilizing at the end of this month and consult professionals who sell lawn-care products or call the local home-extension service to get advice on what to use and exactly when to use it. August is the perfect time to root dandelions out by using a long-handled forked tool or with judicious use of an herbicide.

For more tips about August chores, such as cleaning sink drains, fixing leaky faucets, replacing grout or caulk, and tending to the water heater and furnace, visit http://realestate.msn.com/august-home-maintenance-checklist.

Tom Kalinski 
Owner and Founder
RE/MAX of Boulder

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