Taking care of trees in Northeast Florida

Larry Figart
 |  For the Times-Union

Sometimes we take trees for granted. We see them as the pillars in our landscape and sometimes forget that they are living things that need the same conditions to live and thrive as our favorite flower, shrub or groundcover.

Often, we think because they are larger and live longer, they do not need as much care, or they are more tolerant of neglect. In some cases, this is true. A leaf disease that would doom our prized rose is barely a minor nuisance to a maple tree.

However, the origin of most landscape tree decline, and eventual death can be traced back to something that was done in the past (sometimes years) by someone not knowing that it would harm the tree. In the horticultural world, these practices that cause tree decline are called cultural causes and most of the time can be avoided.

Let’s explore some of the most common cultural decline causes and how to avoid them.

Giving trees enough space: I recently drove through a new subdivision. The developers had planted live oaks about 2 feet from the edge of the curb, in between the street and the sidewalk. I am sure the intention was that some day the trees would be part of a beautiful street tree canopy. It would have been better to plant the live oaks in the middle of the yard where they had plenty of space or plant a smaller tree in the space between the sidewalk and the street.

Before you plant a tree do some quick measurements to see how much room you have. A small maturing tree with less than a 20-foot crown spread needs about 200 square feet of space. A medium-sized maturing tree with a 30-foot crown spread needs 400-500 square feet of rooting space. A large maturing tree needs a minimum of 900 square feet of rooting space.

Planting too deep: The number one cause of tree decline for a young tree is the practice of planting too deep. If you look at trees in natural areas such as parks, you will notice that the part of the trunk where the roots flare out from the trunk is above ground. This zone where the roots begin is called the root flare. When we plant a tree the root flare should be visible and located slightly above the soil grade. If you take a look at the base of your tree and it looks like a fence post in the ground, it is more than likely planted too deep. A wise forester once told me, “Plant it high and it won’t die.”

Deep planting is a mistake performed by homeowners and landscape professionals alike. Deep planting encourages roots that will choke the trunk of the tree, as well as encourages disease and decay at the base of the tree by prolonging the time the trunk stays wet after rainfall or irrigation. It also reduces the amount of oxygen that tree roots

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How to Care for Your Natural Oak Bathroom Furniture

Solid oak furniture can be a great addition to any bathroom. Not only is it stylish and traditional, it can also prove incredibly durable and resistant when looked after properly. That being said, the natural wood has earned itself a reputation for being difficult to maintain – particularly in damp environments.

This concern over its upkeep is unfortunately causing many people to opt for melamine alternatives, which is considered a great shame by those who manufacture natural wood furniture.

Whilst oak admittedly requires more care and attention than other materials, it is far superior in appearance and quality. Plus, it is manufactured in a far more environmentally conscious way, reducing the amount of carbon emissions sent into the atmosphere.

So if you’re thinking of bringing wood into your bathroom – or you’re looking for ways to prolong the life of your existing cabinets – don’t be disheartened by the idea that you’ll have to spend hours treating and caring for it. Looking after natural wood is surprisingly simple.

When you know the right way to care for your oak furniture, you will no doubt reap the benefits of its beautiful structure and shine. All you need to get the best out of your bathroom cabinets are a few tips and tricks to ensure the wood remains in good condition, year after year.

First off, you need to make sure you’re looking after your new cabinet from the moment it arrives. You’ll want to make sure you don’t cut through the box’s packaging when you’re unpacking it, as this could inadvertently damage the wood.

The best way to unpack your cabinet is to remove all the surrounding protection whilst making sure it stays standing on its legs. Make sure you remove all the appropriate handles and shelf supports and put them to one side, so as not to lose them in the packaging.

You will need to clean the wood in order to remove any residue from transport or storage. It’s best to use a damp cloth, avoiding the use of any chemical cleaning products.

Some furniture items will be delivered with a light oil application applied in order to protect it. This also gives it a tough, waterproof finish that will protect it during installation.

Most manufacturers will recommend using an oil treatment every three to six months. This is normally Danish oil or something similar to bring out the grain. Bathroom cabinets are particularly prone to damp, so a water resistant oil is required to prolong the life of the cabinet and keep the natural grains visible.

Danish oil generally dries in 4-6 hours and gives a natural, low sheen finish. It also doesn’t give off much of an odor, which it why it is the most preferable wood treatment for many. Additionally, it does not flake, crack or peel. It is also resistant to even the toughest stains.

Another benefit of using Danish oil on your oak furniture is that, although it is water resistant, it is also …

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Tips for Taking Care of Your Garden

Everyone likes a well-maintained garden. It looks beautiful and creates a peaceful and tranquil aesthetic. Sadly, in the busy lifestyle of today, most people feel like they lack the time, necessary for it. Little do they know, however, taking care of your garden does not need to take up all of your free time! Just as with any other activity, knowing what to do and how to do it efficiently and effectively is the key. In this article we will go over the basics of garden care, offering you tips and tricks on efficient garden maintenance.

The garden care checklist

Below, you can find the key aspects of garden care which will ensure that your yard looks its best at all times:

Take care of your lawn

Apply Appropriate Fertilizers

Water your plants on a regular basis

Take care of weeds on time

Ensure that your plants get enough sunlight

Prevent and Control Pests

Lawn maintenance – Your lawn is one of the most essential parts of a garden and often challenging to get right. It needs to be frequently mowed, keeping the grass at the appropriate levels, its core needs to be properly aerated, and old turf should be carefully replaced.

Fertilisers – Better soil equals healthier and more beautiful plants. Although this is something that should be considered before even planting anything, it must also be maintained. To promote flower bud production, for example, you want a fertiliser with small nitrogen concentration, higher phosphorous and just a touch of potassium.

Water your plants often – Different plants require different quantities of water. Make sure that you do your research and provide your plants and flowers of choice with just as much water as they need! Too little or too much water and you will risk damaging them.

Take care of weeds in time – Not only do weeds not look pretty but they also use up nutrients that your flowers otherwise should. Furthermore, it is much easier to deal with weeds earlier in their lifecycle rather than later. Between mulching, often weeding and cutting off the tops of weeds, the weeds in your garden will barely stand a chance!

Sunlight – Everything needs sunlight to grow (humans included). Most of the popular flowering plants will want to be under the direct light of the sun for about 6 hours per day. However, keep in mind, that just like everything else, this varies from plant to plant. If possible, move objects around and allow your precious flowers to get as much as they need!

Eliminate pests – Yet another point, based on your particular choice of plants. Depending on what you choose to plant in your garden, you might find yourself under attack by various bugs and pests. Reading up on the subject is essential, as reacting sooner rather than later is what will save you the most time, money and hassles. As a general rule of thumb, however, you should try to stay away from dangerous chemicals and …

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Butterfly Bush Care – How to Start a Butterfly Garden

When starting a butterfly garden keep in mind certain plants attract butterflies into your garden. The butterfly bush is one such plant. "Budleia" is the Latin term for the butterfly. Therefore if you see this name on the plant tag or in the description, you can be relatively sure it will attract butterflies to your garden.

Butterflies feed on nectar in order to survive. The butterfly bush is loaded with nectar; Therefore the bush attracts the fragile insects as well as bees and hummingbirds. The bush grows large clusters of blossoms that are supported by thin, fragile looking branches. These blossoms are known to grow two feet in length.

After a rain or watering the flower heavy branches droop to the ground. When planting the bush allow enough space between plants so that they fall over without touches each other. Over one hundred unique species of the butterfly bush have been identified, but the butterfly adores not all of them.

Most species of the bush are sweetly fragrant to humans and butterflies. The midday sun is when the nectar is at its sweetest. An attractive characteristic of the bush is its beautiful colored flowers that come in shades of blue, red, purple, pink and white. Late spring is when you see its first blooms and they remain on the plant until the first seasons frost.

Seven feet is an average height for the bush, however some grow twelve feet tall. The butterfly bush is a fast growing plant and will fill in bare spots with beautiful blooms rapidly. Butterfly bushes generally grow well in most soil types, as long as it is well drained. The bush is quite hardy once established and can survive mild droughts. Soggy soils can cause the roots to develop disease or die.

The butterfly bush is classified as a semi-evergreen in zones with mild winters. In the northern states, you may prune it to ground level, and the bush will re-grow from the roots.

In warmer climates found in the southern states, trimming back is not required because they'll grow to their maximum size and stay there year-round. Flower cluster may be pinched-off to encourage extended blooming. Plant the butterfly bush in a full or partly sunny location, them sit back and enjoy the pleasures the bush brings.

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Bathroom Care Tips For A Spotless Finish

These bathroom care tips were created to help you keep your bathroom looking cleaner without too much effort. The bathroom is an important area in your home; It's one of the ways you make an impression on your guests. This can put a lot of pressure on you to maintain a spotless bathroom. Of course, you keep it "hygienic" all the time, but "spotless" isn't always possible. Rust stains, soap scum, and dirty grout prevent some people from attaining the "spotless" achievement.

If a bathroom that looks like new every time is what you're aiming for, these bathroom care tips are for you. Once you get the initial bathroom overhaul, something I like to call the master cleaning session, out of the way, keeping it up should be a breeze. Let me just remind you that keeping any area of ​​your home spotless takes regular maintenance. With that said, we'll break this down into two parts: the "master bathroom care tips" to take your bathroom from dingy to spectacular, and the "everyday bathroom care tips" to keep your bathroom cleaner on a regular basis.

Master Bathroom Care Tips:

  • This is not the time to shy away from powerful products or professional services. If you're dealing with overwhelming grime, rust, and build up it's okay to use bleach to cut through months or years of neglect.
  • If you're using harsh chemicals, always make sure you have enough ventilation to prevent inhaling them. Don't underestimate the fumes.
  • If there are certain spots that are particularly dirty, apply treatments and bathroom cleaning products to those areas first. Let the products penetrate while you take on other areas.
  • Use steel wool or a scrubber with extra-firm bristles to scrub – always using gloves!
  • For tubs and sinks that need special attention, fill up the sink with the hottest water possible and add either bleach or other powerful detergent known for removing stains.

Everyday Bathroom Care Tips:

  • Once the bathroom is in better condition, you can start using more gentle bathroom cleaning products for your everyday routine.
  • Make use of storage to keep clutter at bay. This will make wiping down surfaces much easier.
  • If you don't have a way to ventilate air in your bathroom, it can encourage mold and take longer for your towels to dry. Give your bathroom a hand and leave the door open to allow any moisture to exit.
  • Keep a scrubber in the shower so you can take care of any stains while you're in there. One less stain to worry about come cleaning day
  • Speaking of cleaning day, dedicate one day out of the week to clean your bathroom. You can either use that day to clean all of your main rooms or just one room at a time.
  • Take one day out of the month to do regular deep cleaning on your rooms. This means applying a grout cleaner to your tiles, disinfecting your toilet bowl and bathroom floors, etc.

The Grout Cleaner Dilemma
Having a good …

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Remarkable Uses Of Oatmeal For Lawn Care And Gardening

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest foods you can include in your diet. It is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Although it is low in fat and cholesterol, it is one of the most filling foods around. As such, if you're trying to lose weight, as long as you minimize the number of sweetening ingredients you add, you should consider including oatmeal in your daily diet.

Aside from being a healthy meal or snack, oatmeal has been found to have many uses as well. This food product has been found to have many uses in lawn care and improvement and can be used by gardeners as well.

Below are some uses for oatmeal in the lawn:

As pest control . Oatmeal is nontoxic but slugs and snails love them. However, oatmeal can kill these pests since it can swell up inside their tiny stomachs. To use oatmeal as pest control in your lawn, simply sprinkle some dry oatmeal grains around your plants. Make sure you use oatmeal sparingly since in large amounts, they can swell, become slushy and packed around stems if they get wet. Also, too much oatmeal grains can also attract rodents and insects.

As fertilizer. Many gardeners and lawn care experts say that sprinkling some oatmeal in your garden will give plants iron – a nutrient they need. Some also say that adding a small amount of oatmeal in planting holes stimulates root growth. If you want to try using them as fertilizer, use old-fashioned, slow-cooking or raw oats instead of the instant ones since they are packed with more nutrients and contain less artificial ingredients.

As remedy for poison ivy, poison oak, and sunburn. You are always at risk of accidentally touching poison ivy or oak or getting sunburn if you always work outdoors on your lawn. If you do get these illnesses or health issues, you can use oatmeal to soothe the itchy area. Put a small amount of oatmeal in the leg of a stocking then tie it around the bathtub faucet. Allow warm water run through the packet of oatmeal while you fill the tub. Afterward, soak in the tub for at least 15 minutes. To experience more relief, use the wet bag to rub over your skin later.

To remove sticky sap. Lastly, if you are working on your plants without wearing gloves, some sticky saps will stick to your hands. You can remove this by rubbing oatmeal on your hands before washing them with water. Oatmeal works because it has a slightly abrasive quality that helps loosen up the goo or sap.

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