With the constant threat of tropical systems in our area, planting trees and shrubs that have a high degree of wind resistance is almost crucial.
Also, you need to be sure all your existing trees are ready for the onslaught of tropical storm or hurricane force winds.
The first thing you need to do is to prune off any dead or diseased foliage from the plant. You also should prune your tree so it has a lower center of gravity. You can achieve this by pruning some of the braches from the top of the tree. When you prune trees and make the foliage less dense, it will not cause as much wind resistance and will give the tree a better chance of surviving high winds.
Another point of concern is a tree's root system. If a plant has a deep, healthy root system, it will stand a better chance of surviving the storm without toppling over. To achieve this, be sure to fertilize on a regular basis and also maintain a balanced watering schedule. All the above will help to develop a deep, healthy root system.
The best trees to plant in your yard for good wind resistance are actually trees that are native to our region, such as the foxtail palm, tipochina, bottlebrush, live oak, crepe Myrtle, magnolia and I also have had good luck with traveler's palm. My traveler's palm survived several hurricanes, although the delicate leaves had a lot of shredding.
Once the tree is pruned back after a storm, it grows back well in a couple of months. One of the worst trees to plant is the queen palm because the root systems are so shallow, the tree blows over easily.
If you mow your own lawn, you know some of the challenges you face to get that great, lush, sculptured look.
In order to have your mowing experience a success, your mower itself needs to be in tip-top condition. Be sure you use fresh gas. If you plan on storing your gas in a large container for an entire season, be sure to use a fuel stabilizer. This will keep the fuel fresh for six months or more instead of the usual 30 days. Follow the directions on the fuel stabilizer bottle.
The next thing you should check is the mower deck and the blade. Clean the bottom of your deck on a regular basis and remove any debris that might accumulate. This is especially important if you use your mower to mulch the grass clippings. If you have an old blade, replace it. A new, sharp, well-balanced blade will cut your grass blades with a nice even texture and not rip the grass like a dull blade might do. The result will be a beautiful carpet of freshly cut turf.
There are also several things you can do to extend the life of your mower and ensure it starts when you want it to. Probably the most important is changing the oil. You should change your mower oil at least every six months and even more often if you use it for commercial use or mow several lawns weekly.
If you buy a new mower, it is important to change the oil the first time after about 10 hours of use. This is to ensure you are not recirculating any metal chips that may be present in the new engine before it is broken in. After the initial oil change, you can then follow the regular schedule. This rule also applies to generators, weed whackers and almost any tool that uses a small gasoline engine.
The air filter is another hot spot that is often overlooked. A dirty filter can cause stalling, hard starting and rough idle. If you experience engine problems, this is the first place you should check.
Finally, check your sparkplug. A worn or dirty plug can cause a multitude of problems from hard starting to not starting at all.
A common problem I have found is that many people add too much oil to the crankcase. Overfilling the oil can lead to smoking, oil clogging the air filter and stalling. Always fill only to the full mark on the dipstick.
Some mowers have a relatively foolproof system where you simply fill the oil reservoir until you visually see the oil topping out. Always follow the instructions for your particular mower.
Joe Zelenak has 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to email@example.com or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.