Pest Prevention for Summer Picnics

pest prevention summerFall may be right around the corner, but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy Summer barbecues, outdoor parties, and grilling. If you’ve had enough of those irritating little pests bothering you while you’re trying to eat and relax with your family and friends, here’s some helpful tips to get them to bug off.

Whether you’ve been dealing with flies, ants, or stinging insects, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) says you basically have two options … you can either manage your uninvited guests or do your best to prevent them from showing up in the first place.

And according to the Vice President of Public Affairs of the NPMA, Missy Henriksen, there are other more serious drawbacks to summer pests other than general annoyance. Henriksen states, “Not only do the annoy and irritate your guests, but they can also transmit disease and cause painful bites and stings.”

So, what can you do to prevent pests from crashing your summer bashes? Here’s a few helpful tips to get your parties pest free.

Wrap It Up

Your delicious picnic food may make your mouth water, but remember that unwanted pests find it equally as appealing as your guests do. Taking a little time to keep your food safe by placing it in tightly sealed containers will deter insects from trying to get a share as well as keep it fresh all day long.

Clean It Up

Accidents are bound to happen, but don’t let spills sit. Clean up any messes or crumbs as soon as they happen, and make sure you don’t keep trash anywhere near your picnic site.

Sunrise, Sunset

Mosquitos are typically most active in the early morning and late evening, so if you’re planning an outdoor picnic at dusk or dawn, you’d better have some insect repellent handy. Be sure to use one that is EPA approved, and preferrably contains ingredients like Picaridin or Deet.

Close Screen Doors

Your guests may enjoy the outdoors, but that’s no excuse to behave like their born in barn. Ask guests to make sure that they close doors securely as they enter and exit your home, and be sure to inspect and repair any small wholes that you find in your screen doors.

At Green Machine, we make outdoor pest control a main priority. If you’d like more information or would like a free consultation, contact us today.

landscaping trendsNative Plants

With a little bit of research, discovering which plants are native to where you live can be relatively easy. One of the major benefits of working native plants into your landscaping is that they are very likely to thrive if cared for properly. There’s a lot of information available to explain which plants are native to your particular planting zone and they are typically very easy to care for.

Light It Up

Exterior lighting has always been popular for outdoor landscaping, but there are now a lot more creative ways to brighten your garden at night than tiki torches. Electric candles are a fantastic way to illuminate while avoiding the need for constant relighting. Christmas lights are now being used year round, and the clear or white lights look particularly lovely on the hedging or tastefully hung around your deck.

Manicured Gardens

Like the days of old, gardens are quickly becoming planned more strategically than ever before. Although there’s still a strong liking for a free form wild flower garden, many enthusiasts are now creating living works of art that they are able to enjoy year round. With just a little creativity, your overgrown yard can transform into a breath taking haven for your friends and family with one of our favorite landscaping trends.

Planned Outdoor Seating

In combination with manicured gardens, outdoor seating has also been going through an evolution. Picnic tables and plastic garden chairs are still quite popular, but one of the hottest new trends are the planned seating areas hidden in your garden’s nooks and crannies. Including everything from full dining scapes to surprise seating that will beckon you to curl up with a good book, the new idea for outdoor seating is a powerful draw to all those looking to enjoy some fresh air and natural beauty.

Planting Fruits and Vegetables

Another extremely popular past time which was enjoyed by many among our older generation is harvesting fruits and vegetables. The idea of growing, picking, and eating something deliciously fresh is becoming more attractive than ever since the growing popularity of organic foods.

Do you know any new trends for landscaping and gardening in 2014? Please feel free to share your ideas below!

city gardening City living certainly has its advantages: short commute, restaurants at your doorstep, and shopping on every corner. But if you find yourself amidst the concrete longing for a space that will give you a taste of greenery and still allow you to enjoy living downtown, we’ve got the perfect solution for you.

Urban gardening has become one of the hottest trends in the last decade, and it’s a lot easier than you may think. Roof top gardens have become extremely popular, particularly in larger cities, and there’s nothing stopping you from creating a beautiful outdoor garden of your very own.

Many city dwellers wish they could plant a vegetable garden but are worried it won’t thrive in city conditions. You may be surprised to find out that most types of vegetables grow extremely well in containers if they are planted and cared for properly. We suggest selecting shallow rooted plants including radishes, spinach, lettuce, and a wide variety of herbs. These types of plants usually only need about six to eight inches of soil to prosper, and are relatively easy to care for.

Other types of vegetables that grow well in containers, you just need to make the best selections. For example, the Window Box Roma tomato is an excellent choice, and responds to pots very well. You can also try squash, beans, and peas that will flourish if provided with a climbing trellis.

Where to Plant

Another important thing to remember is that finding the ideal place for your pots will give your garden the best possible environment in which to thrive. Look for an area that gets a minimum of six to eight hours of sun each day. Window boxes, patios, doorways, and roof tops are all great locations as long as they are receiving the recommended amount of sunlight.

Whether you decide to plant traditional vegetables or shallow rooting florals and greens, you can easily create a beautiful haven that you and your other tenants will enjoy.

With numerous possibilities for planting locations and vegetation, your building community will definitely appreciate and hopefully volunteer to bring a little bit of country living to your modern city style.

 

easy compostHave you ever considering making your own easy compost to give your garden the nutrients it so desperately needs? If you’re interested in finding organic methods to care for your lawn and garden, making your own compost can be easier than you think. Your garden’s health depends on the quality of the soil, and using your own compost mix is the most effective way to ensure you know exactly what you’re putting on your soil.

Instead of throwing away valuable nutrients, you can create the perfect compost to fertilize your garden. Although there are several ways to make your own compost, the fastest way is to create what is called a “hot” or active compost pile. Be sure to give your compost pile a healthy supply of air and water to keep the decay process on track. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be composting in no time.

Step One: Make Your Pieces as Small as Possible To speed up the process, shred your materials as finely as possible. This will allow them to decay quickly. Your lawn mower can be a useful tool to shred old leaves and other waste materials.

Step Two: Use both Greens and Browns The key to a successful compost pile is mixing dried browns which contain carbon with wet greens that contain nitrogen. Everything from kitchen scraps to lawn clippings can be added as wet greens, and it is imperative that you keep the mix the browns and the greens evenly.

Step Three: Create the Right Size The size of your composite pile is extremely important. If it is too large, it will delay the decomposition. The ideal size for your pile should be approximately 3 ft. x 3 ft. x 3 ft. After the pile has been resting for two or three days, check the temperature at it’s center. If it’s hot, then you know that the magic is happening and the composite is breaking down.

Step Four: Keep Things Moist Having the right amount of water in your compost pile is extremely important. Too much water won’t allow the microbes to do their job, and not enough water doesn’t create the right environment for decomposition. Your pile should remain damp at all times, but not soaking wet.

Step Five: Mix It Up It’s also very important to shift around the contents of your compost pile regularly. Consider moving your pile slightly, and do your best to bring the contents that are on the inside to the outside.

spring garden clean upAs the snow is starting to melt, signs of Spring are in the air. And like many gardeners, the first sight of thawed earth will surely raise your spirits and kick start your garden planning process. But before you begin sifting through your gardening books and strategizing this year’s blooms, there’s a lot of hard work ahead of you to get that garden of yours cleaned up and ready for planting.

As the muddy blanket of ice slowly begins to recede, you’re sure to find a lot more debris scattered around your lawn than you bargained for. Even though the March temperatures are incredibly unpredictable, there’s still a lot you can do to get a jump start on your clean up efforts.

Time to Prune

Go ahead and grab your clippers and pruning sheers. March is the perfect time to inspect your garden’s bushes and shrubs and prune back the damaged ends that have been affected by the freezing weather. You may consider researching the appropriate time to prune certain blooming plants, as it can be detrimental to prune some types of bloomers before their buds swell.

Plant Bed Clean Up

Go dig out your rake from the shed and start pulling out any dead foliage that may be lurking. Leaving old leaves laying around can keep new growth from sprouting and also create an area that is prone to disease. Once you’re sure that your garden won’t be seeing frost again until next season, it’s time to remove the old mulch as well. Cleaning it out now is a great way to prepare you beds for fresh mulch when the time is right.

Damaged Lawn Preparation

The winter weather can cause a variety of problems that will affect the health of your lawn. Be sure to inspect your lawn for any damage caused by diseases, salting, or passing plows, and work in a thin layer of compost to give your seeds a fertile bed in which to take root.
For more helpful tips on Spring garden clean up and lawn care, contact one of our specialists today.

outdoor living If you love seasonal changes, Northeastern Pennsylvania is one of the best places to live and enjoy your natural surroundings. But why nature watch from behind your window pane when you could be relaxing outside and taking in the fresh air? Bring the indoors outdoors with these great outdoor living tips!

 

1. Make Your Home’s Entrance Welcoming

What does your front porch or entrance way say about your home? Does it welcome company? Would do you look forward to curling up on the front porch with a hot cup of coffee? If not, there’s a lot you can do to utilize this area; stop treating this space like it’s only meant to display your jack-o-lanterns and potted plants.

Hanging a rustic porch swing can be the perfect way to create an area that beckons both you and your family outdoors. For a more natural look, consider hanging your swing using sturdy rope as opposed to the traditional metal links. Adding decorative throw pillows can also be a wonderful touch, and you can change them according to the season to keep the area looking fresh.

2. Add a Touch of Mood Lighting

 

People often shudder at the idea of installing additional lighting to any space, but it really can be as simple as lighting a few strategically placed candles. The best way to keep your candles lit is to invest in a few inexpensive outdoor lanterns. Selecting the right lanterns can add charm and warmth to your outdoor living area, and they require very little in terms of installation.

Using outdoor lanterns can be as easy as hanging them from a small ceiling hook, lining them along railings, or placing them on side and main tables. And best of all, you don’t need to deal with chords and outlets.

3. Bring Your Indoor Decor Outdoors

Many people in NEPA have patios and decks, but don’t utilize them nearly as much as they could. You’ve seen it many times … a deck with just a picnic table, a few chairs, a grill … and that’s it. There’s absolutely no personalization. Maybe the family grills a few burgers once or twice a week during the summer, they eat, and immediately head back into the house. If this sounds like you and your family, there’s so much more you can do to enjoy this space.
The biggest secret to transforming your patio or deck is to treat it like any other room in the house. Start by taking a look around your interior and remind yourself what it is you love about your home decor. Just like your home’s interior, your deck or patio should not be ignored. Use your home’s exterior wall to hang tasteful decor. And adding a variety of personal touches to the outdoors is the key to making the space feel comfortable; your family will look forward to spending time in it.

5. Turn Your Patio into an Oasis

By selecting luxurious varieties of potted plants, you can easily transform a boring concrete patio into an attractive oasis. Adding lush greens to your living space is a wonderful idea for any season. Spring and summer months can provide beautifully scented bloomers and fruits, while fall and winter month evergreens are a hardy selection.

6. Warm Up with an Outdoor Hearth

 

Nothing brings you closer to nature than a flickering flame, and an outdoor fireplace will warm both your summer and winter nights. Outdoor fireplace come in a large number of shapes and sizes, and it is easy to find one that will fit into your budget.
If you’re not interested in making any drastic changes, there are small, portable fireplaces and fire pits that will fit perfectly on your patio or deck. Your family will love gathering around the fire to enjoy your new outdoor space’s warm relaxing glow.

 

Do you have any outdoor living ideas to add to our list? Please let us know how you enjoy your outdoor space and comment below!

winter garden Are you tired of “waiting ’til Spring” to get started working in the backyard? Many gardening enthusiasts don’t realize that they can enjoy their favorite hobby all year round if they know the secret to creating a beautiful winter garden.

 

There are many plant varieties that flourish during the winter months, and the key is knowing and understanding your Plant Hardiness Zone. Typically, a majority of residents in our state find themselves in the Pennsylvania Plant Hardiness Zone 6. If are unsure of your particular zone, the United States Department of Agriculture website has a very useful tool to help you out.

Step 1: Click on the following link to be directed to the USDA website.

Step 2: Simply enter your zip code to be provided with your exact Plant Hardiness Zone.

Winter Blooming Plants That Thrive in Pennsylvania

It is amazing how many varieties of flowering plants are available to give you winter garden a beautiful pop of color and texture.

Winter Blooming Varieties

Many gardeners don’t realize that there are a large number plants that will give you stunning blooms during the winter months. Here are some of our favorites Zone 6 bloomers:

Crocus

Just when you think winter will never come to end, delicate purple blooms push their way through their snowy covering.

Snowdrops, Galanthus

These beautiful bulbs create a gorgeous snowy blanket effect, and some varieties bloom as early as January.

Apple Blossom, Clematis

A stunning, hardy evergreen, these whitish/pinkish flowers will be a breathtaking addition to your zone 6 garden.

Hellebores

A long time favorite of Brits, these beautiful bloomers have finally made their way to the U.S., and are particularly suited for zone 6. Blooming as early as January, they will present a variety of whites, creams, purples, and greens.

Winter Aconite

These beautiful yellow buds spring out of the ground in February or March, and once established, this perennial will continue to flourish for years to come.

Mountain Laurel

Kalmia Latifolia, commonly known as Mountain Laurel, is a very common landscaping bloom, particularly in the mountainous regions of Pennsylvania. Native to the Northeastern Region of the U.S., Mountain Laurel exhibits beautiful blossoms ranging from white to a deep, rich pink.

Do you have any favorite winter blossoming plants you’d like to add to our list? Be sure to leave a comment below!

An amazing summer lawn starts with adequate lawn care in the Spring, and understanding ideal Monroe County lawn care can help ensure monroe county lawn careyour lawn will be the envy of your neighbors.

During the winter, your soil can be greatly affected … the heavy snow will compact the earth, alter your ph levels, and even make your lawn vulnerable to disease and a wide variety of unwanted weed growth. As the weather warms and you watch your winter wonderland slowly melt away, you often discover the bald spots and areas of your yard that have been hit the hardest. Not to fear, however, there are many Monroe County Lawn Care techniques that will help bring your dull land back to life.

Monroe County Lawn Care Tips

One of the most important things you can do is to take care of any problems you find quickly … don’t put it off or your lawn could end up with more significant damage. Many people don’t realize that a yard that has dips and hills can sometimes cause drainage issues, making it more difficult to keep your yard uniform. Water often settles in the low areas, and sitting water can create the perfect place to culture lawn diseases. Doing it yourself or calling a professional to even your yard can help prevent sitting water, making your overall Monroe County lawn care much easier.

To Close for Comfort

Another huge problem for the average homeowner is when soil is too compact, particularly in places that are walked on frequently. Areas located near front doors, walkways, garages, or entryways can become thin or sometimes bare from the foot traffic. The tight soil can prevent grass from rooting properly, leaving these areas looking damaged. Try to loosen your soil or call a professional to use an aerator to help your soil.

Seeding and Regrowth

After you’ve evaluated your soil’s condition and made sure everything is prepared correctly, re-seeding the areas that have been left in need will help give you the lush lawn you want. If you’re unsure about the appropriate type of grass for your area, contact a professional for advice or to take care of this for you.

For more information regarding Monroe County lawn care, contact Green Machine today!