It’s Goddess of Fertility Day!


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Today is National Goddess of Fertility day! So, your friends here at Sprinkler Warehouse are here to help you get your Fertilizer on! There are a lot of different options out there when it comes to fertilizers! You have to choose the way you want to apply it first, then the kind of product to buy (IE organic VS Manufacturer made) and what the best time of year to do it is! We have all these answers for you, and some!

Types of spreading devices

shutterstock_78916219There are several ways to fertilize you lawn and garden! Probably the most common method is to apply dry granular style fertilizer. These types of fertilizers are usually a synthetic creation (as opposed to organic) but your plant won’t know the difference! There are several different types of ways to apply granular fertilizers too! It can be spread with a hand-spreader; designed to allow maximum mobility and customization of application. Usually holding somewhere between 1-5 liters of fertilizer the spreader is best used to do small yards, gardens or around places where space is at a premium.

Mechanical push spreaders are also a good choice! The primary forms are a drop version and a broadcast spreader version. The difference being that the drop spread will apply an even and uniform application directly beneath the spreader, whereas the broadcast spreader will typically get cover more ground faster due to the way it “throws” the granules out and away from the spreader.

If you have a really big lawn or pasture to fertilize, perhaps a “pull-behind” unit would be best. Typically the pull-behind style spreaders are a broadcast style spreader and can hold a significantly larger amount of granular fertilizer than the previously mentioned types of spreaders.

Last but not least is an option called “Fertigation” – this type of application uses the sprinkler system to apply an even application of fertilizer to the lawn without the need of using a spreader! Systems are available as a kit to add to your sprinkler system. They are simple to install and even easier to use. Some kits, like the one from SkeetoBusters will let you apply fertilizer to your lawn as well as a pest control solution to keep your lawn and yard free from mosquitoes, and nearly all other pests too!

Choosing the right fertilizer

2014-03-18_15-33-37Choosing the right type of fertilizer can be challenging too! The basics to choosing a fertilizer lie in the numbers. The three numbers to be exact. On each bag or container of fertilizer you will find 3 numbers separated by a hyphen.

The first letter represents Nitrogen, an essential ingredient in the fertilization process. The nitrogen is used to help “green up” the plant, by aiding in leaf and stem growth. Studies have shown that as much as two thirds of the nitrogen in your fertilizer will “burn off” or
vaporize before it ever gets a chance to help the plant. So avoiding high nitrogen fertilizers is recommended (unless a soil test determines it is necessary) This portion of the fertilizer is there to help the plant to grow “UP”!

The second letter is the Phosphorous. Essential to the root growth phosphorous will be processed by the plant resulting in downward growth. If your lawn is already grown, this is essentially superfluous to your lawn.

The last but not least of the three numbers in the sequence is represented by Potassium. By taking in plenty of Potassium a plant will have a better chance at being all-around health. You can remember this part of the sequence as the “All Around” part of the sequence.

Organic or Manufacturer made

Rain-Bird-Rotary-NozzlesWhether to choose Organic or manufacturer made fertilizer is becoming a question we hear more and more often. The truth is… one is not better than the other. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, organic options take significantly longer to release their nutrients into the soil, and they often carry a lower amount of nutrients than a manufacturer made fertilizer does. The best way to choose the perfect fertilizer for your lawn is to have a soil test done to determine the needs your lawn has, then picking a fertilizer suitable to meet those needs. The choice is up to you.

Best time of year to fertilize?

Once again we recommend that you have a soil test done first before making this decision. But, for the most part, the best times of year to fertilize is the fall and the spring. Fall fertilization will help the plant to store up energy in its roots that it will need to use once the warmth of spring finally prompts the grass out of dormancy and into grow mode.

soil_in_handsAlways fertilize your lawn when rain is expected. Wet weather and moisture will help the fertilizer to work into the soil and prevent it from burning your lawn.

Lawn care following fertilization

Once you have fertilized your lawn, be sure to allow a few days for the product to work down into the soil. Apply generous water during this time period. When it is time to cut your lawn, be sure you are leaving at least two thirds of the grass blade. This will allow the grass to stay shaded by it’s own growth. It is far more beneficial to cut a little off the top more often than it is to let it grow tall and then cut it low.

The Benefits of Bees, Insects and other Animals Part I


How to Keep the Beneficials Around

Have you ever wondered how to get rid of those pesky bees, spiders, and other creepy crawlies in your garden or lawn? You might want to rethink this if you plan on having blooming flowers, and ripe vegetables. Especially bees, these insects help to protect your plants from non-beneficial insects that will take out your prized vegetables and bring upon diseases. Here is a list of beneficial insects that you should try to keep in your plants environment:

  • Bees – especially honey bees are some of the most diversified insects ever. They pollinate every kind of plant, including all of the fruit and vegetables you see at the store.
  • Ladybugs– feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects and are attracted to flower nectar and pollen.
  • Lacewings– feed on flower nectar, as well as aphids, thrips, scales, moth eggs, small caterpillars, and mites.
  • Hunting and Parasitic Wasps– these mini-wasps often attack the eggs of pests, and are one of the most important insect groups that provide control of garden pests. They can be attracted by growing pollen and nectar plants.
  • Spiders– all spiders feed on insects and are very important in preventing pest outbreaks. Typical spiders found in your garden will not move inside, nor are they poisonous. Permanent perennials and straw mulches will provide shelter and dramatically increase spider populations in vegetable gardens.
  • Praying Mantis– rid our gardens of evildoers such as aphids.

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In order to attract these types of insects, you will need to have a healthy garden. To do this, native plants are a great start. They are easy to care for and will attract many native beneficial insects. Plan out how you would like for your garden to look and don’t forget to include how you will irrigate your plants.  This time of year you will want to have your starters going indoors, and checking your soil every few weeks to estimate when you can plant your natives. If you plant too early the seeds or seedlings won’t succeed and you will have wasted your money.

Start setting up your bird baths, for migrating birds, and your hummingbird feeders. Make sure they are in a well visible, but protected area.  A few feet away from shrubs and trees is the most ideal. Pruning your fruit bearing trees will help bring birds migrate into your garden. Native shrubs include beautyberry, American cranberry bush, elderberry, blueberry, chokeberry, winterberry, and coralberry.

A New Year, A New Lawn


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January is filled with promises, resolutions, and planning. This shouldn’t just apply to your waistline, but also to your lawn. January is National Mail-Order Gardening Month, which means it is time to start ordering the supplies you will need to have a successful and hassle-free landscape season. Chances are that you did not get all of your winterization done; this includes a fall clean up of all the leaves, pruning, and fertilizing. Here are a few tips that you will need in order to make sure you are ready for this spring:

  • As soon as there is decent weather it should be safe to prune your dormant trees and shrubs.
  • Apply anti-desiccants to newly planted evergreens.
  • Inspect your winterized roses and make sure that they are still covered.
  • Continue protecting container plants from freezing temperatures.
  • If winter veggies look yellow, add nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Frost free zones can now plant spring annuals outdoors.

There is always something to be done when you are dealing with living plants so make sure to double check everything. Don’t forget to place orders for tools and irrigation parts that you may need come spring time. You wouldn’t want to be waiting on one small part because it was out of stock.

Pruning

Pruning your trees and shrubs will help come spring time.

It is easy to shrug off your yard duties because it is cold out and everything is covered in the white stuff. However if you wish to have a blossoming yard when spring rolls around, it is essential to make sure that your prep work is done. Inspecting, pruning and planning are all things that will bring peace and relaxation to your life.

Winter Wonderland

When it’s cold out, no one wants to work

**Backflow: It is very important to check on your backflow device and what pipes you can reach or see. When spring rolls around it could be a disaster if pipes have burst or your backflow has broken.

For more information search our DIY site at: http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/Irrigation-Do-It-Yourself-DIY-s/780.htm

Planning Ahead: Your Garden


 

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Time to Achieve Dream Garden Status

It may seem crazy to start reading about how to plan your garden for this spring, but by February in most regions, it will be high-time to start some of those seeds. Sprinkler Warehouse wanted to bring some knowledge your way about how to successfully plan out your garden for this spring, be it trees, bushes or a mixture of vegetables and flowers.

Some of the first steps you should take will be to research your region, and talk to other local gardeners, if there is someone’s garden who blows you away every year (I feel like every neighborhood has one of these green thumbs) talk to them about the soil, perfect time to plant in your area, etc. Get ideas on how to design your garden from social media platforms, such as Pinterest. A lot of people make “boards” dedicated to their gardens and great tips for your garden.

Before buying your seeds determine just how much time you are willing to invest into your garden. Most people don’t realize how much work goes into a full-fledged garden! Sometimes starting off with just a few potted plants  will provide you with the self-sustainable satisfaction that you were looking for.

When to Water, And How- If you like the personal touch, then by all means get out there and individually water your plants… I’m more of a set it and forget it type of person, for that reason I would recommend drip irrigation. Drip is easy to install and is not expensive—not to mention will leave time to deal with more important issues, like what kind of dish will you make first to impress all of your friends with your home grown vegetables. Drip irrigation also allows most users to have over 70% savings on their water bill.

Tools- You will need some basic planting tools in order to get your plants in the ground. These are the essentials: spade, garden fork, soaking hose, hoe, hand weeder, and wheelbarrow (or bucket) for moving around mulch or soil. It’s worth paying a bit extra for quality tools.

Gardening Tools

Order your seeds, find someone with good reviews. Most researched gardeners use starter plants or start their seeds indoors to get a head start and keep their precious seedlings away from the frost. From there you can transfer starters to pots or straight into the ground.

Most first time gardeners end up with more than a few unsuccessful harvests, but the mistakes will lead to even an even better crop the next year. From then on it is simply water, fertilize, repeat… over time you will have some of the biggest vegetables and most beautiful flowers in town.

Winterization Time


Cold WinterOh Boy, here at Sprinkler Warehouse we have people running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to make sure that everyone is able to winterize their irrigation systems before the first freeze. Fortunately here in Houston we might go the entire winter not having to winterize, but do you really want to take that risk??

I will go over exactly what you will need to do in order to get your pipes and backflow devices prepared for the cold weather that may or may not lie ahead… you know with that global warming maybe we will all be sitting by the beach sipping cold drinks in January!

In Cold Climates:

Insulating your irrigation system’s backflow preventer will be the most important step to take when winterizing in a cold climate. In cold climates, occasional late and early season freezes occur and can damage your equipment. Using a small amount of self-sticking foam insulating tape – without blocking the drain outlets or the air vents – should be sufficient. Otherwise, try using some R-11 fiberglass insulation. Wrap it around the backflow preventer, then use duct tape to secure a plastic bag around the whole thing. Don’t secure it too tightly – just tight enough to keep it from blowing off.

In Moderate Climates:

Far fewer steps are required in a moderate climate where it does not freeze, or only freezes for a few hours at a time. The water supply must still be shut off and you will also need to shut down the timer or controller as well. The timer may be set to “rain mode,” especially if it is a solid state, digital display controller. Doing this can save you a great deal of time and means that you won’t have to reprogram the entire thing when spring rolls back around. Gear-driven rotor sprinklers that are above ground must be drained, or the water can freeze, expand and damage them. If the water doesn’t drain out on its own, a drain valve will need to be installed on the sprinkler supply line. Otherwise, you can remove the rotors and shake them out thoroughly; in that case, you should then store them for safekeeping until spring.

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Difference Between the Three Methods of Winterization?

The most important step of the winterization process is removing the water from the system’s pipes and sprinklers so that it doesn’t freeze, expand and burst everything. There are a few different ways of approaching the problem: using a shop vacuum to suck all of the water out (a very time-consuming and aggravating process), draining the water out via the system’s drain valves or using air to blow all of the water out (also known as a sprinkler system blow out)

  • Manual Drain Valve- This method is required if your manual drain valve is located at the lowest point. Your manual valve will either be a ball valve, stop and waste valve, or a globe valve. Make sure that after the water has drained out of the mainline you drain the water that is between the shut off valve and the backflow device. This will not remove the water from your backflow device or your sprinklers. Open the test cocks on your backflow device to enable the water to flow out. If your sprinklers have check valves make sure to raise them so that the water drains out.
  • Automatic Drain Valve Method- Drain Valves are typically located on the ends and low points of your sprinkler system. They drain the water when the PSI is below 10PSI. Activate a station to release pressure and to get the automatic drain valves going. This method saves a great deal of frustration. As with the other methods you will need to drain the water out of the backflow device and your sprinkler heads. In some instances you might have both a manual and an automatic drain valve. If this is the case you have to follow the above method for manual drain valves as well.
  • “Blow Out” Method- Extreme caution must always be taken when blowing out an irrigation system with compressed air. Compressed air can cause serious injury from flying debris. Always wear approved safety eye protection and do not stand over any irrigation components (pipes, sprinklers, and valves) during air blow out. Serious personal injury may result if you do not proceed as recommended! It is best for a qualified licensed contractor to perform this type of winterization method. For a complete step-by-step guide on how to use the “blow out” method follow this link: http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/How-to-Winterize-in-Cold-Climates-s/7950.htm

*Sprinkler Warehouse recommends contacting a professional for any winterization tips and deals for blow outs since this is the most dangerous method if done without a professional.

Now that you know the steps to winterizing your irrigation system, it is important to take the necessary steps for your home and budget. Before I leave y’all, here is a picture that we won’t see down south but basically gets the point across as to why you should winterize everything this is in someone’s garage!

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It’s just neat.


Had trouble coming up with a topic and started browsing the Sprinkler Warehouse website.

        Found out we sell some interesting things.  Some are just interesting, some are downright useful and one made me look twice and then start laughing. You get to figure out which one.

        Superman’s x-ray vision has nothing on these. The TurfSpy glasses let you see problems early, long before they are visible to mere mortals.  The earlier you treat turf disease the faster it goes away. Not only do you stop disease and infestations before they start, you look good doing it.

         Next is the mobile garden planter. It has wheels!  Now, you might wonder why that is exciting. I’ll tell ya’. I live in Houston, Texas. There is a law here that says we cannot get freezes unless it is a year in which I bought my wife new plants for the entry and walk. Then the freeze comes and I have to move all the plants inside. I have been told that, while my efforts are appreciated, the rusty Little Red Wagon does not really go with our décor.  These will.

          I want one: the Magnum Hose Nozzle. I am far from gentle using tools. When I am through watering I just drop the hose and nozzle. Doesn’t matter if I’m on grass or concrete, on the ground or on the ladder. Later I go to the hose bib and start pulling in the hose. Across the yard. Through the gate. Did you know that when pulling a hose and nozzle through the yard and around a corner that the nozzle handle acts like a grappling hook? Did you know that when it’s 100 degrees outside I have little patience and just pull harder? Did you know that most nozzles have many or are all plastic parts? Between dropping the nozzle on concrete and catching it on the gate I replace the nozzle every year. This is better. It’s all metal, no handles to catch and will survive my abuse for years. I’ve already proven I can’t learn new tricks. Might as well buy something that puts up with my old ones.

              Ever notice that no matter how much you try to clean your back yard there is always something that really doesn’t fit anywhere? Especially if you have kids. There’s always that one toy, that one tool or hose or gas can or just general clutter that never seems to go away. Now you don’t care if it goes away. You won’t be able to see it. Look at the Storage Rock. Open it up, fill it up, close it. No clutter, no problem.

          Remember those woven finger traps you had as a kid? Put your fingers in and the harder you pull the harder it holds. Well, they grew up, just like you did. The Wire Mesh Grips work the same way. Put the pipe in, start pulling and the grip just gets tighter and tighter. Wire Mesh Grips are used for pulling irrigation pipe, insulated wire, wire rope, tubing, PVC, and bare conductors. Far easier than pulling by hand and automatically adjusts to the size of the pipe. No programming needed.

    Well, playtime’s over. Gotta go back to work.