Lawn, Yard, and Garden Helpful Hints

Last change 8/8/09

Secrets and little known advice for potted plants, lawns, gardens, landscaping, groundskeeping, small farms.

Do you have potato, tomato, blueberry, or other plants or crops that are blighted or diseased this year (2009)? If so, do not compost the tops or leaves or remains. Do not plow under the plants after harvest. Instead gather up the remains and throw it out in the general trash. Or bury it in a part of your yard that won't be used for gardening.

The blight is caused by a fungus that won't die off in the winter and will spread to next year's crop if you compost this year's remains. (Heard on WRKO Radio's garden show 8/9/09)

I wish they made portable (not buried) lawn sprinklers that had square or other angular coverage patterns. It is so difficult to get corners watered without wasting water against the side of the house or on the street or in the neighbor's yard.

Lawn and GardenTopics

Keeping Skunks Away  (repeat)
Don't Skip Vegetables During Water Ban  (repeat)
Don't Water Lawn All Week Long  (revised 6/99)
Sprinklers Should Rotate Both Ways  (7/98)
Caring for Outdoor Faucets and Spigots
Lawn Watering Hints
Freeze Protect Your Summer Camp
Remove Foil Wrap From Potted Plants

All parts (c) Copyright 1998-2009, Allan W.Jayne, Jr. unless otherwise noted or other origin stated.

Keeping Skunks Away  (4/04)

If you see holes all over your lawn as if some naughty child took a narrow shovel or a trowel and dug out just one shovelful here and there, that was probably the work of skunks.

We can't guarantee perfect results but you can reduce the damage by putting down anti-skunk compound, pardon me, grub killer every year as directed on the package. Use the maximum dosage suggested. White grubs, usually Japanese beetle larvae, take more chemical to kill than other kinds of insects mentioned on the package, especially in the spring when they are big and ready to turn into beetles. The skunks love them.

If you know that there are skunks actually living under your house you should have them exterminated.

Impact Sprinklers

Impact sprinklers (the kind that make that constant clicking noise) usually require both directions of rotation to give even coverage. This is only an issue when you are watering a full circle; any partial circle has to use forward and reverse rotation.

In the forward direction (slower clicks) the sprinkler usually shoots water further, but the water is weighted towards the farther reaches. Closer to the sprinkler head the amount of water is less.

In the reverse direction (faster clicks) there is more splashing of water near the sprinkler head which may be the only way the grass near the head gets its share of the water. If you are watering full circle in the reverse direction only, you may think that the reach is not as far as advertised.

The problem is that setting the pins or levers to make the sprinkler change direction may cause a pie slice in the circle to be omitted.

Since different makes and models of sprinklers may behave differently, you will have to experiment to see what works best with yours. You can try placing a series of cups in a straight line out from the sprinkler and see how much water accumulates in each.

If you don't wait the maximum possible time before giving the section of lawn its next watering, you could use forward rotation on one watering and reverse rotation on the next.

Caring For Outdoor Faucets

In a Nutshell:

Get a metal Y-connector with individual shutoff dials or levers, and screw it onto the faucet.

Be very gentle with the faucet itself. Do not turn it off tightly. Use the shutoff levers on the Y-connector to turn off the water completely.


Sometimes the outdoor faucet becomes so rusted on the outside that you cannot take it apart to put in a new faucet washer.

You might be trying to twist off the cap which is supposed to come off and end up twisting the entire faucet right out of the wall!

We now suggest a metal Y-connector with individual shutoffs, screwed onto each outdoor faucet. Use the shutoff dials or levers to turn the water on and off. You can leave the faucet itself on most of the time although you should turn it off gently if you go on vacation. Unscrew the Y-connector and immediately screw it back on at the end of each season to be sure it doesn't get rusted stuck.

This will sometimes work even if the faucet itself is leaking because the washer wore out. If so, you don't have to bother about fixing the faucet.

Lawn Watering Hints

In a Nutshell:

Plan your lawn watering schedule to use few days as possible. Doing a little each day seven days a week is the worst.

Don't hold off watering because rain is forecast. Wait for the rain to start before cancelling your watering program.

When the rain stops, simply pretend you have finished watering the lawn and resume your watering schedule starting with the rest days between waterings.

Lawn Watering Details (revised 6/99)

How many times did you hear rain in the weather forecast and you skipped watering the lawn? Then the storm fizzled out or missed you and the lawn turned brown?

Next time be smart. Don't get strung along by the weatherman. Simply stick to your watering schedule until it actually rains.

Question: How soon after it rains do I have to start watering again?

Answer: The same number of days that you normally rest after you finish watering the lawn and before you start the next watering cycle if it does not rain. The fewer days of rest your schedule provides, the higher your water bill will be.

To get the maximum number of days of rest, your lawn and garden watering schedule should be as short as possible. We realize that there isn't enough water pressure to turn on all the sprinklers at the same time so it may take more than one day to water the entire lawn. Also you should avoid watering during the middle of sunny days because much water will evaporate before soaking the ground. But don't fall into the trap of watering a section each and every evening. Use automatic controls and timers and use the entire overnight period.


Imagine you can do your entire watering cycle in two days,
The lawn needs watering every seven days.

In this schedule you have five days' rest between waterings. It rains one day. Now you can take all five day's rest after it stops raining. If it rains every five days or less, you don't have to turn on the water at all. (If the weather is unusually hot, the lawn that used to need watering every seven days will need watering more often, say every five days, so your rest period will be shorter.)

Now imagine you have the same lawn but you do a little watering each and every day. It rains one day. You can never take a day of rest. When it stops raining you have to start your cycle immediately to be sure the last part of the lawn gets its share of water within seven days if it doesn't rain again soon. Your water bill will be much, much higher.

Don't Forget the Vegetables!

Do not skip watering vegetables even if there is a city water ban. But do not be arrogant or blatant. Do it when no one is looking.

Ideas to experiment with: If you get a really long period of soaking rain, add another rest day before you have to resume your watering cycle. If the weather is cloudy and cool during the rest period, add yet another rest day. If the weather is unusually hot or dry you will have to water more often, that is with fewer rest days.

Don't Overwater Potted Plants -- Remove Foil Wrappers

Remove the foil or paper wrap from the flowerpot as soon as you get a plant home. Otherwise the plant can get overwatered and you will not know it.

If you absolutely don't want to remove the foil, cut a large hole in the bottom of the foil to let excess water drain out. Also leave a large opening on top where the plant stems come out so air can circulate and keep the plant roots from rotting.

One quick way to see if a plant needs water is to poke your finger into the soil in the pot. If the soil is wet then the plant does not need water.

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All parts (c) Copyright 2002-9 Allan W. Jayne, Jr. unless otherwise noted or other origin stated.

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