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THE Essential Guide to Winterizing Your Property


THE Essential Guide to Winterizing Your Property Getting Your Landscape Ready for Winter Here are some suggestions for ways to keep all your landscape plants safe and snug until spring.

How about a Sand Barrel? A scoop of sand can keep you from sliding a long way.

Plant Bulbs Now for a Colorful Show Next Spring Tuck a few in the ground in the fall and, for very little effort, you’re rewarded with a dazzling show in the spring.

Taking the Chill Off No matter where they live, most people must heat their homes for at least a portion of the year.

Clean Out Those Gutters Avoid costly damage with a quick cleaning of your gutters.

Proper Storage of Your Power Equipment A little time spent on maintenance before storing your equipment will pay big dividends next season and for many years to come.

Winterizing Your Lawn A lawn is a living organism that needs to be taken care of all year round— even when the mowing season is over.

Just say no to potholes! Potholes can get bigger and deeper over the winter if you don’t address the problem now.

DR® Field and Brush Mower Safety First, Last, and Always.

For the Birds Feeding birds is fun!

Fall Brush-Mowing Projects Create new, natural environments on your property.

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Getting Your Landscape Ready for Winter Fall is a season of winding down. The days grow shorter, the nights turn frosty. But it’s also a busy season, one of preparation for the colder months ahead. A little time spent now readying your yard and garden for winter will bring the reward of healthy, undamaged plants next spring. Here are some suggestions for ways to keep all your landscape plants safe and snug until spring.

Trees and Shrubs

One of the most effective—and easiest—things you can do to help your trees and shrubs make it through the winter in good condition is to water them well in late fall. Winter may not seem like a dry season, the snow, ice, sleet or freezing rain that falls in much of the country. But when the ground is frozen, the roots of plants can’t take up water to offset the drying effects of winter wind and sun. This is most commonly a problem on broad-leaved and needle-type evergreens, such as rhododendrons and yews, that retain their leaves through the winter. Called leaf scorch or windburn, the injury shows up in the spring as browning on the tips of branches, usually on the side most exposed to winter wind and sun. Deciduous plants (those that lose their leaves over the winter) are less susceptible to this type of damage than evergreens, but some, especially shallow rooted plants such as dwarf fruit trees, may suffer dieback at the ends of branches if they go into winter thirsty. Give all your woody plants a good drink after the leaves have fallen from the trees, but before the ground freezes. Garden books often suggest planting evergreens susceptible to winter injury on the north or east side of your house, where they’ll be more protected from the ravages of wind and sun. It’s good advice, but it doesn’t always fit with your landscape plan. If you choose to place evergreens in exposed locations, you can provide them with additional protection by erecting a screen made of burlap or shade cloth wrapped around stakes driven into the ground around the plant. Early fall is a good time for planting trees and shrubs in many parts of the country. The cooler and wetter weather that accompanies the change of the seasons helps plants become well established before cold weather sets in. And roots continue to grow until the soil temperature reaches about 30°, usually several weeks after the air temperatures hit the freezing mark. Spread a 4-6' layer of mulch around the base of newly planted trees and shrubs in mid-fall to keep the soil moist and encourage continued root growth. But don’t put it any closer to the trunks than about 6'. A layer of mulch up against the trunk will interfere with the natural development of winter hardiness and is an appealing spot for mice to take up residence over the winter. It’s also a good idea in early fall to pull back the mulch from around the bases of established plants that were mulched during the summer.

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Tiny mice and voles can cause big problems by nibbling on tasty bark under the snow. They are especially partial to the tender bark of young fruit trees and crabapples and can kill trees if their gnawing girdles the trunk. To prevent this kind of damage, place cylindrical cages made of hardware cloth or plastic tree guards around the trunks of susceptible plants in early fall. Remove plastic guards in the spring; check wire cages periodically to see that they don’t constrict the trunk as the tree grows. Plastic tree guards or commercial tree wrap paper help to protect against another form of winter injury called sunscald. We’ve probably all seen young trees with long cracks in the bark, usually on the southwest side of the trunk. This damage is the result of rapid temperature changes in the bark. First the sun reflecting off the snow warms the bark; then when the sun sets or goes behind a cloud, the bark temperature drops suddenly, causing cracking and splitting. The same sort of injury can occur in early spring when the sunlight is stronger, but the air is still cool. Young trees with thin bark are most susceptible to this kind of injury. Put protective wraps on in mid-fall and remove them once the weather warms up in spring. Your trees and shrubs may look lovely blanketed in white, but too much snow can spell disaster. Heavy wet snow or ice, especially if it’s followed by wind, can break off limbs. Evergreens with upright branches, such as yews, upright junipers and arborvitae, are most at risk. These plants can be wrapped with twine or plastic-coated wire to support their branches. Wooden tepees offer protection for low growing plants that might be injured by snow sliding off a roof. When ice coats branches, there’s little you can do but pray for no wind and a quick thaw. But if heavy snow weighs down your evergreens, it’s best to try to lighten the load. Shake branches carefully or use a broom to gently brush snow off by pushing it upwards.

Roses

In order to enjoy the beauty of a perfect rose next summer, gardeners in the northern parts of the country (Hardiness Zones 6-4) need to give their hybrid roses some special attention in the fall for them to make it safely through the winter. As with trees and shrubs, making sure roses are well watered in late fall is an important first step. Then some winter protection is in order. But don’t put it in place too soon or you’ll do more harm than good. Roses gradually become dormant and increase their hardiness in response to the decreasing temperatures and shortening days of fall. Covering them too early in the season will inhibit this natural process. Rake up and destroy fallen leaves that might harbor diseases, but leave the rest of the work until late fall. Just before the ground freezes, bring in some soil from another part of the garden and mound it up about 10-12' high around the rose’s stems. Make sure the soil isn’t heavy clay that might smother the plant. And don’t succumb to the temptation to simply pull some soil up from around the base of the plant. This will expose the root system to winter damage.

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In the colder sections of Zone 5 and in Zone 4, even more protection is needed. First, cut back the canes to about 2'. Then, after mounding soil around the crown, build an enclosure around the rose that is at least 3' higher than the plant. The enclosure can be made of wire mesh or burlap stretched around stakes. Fill the enclosure with straw, dry oak leaves, wood chips or other porous material that won’t pack down excessively. Some tip dieback may occur, but will be removed when you prune the canes in the spring.

Flowering Perennials

Early fall is a good time to plant many flowering perennials. In fact, peonies and Oriental poppies do best when planted in the fall. Get plants in the ground 8-10 weeks before the ground freezes so they have time to develop a good root system before cold weather sets in. Well-developed roots anchor plants in the ground and help prevent damage over the winter from frost heaving. This occurs when the soil alternately freezes and thaws over the winter, thrusting plants out of the soil and exposing roots to injury from cold and desiccation. The best way to prevent frost heaving is to keep the soil frozen throughout the winter. Snow cover is a great insulator, but mulch is usually more reliable in keeping soil temperatures stable. In late fall, after the ground freezes, spread a 3-4' layer of a loose organic mulch such as straw, shredded bark or chopped leaves over the soil. While it certainly won’t hurt to mulch the entire garden, if you’re short on mulch or energy, concentrate your efforts on newly planted perennials and those that are shallow rooted, such as coral bells (Heuchera).

Lawn Care

Lawn grasses fall into two main categories: cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, perennial ryes and fescues, grown in most of the northern half of the country and warm-season grasses, such as Burmuda, zoysia and centipede, grown in the warmer southern states. Your fall lawn care chores will depend on which of these kinds of grasses make up your lawn. Cool-Season Grasses: Gradually reduce mowing height down to 1'. Now is a good time to test your soil and add lime, if it’s needed. Late August to midSeptember is the best time to seed new lawns or repair established ones. Warm-Season Grasses: These grasses are getting ready to go dormant for the winter, so they don’t need much maintenance now. Some southern gardeners overseed their dormant warm-season grasses with a fast-growing cool-season grass such as annual rye that will stay green over the winter, a practice known as planting wintergrass. If you plan to do this, gradually mow your warm-season grass short in September and overseed with the wintergrass in late October to November.

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Many homeowners also use the fall as a time to do other work in preparation for the rain and snow to come. Once the leaves have stopped falling, check your downspouts and gutters for leaves and twigs so they don’t clog up forcing you up a ladder in the cold of winter. Put away the lawn furniture to protect from freezing or damage from snow-load. Place markers along the driveway to guide the snow plow and keep it away from your plantings. Find the snow shovel or broom and place it near the doorstep at the ready. And be sure to make a spot to collect the seed and nursery catalogs that will start filling your mailbox, so you can start planning for next season’s fun. When buying bulbs, choose firm bulbs with no soft or sunken spots and their papery outer layer, or tunic, intact. Some bulbs, especially the small species tulips, have been collected from their native habitats to the point that they are threatened with extinction. Make sure that the bulbs you purchase are labeled as commercially- or nursery-propagated.

MORE STORIES THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU: Clean Out Those Gutters Avoid costly damage with a quick cleaning of your gutters. Page 7

Plant Bulbs Now for a Colorful show Next Spring

Tuck a few in the ground in the fall and, for very little effort, you’re rewarded with a dazzling show in the spring. Page 10

How about a Sand Barrel? A scoop of sand can keep you from sliding a long way. It’s easy to

forget how treacherous winter driving gets. While your dependent upon the hardworking road crews for keeping roads and highways in drivable condition, you can take an active role in preventing skidding on your own driveway. Even if you pay for someone to plow your driveway for you, it helps to get ready for the freeze and thaw that can make the very beginning or very end of your drive a hazard. Get set this fall by placing barrels of sand at the beginning and middle of your driveway. If you have a longer driveway it can make sense to place them every 100 feet or so. Place them where they won’t be affected by plowing and snowbanks, but within a few yards of the driveway edge for easy access. Barrels can be found in a variety of hardware stores in plastic, galvanized metal, or wood. A lid is handy to keep sand dry and unfrozen. Avoid salt for a healthier lawn and use affordable sand, instead. It will give you the necessary traction without risking increased toxicity on your lawn or endangering your pets. In many towns you can get a pick-up truckload of road sand from the town facilities. When you have a barrel set up and waiting, you’ll have an easy time scooping a few shovelfuls onto icy spots. You won’t have to walk very far on unstable footing or carry heavy loads of sand in foul weather. The simple preparation of keeping full sand barrels might keep you from sliding off the driveway and being late for work!

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Plant Bulbs Now for a Colorful Show Next Spring What gardener can resist the promise of hardy spring bulbs?

Tuck a few in the ground in the fall and, for very little effort, you’re rewarded with a dazzling show in the spring. Most bulbs like well-drained soil and a sunny spot. Even areas under deciduous trees that will be shaded when the trees leaf out are suitable for the earliest bloomers that flower while the branches above are still bare. If you’re starting a new bed, strip any sod and remove perennial weeds. Remove the soil to the correct planting depth for the bulbs you’re planting (see chart on page 7), then loosen the soil an additional 2'–3'. Mix in some compost or well-rotted manure, along with a slow-release complete granular fertilizer that’s formulated for bulbs. Add a 2'–3' layer of unimproved soil before setting out the bulbs, pointed end up. Cover with soil, water, spread a layer of mulch and wait for spring. If you are tucking bulbs into an existing bed or naturalizing them in large drifts, it’s easiest to plant them individually with a trowel or a special tool called, appropriately enough, a bulb planter. A hand bulb planter is useful for setting

Small Bulbs with Big Appeal Often called minor bulbs, these beauties, although small, can have a major impact in the garden, especially when planted in large drifts. As an added bonus, most are trouble-free and increase quickly from seeds or offsets. Chionodoxa Its common name, glory–of-the–snow, says it all. One of the earliest bulbs to bloom, its bright blue starry blossoms often peek up through the last of winter’s snow. All it asks is a sunny spot and well-drained soil. Hardy in Zones 3–8. Galanthus Although the snowdrop’s bell-shaped, pendulous flowers, white with subtle green markings, look delicate, these hardy bulbs shrug off a late snowfall. Preferring light shade, they look lovely in large groups under deciduous trees or at the base of shrubs. Hardy in Zones 2–9.

Eranthis Looking like large buttercups, winter aconites greet the first days of spring resting on a ruff of bright green foliage. They provide a welcome spot of color when most of the garden is still bare. Hardy in Zones 4–8, they combine well with snowdrops in naturalized drifts. Iris reticulata Unlike their tall summer-blooming relations, these 4-6' spring bloomers are undemanding. Their small velvety blossoms come in shades of blue and purple, usually marked with yellow. Hardy in Zones 3–9, they multiply rapidly and make a great addition to a rock garden. Leucojum The spring snowflake, Leucojum vernum, displays its white, bellshaped flowers in earliest spring, along with the snowdrops. Its broad, bright green leaves reach 6-8 inches tall. This snowflake grows well in Zones 4–8. Its cousin, the summer snowflake, L. aestivum, blooms later in the spring, with clusters of pendulous white flowers atop 2' stems. It thrives as far south as Zone 10 and prefers a lightly shaded spot.

THE Essential Guide to Winterizing Your Property

Muscari If you’re looking for something foolproof, plant grape hyacinths. Looking like tiny clusters of grapes, the blue or white flowers appear in mid-spring. Grape hyacinths spread rapidly and grow well in sun or all but the deepest shade. Most kinds of grape hyacinths are hardy in Zones 4–10; M. botryoides will thrive as far north as Zone 2. Scilla Commonly called squills, these easy-to-grow bulbs spread to make a carpet of blue in early spring. Scilla siberica, the Siberian squill, grows about 6' high and is great for naturalizing, even in a lawn, as the grass-like foliage ripens before mowing season arrives. S. bifolia produces a denser, hyacinth-like cluster of deep blue flowers. Both of these squills prefer cooler climates; try them in Zones 2–8.

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bulbs in an established flower bed; its larger step-on cousin is great for planting bulbs in a naturalized setting in the unprepared soil of a lawn or meadow. The Bulb Planting Attachment for the DR® Trimmer/Mower is a terrific timeand back-saver for planting large drifts of bulbs. Scoop out a planting hole a few inches deeper than the recommended planting depth, mix in a little bit of compost and fertilizer, then a layer of soil before setting the bulb in, and covering it over with soil. After bulbs finish blooming the following spring, it’s important to let the foliage ripen and die down naturally so that food manufactured in the leaves can be stored in the bulb to support next year’s display. In late fall and again in very early spring just as the shoots break through the soil, feed with a complete granular fertilizer scratched on the soil surface. Plant Name

Height

Color

USDA Hardiness Zone

Planting Time

Planting Depth

Spacing

Bloom Time

Chionodoxa (Glory-of-the-Snow)

5-8"

Blue, Pink, White

3-9

Fall

2-3"

2"

Early spring

Crocus (species)

3-4"

White, Purple, Yellow

3-10

Fall

3-4"

4-6"

Early spring

3"

Yellow

4-7

Early Fall

2"

2-4"

Early spring

Galanthius (Snowdrop)

4-10"

White

2-9

Early Fall

3"

2-4"

Early spring

Hyacinth

10-12"

Pink, Blue, White, Purple, Yellow

4-8

Fall

5-6"

5-8"

Spring

Eranthis (Winter Aconite)

Leucojum (Snowflake)

5-18"

White

4-10

Fall

3"

3-4"

Early to late spring

Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)

4-12"

Blue, White

2-9

Fall

2-3"

4"

Early spring

Narcissus (Daffodil)

12-18"

Yellow, White

3-10

Early Fall

5-6"

3-8'

Spring

5"

Blue, White

3-8

Fall

2-3"

3-4"

Early spring

6"

Blue, White

1-9

Fall

2"

3-4"

Early spring

8-30"

All colors but blue

3-7

Fall

8-12"

4-8"

Early to late Spring

Puschkina (Striped Squill) Scilla Siberica (Squill) Tulipa (Tulip)

Taking the Chill Off No matter where they live, most people must heat their homes for at least a portion of the year. Here in Vermont, the saying goes that

there are eight months of winter and four months of bad sledding, so heating the home is an important issue. In southern states, warming the house may only be necessary if you live in the mountains or during an occasional cold snap. Recently, everyone has been hit by the rising cost of fuel. But those heating with wood have been able to weather these increases with little impact on their budgets. Although the cost of firewood has risen due to an increase in demand, it is still a relatively inexpensive source of heat when compared to fossil fuels. And this has many people taking a second look at using wood as a way to supplement their traditional heating system, or even to switch over completely to a wood-heat system.

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The easiest way to get started is to install a wood stove. Wood stoves come in a wide range of sizes, from small parlor-stoves which could heat just a sitting room, to units large enough to heat an entire house. Modern wood stoves are air-tight, meaning that the air that is drawn for combustion is controlled by the user. This enables them to burn more efficiently, using less wood and keeping the temperature more even and you more comfortable. (Note: If you vent a wood stove through an existing chimney, be sure to have it checked for cracks or leaks.) The best wood for heating is hardwood. Hardwoods such as oak, maple and beech produce more heat per pound than softwoods like aspen or pine. They burn hotter and last longer. If you harvest your own firewood or supplement your purchase of firewood with prunings, it is best to select hardwoods for heating and softwoods for kindling or for beginning- or end-of-season heating to take the chill off in the morning. Another benefit to using hardwood is it is less likely to cause creosote buildup in the chimney. When wood burns, especially at a low draft and low heat (the way a stove may be set for overnight heating), moisture from the wood condenses on the chimney wall. This moisture contains chemicals and unburned particles of wood. As it condenses, it drips back down the chimney where the moisture is driven off by the heat, leaving behind a sticky substance called creosote. In addition to impeding the draft of the chimney, creosote is extremely flammable and can cause chimney fires. Because hardwoods burn hotter, there is less creosote buildup than with softwoods. No matter what type of wood you burn, it’s important to clean the chimney regularly. This may be necessary only yearly, or it may have to be cleaned more often, depending on use, wood and type of stove or fireplace. The easiest way to get firewood is to buy it. Wood is sold by the cord, which measures 4'd x 4'h x 8'w. In rural areas where wood is logged (like Vermont) you can expect to pay between $100–$225/cord. Some key things to know before buying are type of wood, length and thickness (so it fits in your stove), whether it is split or not, and if it is green or dry. Green wood is always cheaper than dry, but you’ll want to count on giving green wood a full year to dry out. Stacking wood is an art and many folks take pride in constructing a straight, even pile. Proper stacking is important, because it allows for air circulation so the wood can dry. The fastest way to build a pile is to stack logs between two existing endpoints. These can be two trees, walls that you build or a purchased metal frame. Otherwise, you’ll need to build a “chimney stack” at each end of the pile to ensure stability. Keep the wood out of the weather by covering with a tarp, or stacking under a roof. Even dry wood gives off moisture, so it is not a good idea to stack the woodpile in the cellar of your home.

TIPS FOR SPLITTING WOOD • Select a level stump, about 15" tall for a chopping block. (The height of the stump should be low enough that when a log is stood upon it, it is not more than waist-high). • Stand the log to be split on the stump. • Swing the axe or splitting maul over your head, in a smooth motion, continuing through the log. (That is, don’t stop your motion when you hit the log, picture the axe going right through the log to the stump.) • Green or frozen wood splits easier than dry. • Logs with large branches coming out of them, or knots can be difficult or impossible to split. • Wood with a straight grain will split along the grain better than wood with a twisting grain.

Positioning the wood pile is important. The best place is as close to the wood stove as possible. However, wood piles are a haven for mice, chipmunks and insects, so do not place the wood against the house. If possible, consider the lay of the land, so that the house is level or downhill from the pile, making the THE Essential Guide to Winterizing Your Property

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prospect of pushing a fully loaded garden cart or wheelbarrow more practicable. Power equipment such as tractor with a cart, or the DR® Powerwagon can make this chore even easier. Also consider wind direction and air circulation for drying the wood, and whether the location will be adversely affected by snow falling from a roof, or rain running or pooling under the pile. In addition to saving money on energy, heating with wood gives you the feeling of independence gained by controlling your heat source. In the event of ice storms or power outages, you still have heat. If bad road conditions prevent the oil delivery truck from reaching your house, you just put another log on the fire. Best of all, wood heat makes for a cozy atmosphere in which you can settle back in your favorite easy chair and read a good book, reflect on your accomplishments or start planning next year’s yard and garden projects!

Wood Splitting Reference Chart Wood

Ash

Aspen

Apple

Beech

White Birch

Yellow Birch

Chestnut

Elm

Hemlock

Heat

high

low

high

high

medium

high

high

medium

medium

Splitting Ease

easy

very easy

hard

hard

easy

easy

hard

very hard

easy

Wood

Hickory

Maple

Oak

Pine

Sycamore

Tamarack

Tulip

Walnut

Yellow Poplar

Heat

high

high

high

low

high

medium

medium

high

medium

Splitting Ease

hard

hard

hard

very easy

very hard

easy

easy

easy

easy

Clean Out Those Gutters Avoid costly damage with a quick cleaning of your gutters. Once the autumn leaves have fallen don’t forget to check your gutters. If you haven’t checked them in a while you’ll find that your gutters might be growing moss or even grass. At the very least, they’ll probably be full of leaves that in time can block them up. Blocked or debris cluttered gutters can lead to water damage around your foundation. Saturated soils in extreme cases will cause your foundation to settle or exert pressure on basement walls leading to cracks or bulges. The moss and leaf litter that sits in your gutters can also promote ice-buildup in the gutters that can bend, damage, or cause the failure of the gutter mounts. Maintenance is easy. You can safely position a tall step ladder on single story homes, or use an extension ladder on two story homes. Leaves can be picked out by hand or blasted out with a hose or pressure washer. To safely clear debris from the ground—skipping the ladder altogether—you can find specially curved and telescoping wands for your garden hose or pressure water. www.drpower.com carries multiple products to help you get the job done.

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Proper Storage of Your Power Equipment The last of the leaves are finally raked, the tulip bulbs planted, the asparagus mulched. The lawn has gotten its final cut; you’ve even

remembered to put away the beach toys and locate the snow shovel. Now it’s time to sit back, put your feet up and tune in to a good football game. Right? Not so fast! When you mowed the lawn that last time, did you just wheel the mower to its usual spot and forget about it? What about the rototiller you used to turn over the soil for those new garden beds? Is it sitting in the shed with dirt all over its tines? Power equipment not only makes many of our yard and garden chores lots easier, it’s a big investment as well. A little time spent on maintenance before storing your equipment will pay big dividends next season and for many years to come. Below are some general guidelines for maintaining everything from your lawn mower to your chipper shredder. But remember to check the owner’s manual for your equipment for more specific maintenance procedures.

Cleaning

Clean off any dirt or garden debris from the engine, machine frame, and underside of mower deck, using a cloth, stiff brush, compressed air or a shop vacuum. Water can be used to clean the frame, but take care not to spray any directly on the engine. Pay special attention to cleaning the engine cooling fins underneath the blower housing.

Engine Service

• Run the engine to use up all the gasoline in the tank or add a fuel stabilizer to the tank to prevent the gasoline from oxidizing and gumming up the carburetor. If you use a stabilizer, top off the tank and run the engine briefly to circulate the stabilizer before storing the machine. • While the engine is still warm, drain and replace oil; consult owner’s manual for proper grade and amount. Change the oil filter as well if your machine has one. • Remove spark plug(s); clean and replace if cracked or discolored. Check and adjust gap according to your owner’s manual. To prevent corrosion due to moisture entering the cylinder, before replacing the spark plug tip the machine on its side and add a teaspoon of SAE 30 weight oil to the cylinder. Replace the plug, then slowly pull the recoil starter rope until you feel strong resistance. • Clean foam air filters in warm soapy water and replace paper filters.

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Inspection

Give your machine a thorough going over. Check belts for excessive wear, fraying, or cracks and order new ones if needed. Make sure pulleys are properly aligned. Consult your owner’s manual for specifications. Now is also the time to sharpen dull mower blades. Check and maintain tire pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Lubrication

You’ll need to consult your Owner’s Manual for specific information. We’ll just emphasize here how important it is make sure your machine is well lubricated before you put it to bed for the winter. Proper lubrication guards against corrosion-causing moisture that can build up during cold weather even on equipment stored in a dry location.

Battery Care

Electric-starting power equipment can be a real convenience, but not if you’ve got a dead battery come spring. Proper winter storage will ensure a longer life for your battery. Store it in a dry area where the temperature remains between 40-50 degrees; you’ll need to remove the battery if its machine is stored in an unheated area. Charge the battery fully before you store it, then recharge it every 4-6 weeks with a 12-volt battery charger. Clean battery terminals and wire connections with steel wool if necessary and coat with petroleum jelly to prevent corrosion.

Winterizing Your Lawn Fall is the perfect time to fertilize!

Fall is a busy time for most homeowners. With so much to do getting the house ready for winter or cleaning up the garden, lawn care is often neglected. However, a lawn is a living organism that needs to be taken care of all year round—even when the mowing season is over.

AERATION

Breathe some life into your lawn. Lawn areas subjected to heavy foot or

vehicle traffic may have compacted soil. Soil compaction also occurs with the buildup of thatch. (Thatch is the decaying material that accumulates between the blades of grass.) Compacted soil prevents water, oxygen, and fertilizer from reaching the roots of the plant, and until the soil is aerated, there’s little hope of improving the appearance of the lawn. The easiest way to aerate your lawn is to rent a machine for this purpose or consider buying the new self-propelled DR® Lawn Aerator. The best aerators are those that have hollow metal tubes that remove small-diameter, 2- to 3-inch-long plugs of soil from the lawn. (Avoid using devices that just punch holes into the ground without removing a soil core; while they may aid water retention, they actually increase soil compac-

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tion.) It’s recommended that 15 to 20 aerification holes be pulled per square foot. The holes created in the lawn by soil aeration enable water and air to have easy access to the root zone, along with any fertilizer that you’ll be spreading. Also, as the soil naturally expands to fill the holes over the next few weeks, it loosens, reducing compaction. The plugs should be left on top of the ground to provide a valuable top dressing of fertilizer, although they should be broken up by raking or mowing. Fall is the preferred time to aerate, as soil moisture allows easier penetration and aeration stimulates root growth, which is critical at this time of year.

THATCH CONTROL

Removing excessive thatch is just the beginning. As mentioned

above, thatch is a tightly woven layer of living and dead organic matter that occurs between the green matter and the soil surface. Thatch is created when the decaying stems, leaves, and roots of grass accumulate faster than they break down. Excessive thatch (more than 1/2 inch) can lead to reduced water and fertilizer infiltration into the soil, which will lead to the overall decline in the quality of your lawn. (Contrary to popular belief, as long as a lawn is mowed on a regular basis, grass clippings do not contribute to thatch buildup. In fact, grass clippings contain nitrogen and provide valuable nutrients to the lawn, and should be left to decompose after each mowing.) There are several ways to remove thatch, including the use of vertical mowers and power rakes, which thin the grass and pull the thatch to the surface for removal. However, unless the cause of thatch accumulation is addressed, the buildup will most likely occur again. The best method for thatch control is core aeration, as described earlier. The small soil cores that are deposited on the soil surface during aerification provide a top dressing that is full of microorganisms that will break down the thatch. Core aerification is one of the simplest, least destructive methods for removing thatch, and one of the easiest ways to create a healthy lawn.

MOWING

Mow often enough so you don’t remove more than one-third of the leaf surface in any one cutting. In the heat of the summer it’s easy

to damage your lawn by mowing too short. This weakens your grass and makes it susceptible to weed invasion, disease, and drought. The fact is, it’s also easy to damage your lawn by mowing too short during the cold weather of fall. As the days get shorter and the temperatures begin to fall, raise the cutting height on your mower about one half inch above your normal summer cutting height. This will stimulate the roots of your grass and cause a gradual growth spurt. Mow your lawn at least a few times at this height. Then, for the final mowing of the year, lower the cutting height of your mower to one half inch below your summer cutting height. A lower height going into winter will avoid damage from rodents and disease that are attracted to long, matted grass. The grass will also dry out faster in the spring and green up quickly.

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Don’t forget the most important rule about mowing your lawn, regardless of the time of year: Mow often enough so you don’t remove more than one third of the leaf surface in any one cutting.

RAKING

Do it only if you have to. Be sure to rake any large piles of grass clippings off your lawn with the last mowing. However, if you’ve been mowing regularly, the clippings can remain on the lawn as mulch to provide valuable nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to the lawn. If you have large, mature trees that lose their leaves in the fall, it’s important to remove the leaves from your lawn before winter takes hold. A heavy layer of leaves left on the lawn throughout the winter prevents sunlight and air from reaching the grass, eventually smothering your lawn. An even better alternative to raking up the leaves is to shred them with your lawn mower. It’s not necessary to use a mulching mower, as long as the leaves are chopped up enough to easily decompose. Mulching the leaves in this way will provide even more nutrients to your lawn that are so important at this time of year.

Just Say No to Potholes! Potholes can get bigger and deeper over the winter if you don’t address the problem now. If you have a dirt or gravel driveway, you know that potholes can be a jarring experience. Before winter sets in, follow these simple driveway maintenance steps to fix existing potholes and keep new ones from forming.

Potholes are caused by water pooling on your driveway. Once they form, puddled water can cause them to get bigger and deeper. Almost nothing causes more wear and tear on your vehicles. If you notice a pothole form on your driveway it’s always a good idea to keep it drained until you have time to do comprehensive maintenance. Simply digging a very shallow channel from the pothole to the edge of your driveway will allow water to drain away and keep the problem from getting worse. Filling potholes by hand can be difficult and time-consuming but the upside is you’ll be able to do a really effective job on the pothole. Loose fill will wash away in future rain events, so it’s important to address the extreme compaction of the pothole surface. The key is to loosen up the pothole to a depth of a few inches before filling it. • Use a pick or a mattock to bust up the surface of the pothole. • Add gravel slowly, compacting the new material as you go. Tamping with a post or a 5 gallon bucket works, or you can roll over it with your vehicle. • Add water to increase compaction of the new fill.

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• Add a little bit of height above the surface of your driveway and rake it out smooth. Filling potholes is a good intermediate fix, but it won’t solve the root cause of pothole formation and it won’t ensure that your pothole stays gone. For that you need a little mechanical advantage. The key to a properly drained driveway—that won’t develop washboard and potholes—is a well-crowned one. A properly crowned driveway will have 1" of rise for every four feet of driveway width. You can hire out and a tractor with a scraper blade can do the job. Or you can do it yourself with an ATV or garden tractor if you have a DR® Power Grader. Box scrapers also do the job.

The DR® Power Grader in use

So there you go! Do some basic maintenance now and avoid bigger problems and a bumpy ride when spring rolls around again.

DR® Field and Brush Mower Safety First, Last and Always

The first thing to remember when using your DR® Field and Brush Mower is that it is a large, powerful machine. The 12.5 to 18 HP engine on your “hog” has enough power to cut down a three inch thick ash sapling, and that should be food for thought when you crank it up for the tough clearing and mowing chores it’s designed for.

Suit Up For Safety

Always wear safety glasses when running your DR® Field and Brush Mower— the kind that don’t fog up when you work up a sweat, or when the weather makes it feel like you’re in an outdoor steam bath. And don’t forget to protect your ears—prolonged exposure to the noise generated by the powerful engines on the DR® Field and Brush Mowers can slowly damage your hearing. Some folks like a logger’s helmet when running the DR® Field and Brush Mower, since it has built-in hearing protection and a full face screen that lets the air in. And don’t forget your feet. Folks who wear sandals or other light footwear are asking for trouble in the rough terrain in which many of our owners use their machines. If you have safety shoes or other rugged footwear with non-slip soles, please use them. Long pants and sleeves are a good idea, too. I’ve scratched up my arms on enough briars and thorns to have learned my lesson: I never start up my field and brush mower without donning a long-sleeved shirt. Avoid too-loose clothes or dangly jewelry that can hang you up in brush as well. I

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also wear work gloves when operating my DR® Field and Brush Mower or any other piece of outdoor power equipment. A nasty scratch or cut on your hand can slow down your clearing or maintenance efforts. Any work gloves will do, but if you want to go for first-class comfort and durability, try our elk hide version.

Look Before You Leap

Even before you start your DR, it’s a good idea to check out the terrain where you’ll be using it, with an eye to anything that the thick, heavy blade can pick up and throw. The belt drive on the DR® Field and Brush Mower protects your crankshaft and engine, because if the blade hits something firm and immobile, the belt will slip before the blade or the crankshaft breaks. But if that big blade hits something loose and hard, like a rock or a log chunk, it can pick it up and throw it hard and fast. Keep children and pets at least 100 feet away from where you are working. If anyone approaches, STOP MOWING: disengage the blade and turn off the engine while you talk. And speaking of knowing where you’re going, don’t use your hog in the dark, or even the twilight hours. If you don’t have daylight, put off your mowing till the morning.

Take Charge, and Stay In Charge

Whether you’re mowing that tall meadow grass, chopping up the sumac or aspen whips that have grown up on that hillside, or clearing out those briars to plant a garden, make sure that you are in total control of your DR® Field and Brush Mower. Be real careful of your footing wherever you are, and especially when working on rough or wet ground, or on slopes. Make sure your feet are solid on the ground, and that you have a firm grip on the handlebars. Stay behind the mower while it’s running, no matter what-that’s where it’s easiest to control, and where you are farthest from the blade. If you’re not sure of your footing or your control, STOP and think about what you are doing. It may be better to approach that bank from the other direction. If you get stuck, turn the engine off and take a break to think about how to extricate yourself. Don’t let kids or folks who aren’t up to their full strength run the DR® Field and Brush Mower. Any piece of outdoor power equipment is a trade-off between strength and weight-though we’ve made the DR® as light as we can, it’s still a large, heavy machine, and a child can lose control and cut something you didn’t want chopped down, or even worse, injure himself if he can’t guide the machine. If there’s one tip we hear from DR® Field and Brush Mower users over and over, it’s TAKE IT EASY. Let the machine do the work—no matter how slowly you have to run your hog on rugged ground, you’re still getting at least twice as much done as you would with hand tools.

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Don’t Fight The Power

When you fill the gas tank on your DR, make sure your engine is off. And when you crank up the engine, make sure all blade and wheel controls are DISENGAGED. Remember too, that your engine and exhaust system get HOT when they’ve been running a while. Keep any combustible material off of them, and don’t put your bare hands on them, either. Any time you have to work on your DR, turn the engine off completely. If you ever have to go under your hog’s deck for any reason, make double sure that you disconnect the spark plug. This step is crucial, because turning that heavy blade while you’re unwrapping something from the bearing housing shaft can start the engine, which means big trouble. Just remember the movies of old airplanes, where the engine was started by turning the propeller; or the old cars that started with a hand crank. Your hog blade can perform the same function if you’re not careful.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

And finally, don’t do anything to alter the frame and deck on your DR® Field and Brush Mower. It has been designed with safety and efficiency in mind, and changing its configuration in any way will diminish these characteristics. Cutting, welding on new bars, bending or changing anything on the deck or frame can cause a safety hazard and will void your warranty. Happy mowing, and think safety first, last, and always!

For the Birds Feeding birds is fun! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of spotting

a new or rare bird, perched at the feeder. Bird feeding also helps sustain our feathered friends when snow and ice may make foraging impossible. This chart will help you select feed for some of the birds in your area. If you are a novice to bird feeding, you may want to get a book, such as A Field Guide to the Birds by Roger Tory Petersen to help identify the different birds in your yard.

Bird Feeding Tips

Birds feed during the day. By filling the feeder with only a day’s supply of feed, you will keep night-prowling animals like raccoons, opossum and bear from raiding the feeder. Ground-feeding birds like cardinals, blackbirds and mourning doves will find more seed beneath feeders if you stamp down any snow that accumulates. Suet can become rancid in warmer climates. To protect against this, you can heat the suet in a pan till it is liquid, then allow it to cool. Pour it into muffin tins, or in an old cardboard orange-juice can to cool—then you can pop out the

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muffin-shaped cakes or peal the juice can when the suet becomes solid. You may want to melt the suet outdoors, because heating it causes an odor which can linger in your house.

To learn more about birds and bird feeding, contact:

Keep feeders free from diseases by washing regularly, especially in warmer weather. Use a mild solution of soap and bleach, about 1 ounce of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Be sure to rinse well, and dry the feeder before filling with seed.

The National Bird-feeding Society 847-272-0135 www.birdfeeding.org Birdzilla.com www.birdzilla.com The US Fish and Wildlife Service www.fws.gov PREFERRED FEEDER

Sunflower

Sunflower Hearts

Cracked Corn

Suet

x

x

x

x

Cardinals

x

x

Chickadees

x

x

Cowbirds

x

Goldfinches

x

x

Grosbeaks

x

x

House Finches

x

Blue Jays

Peanuts

Millet

Thistle

Perch

x

x x

x

x

x

x x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x x

x

x

x x

Fruit Feeder

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Sparrows

x

x

Woodpeckers

x

x

x

x

x

Orioles Redwinged Blackbirds

x

x

x

Quail

x

x

x

Mourning Doves

Tube

x

x

Mockingbird

x

Platform

x x x

x

Juncos

Fruit

x

x

Buntings

Nuthatches

Safflower

x

x

x x

Fall Brush-Mowing Projects Create new, natural environments on your property. Fall is a great

time for working outdoors...the days are cooler, so it’s much more pleasant to be working outside than during the extreme heat of summer. If you’re the owner of a DR® Field and Brush Mower, this is a great time to spruce up your property. But rather than just clearing out-of-control weeds and brush, there are a few things you can do with your DR at this time of year to create new and exciting natural environments that will come to life next spring.

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Try a European Woodlot

If you’ve seen any of our literature about the DR® Field and Brush Mower, you may have read about how great the DR is for creating “European woodlots.” We started using this term about 10 years ago when we first began offering the Field and Brush Mower, and we’re still using it today. However, through the years we’ve had more than a few folks give us a call or send us a letter asking, “What is a European woodlot?” It’s a good question, and here’s our answer, along with some tips for creating your own European woodlot. A European woodlot is any forested area, regardless of size, that is free of immature undergrowth like weeds, vines, briars, small saplings and the like. The dominant species that thrive in European woodlots are mature trees that have naturally taken over and shaded any undergrowth. These areas are healthy and clean, as the selected trees are free to grow without competing with other plant species. Also, with less underbrush, it’s easier to see the trees and move through the forest. Such woodlots are common in Europe, where many forests have, through the centuries, been stripped of undergrowth because citizens are allowed to remove dead and dying trees for firewood and building purposes. The first step toward creating your own European woodlot is to clear away any unwanted growth that currently thrives within your wooded area. It’s much easier to do this in the fall, after the leaves have fallen, so you can selectively mow around those smaller trees you want to save...while spotting and avoiding obstacles like rocks, hummocks and stumps. With the DR® Field and Brush Mower you can easily chop up weeds and brush, which can be left on the ground throughout the winter. The cut material will decompose and provide the trees in your woodlot with important nutrients they’ll need during the colder, stressful months ahead. By springtime, the material you cut in the fall will be almost completely gone and your soil and trees will be richer and healthier. Cutting thick underbrush and vegetation in the fall will also encourage the ground covers that are native to your part of the country to grow next spring. Also, by mowing now you’ll be eliminating the woody plants that compete with trees for water and sunlight. Next spring, if there’s adequate sunlight filtering through the tree canopy, the floor of your woodlot will produce a lush, lowlying ground cover that can be maintained by mowing just a few times a year or left to fill in around the trees. Finally, depending on how “clean” you want your woodlot to be, it may be necessary to remove fallen trees and branches that can’t be cut with your DR®. On the other hand, some folks prefer a more “wild” woodlot that is easy to walk through, but that has sufficient cover for birds and wildlife.

Where the wildflowers grow

There’s a lot to be said for having a wildflower meadow on your property It will cost a lot less than a lawn to maintain. It will require less water, less fertilizer, less gasoline (for mowing), much less time, and it’s attractive. THE Essential Guide to Winterizing Your Property

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There are two ways to create a wildflower meadow—you can plant selected wildflower species, or encourage the native wildflowers that may already exist on your property to grow. Cultivating wildflowers from seed produces a beautiful field of your favorite flowers, but it requires a fair amount of work, much like planting and caring for a new lawn. If you have a DR® Field and Brush Mower, it’s much easier to creme a similar effect by mowing at the right times of year. Most meadow areas over time will try to revert to wooded land. Tall, fibrous weeds and small saplings will begin to grow, shading the natural wildflowers and grasses. Mowing these areas late in the fall has several benefits: • Wildflowers that already exist are able to reach maturity and produce seeds for next year’s crop. • Woody vegetation is eliminated so that grasses and wildflowers can grow next spring without so much competition for light and moisture. • Wildflower seeds will be scattered as you mow, and the cut material will serve as an insulating blanket for existing wildflower plants over the winter. • Mowing your wildflower meadow late in the fall each year will continue to discourage the woody vegetation and encourage the development of grasses and wildflowers. You probably won’t end up with a solid blanket of flowers like you can get when you plant them from seed. However, your wildflower meadow will likely be more “wild”-with a variety of flowers, grasses and competing plants...but just as natural, beautiful, and satisfying as anything you could plant.

Share This Guide With a Friend On crisp fall weekends we wrap up all the projects that have kept us busy through the warmer months. We pull a tarp over the log splitter. In the fading light of day, we pause. If just for a few moments, we reflect on the progress we’ve made—a neatly mowed field, a growing wood pile, or a freshly cleared driveway after that first snow. Owning land is a responsibility and also a privilege. The colder months bring a new set of responsibilities. This guide lists just a few of the many chores that come with fall and winter. If you have suggestions, tips, and tricks—contact us at facebook.com/drpowerequip. If you think this could jumpstart friends and family in their fall preperations— share it with them!

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The Essential Guide to Winterizing Your Property