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Get Ready for Summer

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April 30, 2019

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April 30, 2019

Get Ready for Summer


Timing important for lawn care BY MEGAN KNOWLES


Timing is key when it comes to optimal lawn maintenance, and there are a few key things homeowners can start doing soon to get their yards ready for the summer.


One thing not to do too early is fertilize, Purdue Extension educator for Whitley and Noble counties John Woodmansee wrote in a recent column. “Early season fertilization can encourage too much top growth at the expense of roots, and could lead to problems later this summer such as poor root growth and disease,” he wrote. Instead, Woodmansee encouraged homeowners to wait until mid- to late-May to fertilize with a mix that contains mostly slow-release nitrogen. Once that fertilizing is done, lawns won’t need another round again until the fall, Purdue Extension DeKalb County Director and Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator Elysia Rodgers said. “For the most part lawns only really need fertilized about twice a year…mid- to late May and then again in September time frame to give it a little boost of energy to get those roots growing before it goes dormant for the winter,” she said.

Pesticides and herbicides

For those who hate crabgrass, a pre-emergent herbicide can be sprayed through the middle of April to control the plant, Woodmansee wrote. “Basically, these products must be in place before crabgrass seeds germinate (sprout) in the soil for an effective kill,” he wrote.

Those who dislike dandelions would do best to wait until the fall, Woodmansee wrote. “If you absolutely must treat this spring, homeowners should use a product that has a combination of active ingredients like 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba,” he wrote. That being said, Woodmansee wrote that “a healthy, dense turf is a good cultural control against crabgrass,” and Rodgers warned that spraying of either herbicides or pesticides should be avoided as much as possible. “For the most part, unless you see a problem there should be no reason to spray chemicals,” she said.


If the weather is right, homeowners might be able to begin mowing by the end of April, Rodgers said, although they should wait until the longest stalks of grass are four to four-and-a-half inches, according to the Purdue Extension publication “Taking care of your yard.” Though the first cutting can be slightly shorter, throughout the season grass should be mowed to three to three-and-a-half inches. Grass cut to this height is less prone to insects, disease and weed problems, according to the publication. “It helps just keep it healthy overall,” Rodgers said. The Purdue Extension publication also recommended leaving yard clippings on the grass rather than raking them up so they could “break down and return valuable nutrients to the soil.” Clumps, however, should be raked up, but these can largely be avoided by not mowing when the grass is wet, it said.

Planting grass

Though grass seeding is best done in early fall, it can be done in small areas now, Woodmansee wrote. “(Planting grass) can be done whenever the ground warms up because the seed needs a little bit warmer soil to get going,” Rodgers said. She recommended late April to early May as ideal times. To plant seed, homeowners should scratch the ground with a garden rake to ensure good seed-to-soil contact and to remove weeds, Rodgers said. She also recommended covering the grass seed with a half inch to one inch of straw, “just so you can just barely not see the soil.” “You don’t want it too thick otherwise it will get basically compacted down, it won’t let that seed through,” she added. “(Straw) helps provide a barrier to keep the seed down, keep the birds from eating the seeds (and) it helps retain some of that moisture, either from watering or from the rain itself.”


While newly planted grass will need more frequent, shallow watering (two to four times a day for grass seed and daily for sod, according to the publication), established grass should be watered infrequently, Rodgers said. “Giving it that deep watering (weekly or every few weeks) where it soaks 4-6 inches down into the soil is better than watering it every day,” she said. Daily watering can encourage fungus growth on wet grass and can encourage more shallow roots, Rodgers said. “If you only water occasionally it forces those roots to go down and gives you a

Considering clover Though it was common pre-World War II, clover, for many, is considered a weed, taking away from a lawn’s uniformity and attracting bees, according to an article on the Chicago Tribune’s website. However, interest in adding clover back to American lawns is growing.

you’re doing a lawn just because of the different health benefits each provides the other,” she said.

There are several benefits to adding clover to a lawn, Purdue Extension DeKalb County Director and Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator Elysia Rodgers said.

It also provides food for pollinators, which may be an advantage for gardeners but a detractor for those who don’t want bees in their yards.

“It’s always a good idea to include multiple species if you can whenever

Clover is also a legume and provides natural nitrogen to the soil, Rodgers said, “so that can kind of help reduce some of your fertilizer cost as well.”

Other disadvantages of clover include that it often spreads in patches and doesn’t hold up as well to foot traffic as a traditional lawn,

according to the Chicago Tribune article. Most clover in Indiana is alsike clover, which has white and pink blossoms, Rodgers said. Though not included in a typical lawn seed mix, many stores do have clover mixes, she said. It is important to note that two kinds of clover — white sweet clover (Melilotus alba) and yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis) — look very different than alsike clover and are considered invasive species in Indiana.

stronger base,” she said.

Other spring activities

Though a common springtime practice, Woodmansee wrote that rolling lawns is not a good idea. “Turf specialists generally do not recommend heavy rolling of saturated or clay soils in spring because it can cause soil compaction and increase soil moisture stress in summer. For most lawns, they will level out on their own in a short time,” he wrote. However, practices he did encourage include thatch control and lawn aerification. “Thatch is a layer of dead grass stems on top of the soil surface that limits water and air penetration into the soil. Power rakes or core aerators can help with thatch,” he wrote. “Aerification…also relieves soil compaction, improves water and air movement into the soil, increases rooting and can greatly improve turfgrass health. “It’s best to wait until turf is actively growing (usually in April) for these operations.” For more information on lawn care, visit www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/HO/ HO-236-W.pdf.

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April 30, 2019

How to care for your swimming pool water BY STEVE GARBACZ


Crystal-clear water is a point of pride for any swimming pool owner. But typically it’s not that way when you first open your pool in spring. After sitting under a cover all winter — or after spilling all the mucky sludge into the pool while trying to remove said cover — chances are your pool isn’t going to look great. And, even if you’re just putting up a new pool and filling it from the hose, you’re going to need to do some work to get it right and keep it that way. For two summers while I was in college, I worked at a pool and spa store and a major part of my job was stocking and selling chemicals, as well as working with stressed-out pool owners to help them get their water right. Balancing your pool water is kind of like a large-scale chemistry lab and there’s a process to it. If you don’t take the right steps in the right order, you might as well just flush your money down the toilet. So here’s an easy guide on how to correctly balance your pool water after

filling up your pool. (A note, this guide is for your standard chlorine-sanitized pool. There are other non-chlorine chemicals you can use as well as salt water treatments, but chlorine is still, to my knowledge, the most common.)

Step 1: Clean out large debris

You don’t really need to worry about making your pool look spotless right away, but it is helpful to remove as much large debris out of the pool as possible. I’m talking sticks, leaves, other stuff that may have fallen in off your pool cover. Don’t worry if there’s dirt, algae or other small debris like dead bugs or small plant material right now. You can clean that stuff up later.

Step 2: Hook up your filter system You’ll need to get everything connected and running before you start dumping chemicals, because you’ll want to circulate the water. If your pool is really dirty, consider running your filter system on the “recirculate” setting instead of “filter.” Doing so bypasses your filter material

— whether you use sand, earth or cartridge filter — and will save you the headache of cleaning that stuff out.

Step 3: Balance alkalinity

Alkalinity is the presence of alkaline materials in your water. If you dip your test strip into the water, what you’re probably most likely to find is your alkalinity is sky high. And if that’s the case, it’s probably because — like me — you have hard well water. The reason why you want to balance alkalinity first is that if you don’t, you’ll find it nearly impossible to move the pH of the water to the right range. If you need to lower your alkalinity, use either a powdered alkalinity down chemical or the good old standard muratic acid that your pool store probably stocks in its warehouse. (Be careful with muratic acid, it is very potent and will burn you if you spill it on yourself.) If your alkalinity needs to come up, use an alkalinity up chemical, which in essence is basically just baking soda. As with all chemicals, add it in batches, let it circulate for a few hours and retest. You don’t want to overload

your water and it’s wasteful to overshoot your target. Your chemical bottles will have instructions about recommended amounts to add.

Step 4: Balance pH

Your water’s pH is the scale that’s used to determine how acidic or basic a substance is. Measured on a scale of 0-14, with lower numbers representing acids (industrial acids, battery acid, fruit juices) and high numbers representing bases (baking soda, ammonia, bleach). Pure water has a neutral pH of 7, but for your pool, you’ll want it a little bit higher, around the 7.4 range. A pool with pH that is too low will irritate your skin and eyes and can corrode metal parts on your pool or filter system. A too-high pH can also be irritating to your body and is more likely to cause your water to get cloudy or cause some mineral scaling in your pool. If you’ve had to significantly adjust your alkalinity in on direction or the other, you’ll find that it’s probably dragged the pH with it. For example, if you put muratic acid in your water to lower the alkalinity, that’s going to make the water more acidic and drag the pH

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April 30, 2019

Get Ready for Summer


down too. To adjust, you’ll use either pH down or pH up chemicals. Again, add in small increments, circulate and retest.

Step 5: Shock

Shocking, also known as superchlorinating, is the process of giving your pool a high dose of chlorine, which works as a sanitizer. You wait to do this because if the alkalinity and pH isn’t balanced correctly, the chlorine is far less effective. Chlorine keeps your pool clean by killing bacteria or plant material like algae that is trying to multiply or grow in your water. I prefer to shock before cleaning out the pool, because it will help deal with any suspended algae that may be floating in the water or stuck to the walls/floor. If you try to vacuum first, you may have a clean floor but the water is still green. Whatever the recommended dose of shock is for your pool size, double it. Since it’s sat all winter, you’ll want to really hit it hard up front and blast anything growing in there. If you water was green, you may find that it suddenly looks a lot clearer and that now the bottom of your pool is coated in a grey-white dust. That’s dead algae. That’s a good sign.

Step 6: Vacuum the pool

Now is the best time to vacuum out any remaining debris. With alkalinity and pH balanced and with a dose of chlorine in the pool, you can effectively run that water and particulate matter through your filter. When you’re done, it’s recommended to clean out your filter. Backwash and rinse if you have a sand or earth filter or remove, clean and replace your cartridge if you have a cartridge filter.

Step 7: Stabilize

As a final step, add some chlorine stabilizer to your water. This chemical, called cyanuric acid, helps to hold



After winter, your pool water may be green and gross like my pool was in 2017.

chlorine levels in your water. Sunlight burns off chlorine and rainwater dilutes your water, reducing your chlorine level in comparison to the water volume. Having that stabilizer helps reduce some of the day-to-day loss, saving you money and keeping your water clean. It lasts a long time, so you may only need to refresh the load a few times over the summer.

Step 8: Enjoy and maintain!

At this point, your water should be clear and your pool is ready to use (once the chlorine level from that double dose of shock comes down a bit).

By following the correct steps to balance your water chemistry and clean your pool, you can have crystal-clear water within a week of opening.

In order to keep it that way, you’ll want to maintain the water throughout the season. Make sure to fill up a floater with chlorine tabs and keep it in your pool to slowly release additional chlorine in the water. This will take some adjusting depending on the size of your pool to figure out how to best set the release on the floater to ensure you’re not over- or under-chlorinating your pool. Run your filter at least eight hours a day to circulate the water. Stagnant water is more likely to develop algae. Shock your pool at least once a week (I usually do it Sunday evening) or any

time after heavy use like a pool party. You can also use an oxy-shock — a chlorine-free version of shock — to help sanitize your pool. Oxy-shock also has the benefit of being safe to swim in after about an hour as opposed to chlorine shock, which you shouldn’t hop in for at least 12 hours after. Skim the pool surface with a net to get debris out and vacuum the pool as needed. Keep your skimmer basket and pump basket clean of any debris that gets captured. And clean out your filter by backwashing from time to time if you notice your filter pressure changing from normal.

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April 30, 2019

Summerizing boats key to enjoyable boating season Area marinas available to provide the service BY MIKE MARTURELLO


ANGOLA — Making sure you have an enjoyable boating season in the coming summer starts in the spring with proper maintenance to get ready for the months ahead on the water. You want to enjoy your time on the water with your family and friends without having to worry about damages or trouble on the lake by making sure you have everything ready to go for the season. For Tracey Daler, manager at Lake Pleasant Marine in Steuben County, he starts with an inspection of the electrical components of a boat. “Basically you want to make sure you have a good battery, depending on what kind of boat you have,” he said. “Make sure all battery cables are clean and

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tight.” Also, inspect your wires and cables; frayed or dirty battery cables can leave you stranded, which could lead to an embarrassing tow or potentially considerable towing costs. Also, if you are one who trailers the boat from lake to lake, check the wires on your trailer as well, since you could be ticketed for malfunctioning tail lights on your boat trailer, just like you can for your automobile. “Just make sure all electrical works before you put in, lights, blowers, gauges,” Daler said. T.J. Guthrie, who handles sales and marketing for Casey’s Cove at Crooked Lake, says getting your boat ready for the summer is probably best when put into the hands of professionals. “Have a trained technician look at it. There’s so many things that can go wrong over the winter,” Guthrie said. “Winter’s pretty harsh on things.” That’s especially true if you store your boat outdoors in the winter. Even if the boat is shrink wrapped, Guthrie said, mice and chipmunks can find their way in, sometimes chewing up wiring, which isn’t something the typical boat owner

can repair. Another big component on a boat is the various fluids that keep things running smoothly. “Check all the fluids and make sure everything’s full in the lower unit and the engine,” Daler said. A very important part is the lower unit, which is the drive unit that powers the prop on stern drives and outboards. And just like your car, you want to make sure the engine oil is clean and full and if you have a boat with automatic transmission, make sure the transmission oil is full. Inboard boats only have a transmission, for example. Even if you don’t trailer your boat from home to the lake on a regular basis, it is very important to make sure your wheel bearings are adequately lubricated so they don’t lock up on the drive to or from the lake. Make sure your safety equipment is adequate for all of your passengers — in other words, have plenty of life jackets and throwable flotation devices — and other equipment, like fire extinguishers, are up-to-date. Browse sporting-goods

outfitters for additional safety equipment, including air horns specifically designed for marine use, emergency signal flags, bailing scoops and first aid medical kits. Finally, as anyone who uses the boat ramp at Northwest Landing Marina at Lake James knows, you need to be reminded to make sure your drain plugs are in the hull of your boat, if you have one. There’s nothing worse than dropping the boat in the lake only to have it fill with water and possibly sink because you forgot to replace that hull plug. “Pulling the boat off the bottom of the lake is kind of tough,” Guthrie said. And, if you or your marina remove engine plugs from your motor in the fall, make sure those are replaced, too, Daler said. Not doing so could end up filling your boat with water, also. Guthrie said another good tip is to run your boat for a while, in the water at the boat ramp or hooked up to a fresh water source of water through the boat’s cooling system/intake. That way you can run the boat to make sure everything is going to be alright once you leave the ramp and head out on the lake.

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April 30, 2019

Get Ready for Summer

Spring cleaning the garage

BY STAFF REPORTS Spring is a good time to clean up spaces that have been left largely untouched during the winter, and no space fits this description better than the garage. Fortunately, with the right tools, some creativity and some elbow grease it is possible to organize any garage into a more functional space.

Getting started

The first step in reorganizing a garage is taking stock of what’s still needed and what needs thrown away. A video from Lowes recommends gathering items and grouping them into categories, such as lawn tools, children’s toys, etc. Items that are no longer needed should be sorted into three piles — those to be donated or sold, those to be recycled and those to be thrown away. Lowes then recommends cleaning the garage. To reorganize, draw a plan on grid paper of where large storage shelves or items like mowers and vehicles will go, the video recommends, paying attention to measurements.


There are dozens of ways to organize a garage. Here are just a few: • Store items on a slat wall or peg board

• Outline your tools on the wall so you know where each one goes • Store screws, nails and small items in recycled containers • Use a magnetic strip to hold tools such as wrenches, screwdrivers and scissors • Use slices of PVC, concrete forming tubes or boards nailed between studs to hold gardening tools • Store gardening tools off the ground so other items, like mowers or wheelbarrows, can be stored beneath them • Use storage bin towers to utilize vertical space while still making storage totes easy to access • Buy or build a ball storage cage to keep these hard-to-store items in order • Get shelf brackets with hooks on the end for double duty • Consider ceiling-mounted shelves or storage in the rafters for rarely used items or extension ladders • Utilize the space between joists for storage • To keep bins organized, label them with large numbers and index everything inside the totes by number • Store bikes on the ceiling or in a bike rack Many other garage storage ideas can be found at familyhandyman.com/storage-organization.

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April 30, 2019


STORMWATER POLLUTANTS FIND THEIR WAY INTO WHERE WE FISH, WHAT WE DRINK AND WHERE WE SWIM. Everything that goes into our storm drains – grass clippings, soap, pesticides, pet waste, whatever – makes its way straight to our streams. Stormwater pollution is our biggest source of water pollution. It all adds up. It all comes back. And you’re the solution, now that you know where it goes.


Angola’s Clean Water Utilities (260) 665-2514 www.angolain.org

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