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No garden is immune to disease. Even the most attentive, experienced gardeners have had to confront disease in their gardens, which can lead to significant damage and potentially kill plants.

plants. Speak with a local gardening center about invasive insects and how to address infestations without harming the plant.

Potting soil vs. garden soil

Various bacterial, fungal and viral diseases can affect gardens, and the University of Maryland Extension notes that fungicides, which are chemicals that destroy fungus, are only rarely recommended to combat disease. In fact, a proactive approach rooted in prevention is often the most effective way to reduce risk for disease in gardens.

• Choose the right varieties of plant. Choosing disease-resistant varieties is an effective way to prevent disease in gardens. Gardeners who have confronted disease in their gardens in the past should do their best to identify which diseases were present and then choose plants that are considered resistant to those diseases. A local garden center professional can help gardeners who are uncertain about what to plant. • Plant in the right spots. The choice of where to plant is significant. Avoid wet areas with insufficient drainage. Wet soil can decrease plants’ chances for survival because of excess water and a lack of oxygen. If the only spots available for planting tend to be especially wet, consider planting in raised beds or having a French drain installed. Learn how much light plants need prior to planting them. Some can

As the planting season approaches, gardeners can take various steps to make their plants and vegetables less vulnerable to disease.

If you want your plants to thrive, you need to use the right type of soil. Here’s a look at the difference between potting soil and garden soil.

thrive in shady areas, while others require ample sunlight each day.

• Plant at the right time. Planting too early when the soil is not yet warm enough can make plants vulnerable to disease by weakening their ability to fight. Use a soil thermometer to determine soil temperature and only plant when the conditions for planting are ideal.

• Harvest on time. When planting vegetables, it’s imperative that the vegetables are harvested on time. The University of Georgia Extension notes that fully mature vegetables left on the plant attract disease and are vulnerable to insect infestations. • Control insect infestations. Certain insects can spread disease, so it’s important that gardeners learn to recognize which insects pose a threat to their

Potting soil Potting soil has a mixture of organic materials and minerals that help plants grow in containers. Moss, compost and other matter feeds the plants, while minerals like perlite and vermiculite facilitate drainage and prevent the soil from compacting. Additionally, potting soil is sterile, which protects plants from fungi and other pathogens.

Garden soil Garden soil is regular dirt enriched with compost or other organic materials. It can be used to create and maintain gardens or raised beds to ensure the soil contains enough nutrients to support plant life. Without additives like perlite, garden soil doesn’t provide enough drainage for potted plants, but it can help prevent flower beds from drying out by retaining moisture. It’s also more affordable than potting mixes. If you’re not sure what type of soil you need, speak with an expert at your local farmers market, nursery or garden center.

PAGE 14B - Thursday, March 25, 2021 - MAINLINE NEWSPAPERS

Stay safe when working in the yard this spring and summer

A day spent working in the yard is an ideal way to pass the time on spring and summer afternoons. A pristine landscape can add value to a property and instill pride in homeowners who put a lot of thought and effort into their lawns and gardens. A sun-soaked day can make it easy to overlook potential threats when working in a lawn or garden. But safety precautions are of the utmost necessity when working in the yard, where the risk for serious injury is considerable. For example, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that, in 2016, more than 90,000 patients, including nearly 5,000 children, were treated in hospital emergency rooms for lawn mowerrelated injuries.

Lawn- and garden-related injuries can be prevented without going to great lengths. • Know your terrain before mowing. Knowing the terrain in your own yard can reduce the risk for accident or injury. This can be especially important when mowing the lawn with a riding mower. Adhere to manufacturers’ recommendations regarding inclines to reduce tip-over accidents that can pin riders beneath the mower. Study hilly areas of the yard prior to mowing so you know which areas are safe to mow with a riding mower and which areas are best mowed with a walk-behind mower. For greater control when using a walk-behind mower on an incline, mow parallel to the slope. • Apply and reapply sunscreen. Sunburns may not require trips to the emergency room, but they can still be serious. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes that sunburn is a leading cause in the majority of cases of basal cell

carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. The SCF recommends applying sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside to allow the sunscreen to bond to your skin. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and more often if you’re sweating excessively. The SCF recommends broad spectrum sunscreens, which protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Though a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 is acceptable when walking the dog or driving to work, the SCF advises using a product with an SPF of 30 or higher when


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engaging in extended outdoor activities like gardening or mowing.

than 164,000 people are injured each year falling off a ladder. Ask a significant other or neighbor to hold the ladder in place while you climb up to reduce your risk of falling. If cutting large branches, cut them piecemeal to reduce the risk of being injured by heavy


• Employ the buddy system. Use the buddy system when pruning tall trees or performing any tasks that require a ladder. The Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania reports that more

See SAFE, page 15B

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After a long winter cooped up inside, and with warmer weather on the horizon, now’s the perfect opportunity to thoroughly clean your home. Here are a few tips that can make spring cleaning easier.

Clean from top to bottom Even if you use a cloth or brush designed to trap and hold dust, there are sure to be particles that get swept into the air as you clean. Since dust settles, however, you can catch any remaining debris as you work your way toward the floor. Choose the right tools Invest in quality equipment to ensure your cleaning is as effective as possible. For example, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter will significantly reduce the number of particles that get recirculated into the air. Similarly, a strong sponge will hold up to scrubbing even the


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falling branches.

• Inspect the property for insect hives. The OIP notes that the most common insect stings in spring come from bees, wasps and hornets. Homeowners who are not careful can inadvertently come across hives when doing spring cleanup, making them vulnerable to bites and stings. That can be very dangerous for anyone, and especially so for people with a history of allergic reactions to insect bites or stings. Inspect areas where you’ll be working to make sure insects haven’t put down roots in your property. If you discover any hives and are hesitant to remove them on your own, contact a local landscaping firm.

Lawn and garden accidents and injuries can be serious. Thankfully, accidents and injuries are easily prevented when homeowners take a few simple safety precautions while tending to their lawns and gardens.

toughest stains if it’s paired with the right cleaning product.

Use your tools correctly If your vacuum has several attachments, alternate between them to effectively clean blinds, curtains, fabric lampsha¬des, armchairs and narrow spaces. Do you have a high-performance washer? If so, take the time to read the labels on your rugs, cushions and other decorative pie-ces so you can wash them using the right settings. Visit local stores to find all the cleaning products and equipment you need to make your home shine this spring.


Are you ready to shake off the bleakness of winter and embrace the season of new beginnings? Here’s a guide to help you welcome spring into your home in just two days.

SATURDAY In the morning, focus on cleaning your home from top to bottom. Dust and vacuum each room, and put away thick blankets and other winter decor. Now’s also a good opportunity to declutter your home, setting aside items to throw out, recycle or donate.

In the afternoon, get all of your shopping done. Head to a farmers market or garden shop to pick up an assortment of plants and flowers. Additionally, stop by a home decor store to find spring accessories that’ll help brighten up your living space. SUNDAY In the morning, transplant your new flowers

and greenery into pots you picked out the day before. Take the time to create a variety of arrangements. While you’re at it, trim yellow leaves and dead stems from the plants already in your home. See SPRING, page 16B

PAGE 16B - Thursday, March 25, 2021 - MAINLINE NEWSPAPERS

Techniques to keep mosquitoes out of your backyard oasis

The value of a retreat-like backyard was never more apparent than in 2020. Over the last year-plus, much of the world has been forced to stay home as a global pandemic has claimed millions of lives while countless others have had to fight to survive in hospitals. It’s no surprise people have looked for a respite from the harsh realities of living during a deadly pandemic, and many turned their attention to their own backyards to provide such an escape. The online home remodeling platform Houzz reported a 58 percent annual increase in project leads for home professionals in June 2020. Contractors who specialize in outdoor spaces saw the biggest increase in demand. A revamped outdoor space can provide the perfect retreat for homeowners who want to get away from it all. But one winged, unwelcome guest can quickly transform an oasis into an uninviting space. Mosquitoes make their presence felt in many areas each summer. These pesky, often hungry insects can carry disease, and their bites can be painful and itchy. Homeowners can try these three techniques to keep mosquitoes out of their backyards. 1. Remove standing water. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, who don’t even need a lot of water to successfully breed. A daily walk around the property may uncover kids’ toys, empty flower pots or other small receptacles that can collect water. Even clogged gutters can lead to the accumu-

lation of a small amount of water, and that can be enough for mosquitoes to breed. Remove these potential breeding grounds when you find them, and do so each day, as mosquitoes mature from eggs to nymphs in roughly four days.

2. Mow regularly. Mowing the lawn so the grass never gets too high is another way to make a backyard less hospitable to mosquitoes. The pest experts at Terminix® note that mosquitoes seek tall grass

to protect them from the elements, including wind and hot summer sun. Mowing enough so grass never gets too high in summer can make backyards less inviting to mosquitoes.

3. Plant with mosquitoes in mind. The home remodeling experts at HGTV note that plants can be part of homeowners’ strategy to repel mosquitoes. Various plants have mosquito-repellant qualities. For example, bee balm releases a fragrance as it grows, and mosquitoes don’t like that fragrance. Homeowners can speak with a local lawn and garden professional for recommendations about plants that can thrive in their region and repel mosquitoes at the same time. Mosquitoes can make it hard to enjoy a backyard oasis. But various strategies can help homeowners keep these unwanted guests out of their backyards.


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In the afternoon, set about finding spots for your new decorative items. Play around with tones, textures and shapes to best showcase each piece. Consider rearran¬ging some of your furniture or installing lighter curtains to make the space feel airier. After the weekend’s over, you can sit back and enjoy the beauty of spring in your own home.

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