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How to Mulch Your Yard Properly

6/25/2018 5:00:00 AM

By: Katie Kuchta,

There are many benefits to surrounding those beloved plants in your garden with a layer of mulch. Not only does mulch look nice, but it can also provide an added level of nutrients to the soil while helping keep water near plants during dry spells. Check out the following guide on how to mulch like a pro.

Choose Organic or Inorganic

The first step to adding mulch to a garden area is choosing the type of mulch to use. Organic mulch consists of a variety of natural items that adds nutrients back into the soil, but will need to be reapplied every few years. Inorganic mulch is made up of rocks or stones that can be used around plants in order to add a layer of protection from weeds, while creating an overall polished look. Both options are good for plants because they provide a layer of protection and promote excellent drainage.

Choose the Variety

Many people think that organic mulch only comes in the form of bark dust, but there are many other options that can be classified as mulch as well. Shredded leaves are an easy mulching choice, especially in the fall when homeowners have an abundance of them. Grass clippings and shredded bark can be used around plants to provide extra nutrients and help retain water. Compost can be used as mulch​ if made properly but can sometimes encourage weed growth. Pine needles are a good mulch option, but make sure to only use them around plants that thrive in a high acid environment.

Inorganic mulch varieties include gravel, river rock, or even glass rocks that help keep moisture near the roots of the plant and help to keep the temperature steady. Choosing the right inorganic mulch depends a lot on personal preference and color choice, because many stones come in a variety of colors. Inorganic mulch doesn’t have to be replaced as often as organic mulch, but it can be much more expensive.

​Know How Much You Need

You’ll want to spread mulch around the base of plants about two to three inches thick in order to provide enough mulch to support plants. It’s always better to overdo mulch​ than to underdo it. Putting down less mulch will cause weeds to grow but laying down more mulch can invite pests to make their home in your garden. Calculate how much mulch you need by measuring around plants before you head to the store or make a delivery order.

Apply Anytime

You can add mulch around the base of plants in your garden during any part of the year. You can’t hurt your plants by adding mulch when it fits your schedule or budget. Anytime you add mulch, you raise the nutrient level in the soil and help those plants retain water for longer amounts of time. Many times, mulching is done in the fall due to the abundance of leaves available but anytime is a good time to mulch in order to support healthy plant growth.

Protect Large Plants

For plants or trees within your lawn area, mulching can become a good way to add protection against mowing. Placing a few inches of mulch in a circle around large shrubs or trees is an easy way to ensure that the mower can’t accidentally hurt the base of larger plants in your garden. Make sure the mulch is applied evenly and avoid mounding it up towards the trunk of the plant in order to keep insects away.

Adding a layer of mulch around plants is a great way to protect the area as well as provide a ring of moisture retention. Organic or inorganic mulches can be used and added around plants anytime during the year. Knowing how much mulch you need is important in minimizing trips to the store as well. Protect large plants with mulch out in the lawn to help keep mower blades a safe distance from the center of each plant. Adding mulch to your garden and lawn areas is a great way to add beauty and enhance the overall condition of your outdoor living space.

How to Get the Lawn of Your Dreams

5/23/2018 5:00:00 AM

In partnership with the National Association of Landscape Professionals​, Ariens is providing its customers with a variety of lawncare tips. For more tips and tricks to achieving the perfect lawn, please visit​. ​​​

Are you green with envy… of your neighbor’s lawn?  Rest assured, it didn’t get that way overnight. Having a beautiful, lush and weed-free lawn takes time.​

Beautiful lawns share several of the same characteristics. They are mowed correctly and fertilizer and weed control have been applied at the appropriate times. A picture-perfect lawn also receives the right amount of moisture and is aerated annually to relieve soil compaction and give it a breath of fresh air.

Since all lawns eventually tire out, your neighbor’s envy-worthy lawn has likely been overseeded a few times – that is, has grass seed applied - and even had an unsightly bare spot or two thanks to visits from hungry rodents and other pests but those spots have long been patched.

Don’t fret if your neighbor won’t share secrets with you. Lawn care experts will gladly share their expertise and experience. They’ve been trained to identify and eradicate insects and diseases, install and maintain irrigation systems to ensure your lawn receives the moisture it needs and test your soil to determine what nutrients may be lacking.

They know when to mow and how much of the grass blade should be removed at one time, and they understand weed control. The best way to control weeds is to have a healthy, lush lawn, but getting there may require assistance from the application of pre- and post-emergent controls.

Healthy lawns often need some “little extras” to give them a boost. Aeration not only relieves compaction, but it opens up the soils’ pores so moisture and air easily reaches plant roots. Overseeding directly after aeration protects seeds and gives them a better opportunity to germinate.

If your neighbor has a mature lawn, there have likely been some other and possibly more dramatic moves to keep it beautiful. Landscapes evolve, meaning trees and shrubs grow. Lawn grass may now be competing with tall trees and sprawling shrubs for nutrients, water, and even sunshine.  This may require overseeding areas with a shade-tolerant grass, applying more fertilizer, or even reconfiguring the irrigation system to apply water in different.

The key to a beautiful is keeping it in balance with nature. 
This requires:​

  • Mowing at the right time and right height with sharp blades.
  • Applying a fertilizer that supplies nutrients your lawn may be lacking.
  • Keeping weeds, insects, and diseases in check.
  • Aerating to allow air and moisture to penetrate the soil.
  • Overseeding to give tired lawns a boost and fill in bare areas.
  • Making sure your lawn evolves with your landscape.

If you’re dreaming about a beautiful lawn, but can’t seem to make it a reality, it may be time to bring in a pro. Lawn care experts have been known to turn dreams into reality on a daily basis. Visit for more information. ​

Why Change Your Oil?

5/7/2018 5:00:00 AM

By: Aaron Abler, Technical Writer,

Your en​gine

Oil is the lifeblood of your engine, and it's extremely sensitive. Using clean, quality oil does wonders for the life and efficiency of your engine, but conversely, operating with dirty or degraded oil puts you at risk for hefty engine repair bills or even worse, a trip to the junkyard. While the engine manufacturer did most of the work to power your equipment, you're responsible for completing regularly scheduled oil changes to protect your engine and keep your lawn cut.

 How engine oil works

Oil serves more than one purpose. For starters, oil's viscous, or slippery properties allow the tight-fitting, polished parts in an engine to slide past each other at thousands of revolutions per minute. By removing friction from those intricate moving parts, your engine uses less effort and operates more efficiently. Additionally, oil acts as a heat transfer. After cycling through the engine, it carries damaging heat away from those fast moving parts and into the sump where it cools before recycling.

Oil deteriorates

Oil doesn't remain in the same condition as it was in the bottle. Besides heating to temperatures in excess of a brutal 200 degrees Fahrenheit, oil quality is compromised by oxidation and contact with moisture. Oxidation turns your oil to sludge, and warming and cooling across a broad range of temperatures allows condensation to form inside the engine, causing corrosion. So whereas an oil's viscosity or "rating of slipperiness" may have been 10W-30 (as an example) to start, it eventually degrades below the manufacturer's specification. The oil change intervals defined by the manufacturer in the engine manual are based on calculations of when the oil will deteriorate below its original condition.

 Oil becomes contaminated

Unchanged air filters can wreak havoc on oil in one of two ways, if not a combination of both. If plugged, air finds other passages into the engine, allowing dust and dirt to enter the oil system, unfiltered. Or, the plugged air filter chokes the engine, making it consume more gasoline and dilute the oil.

Additionally, carbon, soot and acids produced during combustion and the shedding of tiny metallic shavings from friction between engine components all pollute the oil system. Depending on the quality of the oil filter, many of those impurities are caught, but only until the filter reaches capacity. After the filter is saturated, contaminants accumulate in the oil system where they remain until drained.

After the first 10 hours

Oil becomes extremely contaminated during its first hours of operation, or its "break-in" period. Certain engine components, though engineered and manufactured to precise tolerances, aren't a perfect fit. By design, the wall of a new engine cylinder has peaks; it's not perfectly smooth at a microscopic level. As the piston moves rapidly up and down that new cylinder, its rings file away the peaks into metallic shavings that deposit into the oil system until the end of the break-in period when the peaks become flattened. Using oil with a detergent will help lift those particles and allow them to drain from the system more easily.

 Changing engine oil

You can't cheat physics. After a certain amount of use, engine oil deteriorates, becomes contaminated and requires changing. Whether you do it yourself or rely on one of numerous Ariens® or Gravely® service dealers to complete equipment maintenance, oil changes shouldn't be approached with a one-size-fits-all mentality. Engines of different sizes and manufacturers require different oil quantities, types, ratings and filters and should be performed at the intervals outlined in your manual unless extra use dictates otherwise. Above all, make sure it gets done.

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