Cleaning and Sharpening Garden Shears

Keeping your garden tools sharp is essential to the proper maintenance of your shrubs and hedges. This requires regular cleaning, which removes dirt and sap from the blades.

Unfortunately, even with regular cleaning, some dirt is too stubborn to be removed with a cloth. If this is the case, use a wire brush or steel wool to remove the dirt.

The same is true for shears that have become rusty. For best results, disassemble the shears and clean between the blades.

Once the blades are separated, you should scrub them with a mild soap and then rinse them with water. Dry both of the blades with an old sock or towel.

With a diamond file or sharpening stone, sharpen the blades and lubricate them before putting them back together. Of course, the blades may also be sharpened when the shears are still together if there is no reason to take them apart.

Preparing Soil for Planting in a Garden Bed

A resident of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Brendan Wetzel leads the corporate and residential landscaping business Yardley Landscaping and Paving Company. Through his business, Brendan Wetzel assists clients with everything from hedge trimming and fertilization to garden bed installation and maintenance.

Poor soil quality in a garden bed can have a significant impact on the overall health and growth of the plants in it. Yet, many gardeners fail to realize how important soil quality truly is.

The first step in improving the soil quality is to evaluate what type of soil is in your garden bed. This involves considering the texture of the soil, its density, and its propensity to clump together. Depending on how your soil behaves, you can figure out its general particle mixture. For instance, clay soils are dense and hold moisture better, while silts are tightly packed and impede air circulation.

After you have identified the type of soil you have, you can add in the minerals and nutrients that the soil is lacking. For clay soils, mineral particles found in sandy soils and silts must be added to create a more balanced mixture.

Beyond balancing the soil mixture, you must break the soil up using a hoe or tiller. These tools loosen the top layers of soil and enable water, fertilizer, and air to reach further down. Tilling the soil also encourages the roots of the plants to grow deeper. You must break up about 6 to 8 inches of soil to mix in any added organic materials, as well.

Using Mulch to Enhance the Health of a Garden Bed

Soil Photo by Kyle Ellefson on Unsplash

Brendan Wetzel is an established Bucks County, Pennsylvania entrepreneur who leads the Yardley Landscaping and Paving Company and provides comprehensive services, ranging from lawn aeration to deck building. One area in which Brendan Wetzel has extensive experience is in bed plantings and maintenance.

A critical aspect of keeping plants healthy involves the regular placement of mulch. In addition to fending off weeds, mulch serves to deflect sunlight during the hot summer months, which ensures maximum ground moisture retention and keeps the soil cool. In the winter, mulch functions as a heat-retaining blanket that protects and insulates vulnerable roots.

Organic mulches also add nutrients to the soil as they decompose over time. For this reason, they should be regularly replenished. One common approach is to add a layer of 2 to 3 inches every couple of years, as well as between a half-inch and an inch as a topcoat each spring.

With a proper amount of mulch in place, take care to aim water at the plant roots, rather than the breadth of the mulch bed. This will help to prevent excessive bacterial and fungal growth. After extremely heavy rains, take time to fluff up the mulch with a rake or hoe, which will allow it to dry out.