•09/06/16 • Comments Off on LABOR DAY LAWN RENOVATION

Fall is the best time to plant grass seed because days are warm and nights are cooler. With a little luck, there is some rain to help with the watering. My lawn had some summer damage plus I could see there was quite a bit of thatch which restricts the benefit of rain or fertilizer. I’ve had the lawn aerated periodically over the years but that’s not the same benefit as dethatching. So last Friday I went to Voss Brothers in Powell to rent a dethatcher.
lawn dethatcher
The tines were set lower when I did the front yard because I wanted to “tear it up” more. I raised the tines for the backyard since it’s larger and I didn’t want all the work! (Thanks to two special neighbors who helped me to unload & reload the heavy monster from my Jeep.) While the machine has a bag on the back, realistically only half the thatch makes its way to the bag. I still had to rake the remaining thatch as is visible in the photo.

After I raked the thatch, I set my mower lower to mow the grass and pick up the final remaining thatch.Scotts lawn products

Next I made my first of THREE trips to Ohio Mulch to get top soil. (All together I bought 48 bags of soil!) I needed to fill in some low areas to even out the lawn. Then I applied Scotts® Starter Fertilizer and Scotts® Sunny grass seed. Afterward I lightly spread the top soil over the barest parts of the lawn to protect the seed while waiting for it to germinate. Lastly I watered all the areas.
watering new seedcovering new seed

In the next few days I’ll be doing the same thing to the backyard. Then I’ll be praying for rain so my water bill doesn’t go out of sight. Hopefully I’ll be able to show you good results in a month or two.



ONE WEEK LATER: The perennial ryegrass portion of the grass seed is growing!

new grass germinates in one week


TWO WEEKS LATER: Lookin’ good!

New lawn seed after 2 weeks

ONE MONTH LATER: Back to normal lawn!

New lawn seeding after 1 month

ONE MONTH LATER: Even the backyard is looking great after all the thatch removal!

Lawn reseeding after dethatching



new landscaping

In May 2015 I added a new landscape bed to the back of my home (above). I raised the level by adding 900lbs of soil (oh my back!) then planted some shrubs and perennials. I wanted “tall” shrubs to conceal the empty space between the ground and the windows. A Butterflybush is in the center. On either side of it are Ligularias. The outer shrubs are Ninebark.

The plants have grown quite a bit this year, and the Ligularia are blooming. I was most interested in it since I was totally unfamiliar with this plant and was eager to see what it “did”. It has huge elephant-ear-like leaves and has just started with the tall daisy-like blooms. While it looks like one plant in this photo, actually there are 3 plants that have grown larger than the plant tag descriptor said. I will need to divide them next spring.

Midnight Ligularia

Compare today’s photo with the top photo to see how much growth there has been in one year. Various butterflies are enjoying the flowers on both the butterflybush and the ligularia.

new landscaping

new shrubs

The one thing I did do correctly was plant the shrubs with plenty of space away from the house even though it looked odd last year. They should get even larger, although they’re easy to prune to control ultimate size.


•08/01/16 • Comments Off on LITTLE HUMMERS LOVE THEIR SWING

Last Spring I bought a tiny hummingbird swing while shopping at Wild Birds Unlimited. I was skeptical of the promo that they would really use it, but it was cute so I got it. It’s been in use for several months and the tiny birds love it! They use to sit on top of the shepherd’s hook but I’m sure the swing is sized much better for their feet. The male(s) and female(s) are there most of the time. It’s just below my kitchen window so I can watch them. But if they happen to see me they fly away … as this one did in the video.



Tiger Swallowtail butterfly
My butterfly bush is in bloom now so today I saw the first butterfly sucking the nectar. I did a web search and determined it is the common Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.


•07/16/16 • Comments Off on RACCOONS “MAY” HAVE BEEN DEFEATED!

This past week I went to Wild Birds Unlimited to get more seed – thanks to the ravaging raccoons! During my conversation with one of the sales clerks, she told me how she had solved a problem she had with squirrels climbing a tree to get to a feeder. She bought corrugated PVC at Lowe’s and wrapped it around a portion of the tree trunk. The squirrels couldn’t climb the slippery PVC.

I visited the Menards store near my home to see if they had the corrugated PVC. They did – in various colors. It comes in 26″x8′ or 12′ panels. I cut it to the size needed to fit around two of the feeders to prevent the raccoons from being able to climb.
PVC barrier to prevent raccoons

It worked for 3 nights. The peanuts didn’t disappear over night which means they weren’t able to climb, although I did see some scratches on the bottom piece. Since the plastic looked rather dorky, I bought some spray paint colors to “camouflage” the plastic. My neighbor chuckled at my contraption, but when the raccoons raid HIS feeders because they can’t get to MINE, then maybe he won’t find it so funny!

PVC raccoon barrier painted camo

Click to enlarge

I’m not claiming victory yet, but I AM ENCOURAGED!!

EDIT UPDATE: It’s been ONE WEEK since I added the “barriers”. There has been no sign that the raccoons have eaten any of the seed overnight. I’M CLAIMING VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!



The carpet tack strips seem to have no impact on the raccoons feet. The baby raccoons love the peanuts that are in a squirrel feeder. When squirrels step on the bottom ledge the top lid is lifted so they can access the peanuts inside. The raccoons have no problem with this maneuver. At some point, another animal scares them to climb into the trees. It has a fuzzy tail and may be a roaming cat, but I can’t really tell.

I’m really frustrated! The raccoons don’t bother my four neighbor’s feeders at all and they have the same type of feeders. The only clue is they buy their seed at Walmart and I buy mine from Wild Bird’s Unlimited. May be a case of preferring steak vs hamburger.


•07/05/16 • Comments Off on RACCOONS ARE TOUGH TO DEFEAT
Raccoons climb over fence to yard

Click to enlarge

In my battle to deter the raccoons from finding my yard a self-serve deli, I have tried the following:

  • Moving feeders away from accessible tree limbs.
  • Applying brake grease, Capzasin and Vicks menthol to feeder poles.
  • Trimming branches of nearby shrubs.

So none of those things worked!

I still prefer to deter them (because they carry diseases that could be harmful to Murphy) rather than have a pest company trap them. The pest folks tell me that even though they live-trap, they are required to kill them later because they are considered a “nuisance” animal and if moved they just become a problem for someone else. Plus, the charge for the traps starts at $350!

Tack strip around bird feeder pole

Click to enlarge

Over the weekend I came up with a plan … carpet tack strips!

I bought a box of tack strips, L-braces and brown spray paint.

My plan was to make a “box” of the strips to box-in the four feeder poles. Then I would paint them to blend with the landscaping. My thinking was that the tacks would hurt the raccoons’ feet thus deterring them from climbing up to the feeder.

I congratulated myself for being so smart!!!

I checked the feeders the next morning. This is what I found on the post that holds a peanut feeder for the squirrels. The spruce limbs have been trimmed such that squirrels can jump to the feeder but too far away for the raccoons to climb to the feeder. The tack strips are on all four sides of the post. I couldn’t believe there were muddy footprints all over the post – ALL SIDES – and on the top as the peanuts were eaten!!!
Tack strips on bird feeder post

I don’t know what more to do! Four of my neighbors have no problem with their feeders even though those feeders are near trees or use the shepherd’s hooks poles. WHY ME!