Items tagged with 'yard stuff'

Five reasons to not rake those leaves

brown oak leaves

It is near the end of fall. The leaves have mostly fallen from the trees. So time to rake them from the yard, right? PROBABLY NOT! (* Though see comments below about maple tar spots.)

Here are five reasons:

1. Leaves are basically fertilizer waiting to happen, and you can speed along the process by running them over with a mower. You could use a mulching blade for a very fine chop, but just the regular mower will do fine. [Washington Post]

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Good lawn mowing service in Albany?

overgrown grass

Alie emails:

We just bought a house in the Pine Hills neighborhood, and are hoping to find someone who can mow our lawn until the end of the season (and potentially continue next season on a regular schedule). We tried a friend's company, but they were booked solid and didn't have room for an additional client this late in the season. Open to a professional landscaping company or a reliable kid with a mower who wants to make a few bucks in his free time.

"Reliable Kid With a Mower" really should be a name that someone uses. Generation Z, get on that.

Got a suggestion for Alie? Please share! And, as usual, a sentence or two about why your suggesting a service/company/person or some other option can be very helpful.

A good place to buy plants for a late-start vegetable garden?

lettuce bok choy radishes in garden

Vexed in Voorheesville emails:

Due to the weather and a busy schedule, I still haven't planted my vegetable garden. Does anyone have a good suggestion for a nursery with a healthy and reliable stock of plants?

The plant sales held by orgs such as Capital Roots and the Cornell Cooperative Extension are good places to score these sorts of places. Unfortunately, those sales have already happened.

So, have a suggestion for Vexed's late-start vegetable garden? Please share!

Spring plant sales 2017

cornell cooperative extension albany county plant sale 2013

The very popular Cornell Cooperative Extension garden education day and plant sale in Voorheesville.

May is here and it's time for garden planning and planting. There are a bunch of plants sales around the Capital Region coming up over the next few weeks to help you fill out your garden (or container on a deck, or window box, or wherever).

Here's a quick list of some upcoming plant sales...

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Gardening classes that are popping up soon

lettuce bok choy radishes in garden

It's spring! It's happening!

Now is a good time to get started on garden plans for the spring and summer -- whether it's just a few flowers, tomatoes in containers on the porch, or raised beds in the backyard. Toward that end there are a whole bunch of garden classes / info sessions / talks coming up around the area, on topics ranging from vegetable gardening to composting to garden planning to street trees.

Here's a quick scan of some upcoming classes...

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A good contractor for installing a fence?

wood stockade style fenceErica emails:

I'm writing to ask for any recommendations for fencing companies. I know there are a number of options in the Albany area but I'd like to get a recommendation from someone who's had good experience with a company. The AOA community has been great with other topics so I thought I'd give this a shot too. Thanks!

As Erica mentions, there do seem to be at least of handful of companies out there that install fencing. So if you have suggestions, great.

To extend Erica's a question a little bit... We're also curious if there are companies that specialize in various types of fencing, whether it's wood or metal. Or if there are companies that tend do a lot of work on styles of fencing that go beyond the typical stockade style or chain link.

So, got a suggestion for Erica? Please share! And as with any question like this, a sentence or two about why you're recommending a company can be a big help.

A row of upcoming gardening classes

tomato seedlings in tray

The sun is shining. Birds are singing. Buds are on the trees. Spring has returned (again).

So now is a good time to be giving some thought to garden plans for the spring and summer -- whether it's just a few flowers, tomatoes in containers on the porch, or raised beds in the backyard. Toward that end there are a whole bunch of garden classes / info sessions coming up around the area, on topics ranging from vegetable gardening to composting to garden planning to mushrooms.

Here's a quick scan of some upcoming classes...

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A good yard care service?

overgrown grassSarah emails:

My husband and I are planning to be out of town for an extended period this summer, and we are looking for a company to take care of yard maintenance at our home in the Niskayuna/Schenectady area while we're gone. We'll need mowing, weeding, and watering. Can the AOA readers give us any recommendations?

This question comes up now and then, and the handful of answers usually ranges from small companies that are just one or two people to some of the larger services that employ crews of people.

So, if you have a suggestion of a specific service for Sarah, great. Please share!

We're also curious to hear if people have any thoughts or suggestions on what sorts of questions to ask or points to consider when hiring a yard service -- what the fee includes, how often/when the grass will get cut, that sort of stuff. As always, a sentence or two about why you're recommending a service can make a suggestion even more helpful.

(Also, an aside: After reading about organic lawn care last year, we raised the mower and started cutting the grass longer. The grass seemed to both stay greener and be better at crowding out the non-grass. Totally sticking with that method this year.)

A good lawn care service?

overgrown grassC. emails:

I am looking for a reliable lawn care service/individual in the area around Colonie Center. Basic mowing and fall cleanup. Can anyone suggest someone? Thank you for your help.

It sounds like C. isn't looking for stuff like fertilizing or weed control -- just mowing, basically. It seems like there are a bunch of services out there that do this -- both companies and single-person operations.

So, got a suggestion for C.? Please share! And we very much appreciate it when you include a sentence or two about why you're suggesting that company or person.

Where to get quality local compost?

garlic shoot spring gardenGinny asks via the Twitter:

Your favorite place for quality local finished compost? Building a few new beds. I need way more than I make.

As Ginny noted in a follow up, "Sadly not all compost is equal." It's not a bad idea to know where the compost is from, and what's (generally) gone into it.

So, got a suggestion for Ginny and other gardeners? Please share.

Plant sales this weekend

Thumbnail image for tomatoes on vineIt's plant sale season. A few coming up this weekend that might be worth a stop:

Capital District Community Gardens
The annual CDCG spring plant sale is Saturday from 9 am-1 pm at the Produce Project farm in Troy (8th Street between Eagle and Hutton). The plants are donated from local nurseries, and the proceeds benefit CDCG's programs. We've scored vegetable and landscaping plants at this sale in the past.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County
Saturday is "Garden Education Day" at the cooperative extension in Vorheesville from 9 am-1 pm -- but it's also a plant sale: annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables. Master gardeners will be there to answer questions. And there will be soil pH testing (first sample free, additional samples $3).

We've never been to this sale -- we hear the prices are good, but it gets packed, so show up early for the best selection.

Washington Park tulip bulbs
The annual Washington Park tulip dig and sale is this Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday is the dig-your-own sale in specific beds near the Moses statue starting at 9 am. As the announcement notes: "This allows people first crack at the tulips they want. We ask that for every bag they fill for themselves, they fill a bag for the sale on Sunday."

Bagged bulbs will be on sale Sunday at the lakehouse starting at 9 am. Bulbs are 25 to a bag for $5, limit 5 per person. And they go fast. Some will be labeled, some won't (surprise tulips).

Funds go to support the Washington Park Conservancy.

How to get a garden plot tilled?

shovel in garden dirtLaura emails with a timely question:

Can anyone recommend a reliable, reasonable service for rototilling a vegetable garden plot?

If you know of a service, great. But even if you don't, maybe you have some alternate ideas that could help Laura get her garden plot in shape.

Got a suggestion? Please share!

Where to get top soil, mulch, gravel?

gravel and sand on tarpMike emails:

Can you ask your readers where is a good place to find good top soil in the Troy, NY area.

You can get stuff like top soil, mulch, and gravel from a garden center or one of the big hardware stores, but you're usually going to be buying it by the bag. If you have a bigger project, often the best way is to have it delivered to your house -- it can be both cheaper and easier. The truck comes to you and dumps the dirt/mulch/gravel in a a big pile.

So, we'll extend Mike's question a little bit to include mulch, gravel, sand, rock, all that sort of stuff. Suggestions for either garden centers or delivery? Please share. Bonus points if you can provide details about price or ease of setting up delivery.

Grow on

tomatoes on vineThe Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County has a morning of spring gardening workshops lined up for April 6 (a Saturday). It looks like it could be a good way to get up to speed on starting a garden.

There are three classes in the lineup:
9-9:45 am: plant propagation ($10)
10-10:45 am: preparing your garden for spring ($5)
11-11:45 am: tool maintenance (including "weed whacker care") ($5)

Easy scan descriptions are after the jump. If you sign up for all three, the fee is $15.

The classes are at the Sustainable Living Center in Schenectady's Central Park (the greenhouses). Call 372-1622 for more info and registration.

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Where to get a lawn mower, or other small engine, fixed?

lawnmower grass closeupWatching the grass grow, Dave emails:

With all the nice weather I now have to mow my lawn far too early this year and my lawn mower won't start! Any recommendations for a shop that fixes a small engine in the capital region??

Upside: Dave won't have to mow the grass during this early spring until the mower's fixed. Downside: the grass will keep growing in the interim.

Got a suggestion for Dave? Please share!

Earlier on AOA: A place that fixes small appliances?

photo: Flickr user aperature_lag (Andrew Butitta)

A good pool service?

summer2008_otto_swimming.jpgAlex emails:

I always read the ask aoa articles and just bought a home with an in ground pool. I know nothing about pools, could you recommend someone local for service? I'm in Albany if that helps.

Or, if not a pool service, maybe a place where he can get some help learning about the stuff that needs to be taken care of.

Got a suggestion of Alex? Please share!

A good landscape/hardscape company?

terraced yardJim emails:

I am looking for a hard scape company that can terrace a hill for my parents. Any good leads on people that do that?

Any suggestions for Jim and his parents? Please share!

photo: Flickr user sleepyneko

What the early spring means for your garden

crocus 2012-03-19

Oh, hello there. (By the way: we posted a photo of a crocus from this same spot last year -- on April 11.)

It feels so much like May we keep having to remind ourselves that it's still only March.

And we're not the only ones who are confused. Outside the downtown office the tulips are already starting to sprout and trees are beginning to bud.

We're happy to have ditched our winter coats and we'll take any excuse to break out the flip-flops, but we're wondering what all this unseasonably warm weather will mean for Albany's tulips -- and other the flowers and plants.

So, just bonus springtime for gardeners -- or (cue ominous music)... cause for crocus concern?

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Where to go for gardening classes?

tomatoes on vineLooking to green her thumb, Julie emails:

Do you guys know where I can get the scoop on some vegetable gardening classes?

A few ideas that occurred to us: Capital District Community Gardens has offered classes in the past. And we've also seen classes listed from the local branches of the Cornell Cooperative Extension. But we haven't seen specific classes listed for this year, yet.

Got a suggestion for Julie? Please share!

A good yard service?

overgrown grass

Possible option: hire a flock of sheep.

In a recent comment, Leah asks:

Does anyone know a lawn service willing to tackle the insanity that is my lawn after this week of rain (that ideally won't cost an arm and a leg)? My eco friendly reel mower is just not going to cut it after all this - pun intended.

We've seen some lawns around town that are approaching a jungle-like appearance. We wouldn't look forward trying to push any sort of regular mower through that kind of growth.

So, anyone have suggestions for Leah? Please share!

A good tree removal service?

tree service guy in treeMiriam emails:

I'd love to find out if your readers have dealt with a tree removal service they felt did a good job for the right price. We have a half dead tree in our front lawn that's going to come down one way or another.

A few years back, we were happy with the service we got from a company out of Schenectady called TreeCo. They worked remarkably fast (while hanging from a tree, using a chain saw), cleaned up nicely, and all for what seemed like a fair price.

TreeCo doesn't appear to have a website.* Its number is 356-4177.

One thing to note: not all tree services offer stump grinding. Be sure to ask about it if you want the stump taken out, too.

We're guessing there are at least a handful of other local tree service options. Know of a good one? Please share!

* Small businesses of the Capital Region: please get a website -- even just a single page with your contact info. It will help everyone, most importantly you.

A good fence installer?

backyard wood fenceElisabeth asks via Twitter:

Anyone in the Albany area have recommendations for fence suppliers/ installers? Many thanks!

Got a suggestion for Elisabeth? Please share!

CDCG plant sale this Saturday

tomatoes on vineHopefully this week will be the end of the overnight frost -- and we'll be able to safely put our plants in the ground.

Oh, right. We need plants.

Good timing: the Capital District Community Gardens will be holding its annual plant sale this Saturday. CDCG will be selling a selection of perennials, vegetable plants, herbs and heirloom tomatoes.

The sale is Saturday from 9 am - 1 pm at the 8th Street community garden in Troy. All the proceeds go toward supporting the community gardens and programs such as the Veggie Mobile.

Also: The Landis Arboretum in Esperance has its plant sale this weekend, too.

What are those stinky trees?

pear tree blossoms

Pretty. Stinky.

By Ryan Palumbo

I was recently reduced to a position not unlike one commonly assumed by a heaving cat while on my way up from University Heights to B'yond Style for my monthly haircut, as I passed by a row of trees sporting what anybody would surely consider to be a beautiful arrangement of white flowers from each branch. Curious.

The next day, while riding the #10 CDTA bus, I smelled it yet again. Unsurprisingly, those trees were around. At that I concluded that the miasma that had been violating my olfactory system for nearly a week had to be radiating from these trees.

I am sure many, if not all of you, have seen these trees as the warm weather gives way to the blooming of flowers and leaves, and have no doubt noticed that they STINK. And not only do they just stink: they seem to give off what some have called a particular, familiar odor ("fish that's been sitting out way too long" is another description).

Thus my research into these odorous organisms began.

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Keeping squirrels from tulips

single small tulipEmailed StickFigureMan today:

How do people keep the squirrels from shredding their tulips?
Every year it's the same: The squirrels wait till the buds are plump and ready to bloom, giving me hope that maybe I'll get to see my flowers this year. Then they destroy them. They don't even eat them. They shred them with their little claws and leave the petals scattered about to mock me.
I've made them sacrificial offerings of bird seed. But squirrels don't honor treaties. Last year I made habanero tea and sprayed all the tulips. Mmm, spicy, said the squirrels, as they ravaged on.
I am consumed by jealousy when I see yards bursting with tulip color. What do they know that I don't?

We suggest renting a fisher and giving those smug, treaty-breaking squirrels a run for their lives.

Perhaps you have some less radical suggestions for StickFigureMan?

Bella Greenhouse: helping plants, and kids, grow

parsons greenhouse

Tim Nicholson helps plants and people grow at Bella Greenhouse

By Dawn Padfield

The sign for Bella Greenhouse is a small one and a little unexpected.

It's propped up at the entrance to the Parsons Child and Family Center Complex on Academy Road in Albany. Parsons is a multi-service agency that works closely with families and children offering counseling services, youth development programs, and mental health services and other programs.

So where does the greenhouse come in?

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Starting a garden in the Capital Region

tomatoes on vine

Should we try them this year?

The recent burst of sunshine and the longer days got us thinking about playing around in the garden. But we don't want a repeat of the great tomato disaster of 2009 (OK, maybe that's over-dramatizing a bit -- but you know what we mean.)

So, what should we plant? What should we not bother with? And when should we get started?

We checked in with Larry Sombke -- landscape consultant, gardening book author, all-around gardening guru -- for a few pointers this year.

Here's the scoop -- or, you know, trowel...

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