Shrubs – 5 Hassle-Free Trimming Tips

Regular contributor, Megan Wild shares some great tips on how to take back control of your yard , and keep your plants healthy with tips for trimming your shrubs.

Shrubs – 5 Hassle-Free Trimming Tips

Take back control of your yard, and keep your plants healthy.

 

If you’ve ever gone out to give your shrubs a quick trim, only to find it so hard to keep them even that you end up cutting off way too many branches, you’re probably hesitant to make the same mistake twice. I know how that feels, because that’s how my first trim went. Unfortunately, under-trimming your shrubs can lead to just as many problems as over-trimming them, as you’ll end up with overgrown bushes with lots of deadwood and poor flowering.

Luckily, proper pruning isn’t hard to learn, and you’ll get good results if you take your time. Follow these tips for hassle-free shrub trimming:

  1. Know When to Cut

Different types of plants flower at different times of the year, and the timing of their life cycles typically determines when you should prune them. Evergreen shrubs can be pruned almost any time of year except the fall, when new growth will be vulnerable to dieback from the winter cold. Flowering shrubs should be cut back at a time when flower buds won’t be removed.

For early bloomers like lilacs, shape them immediately after blooming. Summer bloomers can be cut back in the winter. Hydrangeas are the exception: Shape these in midsummer so you don’t accidentally remove the flower buds.

 

  1. Start With the Dead Stuff

If you’re nervous about just how much to cut and where to begin, it’s always a good idea to start with the deadwood. Your plant will never miss these, and cutting out broken branches is a good way to prevent disease. Cut below the break to give your plant a clean wound that will easily heal. Your bush won’t miss dead branches, so don’t worry yet about shaping – just get rid of them.

 

  1. Shape Slowly

Sometimes, removing dead wood is all you need to make your shrubs look like their old selves, so stand back and look at the plant’s shape before making any more cuts. For a quick shape up, cut only the twigs and branches that are sticking out beyond the natural shape of your bush. Resist the urge to make a lot of cuts at once – it’s best to go slow and take a step back to assess so you don’t end up cutting too much at once.

 

  1. Avoid Right Angles and Odd Shapes

The best pruning allows the plant to grow in a natural way, so unless you’re Edward Scissorhands or work at Disney World, don’t try to form strange shapes with your shrubs. Right angles should be avoided, and this is true even of box hedges. These plants need sunlight for photosynthesis and good health, so make sure bottom branches are slightly wider than the tops so they also receive sunlight. Flat tops are also a bad idea, as the weight of ice and snow will break the branches.

 

  1. Do a Little Research

Because each plant has its own natural shape and growing habit, there’s no hard and fast rule about trimming shrubs that works for everything. Though you should consider that trimming shrubs helps increase curb appeal, makes your home a more welcoming place for guests, and can even increase your home’s market value. Your best bet is to do a little internet research about your plant to see what experts recommend.

You can also visit a local nursery or get advice from a neighbor with a green thumb if you need help identifying a bush or learning the basics about garden tools and techniques. Pruning is also good for the health of the plant, so give it a try – it doesn’t have to be scary! Once you know all about your plant, go ahead and give it a trim at least once a year to maintain its shape.

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

 

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DIY Car Care & Basic Road Trip Kit

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, FRAM. All opinions are mine alone. #SummerCarCare #CollectiveBias

DIY Car Care & Basic Road Trip Kit

Keeping You Rolling Down the Road

 

Car care is something we should always be mindful of, but with summer on the horizon that means busy schedules and road trips. You don’t want to find yourself stranded on the road waiting for a tow truck. Don’t fret, I have put together a DIY Preventative Maintenance Car Care and Basic Road Trip Kit Checklist that will keep you rolling down the road to your favorite destinations.

One of the most important things to know is, where to find information pertaining to your specific car or truck. The Owner’s Manual for your vehicle should be your first resource. If you do not have a manual, download it online from the vehicle manufacturer’s website, or order one on eBay.

Carry your Vehicle Owner’s Manual AND any Maintenance Records or Warranty Paperwork in your vehicle! These do you absolutely no good sitting at home when you are having a problem on the road.

HINT: Keep your records and paperwork in a folder. Cut the important information off filter boxes or other packaging, and tape them to the folder so you always know the Part Numbers for replacement. I keep my folder under the floor mat in the back of my truck.

 

Check Your Owner’s Manual For:

  • What Types of Fluids (type, weight, and volume) to use.
  • Explanation of Filler Cap Symbols.
  • What Types of Filters (type and size) to use.
  • The Maintenance Schedule – how often, mileage, or time.

 

Car Care – Preventative Maintenance:

Cursory Visual Check

  • Check for Drips or Fluid Leaks on the ground, under the vehicle and the hood.
  • Check that Windshield Wipers are in good condition – no splits, cracks, or tears.
  • Check that all Exterior Lights are in working order.
  • Check that all Interior Lights are in working order.

Fluids

  • DO NOT open a Hot Radiator!
  • Wear Gloves – Oils / Fluids can be hot.
  • Check / Change / Fill
    • Brake Fluid
    • Coolant
    • Engine Oil
    • Power Steering Fluid
    • Transmission Fluid
    • Windshield Wiper Fluid
    • Always start a road trip with fresh new fluids.

Filters

  • Oil Filter
  • Engine Air Filter
  • Cabin Air Filter
  • Replace according to the manual specifications, or more often for dusty or severe usage.

Drive Belt (Fan Belt)

  • Check for Cracks or Fraying.
  • If damaged, have the belt replaced.

Tires / Wheels

  • Check the Air Pressure in each Tire – Don’t forget the AIR in the SPARE!
  • Check the Tire Tread on ALL tires. (Use a penny, place it in the tread with Lincoln’s head going downward. If the tread doesn’t reach to Lincoln’s head, the tire is worn out).
  • Check for any Damage (nails, bulges, etc.), in all tires including spare.
  • Check your Lug Nuts — be sure they are tight, but not overly torqued or rusted / corroded in place to where you cannot get them off.
  • Check that your Spare Tire Fits your car, especially if you bought the car used, or modified it in any way.
  • Make sure your Lug Wrench fits the size of your lug nuts (in case you have aftermarket rims on your vehicle).
  • Check that the jack is complete and in working order.

Lights

  • If you are hauling a trailer, make sure the trailer lights are hooked-up and working properly.
  • Be sure to check Headlamp Aim / Angle, especially if you are hauling a trailer. You may need to adjust the aim so you don’t blind other drivers.

Battery

  • Clean off any corrosion using a little baking soda and water and scrubbing with an old toothbrush. ( Be sure to wear old clothes, gloves, and eye protection. DO NOT get any battery acid or cleaner on you).
  • Make sure your battery cables are well connected.
  • If your battery is over 3-years-old, have a Load Test done on the battery to check the condition before heading out on your road trip. A lot of chain auto stores nationwide will do these test for free. No sense getting stranded.

 

Download this FREE Printable for your DIY Car Care!

CLICK here to Download

 

Here’s an example of easy Car Care that you can DIY:

 

Change your own FRAM Engine Air Filter

Changing your air filter is car maintenance so easy you will kick yourself if you’ve ever paid to have it done. It only takes one tool — a screwdriver that fits the screws on your Air Filter Box! Some vehicles may use clips instead of screws, a flat blade screwdriver will help pop these open. Plus, it only takes 5 minutes or less.

  1. Check the Owner’s Manual for the location of your Air Filter Box / Air Filter
  2. Be sure you have the correct size filter.
  3. Unscrew the lid on the air filter box, and remove lid.
  4. Remove old dirty air filter.
  5. Place new FRAM Extra Guard Engine Air Filter in the air filter box.
  6. Replace air filter box lid, and tighten screws.

 

You’re done! How simple is that? Don’t forget to recycle your old air filter. FRAM recommends changing your engine air filter annually or every 12,000 miles, but be sure to follow recommended change intervals as noted in your vehicle owner’s manual.

Clean engine air filters are important for your car or truck. Think of it as the first line of defense for improving air flow and preventing dust and dirt from entering your engine and causing damage. They can also increase acceleration, horsepower, and improve overall engine performance. An easy win in my book!

 

You can find FRAM Air Filters at Walmart (in stores or online). The Walmart website has a search function to find the proper FRAM air filter for your vehicle — just a few simple questions.

 

I found it super easy to choose my FRAM Extra Guard Air Filter, order it right there online, and then pick it up at my local store, when I went in for a regular shopping trip.

 

 

Basic Road Trip Kit:

Now that you have done your car care, there is another important thing to prepare for the road trip — a Basic Road Trip Kit. It’s better to be prepared than to waste your vacation away on the side of the road, or some place waiting for your transportation to be towed or fixed. I’ve created a FREE Printable Checklist for you to download. It will walk you through putting together your handy-dandy Basic Road Trip Kit.

CLICK here to Download

Check out this short video on How To Properly Use Jumper Cables.

 

A Few Other Helpful Hints:

  • Carry a Map in case your GPS goes out.
  • Have a Cell Phone Charger for your vehicle.
  • Be sure the Charging Port in your car has Power to it.
  • Have a Hide-A-Key, or have someone else in the traveling party carry an extra set of keys.
  • Insist on FRAM Air, Oil, Transmission, and Fuel Filters when servicing your car, truck, or boat. FRAM a name you can trust.

 

What ideas do you have for easy Car Care or Road Trips?

 

Have a great Road Trip!

 

 

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