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It’s Monday Morning and I’m Ready to Work

One of my rituals on office days is to clean the office before starting work.  I can’t decide if cleaning is a stalling tactic or productivity tweak.

Clutter is a huge productivity killer for me.  My brain can’t start solving problems or being creative in clutter.

Everything in it’s place and a place for everything.

I keep a bottle of Windex and paper towels in the office to clean the desktop, computer monitor and everything else on my desk.  A damp paper towel picks up dust and has yet to scratch my computer monitor.

A quick run of the vacuüm across the floor keeps Theo’s furballs at bay for at least the morning.

The fish tank looked a little cloudy so I siphoned out some water, cleaned the glass and topped off the tank.

My children won Shimmer and Zoomer at a carnival 4 years ago.  I often glance over at their tank and see them staring at me trying to convince me to feed them more.

Shimmer and Zoomer Goldfish
Shimmer is the fish on the left. He’s named Shimmer because of his shiny scales. Zoomer on the right darts off when she or he feels threatened.

The last touch is to light a Candle.  A candle sets the tone for the day by relaxing me.  I save the candle for when I’ll be in the office most of the day.

Yankee Candle Home Sweet Home

I also cleaned, fed and watered Minnie.  Here’s a video of Minnie, named after Minnie Mouse because of her black ears, if you’re interested.

Time to get to work.

Lawn Mowing Tips

The lawn mowing tips below will make a huge difference in the health and appearance of your lawn.

Lawn Mowing Tips

1. Mow often.  In the spring mow your lawn twice a week to keep up with growth.

2. Remove 1/3 or less of the grass-blade when mowing.  Removing 1/3 or less of the grass-blade minimizes stress on your lawn.

If your lawn is overgrown raise the mower 2-3 notches before mowing.  A few days later mow at the proper height to decrease stress.  The worst thing you can do to an overgrown lawn is scalp it like a hay-field.

3. Mow high.  Set your mower at 2.5″ for the first mowing of the season.  Mowing lower the first cut helps grind up winter debris.

Raise the mower a notch each mowing until you reach 3.5 – 4″.  Tall grass means deeper roots that reach into the soil for moisture.  Tall grass also shades out weeds such as crabgrass and chickweed.

Lower your mower a notch at a time as leaf cleanup season arrives.

4. Keep mower blades sharp. Grass cut with a sharp blade cleanly cuts the grass-blade.  Grass cut with a dull blade tears the grass-blade.

 You can tell how sharp a mower blade is by looking at the lawn from a distance.  If you see a brown cast the blades are dull.

Start the season with a sharp mower blade.  After the first few cuts, sharpen the blade again.  Mower blades often gets nicked or dulled the first few cuts of the season.  Then, sharpen your mower blade half way through the season.

Keep two sets of mower blades so you have a sharp blade available when you need one.

Lawn Mowing Tips Picture

5. Leave clippings on the lawn.  Grass clippings return much-needed nitrogen to your lawn.  Some people believe grass clippings create thatch.  They don’t. Over fertilizing lawns kills microbes that break down thatch.  Removing more than 1/3 of the grass-blade creates more thatch than microbes can break down.

6. Mow late in the afternoon.  The cooler temperatures and higher humidity during the night reduce stress from mowing.

7. Mow when grass is dry.  Mowing wet grass encourages the spread of disease.  Mowing wet grass also pushes grass over leaving a ragged cut.  Finally, mowing wet grass leaves unsightly clumps that make a mess of everything.  Wait for you lawn to dry before mowing.

8. Alternate mowing patterns.  Mow your lawn in a different direction weekly to prevent pushing grass-blades over and prevent ruts.  Alternate mowing direction at 90 and 45 degree angles .

Lawn Mowing Tips - Lawn Mowing Angles Graphic
Vary the direction you mow weekly by alternating between perpendicular and angular patterns.

9. Use a mulching blade.   Mulching mower blades cut clippings into fine pieces before leaving the mower deck.  This is the only type of mower blade I recommend.

The lawn mowing tips above take a little extra effort from your mowing crew or the designated mower of the house (You know who you are).  While it’s OK to break the rules once in a while the closer you can come to them the better your lawn will look.

Happy mowing!

Early Spring Blooming Plants – Part 1

I visited the Bartlett Arboretum in mid-April and had a ball looking at early spring blooming plants.  Below are some pictures from my visit.

Cornell Pink Rhododendron (Rhododendron mucronulatum ‘Cornell Pink’)

Cornell Pink Rhododendron (Rhododendron mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink')
Cornell Pink Rhododendron was in full bloom. Cornell Pink is a deciduous rhododendron and blooms before foliage emerges.
Cornell Pink Rhododendron (Rhododendron mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink')
A close up of Cornell Pink Rhododendron flowers.

Winter Hazel (Corylopsis pauciflora)

Winter Hazel (Corylopsis pauciflora)
Winter Hazel in full bloom. I’ve never planted it but I like the compact habit and bright yellow blooms in early-spring.
Winter Hazel (Corylopsis pauciflora) Flowers
Winter Hazel flowers aren’t big but there’s enough of them to catch your eye.

Lenten Rose Sp. (Helleborus sp.)

Lenten Rose - Helleborus Species
The Lenten Rose was in full bloom. You can see last years foliage under the flowers. If you have Lenten Rose you can prune the foliage back in early winter once it goes dormant or early spring. There’s no harm if you don’t cut back last years foliage before bloom.

Star Magnololia (Magnolia Stellata)

Star Magnolia - Magnolia Stellata
Gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous.
Star Magnolia Flowers Magnolia Stellata flowers
Because they flower so early Star Magnolia blooms are often damaged by frost. These blooms are as good as it gets for Star Magnolia.

More pictures from my visit coming soon.