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The quintessential American dream involves having a house with a beautiful lawn and having man's best friend by your side. Unfortunately, many homeowners find that these two elements don't always go well together. Pups like to dig in the dirt, roll around in the grass, and mark their territory -- all of which can wreak havoc on your lovely landscaping. But the truth is that you don't have to choose between the nice yard and the loyal dog. There's good news for the majority of American households that have at least one pet: your pup and your property can coexist in harmony, as long as you're strategic about the way you landscape. Here are some essential elements you'll want to include in your dog-friendly yard.

Published in Gardening

Though your riding mower should've been stored away for the winter long ago, it's always a good idea to think about whether or not your lawn equipment is truly protected during the winter and in times of non-use. Without proper storage, your valuable gear could acquire more wear and tear than necessary. With that in mind, here are just a few tips to keep in mind if you're planning ahead for next year's winter tractor and lawn equipment maintenance and storage.

Store Equipment Properly

First and foremost, it should come as no surprise that one of the best ways to ensure safe winter storage of lawn equipment is to read the owner's manual and follow the instructions carefully. They typically involve basic maintenance steps before storage like changing the oil and draining or topping off the gas. Many manufacturers recommend storing the equipment with a fresh tank of stabilized gas:

Add fuel stabilizer to an empty gas can. Then fill the gas can with fresh gas at the pump. That’ll thoroughly mix the stabilizer with the new fuel. Fill the mower tank with fresh gas and screw on the gas cap. Run the mower for 10 minutes to fill the carburetor bowl with stabilized gas. Top off the gas tank and store the mower," writes Elizabeth Flaherty on Family Handyman.

Again, it's always best to consult the manual to determine best storage practices for your particular model

Consider a Shipping Container Shed

Most shipping containers are eight feet wide, 9.5 feet tall, and either 20 or 40 feet long, making them the perfect receptacle to store all types of high-end lawn care equipment. Though you'll need to have enough yard space, shipping containers can be refurbished for countless uses, and they provide incredible protection from the elements. If a shipping container storage shed is out of your budget, make sure you store your mower and other lawn tools in a safe, dry place like a garage. Never leave them out exposed to the elements.

Consider Professional Dry Ice Blasting Services

Though used primarily for commercial uses, particularly in the manufacturing industry, dry ice blasting is incredibly useful for efficient cleaning. Dry ice blasting uses air compressed between 80 and 90 PSI to blast pellets of dry ice at a high velocity to clean a variety of surfaces. That being said, when performed properly and in a controlled environment, dry ice blasting can help to make your riding mower look and feel just like new. The tiny ice pellets are effective at penetrating the inner workings of the tractor, preventing you from having to take it apart and clean it manually. Of course, this isn't necessary for all mowers, and it should typically be performed by a professional. However, there are some cases where systems can be rented for personal use. If you're interested, check out some of the countless videos demonstrating the process on YouTube.

The average American spends, on average, four hours per week taking care of their lawn. That adds up to an average of 208 hours per year, or over eight days. Understanding these proper care tips can help you maximize the durability, performance, and lifespan of your riding mower and other lawn care equipment.

Published in Gardening

As organisms big and small begin their hibernation for the winter, your landscaping can start to look a bit dreary. You may be inclined to take this season off from tending to the look of your yard, but the winter months give many opportunities to amp up your landscaping prowess. Incorporate these elements into your yard's landscaping and your home will be the natural star of the neighborhood.

Published in Gardening

This feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™, Cub Cadet and Life of Dad.

Over the past week or so, I’ve largely neglected my normal work. With April having been such an unusually rainy month (“April showers bring May flowers”) here in Northern Illinois this year, the sunny, albeit cool days of early May have been pretty inviting in terms of getting outside to explore one of my real passions: working the yard. I’m usually eyeing the outdoor tasks by February, when I start taking a good look at the depressingly drab and battered landscape that the winter has left behind, with plans of creating a lush, green suburban oasis when the weather breaks. I’ve already been trimming, fertilizing, weeding and caring for the landscape - I do mean the entire picture. A proper yard is more than just a “lawn,” but the total package of everything surrounding it. I do have #LawnGoals, though - and this year the girls and I are working not to meet them, but to exceed them in every possible way. Here’s the rundown on what’s been done so far…

Published in Gardening