Hand tools and powered equipment are being improved every year, so there are always new things to look at. If you are looking for new equipment, be sure to come by Robstown Hardware. Our friendly salespeople will be glad to answer your questions and help you decide on what you need. Also, please remember that, although our sales personnel can demonstrate proper usage of any equipment that we sell, after purchasing any new equipment the first thing you should do is read the operator's manual. It is the one place that contains the information you need for proper running, care and maintenance of your equipment and can answer many of the questions that may arise after purchase.
Gas Powered Equipment
For mowers and other small engines, use regular unleaded gasoline of 87 octane. High octane gas can cause problems in small engines.
The crankcase oil on a 4-cycle engine should be changed after the first five hours of use. This will help to flush out little bits of metal that occur naturally when the piston rings are seated. After that, the oil can usually be changed every 25 hours of use, or every spring, whichever comes first. When changing oil, be sure to follow the instructions in the operator's manual.
If equipment is hard to start it could be due to a damaged spark plug or a clogged carburetor. Clean the spark plug with a wire brush and check the gap. Replace it if it is damaged. If problems do arise, call us or bring in your lawn mower or tractor to Robstown Hardware. We'll get you back outside and going.
Always Think Safety! If you are going to mow then dress for the occasion. Wear leather shoes that help protect your feet from objects that could be thrown by the blade, tuck in loose clothing that could become caught anywhere on the mower. Before mowing, check the lawn for things such as hoses, tools, toys and other impediments to safe mowing. This will help to ensure that the mower blade will not kick out anything unexpected or become entangled. When mowing on a hill using a lawn tractor mow up and down for greatest stability. If you are using a walk-behind product then mow side to side. That way, if you fall, the mower is less likely to tumble on top of you. If mowing on a hill is a problem then consider planting ground cover and dispensing with mowing altogether. If trees and shrubs have grown into obstacles that force you to back up with your mower, consider pruning them or taking them out. Then you can always mow in a forward direction for safety. Mower blades can spin at up to 200 miles per hour so if your mower becomes clogged, shut off the mower and use a stick to remove any blockage. Don't put your hands in the blade area! Mulching mowers will shred grass into tiny clippings and blow them down into the turf where they eventually return nitrogen to the soil and aid in preventing fungal diseases.
Watering the Lawn
High temperatures and low rainfall are a characteristic of South Texas summers. When your lawn needs water, the leaves will curl to conserve moisture and their color often turns a bluish green. The lawn will not be as springy when you walk across it and you will be able to see the imprints of your feet. To promote a deep root system, try watering infrequently but deeply. A rule of thumb is that a lawn needs one inch of water per week to maintain health. A measuring technique is to mark plastic food containers with a line one inch from the bottom then put them in the sprinkling area. The time it takes them to reach the one inch mark is the time it takes to water your lawn.
To help stifle pests such as cutworms, put a cardboard collar around the plant stem and push it into the soil. Rabbits can be fenced out of a garden by the use of chicken wire if you make sure that it's buried in the soil to prevent them from burrowing under it. A plate of aluminum foil can be placed under melons to prevent animals from burrowing up underneath the fruit and taking a bite out of it.
You can fight weeds by using sheets of plastic, e.g. trash bags, to cover the soil. Anchor the plastic with soil, rocks, bricks, etc. Cut a hole in the plastic for your transplants. This will prevent weeds from getting the sunlight and water needed for growth . Another technique is to spread a thick layer of dried grass clippings on your garden. Any weeds that do sprout can be easily pulled.
The ideal time for planting most trees in Texas is November through March. Trees to plant in the summertime are palm trees. At planting time, deep water the root zone beneath the branches, not right at the trunk.