Even though we've had a quiet hurricane season thus far, it's always good to make sure you're aware of some clean up tips in case of a weather disturbance. This week, I want to talk a little about the cleanup process after a storm. I want to share some of the tips I found useful while cleaning up after storms over the years.

If you are like me, one look at the yard and it makes you wonder where you should even start when planning your cleanup effort. The first tool you will need is a good quality chain saw. Gas is preferred over electric because the gas chain saws have more power and also if your power is out, you will not be able to use your electric chain saw unless you have a generator. Before you start cutting your trees, be sure to take a full survey of your yard. Confirm that there are no power lines entangled in your work area and also that there are no large dangling limbs that could fall and hit you once you start working. If a large tree needs to be cut down, it is probably best to leave that to an expert tree service. Most of my tree debris was already on the ground and simply had to be cut up and taken to the curb.

Once you have all the large debris removed and cut up at your curb, the next thing you should do is re-survey your yard for other damage that may have been hidden with the larger tree branches. When trying to clean up small twigs and leaves from an area that has either steppingstones or gravel, a great tool to use for cleanup is a gas blower. I had a large garden area that is covered with lava rock and trying to use a rake to get the debris was also picking up all the lava rock. I brought out the trusty gas blower and about 97 percent of the debris was magically whisked away! In fact, as a preliminary task before raking, I successfully removed a good deal of debris from the lawn area with the blower. This made the next pass with a regular garden rake much easier. Once you are done with that, a pass with a mulching lawn mower will really put the finishing touches on your yard. Once you finish getting your yard back to some kind of normalcy, you can start planning your fall garden. Please remember to wear all the required safety gear when using power equipment in your yard.

If you want to add a tropical flair to your indoor or shaded outdoor garden, why not try peace lilies also known as Spathiphyllum. These delicate looking plants can add life to almost any garden décor. These plants boast lush green leaves and delicate white flower spikes.

Peace lilies are relatively easy to take care of under normal home conditions. They will tolerate a wide range of light levels however they always do best in moderate to high light conditions. If the lighting is too low, yellowing of the leaves can occur. Peace lilies enjoy an evenly moist soil that does not get completely dry however; they do not like it real soggy. You may want to occasionally fertilize your plants with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Gro to help them maintain their healthy appearance. If the plant seems to stop responding when you add water and starts to look droopy, it will need to be transplanted to a larger pot. You should find a pot that is one size larger and carefully transplant the peace lily to its new home. Use a good quality potting mix that has a loose consistency for best results.

With all the heavy rains we have been receiving the past couple of weeks, the level of Lake Okeechobee will certainly begin to rise. With the peak of the hurricane season approaching, officials have again released water from the Lake. Please try to limit your use of fertilizers or pesticides in areas where they might be picked up by runoff water and eventually land either in our canals or Lake Okeechobee. It is now more important then ever to do this since the water coming out of the lake is already filled with all these nutrients. Let us all do our part in helping to keep this toxic runoff to a minimum.

Remember, for all the latest updates and information, go to www.hometownweather.net.

Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send emails to hometowngarden@gmail.com or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.

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