It is the height of summer here in Florida, and the mosquitoes are out in full force! At dusk, they seem to hover near our patio door, patiently waiting for anyone who opens the door to step outside! My little guy seems to be their biggest target… his sweet, 2 year old skin seems to be their favorite and tiny mosquito bites appear like chicken pox the second he is outside for more than 2 minutes at that time of day!

To keep those pesky mosquitoes away naturally, I have compiled a list of 3 tips and tricks that we use around our home. I don’t like to spray my children or myself with DEET-based repellents, so have found other, less toxic ways to combat the problem. Here are a few of our favorites!

3 Tips on Keeping Mosquitoes Away Naturally

sand toys image

Eliminate Standing Water Sources

Mosquitoes breed in water, and with heavy rains in FL in the summer, this makes for a terrible combination! If at all possible, drain areas that fill up quickly. Any toys & other items, such as plastic buckets, small wading pools, wagons, etc. should be dumped out at the end of the day after playing so as not to create the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Yes, those sand box & water play table toys are the ideal place for mosquitoes to breed, so remember to dump them out and cover the table or sand box at the end of the day!

Brittanies Thyme Bug Spray

Apply (and Reapply!) a DEET-Free Insect Repellent

Brittanie’s Thyme offers a safe, effective organic bug spray that is derived from essential oils, not toxic chemicals. The Organic Bug Spray provides floral & woodsy scents that create a pleasing aroma for people, yet the bugs hate it! Brittanie’s Thyme does not contain citronella, and will not stain your clothes. They recommend not spraying the bug spray directly on the skin of babies and toddlers under 2 years old. Instead, spray your child’s clothing, stroller, blankets or grass area around them.

white socks

Dress Appropriately

We know it’s hot, but wearing light colored, long-sleeved pants & tops will deter mosquitoes from those areas of your body! Mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing, so white or other lightly colored clothing are an optimal choice when planning to spend time outdoors hiking, playing and more! In addition, mosquitoes love feet, so opt for socks and shoes whenever possible!

*Brittanie’s Thyme provided samples for review for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Tips for Preparing your Trees and Shrubs for the Winter

Once Labor Day gets here, the summer’s over right? Many gardeners sort of get comatose when it comes to gardening chores in the fall. There’s always something else to do, the days are getting shorter and the night are getting cooler.

This is the time that you should be thinking about getting your landscape in order and preparing your trees and shrubs for the winter. A little work now will reward you next year when your trees and shrubs burst back to life.

Here are some tips for preparing your trees and shrubs for the winter:

Keep up the watering. Even though precipitation usually increases in the fall, make sure that your plantings get adequate water. They should get watering equivalent to an inch of rain up until the ground freezes.

If you are going to fertilize your shrubs, do so in late August to early September to avoid new growth going into the winter months. New growth will not be able to harden off before winter and will be more susceptible to winter kill.

Young or thin-barked trees should be wrapped to prevent sun scald or cracking of the bark. A light colored tree wrap is preferable to a darker one as it will reflect the sun’s heat better. Be sure to remove the wrap in the spring as soon as the weather starts warming up.

Protect young trees from animal damage by placing a hardware cloth collar around the base of the tree. Try to get it into the soil an inch or two and be sure it extends a foot or two above the ground (or the deepest that you expect snow). Again, be sure to remove this protection in the spring.

Mulch around the base of your trees and shrubs but keep from placing the mulch against the trunk itself.
If your evergreens are in an area that is exposed to de-icing materials such as salt, consider wrapping them with a burlap enclosure. Make sure that the burlap does not touch the branches of the tree. The use of de-icing chemicals other than rock salt such as calcium chloride will help prevent salt damage.

The fall is the perfect time to transplant trees and shrubs. Follow the above recommendations for protecting them from the cold. The plants are going into their dormant period and the increased moisture will help them get established. There are also great buys to be had at the garden centers this time of year if you are looking to add to your landscape.

The use of anti-desiccant sprays will help to protect your evergreens from the winter weather. These products form a film that helps to alleviate the drying effects of winter winds. Be sure to follow the label instructions.

Following these tips will help to bring your landscape plantings through the winter healthier and ready to provide you with another year of beauty next spring.

About the Author

Neal Klabunde and his wife Catherine live in North Eastern Ohio and are avid gardeners. They are the owners of Gardening at the Crossroads – a gardening website that covers all aspects of gardening and for the beginning as well as experienced gardener.

Image: Simon Howden / *