Posted by: GreenerGreenGrass | August 17, 2012

Five Benefits of a Properly Installed Irrigation System

Today we have a great guest post about irrigation systems – definitely some timely information for all you drought sufferers out there… And these folks really know what they’re talking about – check out this beautiful landscape they did.

Keeping a lush lawn and healthy landscape takes a lot of time and effort – often more than most families can fit into their busy schedules. Standing around with the hose in hand or running outside to move the sprinkler again is just too much hassle. Today’s homeowners want more efficient and effective watering solutions, and they’re increasingly discovering the benefits of professionally installed irrigation systems.

Whether your goal is a greener lawn or a healthier garden (or both), an irrigation system can help you achieve it. Here’s a look at the top five advantages of choosing the right irrigation method for your needs:

1. Save on your water bill.

A proper irrigation system installation is carefully designed to meet the needs of your landscape by delivering water right where it’s needed most. With a programmable controller, you can make sure your landscape receives the proper amount of moisture – and not a drop more. As water costs continue to rise, every drop saved translates into cash that stays in your bank account when the water bill arrives. Many homeowners will see water savings of up to 30 percent when they install a properly designed system using the latest technology.

2. Save time on landscape maintenance.

Modern irrigation systems are easily controlled with set-it-and-forget-it timers so you don’t even have to step outside to water your landscape. Just program the timer so the system waters your lawn and garden at the optimal time of day (or night). Not only can you skip out on the hassle of watering, but you’ll end up with healthier plants that require less attention in the long run.

3. Enjoy a greener landscape.

And we’re not just talking about the color. Up to 70 percent of a household’s water consumption goes to outdoor use. Fortunately, today’s professional irrigation systems are finely tuned to conserve water, resulting in a more eco-friendly yard. For example, by choosing a system with built-in soil moisture sensors, a rain shutoff device and a weather sensor, you can program your system to take into account local weather and moisture factors and adjust accordingly. That way, you know your lawn will be watered only when truly necessary.

4. Improve plant growth.

Both over-watering and under-watering can prove harmful to your plants. By choosing the right irrigation system for your needs, you can control the amount of water each area of your landscape receives. For example, using a drip irrigation system in your garden will help plants develop deeper, healthier root systems.

5. Spend less time weeding.

The precision of a properly installed irrigation system allows you to water only the areas of your landscape that need hydrating – without accidentally nourishing thirsty weeds in the process. Consequently, you’ll spend less time pulling weeds from obscure places, such as the concrete seams in a driveway.

For help choosing and customizing the right irrigation system for your needs, consult a landscaping or irrigation specialist. Then sit back and enjoy the benefits of a lush, healthy landscape without all of the work.

Article provided by Landscape East & West, an award winning full-service landscaping and irrigation systems installation and repair company based in Portland, OR.

Now is the time of year when lawn bare spots tend to appear, especially if you live in one of the many areas that hasn’t had much rainfall this year.  If you’re thinking of buying grass seed to help fill in those spots, or if you’re planning a new lawn for next year, read this article from LawnCareService.net to make the right choice.  There are some great tips, and a couple of them I wouldn’t not have thought of, so even if you think you know what grass seed to purchase, take a look at this list before you buy.

Grass seed

Whether you’re filling in a small patch in your lawn or seeding a whole new landscape, the grass seed you choose for your project will make a difference in the results. That’s why it is important to understand the different factors that should influence your choice of a grass seed for your project. Read More…

Posted by: GreenerGreenGrass | July 29, 2012

You Might be a Lawn Geek If…

In my line of work I am fortunate to interact with a lot of lawn geeks.  Seriously, you wouldn’t believe some of the detailed questions I get.  I like it because I get to be helpful, but I also often end up learning something at the same time.  So, please consider this a tribute to all the lawn geeks out there.  Like this guy…

Lawn geek tattoo

You might be a lawn geek if….

  • You have ever started a sentence with ^%#&ing bindweed / crabgrass / chokeweed / [insert evil weed nemesis here]
  • You have spent hours looking for funny lawn pictures (that one might just be me..)
  • You follow GreenerGreenGrass on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+  (You know you want to…)
  • You have your own worm bin to collect castings
  • You brew compost tea, not English Breakfast
  • You use a home-made device (AKA a tuna can) to measure rainfall and/or how much your sprinkler emits
  • The word “Bermuda” does not make you think of a sunny island getaway or the Triangle of certain doom
  • You get excited by the smell of manure being spread on your luscious green lawn
  • You have ever trimmed a single grass blade with a pair of scissors (I’ve seen it happen…)
  • You count the days until your soil test results arrive in the mail

What lawn geek behaviors do you have?  I would love to add more to the list!

Posted by: GreenerGreenGrass | July 18, 2012

Woman Fined $200 by HOA for Brown Grass During Drought

I try to keep this a family-friendly blog (you know, for all those precocious little lawn geeks out there), but you have got to be f**king kidding me!  Our buddy at Ernie Writes told me about this article via Twitter and the outrage started to bubble up very quickly.

Ok, I understand that she participates in a Home Owner’s Association and agreed to follow their rules about keeping the lawn green, but really?  It’s a drought.  I don’t know the local details, but keeping the grass green might actually require her to break water restriction laws, or not abide by the voluntary restrictions that she may wish to support.

I actually read the Green Valley Ranch Home Owner’s Association Residential Improvement Guidelines & Site Restrictions and am struck by the requirement that, “All areas of the yard should be weed free.”  You also have to get approval for almost any change to the landscape, or get charged $1,000 (!!!) for failing to do so.  I’ve never been a fan of cookie cutter subdivisions, but reading this document made me cringe.  The granular detail they go into about what you can and cannot do is crazy!  For example, if you pass all the detailed requirements to install a portable basketball goal (permanent ones are forbidden), you can only use it between 9am and 9pm.

I digress… But wait, I just saw one more rule (item 3.40 for those doing their own research) – the only flags you are allowed to install are the American flag, the Colorado state flag, and military service flags.  So, if you happen to be from another country, maybe find another place to live if you wish to express your patriotism.

Anyway, the full article is below….

When the Green Valley Ranch Home Owner’s Association calls itself “Green,” they really mean it.

Lori Worthman was fined $200 by the HOA of the Denver subdivision for not keeping her grass green enough. Worthman reportedly had unsightly brown spots on her lawn.

The Colorado woman did have a valid excuse for the brown grass as the region grapples with one of its worst droughts of the year. But that was no excuse for Green Valley Ranch.

Worthman says she is dealing with the issue. She hired someone to fix her sprinkler, started watering more, and put new seed down. However, her efforts were to no avail given the Stage 1 drought and watering restrictions in the city, reports ABC.

For their part, the HOA says that this is not the first time they’ve talked to Worthman. Instead, they say they brought up the brown grass last year and gave her nine months to fix it. In fact, a spokesperson for the HOA said they would much rather have the woman fix her lawn than collect the $200.

After all, the effect of an unsightly lawn has a much greater impact on the neighboring properties than the fine, the spokesperson said. The HOA added that if Worthman gets her grass green, the fine will be waived, reports ABC.

Regardless of the effect on home values, you may think that the HOA is behaving ridiculously here. And you’re probably right given the fact that they fined someone for brown grass during middle of a drought. However, no one forced Lori Worthman to move into a home covered by the HOA. And when she choose that particular subdivision, she agreed to abide by all the HOA rules and regulations, no matter how ridiculous.

via Woman Fined $200 by HOA for Brown Grass During Drought – Strange Local Laws – Legally Weird.

Posted by: GreenerGreenGrass | July 13, 2012

Moss, Moss, Everywhere!

I never thought I would say this, but one of the hottest new trends is moss. Although I think this is a pretty cool trend, it makes me chuckle a bit because we get a lot of inquiries about how to get rid of moss in your lawn naturally. (Hint: the answer is not to kill it, but to change the surrounding environment…. Or, learn to like moss!)

But, this latest trend is not about moss in lawns, but moss on walls, in living spaces, and in other areas of life where one might not expect to see it.  Let’s take a look at the evidence:

What am I missing?  What other moss trends have you seen lately?  Have you tried any yourself?

It seems like everyone I talk to these days is suffering from a heat wave and/or drought, and their lawns are suffering right along with them. Illinois-based paper The Journal-News has some great tips for protecting your lawn in the extreme summer heat, and although they don’t describe them as such, these are organic lawn care methods.

The main tips they highlight include:

  • Mow high – Longer grass blades mean longer roots, which can access deeper water sources.
  • Water deeply – When you water frequently and not deeply, grass roots will come toward the surface of the soil, which means the plants will be more susceptible drought.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn – Grass clippings are a natural source of nitrogen. Leaving them on the lawn allows you to use less fertilizer. When you do use a fertilizer, make sure it is a summer fertilizer so your lawn won’t burn.
  • Use smart landscaping – Some areas of your property may not be suitable for grass. In these cases, put in plants that are suitable and save on both water and time. You can also use mulch around plants to help keep moisture in the soil.

Check out the full article for more great summer lawn tips.

Lawns are another matter. Whether climate change is rearing its ugly head or maybe Old Ma Nature’s just on another rampage, there’s a simple way to lessen lawn damage without watering. Just let it grow a little longer! Grass roots tend to be approximately the same depth as the above-ground blades so are more able to absorb deeper moisture.

Following are hints for a healthier lawn from Susan Littlefield, horticultural editor for the National Gardening Association, who writes:”…you won’t have that putting green look, but the grass stays healthier, and shades out germinating weeds.”

I mow my lawn at four inches, and have friends who keep theirs at five inches. Yes, it takes a little getting used to, but it’s worth it.Will you mow less? No, because you should never take more than a third of the grass blades each time you mow. It will take a bit to get used to longer grass, and it may not have that manicured look many homeowners prize, but it will be much healthier.

And unless you water deeply, don’t water at all. Surface moisture lures tender grass roots toward the surface, making them more susceptible to drought damage.

via HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU: Drought Tips For A Healthier Lawn – Let It Grow, Let It Grow, Let It Grow – The Journal-News: Commentary.

Posted by: GreenerGreenGrass | July 2, 2012

Making Business Greener

Today we have a guest post that is an excellent follow up to my last post about being “green”.  Guest post writer Maire Hunter shares her thoughts on how to make businesses greener.  Thanks for the great tips Maire!  Remember, all of these ideas can also be applied to your home.

Making business greener

An awareness of how people use energy, and what they do to be eco-conscious in their homes, is also entering the business world as companies of all sizes become more aware of the impact of behaviors on the environment. Things like paper consumption, energy use (including the way a building is heated or cooled), the type of lighting, and outdoor landscaping are all factors that determine how green a business is.

Request an Energy Audit

Inc.com magazine suggests that an easy way to make a business greener is by starting with an energy audit, designed to help the company and its executives see what activities are using the most energy and what energy use can be curtailed or stopped entirely. Once the audit is completed, concrete work can begin to make the company greener and more energy efficient.

Many of the changes that have to be made will require a bit of money in the beginning, but will save money in the long run. When a company decides to do an energy audit, they should keep this in mind to avoid having a surplus of great ideas with no room in the budget to implement them. Ideas like using solar energy panels to provide for some or all of a company’s energy needs will save costs, but require quite a bit of money to begin with. Saving room in the budget will let your company implement ideas while everyone is still excited about the changes and willing to endure some headaches to get it done.

Encourage Alternatives to Commuting

Employees who live close to their workplace can benefit from biking or walking to work instead of driving. Providing bike racks on the premises gives people a place to store their bikes, while also subtly encouraging them to engage in healthier and environmentally friendly behaviors. Offer incentives to employees who carpool to work by awarding them premium parking spots. Encourage employees to take public transportation, and consider subsidizing transit passes for employees.

Telecommuting

Allow employees the option of telecommuting instead of working in the office, even if it’s only a few days per week. Telecommuting can reduce stress for parents if their children catch the latest bug while saving them time and money that would otherwise be spent traveling to work. Non-parents will enjoy saving the commute and being in their own home.

Limit Paper Use

Instead of sending memos out to every employee to announce company news or policy changes, send out a bulk email. The same goes for clients. Instead of sending them information through snail mail, send the information by email and provide a link from which they can download specific information that pertains to them. When paper is absolutely necessary, or when the company receives information in paper form, shred the paper as soon as it is no longer necessary. Shredded paper makes excellent filler for packing boxes and is easily recycled.

Switch to CFL Light Bulbs

Since incandescent light bulbs are no longer sold, businesses and individuals have no choice but to switch to alternative lighting methods, such as Compact Fluorescent Lights. Though generally more expensive up-front, CFLs are much more efficient, generating the same amount of light while using less electricity. They use what are known as ballasts to increase the efficiency of the bulb and eliminate the strobing you’ve probably noticed in failing fluorescent lights. Depending on the type of ballast used, the lamp could have up to 9 percent higher efficiency when compared to another CFL.

Purchase Energy Star Appliances

Whenever it’s necessary to replace an old, obsolete or broken appliance, be sure that the replacement meets Energy Star specifications. Although the appliance purchase may cost more, a company may be eligible for rebates on certain types of Energy Star appliances and the energy savings over the life of the appliance can more than make up for the increased expense.

Install Gray and Rainwater Catchment Basins

If the company is very large, there may be a considerable amount of outside space that could be used to improve both the efficiency of the building and change the aesthetics of the area. Instead of planting grass and flowers that consume large amounts of water, consider planting drought tolerant or water saving plants such as succulents. If there is grass around the workplace, save the clippings to use as mulch, since this will cut down on weed growth and help the soil hold moisture longer.

Eco-friendly landscapingChoose Eco-Friendly Landscaping and Plants

In areas where the weather tends to get especially hot, the use of trees will add an attractive element while also shading areas of the building, potentially reducing utility costs inside the building. Instead of installing an in-ground irrigation system, install soaker hoses that direct water to the plant roots instead of allowing inefficient sprinklers to spray water everywhere.

Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Instead, surround plants with mulch to suppress weed growth naturally. The use of companion plants is effective for providing nutrients to nearby plants, replacing the need for synthetic fertilizers. Replacing grass with native plants will result in less need for maintenance and water.

Chicago's green rooftopChicago’s Green Rooftop

Chicago’s former Mayor Richard M. Daley took advantage of the flat roof on the city hall building by allowing gardening experts to create a spectacular outdoor garden. The garden used rain barrels to collect rainwater for the plants. Chicago’s dedication to creating a more environmentally friendly city even earned it an article in National Geographic Traveler in Sept. 2010 titled “Chicago: America’s Green City“.

When it comes to going green, there are as many options for businesses as there are for families. By taking the time to weigh all of your options and investing in these solutions, your business can create a reputation for environmental conservation and garner the trust and respect of your community.

Author bio: Maire loves it when she can make something green. She also loves her Scottish Terrier, Pete, and baking delicious treats.

Posted by: GreenerGreenGrass | June 29, 2012

Fill in the Blank Colorful Friday

Fill in the Blank Colorful FridayWhen I first saw this week’s Fill in the Blank theme, I had flashbacks to my elementary school music class.  Part of the curriculum included singing songs in a foreign language and there was one we did in Spanish called De Colores.  Did anybody else have that same experience, or was it just our music teacher that did it?

Anyway, the theme this week is “Color”, so naturally I’ll be writing about GREEN.

What Does it Mean to be GREEN?

I spend a possibly abnormal amount of time thinking about GREEN Let’s face it, my world centers largely around grass and how to make it GREEN or keep it GREEN without being environmentally irresponsible.

And then there’s the environmental part of it – being GREEN.  Although I consider myself very GREEN, this is not a term I use loosely and I find myself getting very resentful when others throw it around like the unfortunate buzzword that it is.  Particularly when those others are large corporations that are doing it just to be PC.  Don’t get me wrong, not all companies that spew GREEN rhetoric are full of crap, but usually view them with a healthy dose of skepticism until I learn more.

Ok, forget the corporations… What does it mean to me to be GREEN?  For me, it’s primarily about intent, but also about actions.  Having spent a lot of time as an environmental activist, I have been very exposed to a Greener than Thou attitude that I find very distasteful.  I am not perfect.  I certainly have more of an impact on this planet than I would like to.  But I try to minimize that impact as much as possible without going to the extreme of living in a tent in the middle of nowhere.  I also try to stop short of judging those around me who don’t make the same environmental choices that I do.

So, to me being GREEN means doing my best to reduce my personal footprint on the planet and encouraging those around me to do the same, without being too forceful or judgmental.  However, I do draw the line at behaviors such as littering, dumping chemicals (I include spraying pesticides and chemical fertilizers in that phrase), burning tires, and  and other environmentally harmful actions.

What does being GREEN mean to you?


 

Posted by: GreenerGreenGrass | June 27, 2012

Generate Free Wind Power with One Click

Donate wind powerGreenerGreenGrass has partnered with Click it for Good to donate wind power for every click the campaign gets.  It’s really that simple.  Go to the page and click the social media icons to share it on Facebook, Tweet about it, post it to Google+, and Stumble it.  Every share of the page means a 61 pound reduction of carbon pollution.

So what does this have to do with organic lawn care?  Not much in the direct sense, but we are committed to stewardship for the planet, which involves a whole lot more than switching to organic fertilizer.

Plus, Click it for Good is such a cool concept, we want to support it. Here’s how it works:

1.  There is a sponsor and a cause.  In this case, GreenerGreenGrass is the sponsor and the cause is wind power.

2.  A click triggers a donation event.  In this case, it’s a specific amount of free wind power.  All you have to do is click, we do the rest!  The cool thing about Click it for Good is that a click will always result in a meaningful action – plant a tree, pay for a mammogram, etc.

3.  Your click makes cool stuff happen and you get to feel good about it.  In fact, you should feel so good about it that you shout it from the rooftops and share it with all your friends.  Remember, every click results in a meaningful action, the more clicks we get, the more wind power we will generate.

So what are you waiting for?  Go Click it for Good!

(PS – You know what else you should share?  Our Indiegogo campaign!)

Posted by: GreenerGreenGrass | June 22, 2012

Fill in the Blank Summery Friday

It’s the first Friday of summer!  And it’s a beautiful one here in Portland.  We’re in the midst of a bit of a heat wave, which always cracks me up because, much like people in the south freak out when it snows, Mainers freak out when it gets hot, in both a good and bad way.  It makes us happy because the summers here can actually be quite cool, so a hot day is a welcome change.  However, most people don’t have central air conditioning (including us), so it can end up being quite uncomfortable.  For like two days… a week at the most.  Anyway, Happy Summer!

Today’s fill in the blank theme is…

So I’m going to tell you what summer means to me, and also what it means for your organic lawn.

What Summer Means to Me

I feel like an elementary school kid writing an essay….

I didn’t really like summer when I was a little kid.  I grew up in northern Indiana and the summers can be extremely hot and humid.  We didn’t have an air conditioner, so sleeping was really uncomfortable.  Plus, this was in the ancient past when kids still played outside, so I had to be outside most of the day when often all I really wanted to do was sit in a cool room and read a book.

The awesome exception was when I was at my grandma’s house.  I would play in the kiddie pool or the sprinkler outside on her (probably toxic) lawn and come dripping wet inside to the refrigerator known as her home.  She had central air conditioning and you actually needed to put on an extra layer so you wouldn’t freeze to death.  It was fantastic.

Autumn has always been my favorite season because it meant that I could finally feel comfortable again.  But now, after having lived in Maine for a few years I am really starting to enjoy summer.  Most summer days here are really pleasant, and the people who live here truly make the most of it, mainly because we know it’s a short season and winter will be rearing its ugly head again soon.  I draw the line at swimming in the frigid ocean here (plus, there are way too many creepy things that live in there), but I do enjoy lots of outdoor time when I can.

Organic Lawn Care for Summer

This is the time of year when plants start to get stressed, especially if you live in a hotter region.  When it comes to your organic lawn, this is also the time to make a crucial decision.  Do you let the lawn go dormant, or do you keep it green?

When grass plants get too stressed in the summer heat, they will go dormant in order to conserve water and nutrients.  This means that your lawn will turn brown.  It’s not dead, just brown.  Depending on where you live, this may actually be the most environmentally responsible course to take.  Regions that don’t get a lot of precipitation will require significant irrigation to keep the grass green, which can be a problem in areas with water restrictions.  Even if you don’t have water restrictions, those water bills can add up, especially if you have a larger lawn.

Letting your lawn go dormant is easy; just don’t do anything.  You may still want to water very occasionally if there is no natural precipitation for a long period of time.  Remember, those grass plants are still alive!

If you want to keep your organic lawn green all summer, the same rules apply, but you can modify them slightly:

  • Water infrequently and deeply – Automatic sprinklers are convenient, but if it has recently rained or if your lawn does not need to be watered, turn them off.  If you want to avoid dormancy in summer, maintain your watering schedule as the days get hotter.  Once your lawn goes dormant, you can’t bring it back until it cools off, so stay on track if you don’t want a brown lawn.
  • Mow high – In summer, you may want to mow even higher.  Taller grass blades provide shade for the soil, so water the you apply is more likely to reach the plant roots, rather than evaporating in the heat.
  • Chill out on the nitrogen – If you fertilized in spring, your summer fertilizer should have less nitrogen.  Using a natural liquid fertilizer will ensure that your lawn does not get burned.  Granular fertilizers that lay on top of the grass can result in yellow spots, but liquid fertilizer is absorbed into both the soil and the grass blades.

I’m off to enjoy a long walk with the dog.  What are your plans for the first weekend of summer?

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