Keep your lawn green while the summer turns red hot!

grassSpring was unbelievably rainy here in Cleveland.  It certainly provided us with some beautifully lush green lawns… but now it’s summer and, oh, how the tides do change…

There hasn’t been much rain lately and now I’m cringing as our neighbors run their sprinklers for hours on end in the middle of the day!  Sheesh… what are they thinking?

There are some very simple and very green ways to keep your yard looking green too.  Here are five of the simplest of simple tips to help you:

  • Watering – ummm, yea.  Middle of the day… not so wise!  Much of the water evaporates before it ever reaches the roots.  Lawns only need an inch of water per week so this means about ONCE a week without the help of Mother Nature’s rain.  If Mother Nature is helping, don’t turn on that sprinkler! Plus, too many shallow waterings will bring roots to the surface and burn out the lawn even faster.  If you must water, early morning or evening is best.  Don’t forget that you can put your greywater to work too!
  • Mowing – don’t mow in the heat of the day either.  Cut grass loses moisture rapidly and (again!) can cause the lawn to burn out even faster, so yes… early morning or evening again!grss mow
  • No “low mow” – the optimal length is 3”, so don’t over-mow or mow too short.  Taller grass grows a deeper root system, grows slower, requires less water and helps prevent weeds.
  • Mulch it – mulching mowers actually cut grass and chop it so it can act as mulch to hold moisture (but if you don’t have a mulching mower, consider composting the clippings).
  • Water wisely – it won’t make your lawn greener but again, if you must water, actually water the lawn, NOT sidewalks and drives! Just pay close attention not to water wildly and prevent waste.

See… simple!  The mercury may rise, the rain may stay away, but the grass can be greener on your side of the fence too!

Do I have animal magnetism?

dr fawnnTruly, I’m thinking the answer has to be “yes”.  And I’m not tooting my own horn… I’m literally talking about REAL wild animals…

I’ve written before about how we seem to have an unusually large population of animals in our yard and (I’m not kidding), it has gotten even more outrageous.  While I can sit on my back patio and gaze at downtown Cleveland, I also seem to be harboring a suburban animal sanctuary.r'coon babies

Want to know what’s been hanging out in our yard lately? Lemme give you the list … deer (including babies!), squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossum, snakes, rabbits, hawks, a wild turkey, birds in general (galore!) and a red fox, for pete’s sake.

No one else seems to find these animals lingering in their yard… except me.  Want to know my theory?… as'nake natural, organic yard. No chemicals, no toxins, no poison polluting up our little sanctuary.

Do you think these animals know that? They have a keen sense of… oh… just about everything.  Hmmm, do you think they’re telling us something…?

Weeds & vinegar: a lethal (but safe!) combination

vinegarSo, it finally feels as if Spring has arrived! Your indoor spring cleaning is probably underway but, if your yard is like ours, it may look like the outdoors needs some attention too.

Along with the sprouting of our lovely spring bulbs, some not-so-lovely things are sprouting up too.  Yes, I’m talking about weeds!

Want to control them environmentally and safely without harsh chemicals? Then here are two simple items for your shopping list:  distilled white vinegar and a sprayer bottle.

If you’re like me, you may already have a sprayer bottle or have kept one around just waiting to be reused, so your list may contain one, simple item… vinegar, because (just like my kids) weeds hate the taste of vinegar!

All you need to do is fill the bottle with vinegar and spray the nasty culprits! It works best with young weeds and, for those tough hardy buggers, it may take more than one application but, I assure you, it works! I should also add that it works best on a sunny day and when rain is not in the forecast.  weedz

However, this also comes with a warning… vinegar is NOT selective. It will kill whatever you spray.  You need to be cautious not to let it come in contact with prized flowers or plants, so make sure your bottle has a very controlled sprayer and not a wide range mist.  For this reason also, vinegar is best for gardens, flower beds, sidewalks, driveways and around paver stones, but isn’t recommended for lawns since it will take your grass right along with the weeds!

Ahh… vinegar! Is there anything it doesn’t do?!?  Okay, well yea… there are “things”, but the list of what it DOES do just got longer… and you can now add “weed warrior” to that list!

To buy or not to buy (a leaf blower)… THAT is the question!

leef blowrVery rarely does my husband ask to buy anything.  (Ask him about the ever decreasing clarity of our “getting-old-TV” that he regularly tolerates and I’m sure he would agree.)

This Fall his wish list has one item… a leaf blower, and he’s hoping for my blessing.  I’ll preface this with saying that our yard has a lot of trees.  In fact, our entire neighborhood has a lot of trees and since we’re on a treed ravine, the leaves are endless.

My obvious concern is the “green factor” and what the usage of a leaf blower would negatively contribute.  We’ve always tried to keep up with them by raking and raking and raking, but it sometimes seems like the Fall gets consumed with the task, and honestly, a blower would make it more efficient and much less time consuming.

So, in usual Mom Goes Green fashion, I set out to find the answer and here is what I discovered:

The combined emissions of ALL leaf blowers, residential AND commercial, used for one whole year are only EQUAL to the emissions created by all the cars driven on U.S. roads in only 11 hours of one singular day.

Now I know someone will say “Use a rake!” and yes, we will still use a rake.  They are noisy (but we are not early morning people anyhow and will limit our use!) and we don’t put leaves in plastic bags, we push them into the ravine… but, truly, this puts it into perspective.  If using that leaf leevesblower creates such an extraordinarily minuscule amount of emissions, if it saves us time that could be spent on other things, if one less trip to drive and run errands offsets its usage AND it makes my husband happy(!) (and all those answers are “yes!”, by the way) then, guess what….

…Honey, you’re getting a leaf blower! (…and you can use yours without guilt too!)

Getting to know what’s in your soil… (do you know?)

This weekend our family started the morning having breakfast on the patio… we enjoyed each other’s company, ate mounds of fresh organic fruit and eggs, and read the newspaper. Seems enjoyable enough… yes?

veg bsktYes! Until I got to an article in the newspaper about urban vegetable gardens and the unknown threat of lead in the soil! Oh for pete’s sake, really?  I had never actually thought about it.

It seems there is an increasing concern for what existed, or still exists, in and around our seemingly healthy organic gardens.  And not just in urban settings, but anywhere.  Do we really know?  Are we all sure of what exists in our soil even if we aren’t adding pesticides and herbicides?

Surprisingly, the problem is not with the lead reaching the produce either.  In fact, according to experts, very little makes its way into the plant and virtually none reaches the produce.  The problem is when we are working and moving the soil, and we cause the lead to go airborne.  It is then that we inhale and essentially ingest the toxin.

Cheery, isn’t it?!?!  No, not at all, but if you do have some concern over your soil, whether it be for a garden or just because you’re curious about what dwells in your yard, there is a rather inexpensive way to find out…school veg grdn3

The University of Massachusetts offers a kit to test the soil for only $9!  If you want to find out, make the small investment and order the kit here.

I’m fairly confident about the soil around our house, but around our daughter’s school where we have our veggie garden, I have no idea.  It may be worth it to find out.

Recalled toys made with lead paints have sadly become common place, however, recalling our entire yard?… that would be another problem entirely!