Spring Into Summer Lawn Care

Most folks in the northern tiers of states have raked and mowed a couple times and are starting to employ summer lawn care methods. This year has been exceptional for early starts on caring for lawns and gardens.

If you haven’t repaired the lawn from winter salt injury, it’s still a good time to repair the damaged grass areas. After a few spring rains or thorough soakings from the hose the soil should be receptive to seeding or sodding.

If seeding, use a grass seed mixture with a higher salt tolerance. Seeds such as Pucinella distans along with other traditional grasses are known to be more tolerant of salt. Fults and Salty are varieties of Pucinella distans and would be listed on the seed label of the container.

All-Natural and Organic NPK Liquid Fertilizers
Our fertilizers and soil amendments will help keep your lawn healthy and thriving all through the summer months. Visit our site and see what’s available!

Basic things to note as you work your lawn this summer:

  • Lawn Length: Around 3″ is good, longer is preferred. Length provides shade to keep roots cool and help keep out weeds.
  • Watering The Grass: Most lawns can use 1″ of water a week. More if you want a lawn that is green and thick. Watering should be adequate to encourage deeper root growth so don’t water too lightly.
  • Fertilizing: Lawns vary in need so check with experts if you’re unsure about how often to fertilize your particular lawn. Different fertilizers are made for different conditions and needs. Follow label instructions and watch your turf closely – the condition will tell you a lot about what it needs.

Where to get information and the right stuff? Eco Lawn & Garden is a good source of products and you can describe your lawn’s condition to us and we will lend our expertise and recommend a course of treatment.

Visit ecolawnandgarden.com to see the full assortment of fine lawn and garden care fertilizers, soil amendments, and other eco-friendly products.

Photo of ‘Boys in Grass’ courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Winter In The Northland?

ITCHING FOR SPRING

A few things of note today and next week we will talk about the products people are ordering this time of year:

  • Experts say a La Nina weather pattern is giving us this wonderfully mild (for some) winter.

  • The mercury hit 52 degrees on Dec 26 in Minneapolis and on Jan. 10 in St. Paul!

  • Some people and pets are having more than their usual amount of allergy symptoms at this time of the year – cold weather usually eliminating a lot of things that cause itching and scratching. If this is true for your animals then a trip to the vet or another flea treatment might be in order.

  • A friend mentioned an invasion of those little black sweet ants they had just after the warm weather of Christmas. Warm weather wakes some things up. We suggested using a borax bait inside, outside applications in the spring might use our eco-friendly Wipeout. The small attachment to the vacuum cleaner is always fun but doesn’t get at the ants in the nest.

  • Some communities have put road restrictions on early in efforts to avoid excessive wear and tear on the roads due to the way the warm weather has affected ground frost patterns.

  • The coldest portion of winter has already passed us by so don’t feel guilty turning the thermostat up a time or two – the gas company may need our support! .

  • Ice fishing hasn’t been typically safe and other winter activities have declined this winter. Do what you can to support businesses that depend on winter for their livelihood. Maybe spend a weekend up north just hanging out!

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Getting A Garden Ready For Winter

Now is the time to ready the garden for hibernation! There are still some things to do before curling up by the fire for the winter!

Here are a few basic things to do:

— Dig-up Tender Plants or Take Cuttings

  • Plants that die back at the first frost can be stored or kept going for replanting in the spring. This would include mums, gladiolas, dahlias, annual geraniums, and lots more.

    All-Natural and Organic Soil Supplements
    Many natural and organic liquid fertilizers and soil amendments help your lawn through the winter. Visit our site and see what’s available!

    — Clean and Put Away Tools and Machinery

  • This is the best time to clean up and make sure all your tools are ready for the spring that will surely come. Clean and oil moving parts, get dirt off shovels and hand-tools. You know the drill! You will be glad you did and your tools will work well for you next time you need them.

    — Shape Up Garden Borders and Plots

  • Get rid of dead plant material to have a clean slate in the spring. One last tilling will help get organic matter into the soil and don’t forget to put a thick layer of mulch over the entire plot.
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    Leaves, Leaves and More Leaves!

    Does every leaf have to be gone? Where can I put them to good use?

    A few leaves won’t hurt the lawn but too many, expecially matted leaves will kill the grass over the winter.

    In gardens and flower beds there needs to be consideration for how thick you will put the leaves. Leaves tilled into a garden plot are different than putting a thick matt of leaves on ground covers and perennial gardens. Too many leaves can hold needed moisture from the soil. There are various opinions on this but unless you are protecting things that need protecting you’re probably just storing up work for the spring.

    All-Natural and Organic Soil Supplements
    Many natural and organic liquid fertilizers and soil amendments help your lawn through the winter. Visit our site and see what’s available!

    Obvious leaf collecting pointers:

  • Rake downhill if possible
  • Move leaves with the wind (I did say obvious)
  • Rake leaves onto a sheet or tarp
  • Mow and mulch the leaves and mow again
  • Bag your leaves as you rake them (avoids re-distribution by mother nature)
  • Don’t use a leaf blower (gas ones pollute, electrics don’t have enough power, both put unfriendly particulates into the air)
  • Exercising a rake is more efficient than blowers and is good for you!

    Ways to dispose of leaves:

    • Compost your leaves and make a great organic addition for soil
    • Mulch your leaves for spreading in the garden and flower beds
    • Make leaf mold a great soil conditioner
    • Bag your leaves for the municipal compost
    • Don’t send them to the landfill

    Have a lot of leaves? Make a big pile and get the kids involved! It will require a bit of re-raking but that’s the price for a little fun! If you join in just remember that the ground seems to get a little harder every year.

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    Winterizing Your Lawn

    The weather is getting cooler and lawn growth will slow and eventually stop. Hopefully leaving your lawn strengthened after the hot summer.

    Remember – Lawn care in the fall is important for a good start in the following spring to get ready for the next summer.

    Some general things to do:

    • Slow and then stop irrigation and watering in climates that the growth stops altogether
    • Get ready for the last mowing and plan to be at about 1-1/2 to 2 inches where there is snow cover, a little longer further south
    • Apply your last fertilizer before the grass goes dormant, we like a 12-0-12 NPK liquid fertilizer for quick uptake
    • Do a final leaf clean-up. Matted leaves kill grass
    • Avoid using salt and lawn damaging chemicals to melt ice this winter, shop for a lawn-friendly ice-melt.
      All-Natural and Organic Fertilizers
      The natural and organic liquid fertilizers mentioned in this post can be easily ordered online, as are the amendments and other natural lawn care products.

      There’s a lot of advice about what to do in the fall. It’s not as hard as it seems!

      A lawn’s nutrient needs change in the fall with the cold weather that’s coming.

      Winterizing fertilizers tend to be higher in potassium (the K of NPK fame) than other lawn fertilizers. Potassium will help the grass be more tolerant of cold and the stress of winter and also help the plant to absorb other nutrients.

      Typically winterizing is for cool-season grasses which have their peak growing season in the fall. It’s an important time to feed these lawns.

      Winterizing is not as beneficial for warm-season grasses and while warm-season grasses need potassium, it’s best applied in the spring and summer instead of fall.

      Generally speaking lawn fertilizers are most effective when applied during the peak growing season (spring for warm-season grass, fall for cool-season). While you may find fertilizers with NPK ratios labeled as “winterizers,” they can be applied anytime that’s right for your lawn.

      For a low-maintenance, low-budget, healthy lawn, consider switching to natural and organic lawn practices using products from suppliers such as ECO Lawn and Garden. They have a variety of great lawn and garden products, tips for gardens and lawns, and are quick to answer questions submitted through their website. These products will condition and enrich your soil, giving a healthier lawn that requires less maintenance, is safe for the whole family and is kind to the environment

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    Grass Clippings – What To Do With Them?

    Should I catch my grass clippings?

    grass clippingsDid you know that grass clippings account for up to 20 percent of household solid waste collections every year and that a single acre of grass yields up to three tons of clippings using around 260 bags each year? [source: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection].

    It is usually preferable to catch grass clippings to keep thatch from building up in the yard. If you can’t catch your grass clippings you should definitely use a mulching mower that will pulverize or mulch your clippings so they will not create an excess thatch layer. If you mow more frequently your grass clippings will be smaller and will not create as much mulch clean up.

    What do I do with my grass clippings if I catch them?

    grass clippings
    Grass clippings make an excellent mulch and organic matter for gardens. They can be applied directly to the garden and will protect the soil from heat and sun, helping to retain moisture. They can also be tilled into the soil to create organic content in the soil. Another option is to put grass clippings in a compost pile to be used later in your garden soils as an excellent mulch. There are a variety of products that act as a compost starter including ECO Lawn and Garden BioDegrader.

    All-Natural and Organic Lawn Care
    The natural and organic liquid lawn care products mentioned in this post can be easily ordered online, as well as fertilizers and other natural lawn care products.

    One of the products we like that aids the mulching process is ECO Lawn and Garden BioDegrader. It helps in the breakdown of the mulch and accomplishes some of the things that mechanical aeration does. And all with an environmentally friendly product!

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    Benefits Of Lawn Aeration

    It is good to aerate the lawn every year. The best time is usually after the plant has emerged from dormancy and established itself in the spring usually in April or May depending on the area of the country.

    Lawns can also be aerated mechanically late in the growing season, usually August or September. Mechanical aeration which can be performed by commercial lawn services will serve to open up the soil, especially if your soil is compacted and if you have excess thatch. It will also tend to smooth the unevenness in lawns.

    All-Natural and Organic Fertilizers
    The natural and organic liquid fertilizers mentioned in this post can be easily ordered online, as are the amendments and other natural lawn care products.

    A very good alternative to hiring a service to mechanically aerate the lawn is the use of natural and organic liquid soil amendments such as ECO Lawn & Garden Super Soil Plus or ECO Lawn & Garden Soil Amend Plus. These liquid lawn aerators serve to aerate the soil without using mechanical aeration. They are easily applied with a hose-attached sprayer.

    The liquid lawn aearation products penetrate the soil — a process called Flocullation — using a plus-minus attraction principle to loosen the soils to allow more air and water to penetrate the soil.

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    Fertilizing My Lawn Part II

    Fertilizer Formulation — What’s It Made Of?
    Fertilizers have a three number formulation called NPK. A typical number is something like 16-4-8. The first number (16) is always the % of Nitrogen (N) in the fertilizer. The second number (4) is the % of Phosphorus (P) and the third number is the % of Potassium (K).
    Nitrogen (the N) is the most important thing to feed plants and lawns. Every cell in plant life requires Nitrogen.
    Phosphorus (P) is needed by the plant for cell division and growth. And for photosynthesis and energy transfer.
    Potassium (K) helps with photosynthesis and the transfer and storage of carbohydrates. Potassium is also frequently called Potash.

    What fertilizer formulation should I pick? The higher the Nitrogen Content (N) the more food is being given to your plant. It is possible for the plant to grow too fast for good plant health and you could spend all of your time mowing!

    The highest available Nitrogen is 47-0-0 which is straight Urea Nitrogen. That formulation will produce a significant growth but has the risk of burning the plant during the hot time of year. The highest organic and natural fertilizers generally top out at 28-0-0 or 20-4-8.

    All-Natural and Organic Fertilizers
    The natural and organic liquid fertilizers mentioned in this post can be easily ordered online, as are the amendments and other natural lawn care products.

    The most favored is a 4-1-2 ratio of NPK such as ECO Lawn & Garden 16-4-8. That formulation can be applied safely during the hot summer season without fear of burning the plant.

    One of the best organic fertilizers is Fish Emulsion. Fish Emulsion is essentially emulsified fish from either fish parts or whole fish. Fish Emulsion such as ECO Lawn and Garden Fish Emulsion produces a natural 5-1-1 NPK fertilizer.

    Remember, the Pilgrims used to put dead fish in the soil when planting corn. Fish Emulsion is an excellent natural fertilizer especially for gardens. Tried and true for centuries!

    The last note in Fish Emulsion is that it does have a noticeable odor for a day or so. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention this!

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    Organic and Natural – Why Should I?

    Last week’s post was about Organic and Natural, and what they mean. This week we talk briefly about why.

    The Advantages and Disadvantages of Organic and Natural Fertilizers ~
    Advantages
    Although the density of nutrients in organic material is comparatively modest, they have many advantages. The majority of nitrogen supplying organic fertilizers contain insoluble nitrogen and act as a slow-release fertilizer.

    By their nature, organic fertilizers increase physical and biological nutrient storage mechanisms in soils, mitigating risks of over-fertilization. Organic fertilizer nutrient content, solubility, and nutrient release rates are typically much lower than mineral (inorganic) fertilizers. A University of North Carolina study found that potential mineralizable nitrogen (PMN) in the soil was 182–285% higher in organic mulched systems, than in the synthetics control.

    Organic fertilizers also re-emphasize the role of humus and other organic components of soil, which are believed to play several important roles:

    • Mobilizing existing soil nutrients, so that good growth is achieved with lower nutrient densities while wasting less
    • Releasing nutrients at a slower, more consistent rate, helping to avoid a boom-and-bust pattern
    • Helping to retain soil moisture, reducing the stress due to temporary moisture stress
    • Improving the soil structure.
    • Helping to prevent topsoil erosion (responsible for desertification and the Dust bowl)
    Organic and Natural
    The ECO Lawn and Garden products mentioned in this post can be easily ordered online. Visit us and feel free to contact us with your questions!

    Organic fertilizers also have the advantage of avoiding certain problems associated with the regular heavy use of artificial fertilizers:

    • Help provide relief from the necessity of reapplying artificial fertilizers regularly (and perhaps in increasing quantities) to maintain fertility

    • Avoid the extensive runoff of soluble nitrogen and phosphorus, leading to eutrophication of bodies of water (which causes fish kills)
    • Lower the cost to treat the soil with organics if the fertilizer is locally available

    Two of our favorite organic products are our Micro Boost for putting valuable and necessary micro-nutrients into the soil and our Fish Emulsion which is a tremendous nutrient source for almost anything you grow.

    There are also studies that have shown the nutritional value of organics to be higher than foods grown with artificial fertilizers. But that’s a topic for another day.

    Disadvantages
    Organic fertilizers do have what some would view as disadvantages:

    • As a dilute source of nutrients when compared to inorganic fertilizers, transporting a large amount of fertilizer incurs higher costs, especially with slurry and manure.

    • The composition of organic fertilizers tends to be more complex and variable than a standardized inorganic product.
    • Improperly-processed organic fertilizers may contain pathogens from plant or animal matter that are harmful to humans or plants. However, proper composting should remove them.
    • More labor is needed to compost organic fertilizer, increasing labor costs. Even so, some of this cost is offset by reduced cash purchases for treating the soil.

    There you have the basic pros and cons for organic fertilizers. The reasons for using organics run far deeper than those that are covered here. At ECO Lawn and Garden we encourage you to explore organic growing as the preferred method for everything you grow.

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    Organic and Natural – What and Why?

    The next two posts will talk about Organic and Natural. What they mean, why we should use them. This week we touch on what they are.

    There are several definitions of Organic or Natural Fertilizers. Here are a few definitions as obtained from Google search sources:
    – organic fertilizer, organic fertiliser (a fertilizer that is derived from animal or vegetable matter)

    • Fertilizer means any substance used or intended to be used as a fertilizer of the soil and/or crop and includes a mixture of fertilizer, special mixture of fertilizer, provisional fertilizer and customized fertilizer, bio fertilizers specified in Schedule III and organic fertilizers specified in Schedule IV.
    • Bio Fertilizer means the product contains carrier based (solid or liquid) living micro organisms, which are agriculturally useful in terms of nitrogen fixation, phosphorus solubleization or nutrient mobilization, to increase the productivity of the soil and/ or crop.
    • Organic Fertilizer means substances are made up of one or more unprocessed material(s) of a biological nature (plant/animal) and may include unprocessed mineral materials that have been altered through a microbiological decomposition process.
    • Complex Fertilizer means it is a fertilizer containing two or more nutrients during the production of which a chemical reaction takes place.
    • Mixture of Fertilizer means it is a mixture of fertilizers made by the physical mixing of two or more fertilizers, with or without inert material in physical or granular form and includes a mixture of NPK fertilizer, a mixture of micronutrient fertilizer and a mixture of NPK with micronutrient fertilizers.
    • Regarding Chemicals – another definition of Organic and Natural Fertilizers is that they are made without petrochemical content.

    Pesticides, Herbicides and Fungicides
    The general category of Pesticides are not considered Organic or Natural since most are chemically manufactured. Pesticides may include herbicides which are lawn weed killers, fungicides which are used to control diseases, and pesticides which are used to kill insects and pests. There is research being done to produce organic fungicides and Eco Lawn and Garden has some great natural pest control available. We will keep you posted.

    EDTA Generally Natural or Organic Fertilizers are manufactured without using the EDTA process which uses acid in production.

    EDTA (from Wikipedia) – EDTA is a widely used initialism for the organic compound ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid … a polyamino carboxylic acid and a colorless, water-soluble solid. Widely used to dissolve scale. Its usefulness arises because of its role as a chelating agent, i.e. its ability to “sequester” metal ions such as Ca2+ and Fe3+. After being bound by EDTA, metal ions remain in solution but exhibit diminished reactivity. EDTA is produced as several salts, notably disodium EDTA and calcium disodium EDTA.

    So, what is the difference between Natural or Organic?

    In order to be called Organic, fertilizers must be certified by one of the organizations that certify fertilizers and amendments as Organic. Two of the more prominent organizations are OMRI and OCIA International, OMRI stands for Organic Materials Review International. These are third party organizations that do a careful review of products when the supplier applies for certification.

    Organic and Natural
    The ECO Lawn and Garden products mentioned in this post can be easily ordered online. Visit us and feel free to contact us with your questions!

    This is particularly important to the organic grower who needs to know that the products, including fertilizer, that are used to grow are certified as Organic. Natural fertilizers may be made from the same natural materials but the manufacturer may not have applied for the actual Organic certification.
    Using good products like those found at ECO Lawn and Garden, is an environmentally-friendly way to get the results you want with the things you grow!

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