Nearly half of the trees cut in North America are made into paper.
Every year, over 3.8 million acres of forest are clear-cut, leaving
wide strips of stumps.
To make paper, wood is ground, pressed, dried and chlorine bleached,
producing over 1,000 different organ chlorines, including the carcinogen
dioxin, and mercury. Deforestation destroys wildlife habitat and
increases erosion and sedimentation of streams.
The Leewood Times is Going Green
Because trees are worth preserving, the editors of the Leewood
Times have decided to make the newsletter available in print to
only those who request it. Your LHOA newsletter will continue to
be posted online at http://www.leewood.us/news/Pub_Index.htm
We understand that holding an actual piece of paper is important
to some of our members, and we are aware that some of our members
may not have access to the internet. Because of this, we will continue
to print and deliver a select number of copies.
To request a subscription of the Leewood Times delivered to your
door, please fill out the form at the end of The
Leewood Times Volume III Issue 2 and mail it to the address
Why Go Green?
You can save energy and money. Given the astronomical rise in fuel
prices in the past few years, it's no surprise that energy efficiency
is the top reason consumers choose green. Remodelers favor energy-efficient
appliances and water-conserving fixtures. Energy savings from all
these techniques usually pay for their higher up-front costs in
two to seven years.
You can save your lungs. Indoor air can be two to five times more
polluted than outdoor air. When Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
commonly found in paints, stains and glues dry, they release chemicals
and continue to do so for years. This can exacerbate allergies and
asthma, and cause headaches and nausea. As a preventive measure,
some homeowners opt for "low VOC" paint, natural stains
and formaldehyde-free glue, which generally cost a few dollars more
You can help save the planet. The final reason you might choose
to go green is to leave the smallest footprint you can on the planet.
Going Green in Your Garden
Once soil temperatures warm up to between 65 and 70 degrees F or
higher and the threat of frost has past, you're set to transplant
seedlings or sow seed directly in the garden.
As you prepare, take time to examine the "bones" of your
landscape. Do you have a balance of evergreen and deciduous trees
and shrubs? Have plants matured, changing a formerly sunny garden
into a shady spot? You can use a hose to decide where new beds will
be added. Lay it on the ground and move it around until you are
happy with the bed lines. Visit
your local Arboretum or Botanical Garden
Find out which plants thrive in your region. And if frosts still
threaten, you can cover blooms at nightwith a sheet, but make sure
to remove it during the day when temperatures warm up.
What To Grow?
Find out which plants thrive in your region. And if frosts still
threaten, you can cover blooms at night with a sheet, but make sure
to remove it during the day when temperatures warm up.
Buy a few extra in case some die during the year. Incorporating
native plants will be helpful—they require less water and,
having evolved in the region, resist insects and diseases better
In damper climes, certain plants, such as bald cypress (Taxodium
distichum), Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) and deciduous hollies
like Sparkleberry (Ilex), will not only tolerate wet soils but will
thrive. And don't forget the wildlife: Berried shrubs like native
Viburnums will attract songbirds and other avian life to your yard
(but be careful to keep cats away). Refer to regional gardening
books and plant societies for recommendations about what to plant
in your garden (see "Resources" below).
This year enjoy the fruits of your labors literally—grow your
own organic vegetables. All you need is six or more hours of direct
sun, good garden soil, water and a little patience. Plant when the
temperature is right: Crops like lettuce, radishes, spinach and
other greens don't mind slightly cooler soil temperatures, but tomatoes,
watermelons, squash and pumpkins (as well as many flowers) need
warmer soil and air to flourish. Even if you just have a couple
of large pots, you can easily grow cherry tomatoes, basil, hot peppers
and other herbs.
Weed, weed, weed. Pull weeds as soon as they appear. Any weeds
you eliminate now will not set seeds, which means less work throughout
the rest of spring. Clean up the garden if you didn't do it in the
fall. Leaves should be raked off beds and put into a compost pile.
With certain plants like roses, garden phlox and camellias, dead
leaves should be destroyed. A soil test (see below) is an inexpensive
way to find out what nutrients may be lacking, as well as determine
the acidity (pH) of the soil. The results will help you select an
appropriate organic fertilizer to add for your vegetables or ornamentals.
By amending your soils you can also prevent problems like blossom
end rot of tomatoes, caused by a lack of calcium, or yellow leaves,
caused by a lack of iron. Once a garden plot or planting bed is
weed-free, top dress it with compost (two inches deep) and let it
sit until early spring when you can till it into the soil.
The Soil Test
Find your local USDA
extension service at www.csrees.usda.gov they can give you details
on how to bring a soil sample to them (there is a nominal fee,
which is usually less than $10).
Taking the sample:
Start with a clean trowel and bucket.
1. Take ten hearty plugs or scoops of soil (each plug should be
four to six inches deep).
2. Mix the ten plugs together once they have been collected in the
3. Remove stone, grass, worms and other materials. Scoop out two
8-ounce cups of soil—a representative sample from a particular
area. Repeat these steps for areas with different types of soil.
Let the Extension Service know the types of plants you plan to grow,
and they can test it for individual plants like azaleas or tomatoes.
Americans apply over 100 million pounds of pesticides and herbicides
around their homes each year. And children of parents who use pyrethroid
insecticides around the home have higher urinary levels of those
pesticides than children whose parents don't, according to Environmental
Health Perspectives (see Food for Thought: Healthy Habits for Back-To-Schoolers
and Beyond). Common insecticide ingredients such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic
acid (2,4-D), atrazine and dicamba have been shown to harm mouse
embryos at times equivalent to the first week after conception in
humans. So keep these chemicals away from your children and out
of our waterways by using pesticide-free methods.
An earth-friendly approach to pests & slugs
An earth-friendly approach to control slugs, whether in the vegetable
garden or the hosta bed, is to recycle the black cell packs your
vegetable starts or annuals come in. Place the empty containers
upside down near the base of plants. As the plants mature, hide
the cell packs under the leaves. Each morning, check the containers
for pests, and if you find any, simply throw the container away
with the pests inside (or, if you don't wish to harm them, leave
the slugs in an empty lot).
More pest control tips:
An easy method for slug control is to use grapefruit rinds (1/2
of a grapefruit with the meat scooped out). When the slugs crawl
into the rind, dispose of it.
Know the rodents and other animals that might visit your garden;
visit your local USDA extension for information.
Remember that a strong blast of hose water will blow insects off
your foliage without applying a singlechemical.
When all else fails, use barriers like chicken wire to protect
your prize tomatoes
Go Green with These Eco-Friendly Gardening
Spring is almost here and it's the perfect time for enjoying the
outdoors and perhaps doing some gardening. Even though your garden
may technically be green in color, it may not be "green"
in the sense of being a low-impact garden. Embracing a green lifestyle
involves growing a sustainable garden, one that is a thoughtful
balance between resources used and results gained.
Whether its cultivating plots of vegetables or a collection of potted
herbs and flowers, organic gardeners attribute their success to
healthy soil, respect for beneficial insects’ work and the
use of naturally pest-resistant plants. They use only natural pesticides
and organic fertilizers derived from natural materials.
Planting a variety of flowers and shrubs will ensure that you
have something in bloom all year long, or as much of the year as
possible. This attracts insects and birds to your garden which can
limit the health and safety risks associated with conventional pesticide
Gardens are great things to have not just because they are nice
to look at and can provide fresh vegetables, but the nitrogen from
their roots helps improve the soil. Dimmock says when you are done
with your garden, leave the roots to rot so they will fertilize
the soil without having to use chemicals.
Some Tips to Keep Your Garden “Greener”
Trust Mother Nature. Mother Nature never needed to steal sips
from a chemical cocktail of pesticides, weed killers, and chemical
fertilizers to keep her act together. Nix the poisons and layer
on some all-natural compost, instead. Call in beneficial insect
reinforcements to wrestle pesky garden pests to the ground.
Buy recycled. If you don’t like the idea of reusing yogurt
or takeout containers to house your hydrangeas, check out the myriad
of environmentally friendly planters and raised-garden kits now
available. It takes less energy to recycle something than to mine
Go native. Consider using native and indigenous plants already
adapted to local conditions, native plants are easy to grow and
maintain, generally requiring less fertilizer and water, as well
as less effort to rein in pests.
Harvest rainwater. Adding a rain barrel is an inexpensive and
effortless way to capture mineral- and chlorine-free water for watering
lawns, yards, and gardens. By harnessing what's literally raining
from the sky, you'll not only notice a marked dip in water costs,
but also a reduction in storm water runoff, which in turn helps
prevent erosion and flooding. Pop a screen on top of your barrel
to keep out insects, and debris and make sure to frequently use
your water supply to keep it moving and aerated.
Water with care. Adopting a few smart-watering habits will do
much to stretch out your supply, especially during dry, hot spells
in the summer. Adding mulch and compost to your soil will retain
water and cut down evaporation. Water early in the day so you can
avoid evaporation and winds.
The Four “R”s. Reduce, Recycle, Reuse and Rebuy. You
want to reduce your output of waste to ensure you're using materials
efficiently. Reusing compost and tree clippings for mulch, or rainwater
for watering take up little time and energy, but offer plenty of
environmental bang for your buck.
Recycling saves resources, while rebuying means seeking products
that meet your needs, but are more environmentally friendly than
your usual purchases.
Think layers, with tall trees as the upper canopy, small trees
and shrubs below, and ferns and shade-tolerant woodland wildflowers
on the forest floor. Use mulches to help maintain soil moisture,
and prune low tree branches to admit more light to lower plants.
TREES: Red maple (Acer rubrum) grows quickly and provides excellent
autumn color; ‘Autumn Flame’ features smallish leaves
that turn bright red in early fall. Dogwoods (Cornus spp.) have
it all: beautiful form, spring flowers and good fall color.
SHRUBS: Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) bears early spring blossoms
followed by blueberry-like fruits. Native azaleas (Rhododendron
spp.) provide color and fragrance.
GROUNDCOVERS: The glossy leaves of wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
release a bracing mint fragrance when crushed; red berries persist
into winter. Trilliums (Trillium spp.) gradually form dense colonies.
Strive for Super Soil
All plants grow best in rich, fertile soil that allows roots to
penetrate at least 15 inches deep. Creating great soil may take
a few years but is relatively easy. Begin by growing short-lived
annuals in new beds. Dig in four inches of compost or other organic
matter in spring and fall. The soil will show huge improvements
in texture by its third season, making it worthy of more long-lived
perennial plants. In addition, look for locally produced soil amendments
at your nursery.
What’s in the Bag?
Unless you have a truck—or hire a landscaping service—you’ll
probably buy soil amendments in bags at the garden center. Here’s
what’s inside bags labeled as compost, humus, soil conditioner
or planting mix—and the best ways to use each type of product.
What is it? Organic matter that’s been mixed and piled to
promote natural decay while minimizing pathogens, weed seeds and
odors. Often a good source of minor nutrients.
Best use: Dig a two-inch layer into soil between plantings or use
more to improve the fertility of very poor soil.
What is it? Often a combination of compost and humus, but ingredients
vary. Low in plant nutrients but provides a fast infusion of organic
Best use: Dig in a four-inch layer when creating new garden beds
or mix into planting holes for trees and shrubs.
What is it? Decomposed vegetable matter, most commonly leaves and
chipped bark. Low in plant nutrients but high in cellulose, which
improves soil texture.
Best use: Dig in a four-inch layer when creating new garden beds.
What is it? Typically a mixture of compost, humus and topsoil.
Low in plant nutrients. Some mixes include supplemental fertilizer.
(Make sure products do not include synthetic chemical fertilizer.)
Best use: Fill planting holes or dig into new garden beds. Follow
label directions for how much to use, especially if the product
Whether you’re looking for a fertilizer or a solution to
a persistent pest problem, you can guard your garden’s natural
integrity—and support large-scale sustainable agriculture—by
looking for the OMRI seal when shopping for garden-care products.
OMRI stands for Organic Materials Review Institute, a nonprofit
alliance of farmers, scientists, environmentalists and businesspeople
that determines whether products are acceptable for use by certified
organic growers. The OMRI website (www.OMRI.org) includes a database
you can search using brand name, active ingredients or type of product.
How Does a Garden Grow?
Organic gardeners attribute their success to healthy soil, respect
for beneficial insects’ work and the use of naturally pest-resistant
plants. They use only natural pesticides and organic fertilizers
derived from natural materials.
Biointensive gardening focuses on deeply dug raised beds to coax
maximum productivity from every square inch of soil. Grains are
grown for use as food, mulch and soil improvement. The use of high-quality
compost and plants that grow well together round out the system.
Biodynamic gardening is based on sound organic methods enhanced
by special liquid preparations made from minerals, manure and plants,
such as chamomile and stinging nettle. These preparations improve
the soil’s self-healing properties and promote superior nutrition
in crops. Biodynamic gardening also works to align with the forces
of nature, including phases of the moon and planets.
Permaculture seeks to create functional, interactive systems in
which both nature and people are well served. Permaculture practitioners
gently enhance ecosystems by creating niches for useful plants that
can perpetuate themselves without constant attention.
Just because your garden is full of green plants, doesn't mean it's
Try propagating good bugs like lady bugs, which eat other bugs.
You can buy lady bugs and other insects at garden centers, online
and from garden catalogues and magazines. Also suggested are tiny
microscopic worms called nematodes.
Natural chemicals protect the groundwater and runoff and are also
better for your plants. The problem with traditional pesticides
is that they don't just kill bugs or weeds, they kill everything
they encounter. If you plant is not in good health, the traditional
pesticide could wind up hurting, not helping, matters.
Plant a variety of flowers and shrubs so you have something in
bloom all year long, or as much of the year as possible. This attracts
insects and birds to your garden year round.
A Homeowner’s Guide to Organic Landscape
Choose the “right plant for the right site”. This
is central to all plants, including turfgrass. Research the cultural
requirements of the plant. Sun, partial shade, shade; pH; soil preferences
(especially drainage); water and fertility needs; winter hardiness;
ultimate size and habit of the plant; slope; aspect; and any other
“peculiarities” that the plant might prefer.
Every landscape possesses “microclimates”. Take advantage
of these to site marginal woody and herbaceous plants, encourage
earlier blooming (or delay blooming of shrubs prone to early season
frosts, i.e. star magnolias), or protection from desiccating winds
or sun. In selecting appropriate turfgrass varieties, variations
in light, soil types, slope, and drainage considerations may vary
within individual sites and influence selection of seed varieties.
Determine the characteristics of your soil through testing: soil
pH, nutrient availability and organic material percentage, aggregate
composition, and drainage capacity.
Planting Considerations (applicable to trees and shrubs)
Do not amend the soil at planting time. The only “acceptable”
amendments are bonemeal and amendments that will correct the soil
Wide and shallow planting holes are much preferable to deep and
narrow ones. The fine root system of most woody plants extends 2
to 3 times the diameter of the drip edge of the plant. Planting
holes should be 3 times as wide as the rootball, with sloped sides.
Woody plants sited in beds perform much better than those sited
in turf. If shrubs are placed within turf, maintain as large an
edged “planting ring” as possible.
Check out the source of nursery stock before you purchase. Southern
and western grown plants often do not adapt as well as northern
Several woody plants are best planted in spring and may be lost
if fall-planted. (Crabapples, plums, pears, cherries, birch, hackberries,
hawthorns, silverbells, goldenrain trees, hornbeams, etc.)
Check out the plants themselves in the nursery before you purchase.
Branching structure; symmetrical and radially spaced root structure
with a good root flare (especially for trees and large shrubs/small
trees); integrity of the root ball (for B&B stock); integrity
of the root system on containerized stock (color and density of
roots, medium it was grown in, circling roots, etc.); damage to
the stem or branches (frost cracks, sunscald, mechanical damage,
etc.); presence of insects and/or diseases. Avoid buying plants
Bareroot stock planted when dormant often results in a better
quality plant than comparable or larger sized B&B or container
plants (i.e. better root-to-shoot ratio).
Be extra careful to plant all woody plants (especially large shrubs
and trees) at the proper planting height (i.e. at grade). Look for
the root flare (sometimes several inches below the soil level in
B&B stock) and insure that the flare is above grade
(trunk flare junction should be 1-2” above grade) and the
plant ball is sitting on undisturbed ground in your planting hole
(i.e. a pedestal).
Remove as much of the burlap, rope, and wire basket (if machine
dug) as possible without compromising the integrity of the rootball.
Prepare the root systems of container-grown plants properly. Free
up the root ends and loosen some of the container media. This will
enable the roots to come in direct contact with the new backfill
soil. Most well grown plants will only require gentle loosening
up of the roots in the outer ½ inch of the ball, but if the
roots appear more severely matted, it may be necessary to use a
knife to open them up.
Inoculate woody plants at planting time with mycorrhizal fungi
and growth promoting bacteria. Utilize biostimulants periodically
to foster a strong root system and stimulate biological processes
essential for plant growth and nutrient availability.
Do not fertilize woody plants during the first growing season.
Do not prune newly planted trees and shrubs (except for damaged
branches), especially bareroot or transplanted stock.
Do not firm the backfill soil with your feet. With bareroot stock
it is advisable to incorporate hydrogel into the backfill at planting
time. Water newly planted woody stock the “correct”
way (i.e. puddling at different backfill depths). Watering container-grown
plants grown in soilless media requires extra care as water will
have a difficult time moving into the root system from surrounding
soil during the first growing season. This situation usually requires
more frequent watering.
Mulch shrubs with aged organic mulch. The correct thickness of
the mulch is between 2 and 4” inches; with finer mulches use
the lower parameter. Keep mulch away from the stems of large shrubs/small
trees. Be aware of the buildup of this mulch layer over a period
of years. This all-to-common occurrence often raises the grade contiguous
to the root flare, typically leading to tree decline. Observation
of advantageous roots growing up into the mulch layer is indicative
of too low a planting depth and/or too great a mulch layer.
Do not stake or guy trees (or large shrubs) unless absolutely
necessary. If required, make sure that it is properly done (i.e.
loose enough to allow stem movement); and is removed after a full
Do not wrap the stems of trees at planting time. If nursery-grown
trees are marked (paint dot) on their lower stems, face stems in
the planting hole accordingly (typically south).
Maintenance Considerations (applicable to trees and shrubs)
Make sure the plant has adequate moisture throughout the first
growing season (i.e. an inch of water a week). Deep watering is
preferable to shallow watering. Soaker hoses, drip irrigation, water
gators and the like are the preferred method of watering. Probe
with a soil corer to insure the water has permeated the root system.
Generally rainfall will not provide adequate moisture until after
a couple of growing seasons. Be careful however: more plants die
from overwatering than from a lack of water.
Periodically renew the mulch layer, checking to make sure the pH
is at an optimum range throughout the root system.
It is permissible to feed your woody plants in their second growing
season. Utilize a quality organic fertilizer. Periodic use of biostimulants
is preferred to fertilization. If utilizing a quality, “finished”
compost, and the plants are growing is a “good” loam
soil, all the plants nutritional needs will be supplied as the mulch
Protect plants susceptible to deer browsing. Monitor browsing
pressure year-round, as significant damage can occur during every
season of the year.
Provide winter protection for susceptible plants (i.e. broad-leaved
evergreens, marginal plants, etc.)
Periodically prune your woody plants to maintain health and vigor;
correct structural problems (i.e. proper scaffolding branching on
small trees, interfering branches); assist in insect and disease
control (i.e. borers, side branch dieback in Cornus, powdery mildew,
etc.); promote interesting branch formation; or to bring about earlier
blossoming. The time of year is largely dependent upon your reason
to prune. Severe pruning when the plant is dormant stimulates the
production of strong, leafy shoots. Pruning when the plant is actively
growing tends to check exuberant growth and helps bring about the
formation of blossom buds. Know the plant before you prune (i.e.
habit, ultimate size, etc). Tie shrub pruning to season of bloom.
Generally, shrubs that bloom before the 4th of July flower on buds
set during the previous growing season, while plants that bloom
after the 4th flower on buds formed during the current growing season.
Pruning on most shrubs is best done minimally and consistently by
complete removal of a few selected branches of the oldest stems,
instead of removing the conventional “1/3” every 3 to
5 years. Some shrubs benefit from annual and sometimes rigorous
pruning (i.e. spiraeas, forsythia, shrub dogwoods, deutzias, mock
oranges, lilacs, weigelas, etc.). Use the “right tool for
the job” and sanitize tools between pruning individuals with
isopropyl alcohol (especially on conifers and broad-leaved evergreens).
Successful Lawn Care
Seed: Types and quality of turfgrass seed varieties varies greatly.
Check out the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program website for
best varieties for your area. IES advocates tall turf-type fescues
for lawns that are not irrigated. The new varieties are very adaptable
and versatile and will grow in a wide range of soil types, soil
pHs, and light conditions. Very good drought tolerance; low fertility
needs; few disease and pest problems; excellent heat tolerance;
performs well in heavy traffic and use situations. Contrary to Extension
recommendations it is cold hardy north of Westchester County. We
advise a mix containing 70% tall turf-type fescues (at least 3 recommended
varieties), 15% perennial ryegrass, and 15% Kentucky bluegrass (at
least 3 recommended disease resistant varieties). Make sure the
mix is inoculated with endophytes. Make sure the seed is fresh as
the germination success falls dramatically after a year. Make sure
the inert ingredients are minimal (i.e. less than 2%-3% by volume).
Fertilization: Periodic soil testing is essential to successful
lawn care. Conduct yearly soil acidity testing and nutritional analysis
every 3 to 5 years. Optimum soil acidity level is generally around
6.5. N. and K. levels are key to proper fertilization. We recommend
1-2 lbs. N. and 1-3 lbs. K/1000sf/year. Calibration of spreaders
is also important. We recommend a quality organic fertilizer (if
NPK >18, the fertilizer is not 100% organic) because they are
mainly water insoluble making them naturally slow release, will
stimulate the soil microbial activity thus facilitating nutrient
uptake, reducing thatch, suppressing disease, enhancing the structure
of the soil itself (i.e. tilth, water holding capacity, etc.). Some
organic fertilizers contain biostimulants and beneficial bacteria
(e.g. Plant Health Care’s “Healthy Turf” 8-1-9).
Fall fertilizations, after the last mowing (late October, early
November) are best in so far as nitrogen loss (mineralization and
oxidation). Many organic turf managers say there is no need for
Supplemental “feedings”: Use biostimulants to promote
a strong, resilient root system that will withstand environmental
and/or cultural stresses. Biostimulants are non-fertilizer organic
substances that activate and accelerate the growth processes of
plants. Some of the key ingredients in biostimulants are humic acid
(The end product of decomposed plant tissue that plays many roles
in soil and plant nutrition. They improve the cation exchange capacity
of soil, increase cell membrane permeability, increase phosphorus
uptake, root and cell elongation and ion transport.); Ascophyllum
nodosum (This species of cold water sea kelp is a commonly used
organic supplement that helps increase plant growth and prevents
plant stress. Its primary ingredient is cytokinins, a plant growth
regulator, that helps heal wounds, delay senescence and chlorsis,
and promote root development.); amino acids (Part of the natural
biochemical processes of the plant, causing improved nutrient absorption
and increased availability of micronutrients.); carbohydrates (Serve
as carbon energy sources for soil microorganisms.); and vitamin
B-complex and K (Important enzyme catalysts that enhance normal
plant metabolism. B vitamins contribute to root development.). We
recommend 2 to 3 seasonal supplemental feedings per year.
Core aeration and topdressing: Core aeration periodically done
on the entire lawn, especially in high traffic areas, will greatly
benefit established lawns. We recommend fall aeration just to fertilization.
Disperse the soil plugs by “sweeping”, power raking,
or by mowing. Topdressing lawns with quality organic compost will
likewise invigorate your lawn. By mixing grass seed into the compost,
you can renovate thin areas of your turf. Make sure the compost
is weed and disease free (i.e. Sweet Peat).
Watering: Regular watering is crucial for establishing and maintaining
new and young lawns. Many grass types will go dormant during a drought,
especially Kentucky bluegrass. If irrigation is not an issue, deep
water (at least 1”-1.5”) at the first sigh of stress
(wilting), and water frequently and shallowly throughout the summer.
Water in the early morning to suppress turf diseases. Tall turf-type
fescues are the most drought tolerant of all the commercially available
Mowing: Rule of thumb: never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf
blade of any type of grass. Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues
should be maintained at the 2”-3” height; tall fescues
at 3”. Keep mower blades sharp! Dull blades wound the grass
and leave convenient points of entry for diseases (i.e. leaf spot).
Do not mow turf that is under stress. Avoid mowing in the mid-day
sun. Do not bag clippings; rather use a mulching blade as the clippings
can contain up to 35% N. and other essential nutrients.
Weeds: Weed problems usually arise as a result of environmental
and/or cultural stresses. Extreme temperatures, drought, improper
mowing, insect or disease infestation, improper or lack of fertilization
are the most common vectors for weed entry. If the problem is extensive
or the weeds particularly noxious, there is no alternative but to
use an herbicide or remove by hand. Avoid potent and persistent
chemicals whenever possible. Try new organically based herbicides
such as corn glutin (a preemergent and early post emergent herbicide).
Diseases: The main disease problems in NYS are leaf spot, fusarium
(necrotic ring spot, summer patch), red thread, rust, and snowmold.
Best methods to minimize diseases include starting with disease
resistant grass varieties and employing proper cultural practices.
Leaf spot is the most serious disease of Kentucky bluegrass. Cool,
wet springs fosters the disease, which manifests in summer with
crown rot (“melting out”). Heavily fertilized lawns,
especially those that receive high applications of N. in spring,
are the most susceptible. Fusarium blight syndrome affects the roots
of grasses. Summer patch is the more common of the two blights.
Hot, dry summer conditions are conducive to summer patch. Buy resistant
varieties of perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. We like
tall fescues as they are very deep rooted and therefore more drought
tolerant. Rust is common in perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass
and is typically a fall problem. Low N. levels foster rusts. Fall
fertilization typically prevents this disease. Snowmold can be a
serious problem in upstate NY. Proper fall fertilization with N.
and K. help minimize damage. Avoid fertilizing (with high nitrogen,
inorganic fertilizers) after 10/1 and before the last mowing.
Insects: There are two basic types of damaging turf insects: surface
feeders (chinch bugs, sod webworms) and root feeders (primarily
white grubs of 5 species of beetles with Japanese beetles and European
chafers being the most common). For the surface feeders use endophyte
enhanced grass varieties. Botanical insecticides such as those derived
from the neem tree are a safe and effective control for surface
feeding insects. New biological controls for surface feeding insects
are proving effective (i.e. the fungus Beauvaria bassiana as a chinch
bug control). Avoid chemicals such as Dursban, Oftanol, Sevin, Orthene,
and Turcam. Biological controls are best for root feeding turf insects.
Chemical pesticides not only pose a health risk to the applicator
and resident, but also deleteriously impact beneficial soil microorganisms.
Parasitic nematodes are very effective for all white grub species.
Monitor turf for grubs in early August. Treat when grubs average
8-10 per sf. Treat in August to control next spring’s population.
Milky spore disease (Bacillus popilliae) is not effective on masked
chafer, takes at least 3-5 years to effectively populate your turf,
and is not effective in many areas of NYS. Armyworms have recently
been a serious problem in many areas of NYS and CT. Bt (Bacillus
thuringiensis) is effective on this pest.
Whenever possible, avoid using lawns during times of drought or
when the turf is frozen and there is no snow cover. DO NOT drive
on lawns under these conditions!
Integrated Pest Management
This philosophy of landscape care will lead to a healthy and successfully
landscape and limit the health and safety risks associated with
conventional pesticide use. “Biorational” controls,
an important part of an IPM management strategy, are a catchall
term for a diverse range of both cultural and mechanical landscape
management practices. In the garden, thinning bee balm and garden
phlox to improve air circulation would be a good example of a cultural
biorational control measure intended to limit the proliferation
of fungal spores. Roguing sick or weak plants from your landscape
is another. Biological control measures are often as effective as
conventional chemical controls in eradicating pest and disease problems.
Traps (baits, attractants, or “sticky”) are also effective
in reducing insect pest populations.
The selection of plants is of prime importance for successful landscape
and garden management. Utilize the best species and cultivars that
either possess or have had good disease and pest resistance bred
into them. For example, our native white birch, Betula papyrifera,
is inherently more resistant to bronze birch borer that its European
or Asian counterparts. Commercial nurseries, private entities, and
the government (USDA) continue to develop disease and pest resistant
Gardeners and landscape managers should set thresholds, which will
define their tolerance for diseases and pests. These threshold levels
can vary greatly in virtually all agricultural and landscape applications.
Once threshold levels have been established, if intervention is
called for to eradicate or suppress pests and/or diseases, biorational
control measures should be initiated. A few guiding principles for
If pesticides are called for (usually a last resort), adopt a
“least toxic chemical” rationale. Often a botanical
insecticide such as neem or pyrethrins will do the job.
Use “biochemicals” instead of pesticides. Examples
of biochemicals are kairomones, pheromones, and insect growth regulators
(IGR). Kairomones are chemicals that are produced by plants, which
attract insects. Pheromones are chemicals secreted by insects. There
are alarm pheremones, which will repel insects, and pheromones that
attract insects (i.e. those Japanese beetle traps). IGR act on the
hormonal systems of immature insects. They rarely kill the insect,
but interfere with their development cycle (i.e. interrupts them
metamorphosing from one stage to the next) causing the affected
insect to stop feeding.
Biochemical controls often utilize botanical and biological controls.
Bacillus thuringiensis (Btk) is highly effective in dealing with
larval caterpillars such as gypsy moth caterpillars. Certain predatory
nematodes and Milky Spore Disease (B. popilliae and B. lentimorbus)
are used to control Japanese beetles in their larval stage. Biofungicides
(bacterium Bacillus subtilis) have been found to prevent or control
powdery mildew, gray mold, early blights, bacterial leaf blight,
botrytis neck rot, walnut blight. They have been found to suppress
downy mildew, scab, fire blight, bacterial spot, and pin rot.
Know your enemy! So often I see both the homeowner and many supposed
professionals run out and apply the “pesticide de jour’
at the first sign of an insect. Putting aside the health and safety
considerations coupled with the typical lack of knowledge about
the nature of the chemical(s) they are applying or its mode of action,
their applications often prove futile in controlling the pest. Timing
applications to maximize effectiveness, pest identification and
potential for non-
target, beneficial insect kill, and proper application methods are
elements in safe and effective pesticide use.
Timing is everything. Learn what growing degree days are (GDD)
and how to calculate them. All pesticide applications should be
linked to GDD and/or plant phonological indicators (PPI) listed
in “Cornell Recommends”. “Branching Out”
an integrated pest management newsletter, published by Cooperative
Extension, is invaluable for keeping abreast of what insect and
disease problems have been scouted in your region. Their website
Selected disease and pest control products for the organic
“Soap Shield” (from Gardens Alive!) is a fungicidal
soap that combines a naturally occurring fatty acid (the soap) with
copper (the fungicide). The soap acts synergistically with the copper
allowing for much lower concentrations of copper to be effective.
I have found this product to be very effective on a wide range of
common garden fungal diseases including blackspot, mildew (both
downy and powdery), rusts, and gray mold (botrytis). It is also
labeled for use on fruits and vegetables (right up until time of
harvest) and is effective tomato anthracnose, bacterial leaf blight,
leaf spot, neck and bottom rot, alternaria, and scab.
“Pyola” (also from Gardens Alive!) combines canola
oil (not the conventional petroleum derivative) with pyrethrins.
This product is effective on virtually all stages of insects (including
eggs), has residual repelling effect on many insects, and is not
persistent in the environment. This product controls virtually all
garden pests. It too is labeled for fruit and crops.
The various neem-based insecticides are excellent botanical insecticides.
I use the “new” products derived from the seed of the
neem tree (Azadirachta indica) as it has not only excellent insecticidal
and anti-feedent properties, but is also a very effective fungicide.
Note that this product is not labeled for crops. “Green Light
Rose Defense” available from The Green Light Company, and
“Shield-All II” from Gardens Alive! are two such products.
Microbial fungicides have proven effective in IES gardens and
greenhouses. These biological control agents provide long-lasting
broad-spectrum control of several soil-borne diseases (i.e. pythium,
fusarium, basal rots, various blights, etc.) We use it in the greenhouse
to control damping-off and in the garden at bulb planting time to
prevent rot. It is also completely safe to use in the vegetable
garden. Gardens Alive! carries “SoilGard Microbial Fungicide”
and “Serenade Solutions”.
Certain bacteria of the genus Bacillus are very effective in controlling
many leaf-chewing insects. New and improved strains of B. thuringiensis
such as Btk (B. t. var. kurstaki controls cabbage loopers, codling
moth larvae, diamondback moths, gypsy moth larvae, imported cabbageworms,
spruce budworms, tomato hornworms, and many more. Btsd (B. t. var.
san diego) is very effective on certain leaf-eating beetles, including
black vine weevil, boll weevils, Colorado potato beetles, and elm
leaf beetle. Bti (B. t. var. israelensis) attacks larvae of blackflies,
fungus knats, and mosquitoes when applied to standing water (West
Nile Disease). All of the Bacillus bacteria are very selective,
meaning they will not harm beneficial insects (except butterfly
larvae). Bt is nontoxic to humans and is labeled for food crops.
Another relatively new bioinsecticide is derived from the bacterium
Predatory insects are now widely used in landscape settings as
biological controls of insect pests. Pseudoscymnus tsugae, currently
being released in northeastern states to control hemlock woolly
adelgid, is now commercially available. Geocoris punctipes (a.k.a
bigeyed bugs), predatory nematodes (Steinernema feltiae, etc.),
ladybird beetles (Hippodamia spp.), green lacewings (Chrysoperla
spp.), Trichogramma spp. larvae, have proven to be safe and effective.
Try diatomaceous earth, iron phosphate, or leftover brewed coffee
or coffee grounds to repel or kill snails and slugs.
Instead of relying on chemical herbicides to control weeds in
the landscape try herbicidal soaps or the combinations of vinegar
and lemon juice. Both are 100% biodegradable and completely safe
to the environment.
Environmental consciousness comes at a premium. Green construction
techniques and sustainable building materials can add anywhere from
a few hundred dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. Whether
that extra cost makes sense for you in the long run depends in large
part on what you hope to get out of a green home in the first place.
Small Steps to pay for the green
Seal up and clean those ducts
The typical house loses 15 percent to 20 percent of its heat or
air-conditioning leakage from ducts alone. Use this energy savings
and change out the incandescent bulbs.
Energy Saving Tips
Around the House:
Longer days mean shorter nights. Don't forget to adjust your outdoor
lighting timers. You'll save money and extend bulb life.
Keep your home comfortable without air conditioning on all but
the hottest days.
Keep windows closed in the heat of the day. Open windows in the
cool of the night.
Resist opening and closing doors. Shut the door or at least try
to minimize the number of times that doors to the outside are opened
and closed. Each time you open the door heat enters the house.
Close the curtains. Close drapes and shades on windows during
the day to keep heat from the sun out of your house (particularly
on windows with an eastern and western exposure). In the evening
opening drapes and shades lets the heat escape through the windows.
Insulation in your attic protects your home from excessive heat
penetration in summer and cold penetration in winter. Invest in
attic insulation for year-round comfort and efficiency.
Make sure roof ventilation is adequate to prevent heat buildup
in summer and moisture buildup in winter.
Use floor and ceiling fans to create gentle breezes to keep you
and your family comfortable.
Use compact fluorescent lighting wherever you can. Compact fluorescents
use very little energy and produce much less waste heat than incandescent
and halogen lights.
In the Kitchen:
Turn on your range hood when cooking to exhaust waste heat from
your home. Coordinate meal planning with the seasons. Remember,
nothing tastes better than a cold meal on a hot day.
Keep your oven door tightly closed. Use the oven light to check
on progress when baking or roasting.
Select right-sized pots and pans with tight-fitting lids and cook
at lower temperatures to reduce energy use. A six-inch pan on an
eight-inch element, for example, wastes 40% of the element's heat
Make full use of microwave ovens in hot weather. Microwave cooking
can reduce energy consumption by two-thirds and produces much less
waste heat than your stove. Toaster ovens and slow cookers are also
a great way to reduce energy use in the kitchen.
When you run the dishwasher use full loads. Use your range hood
when the dishwasher is operating to vent excess heat and humidity
Avoid activities that add heat or humidity to your home, particularly
during the hottest parts of the day or limit them to times when
nobody is home. For example, turn on your dishwasher as you leave
the house or let dishes air dry rather than use the dishwasher's
Vacuum your refrigerator's cooling coils every three months. Excessive
dust buildup will reduce the energy efficiency and life expectancy
of the compressor. Make sure there are no gaps in the door seal.
Don't overfill your refrigerator-freezer; cool air needs to circulate
freely throughout the interior of the appliance.
In the Laundry Room:
Don't use your washing machine for a few small items; wait for
a full load. Use the cold water cycle whenever possible
Clean the clothes dryer filter after each load, and clean the
dryer duct regularly. Clogged filters and ducts restrict airflow,
decrease energy efficiency and can be a fire hazard.
Inspect and maintain your cooling system. Simple measures such
as cleaning and replacing clogged air filters can reduce cooling
costs up to 10%. An annual service call will extend the life of
your expensive cooling equipment and boost efficiency.
Don't forget cooling system ductwork. Leaking joints, elbows and
connections can boost energy consumption 20 to 30%. Use duct mastic
to seal loose joints.
Adjust your air conditioner's thermostat when you go out, and
shut your system down when you are away for extended periods. Unnecessary
cooling costs money.
Walk away from the thermostat. Your house won't cool down any
faster if you lower the thermostat setting. When your air conditioner
is on it cools at the same rate regardless of the temperature setting.
Open the doors. A breeze on a summer day can be enough to keep
you cool. Instead of turning the air conditioner on, open doors
and windows on opposite sides of the house for cross ventilation.
When using your air conditioner, close all windows, doors and
chimney dampers when using your air conditioner. Don't use your
hard-earned money to cool the great outdoors. Unused rooms should
be closed off to cut cooling costs.
Raise the thermostat. Raising the thermostat just 6°F can
save 10% on your cooling bill. To compensate, the breeze created
by a ceiling fan or portable fan typically makes you feel just as
comfortable at a temperature 6°F warmer.
Dehumidifier Benefits. Consider using a dehumidifier instead of
turning on the air conditioning. You will be comfortable at much
higher temperatures if you reduce the humidity.
Vacuum dehumidifier evaporation coils. Dust builds up on the evaporation
coils of every dehumidifier after steady use, causing them to use
more energy. Unplug yours and vacuum the coils every 6-12 months.
Wash/change dehumidifier filters. Dirty filters cause dehumidifiers
to use more energy with poorer results. Replace your disposable
or wash your permanent filter at least yearly.
By now, you've probably heard the bad news—home heating prices
are likely to rise by 30 to 50% this winter (which is forecast to
be a cold one). But there is some good news as well. There are some
simple steps that you can take around your home that can save you
money while you keep yourself and your family warm and toasty.
Many households could save 20-30 percent on their household energy
bills by implementing energy efficiency improvements. As an added
bonus, you get to help the planet by saving energy and reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.
Simple things you can do:
Turn your thermostat down several degrees when leaving the house
for the day or extended periods of time. One easy way to do this
is to purchase a programmable thermostat. You can also save by turning
the thermostat down a couple of degrees all the time
Make sure your water heater is in good condition and keep the water
temperature between 115-120 degrees. Even consider getting a tankless
water heater that only heats the water you need.
Limit your time spent in the shower to cut down on hot water usage.
You can also install aerators to save on the amount of water you
use while showering - this will cut down on the amount of hot water
Try and use cold water as often as possible when doing the laundry
and line or rack dry your clothes - here is an example of a large
drying rack you might wish to use - other racks are readily available
at your local hardware or home stores.
Make sure to turn off the lights when you are not in a room.
Shut the doors to rooms you don't use on a regular basis.
Keep baseboards clean and unrestricted by furniture and carpet
Use the smallest oven or burner when cooking, or a crock pot,
or use the smallest pan possible.
Don't peek into the oven as you are cooking.
Defrost foods in the refrigerator before cooking.
Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in standard fixtures.
Replace or clean your furnace filters monthly. This could save
up to 5% on your heating bill
Long-term energy saving investments:
Buy Green - many utilities offer rebates in return for purchasing
efficient appliances through the Federal Government's Energy Star
Seal up your home. Seal air leaks and add insulation.
Weatherize your windows.
Upgrade your windows. Look for windows with multiple layers of
glazing, and approved by the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating
Council), a non-profit collaboration of window manufacturers.
When buying a new furnace or boiler, make sure you purchase one
with a more efficient AFUE or adjusted fuel utilization efficiency.
The AFUE is the amount of heat actually delivered to your house
compared to the amount of fuel that you supply the furnace. Thus,
a furnace that has an 80% AFUE rating converts 80% of the fuel that
you supply to heat -- the other 20% is lost out of the chimney.
All Energy Star approved furnaces have AFUE ratings of 90% or more.
New Home Green Construction
Green builders insulate walls with draft-stopping foam; the floors
are covered in wood from a sustainable forest; and the rooms are
decked out with nontoxic paint, just to name a few earth-friendly
features. Interest in eco-friendly building and renovating has spilled
over to the mainstream. Today the majority of houses that meet the
U.S. Green Building Council definition of a "green" home
- one that uses less energy, less natural resources and fewer toxic
chemicals - are indistinguishable from their traditionally constructed
Traditionally constructed homes, while far more energy-efficient
than those built in past decades, can still squander a mind-boggling
amount of fossil fuel. according to Energy Star, a joint program
of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department
Energy-conscious construction can significantly reduce that waste.
Some of the savings come from materials that provide extra thermal
resistance, such as straw-bale construction and insulated concrete
forms. More can come from designs that maximize exposure to winter
sun and minimize summer heat.
Solar power is a different story. Panels are expensive to install
and take years to recoup their costs in electricity savings.
Providing adequate ventilation can also improve air quality. One
solution: adding a mechanical ventilation system, which can run
between $500 and $2,000.
Green planning uses construction to minimize the waste of building
materials; reducing water consumption by adding low-volume toilets
or rainwater filtration systems; and working with products that
are sustainable (wool carpeting, bamboo flooring, cotton insulation)
or recycled (salvaged wood, steel made with reused rebar, insulation
made from paper products).
Will it pay off?
If you were to build a house as green as you possibly could, it
might cost you 20 percent to 30 percent more than traditional construction.
But that would imply an extreme sense of environmental duty.
There are also some significant tax credits available on the state
and federal level that may help pay for improvements. You can claim
a credit of up to $500 on your 1040 for installing energy-efficient
windows, insulation, doors, roofs, boilers and air conditioners,
for example. (Log on to www.ase.org and click on Consumers for more
Before you invest in these, however, you might want to consider
whether your monthly utility savings and any tax breaks will pay
for the added cost in a reasonable amount of time. Assuming a $400,000
house with a 6.5 percent, 30-year fixed-rate loan and $80,000 down,
your monthly payment would be $2,022. Add $10,000 of energy-efficient
features to that and your payment goes to $2,085.
For you to cover the higher mortgage payment and recoup the up-front
costs in seven years, your monthly energy savings would have to
be $182. Add $20,000 and your payment goes to $2,149 - and you'd
need to save $365 monthly.
In terms of resale value, green homes have come a long way. These
days most do not telegraph their eco-friendly features; from the
outside they look like any other house on the block.
Where to go for more information:
Contact a local or regional green building group. Use the link
They can connect you with environmental architects and builders
and inform you about techniques that work well in your climate,
as well as tax credits offered in your area.
Ask contractors about the criteria the follow Then request a copy
of the guidelines to make sure you know what you're in for. The
U.S. Green Building Council, whose LEED rating is the gold standard
for commercial green building, plans to launch a residential rating
program this summer.
Meanwhile, the NAHB publishes guidelines (available at www.nahb.org
under Publications) that cover everything from lot preparation to
water conservation; many local organizations also rate homes on
a checklist of practices.
Organic Lesson: How to go Green
60 Simple, Affordable Ideas to Go Green Now
Green Guide" The National Geographic Online Green Magazine
A great resource from America's premiere magazine about our world.
The Go Green Initiative
A simple, comprehensive program designed to create a culture of
environmental responsibility on school campuses across the nation.
Online store to shop for products for going green.
Green Landscaping for Our Area
Beneficial landscaping for the Mid Atlantic Region.
Planet Earth TV Series
A breathtaking exploration of our world and its wildlife.
Over 100+ guides to help us go green
The North American
Native Plant Society
Re-establish healthy ecosystems with native plants. The website
includes an extensive list of native plant nurseries.
The Virginia Native
Its purpose is to further appreciation and conservation of Virginia's
native plants and habitats.
example: spicebush (Lindera benzoin), a fragrant wetland shrub.
Plant Conservation Campaign (NPCC)
A native plant conservation campaign.
A nonprofit organization offering over 25 years of insight, experience,
and leadership in the development and communication of least-toxic,
sustainable, and environmentally sound Integrated Pest Management
Non-chemical solutions for dealing with a pest after it has already
made a home in your lawn or garden.
is a nonprofit organization that seeks to restore landscape diversity
through the conservation and establishment of native plant communities.
A 279-acre public garden dedicated to preserving native plants
and restoring landscapes.
Research based information for the people of the Commonwealth.
Green Building Council
LEED for Homes is a rating system that promotes the design and
construction of high-performance green homes. A green home uses
less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste; and
is healthier and more comfortable for the occupants.
Plenty is an environmental media company dedicated to exploring
and giving voice to the green revolution that will define the 21st
Help sometimes comes at a price or with a hidden agenda,
but our helpful guides have neither. We hope that the information
in our Leewood Times Guides give you starting
points and focus. Our goal is to assist you in making informed decisions.
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