PRFCT Tips

Tagged with "Carbon"

Allan Pollack Morris

Eco Anxiety Antidote

January 18, 2023

If you use a landscaper for the maintenance of your property, the beginning of the year is contract renewal time. Of course you are probably starting this year anxious about your health and the environment and you aren’t sure whether signing up for a weekly dose of noise and poison in your yard is the best thing to do. It just doesn’t quite feel right, which adds to your eco-anxiety. But instead of worrying more, you could use this moment to do good. Guaranteed good for the environment, and super healthy for you and your family.

You just need to ask your landscaper to do things a bit differently by switching to nature-based practices. He/she may not know how, and chances are, you don’t know either. So who does know? Sadly, there are very few nature-based landscapers, and there probably isn’t anyone better for you to hire than the one you have got. So unless they flatly refuse to try, don’t fire them. Let’s engage and train the ones we’ve got, and send the message out that this is the future of land care. It is healthier for them too.

Everything you need to get started is in our PRFCT LeafLet Basics of Nature-Based in English and Spanish. For a typical annual maintenance schedule, which you can use as the basis of your new contract, go straight to page 21 – review it with your landscaper. It should not cost more, there are no products to purchase.

What is nature-based? Here’s the nutshell: Healing, not Harming. Let nature do the nurturing.

  • No toxic fertilizers or insecticides. Fertilizers overstimulate plants and make them susceptible to disease. The right plant for your soil, doesn’t need them. Insecticides are not target specific, they kill beneficial insects and soil organisms. You don’t depend on your landscape to eat, so why not share it with a host of wonderful life forms that could find refuge there?  
  • Retain, recycle and reimagine all biomass. Keep what your property produces (grass clippings, leaves, twigs, weeds, etc.) and feed it back to the soil. It is the food your place made for itself. Better than anything you can buy, and without the carbon footprint. (See PRFCT Lawn Basics for more).
  • Plant at least 2/3 native plants. Plants did fine without us humans for eons, so if you plant the ones that evolved in your conditions, they will still be fine with very little from you. Plus, they provide just the right food and shelter for local birds and pollinators. (See 2/3 for the Birds for more).
  • Avoid and remove invasive plants. Get to know which plants are invasive. (See the Invasive Plant Atlas for more). Don’t buy them. Remove and replace any you have already got. (See Beyond Pesticides for more).
  • Water properly. Very seldom. Very deep. Over-watering is one of the most common landscape malpractices. It leads to a wide range of plant and soil problems and promotes tick and mosquito populations.  
  • Minimize pruning. Every cut is a wound. Plant with plenty of space for trees and shrubs to grow to their natural shapes. Leave deadwood and standing dead trees, unless positioned dangerously, they provide unique food and nesting opportunities.
  • Relax and enjoy. Your landscape is not your living room; forcing it to be tidy, clipped, and fixed in time is “dead room.” Let it be alive; always changing and creating new surprising delights for you.

Keep in mind, your landscaper doesn’t necessarily know any more about this than you do. So make sure he/she understands that this is an adventure in earth friendly relationships and as long as they are willing to truly commit to the practices, you will be happy. It is a whole new way to relate to your land.

Hooray, eco-anxiety reduction in action! You are doing something unquestionably good for the earth. (Not to mention yourself, your family, and your pets). Once you get started, you will find there was nothing to fear. It is all fascinating, joyous, and beautiful. 

Photo by Allan Pollok-Morris

The Ten Commitments

September 21, 2019

If the dire news of the climate crisis is making you feel overwhelmed, why not make some promises to a piece of earth. If everyone made their property, or one they frequent, into a natural refuge, there would be much less to worry about.  

Here are some of our promises…send us one of yours.  
 
1. I will think of my place as my friend, my family. I will work with, not against it, and do it no harm. It will be a sanctuary.  
2.  I will let this place keep all that it produces: no biomass will leave the property.
3.  I will make a compost pile, even if I probably won’t turn it.
4.  I will carefully consider everything I bring here—can it be used for a long time, can it be composted or repurposed, does it really need to be plastic? 
5.  I will use no toxic synthetic chemicals. 
6.  I will take a moment to learn about an insect before I decide if I really need to kill it. 
7.  I will plant native plants to provide habitat for insects and birds. 
8.  I will get to know the names of all the plants, animals and insects that live in this place, or at least the big ones.
9.   I will reduce the size of my lawn to just what gets used.  
10.  I will let go a bit, let nature be my collaborator, and help me keep my promises.  
 
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Slow to Mow a Meadow

September 21, 2018

Are you mowing your meadow in the fall? Not so fast please, don’t mow, let it go till the spring!

Why?  For one thing, it looks much more beautiful than stubble.

Also, there are lots of ecosystem benefits:  
Seed heads have time to develop and disperse
Habitat and food is provided for wildlife:  think crickets, bumblebees, turkeys, American goldfinches, hawks and owls.

Mow in the spring, just before new growth begins, 8-12” high (habitat retained for solitary bees) and, best if you can rake off the cuttings.

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The Buzz on Biochar

August 03, 2018

The Buzz on Biochar

Biomass charcoal (biochar) has become a soil health buzz word, but what is it exactly? Biochar is a carbon-rich solid material left over when organic matter (like wood, dry leaves or grasses) are burned at an extremely high temperature in the absence of oxygen – a process called pyrolysis. 

For use in gardens and landscapes, biochar should be added and mixed with your compost or potting soil before it is applied. The porous surface of biochar provides habitat for beneficial microbes that thrive in compost, protecting them from predation and drying while providing carbon for their energy needs. It also helps to retain soil moisture, minerals and nutrients for plant health and adds structure to sandy soils.

One great feature of biochar is that it remains in soil for hundreds and potentially thousands of years. Go ahead and add some biochar to your compost and soil mixes – it even helps sequester atmospheric carbon, PRFCT all around!

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The word lawn comes from the Old English for an “open space." Both European and American aristocracy had estates with lawns, but working class people used their land to grow food. 

A big change came for the American “lawnscape” in the 1950s in response to the trauma of WWII. In new, orderly housing developments such as Levittown, the first neighborhood lawn standards were adopted. Military uniformity prevailed with ready access to cheap, war-surplus chemicals that had been rebranded as lawn fertilizers and pesticides. Now a $60 billion per year industry, lawn grass is the cheapest landscape to plant and the most expensive to maintain.        

In order to thrive, American lawns consume 20 trillion gallons of water, 90 million pounds of fertilizer, 78 million pounds of pesticides and 600 million gallons of fossil fuels per year. We now know so much more about how dangerous and unnecessary these chemicals are, and how many resources are drained maintaining on our yards. 

The next generation of lawns will be less toxic and more environmentally friendly: smaller (think area rug instead of wall-to-wall), more biodiverse and chemical free.

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