PRFCT Tips

Tagged with "Biodiversity"

Pollinator on a flower

June 19-25 is National Pollinator Week. Why all the buzz?

• Bees pollinate 75% of the fruit, nuts, and vegetables grown in the United States.

• Native bees are responsible for pollinating many plants endemic to the Americas, including tomatoes and eggplant.

• Over 4,000 species of bees are native to the United States. Honeybees are not—they were brought to the Americas by European settlers.

Is your yard pollinator friendly? Here’s how it can be:

• Do not apply broadcast sprays for mosquitos and ticks, especially synthetic products. Broadcast sprays kill all insects, not just pests. Even organic sprays can be toxic to bees and butterflies.

• If you plan on having an event or are especially concerned about ticks or mosquitos, apply a plant-based essential oil-based spray using a pressurized pump sprayer with a long arm that can get into small spaces. Only spray in early morning or evening when pollinators are less active.

• Plant native plants to support native insect populations. Many insects are dependent on specific plants for shelter and food (think monarchs and milkweed), and many native crops (think tomatoes and eggplants) are dependent on native insects for pollination.

• Plant host plants, not just flowers. Before you can have a garden full of butterflies, you need to provide a food source for their caterpillars. Keep in mind that these plants will get munched, but you might not even notice the damage.

• Pollinators get dehydrated, so provide a water source for your bees and butterflies. To prevent your bug bath from becoming a mosquito breeding ground, change the water frequently.

Photo credit: Indra Widi / EyeEm / Getty Images

Clover lawn

St. Patrick's Day is one of our favorite days of the year. Clover is everywhere on March 17! So why are those cute little trifolium so hard to find once spring rolls around?

One hundred years ago, clover was considered a sign of a "healthy" lawn. Diversity was prized and the ideal lawn was sprinkled with flowers. Lawns fertilized themselves naturally with regular boosts of nitrogen from clover and mulched grass clippings.

What changed? Chemical companies found themselves with lots of extra product on their hands after the end of World War II. Some of those products could be turned into fertilizer, and some could be used as herbicides. Marketing teams turned clover into the new enemy, selling consumers herbicides to rid their yards of "weeds" and synthetic fertilizers to replace what those "weeds" supplied naturally. Before long, the uniform, military-style lawn became all the rage.

A lot has changed since the end of World War II, but our lawns are still stuck in their Baby Boomer phase. It's getting harder and harder to find those lucky four-leaved shamrocks. Who's ready for a 21st-century clover revolution?

Clover heart

Dear clover,

Why is "love" at the heart of your name? Because there's so much to love about your lovely green leaves!

1. You fertilize our lawns—for free. No need for synthetic fertilizer when you pull nitrogen from the air and release it back into the soil every time we mow.

2. You stay green under the toughest conditions. Those nitrogen-fixing roots run deep, keeping our lawns lively and lush even in the hottest, driest months.

3. Pollinators love your flowers—and we love pollinators. (We've got tips on avoiding bee stings in clover lawns.)

4. You're the stuff of childhood memories. Doesn't every kid love hunting for your lucky four leaves?

See you in spring!

XOXO,
The PRFCT Team

Bat house

Bats Are Good Guys

October 27, 2016

Bats get a bad rap, especially this time of year. Instead of screaming the next time you see one, consider the following:

  • Every night, an insect-eating bat will eat its own weight in bugs. A whole colony? Hundreds of pounds of bugs a night. More bats = fewer mosquitos in your yard, fewer pests in your garden, fewer pesticides sprayed.
  • Bats eat more than bugs. Around the world, fruit- and pollen-munching bats are important pollinators and seed dispersers.
  • Installing a bat house (see photo above) is a great way to encourage these furry flying friends to take up residence on your property.
  • Using pesticides is not. Pesticides, especially insect sprays, limit the amount of bugs and other healthy food for bats to eat. Pesticides also build up in bats' little bodies over time, which has been linked to immunosuppression and endocrine disruption.
Miscanthus

Miscanthus or Mis-CAN'T-thus?

September 16, 2016

Miscanthus sinensis (Japanese or Chinese Silver Grass) used to be the ornamental grass of choice for landscape designers. Showy, low-maintenance, year-round beauty... What's not to love?

Plenty. Those pretty flowers? Full of seeds that quickly disperse in the wind. As a result, this drought-tolerant, sun-loving grass is taking over meadows, roadsides, and forest edges across the country. In fact, Miscanthus is so invasive that it is now banned for sale on Long Island.

What to do if it's already in your garden? Prevent seeds from spreading by cutting off the flowers when they start to resemble a dandelion puff. If you see any baby Miscanthus sprouting, pull them up right away. Baby Miscanthus are easy to remove—mature Miscanthus not so much.

Looking for alternatives? Try native grasses like Little Bluestem, Switchgrass, or Indian Grass.

Photo credit: Ian Alexander Martin on Flickr

More Tips