April showers provide plenty of water for May flowers, and lawns. So why irrigate now? This is the time when the weather is cool, your soil is moist way down deep and roots are happily growing and establishing themselves.
When your irrigation system is opened, don’t start the clock! Watering too much too early makes for lazy, shallow roots which will quickly dry out in the hot summer sun.
Wait to irrigate until your lawn and landscape really need water – generally not until mid-June. If you can see your footprints in the grass, it is wilted and could use a drink. More to follow on that when the time comes.
Pre-emergent are herbicides designed to kill weed seeds BEFORE they sprout. They are usually granular and are applied to lawns and flower beds in the spring, but they persist for three months – that means prolonged time for human exposure.
Below we have gathered important information about some typical active ingredients and their effects:
Prodiamine – carcinogen, neurotoxicity
Pendimethalin – extremely toxic to fish and aquatic organisms
Isoxaben – possible carcinogen, kidney/liver damage, toxic to birds
Oxyfluorfen – possible carcinogen, reproductive, birth and development effects, kidney/liver damage, skin irritant, toxic to fish and aquatic organisms
Oryzalin – kidney/liver damage, skin irritant, birth and developmental effects, toxic to fish and aquatic organisms
Trifluralin – extremely toxic to fish and aquatic organisms
Also, since the active ingredient is usually only 1% ... what are the 99% "other ingredients" ? They are often a blend of equally toxic ingredients that amplify the deadly effectiveness, which means they are even more toxic for you too.
Safe alternative? Although corn-gluten is often recommended as an organic pre-emergent for lawns, it is expensive, and timing is too critical to be effective, so we don’t recommend it. The PRFCT nature-based approach to weed control is to outcompete weeds in lawns. Overseed lawns in the fall or early spring before weeds germinate. In shrub and flower beds plant many small plants close together, leaving little to no space or sun for weeds. More plants is always a better option for filling space than bark mulches from far away.
If a green lawn is a sign of health, then the first brightest, greenest lawn in the spring has to be good, right? If you knew that what it takes to make a lawn jump the season, you might think differently.
Nature has its own schedule, worked out over millenia. Greening up earlier than nature intends requires heavy doses of fast-acting nitrogen. Much of it ends up in runoff and pollutes your nearby beloved water bodies. Over-fertilization causes fast, weak growth, at the expense of deep, healthy roots. This chemical-fueled growth is more susceptible to fungal diseases and insect attacks, which means more chemicals will be needed later on to correct preventable issues. This is the beginning of a cycle of chemical dependence – your lawn on drugs.
Why do you need your lawn to be green before its time? Will you think differently? When you see early green lawns, will you give them the (green) thumbs down? Will you be proud that your lawn will not join the party until it is old enough to drink (natural nutrients) responsibly?
After some early spring pruning here at PRFCT HQ, we have an abundance of pussy willow (salix discolor) that we placed in water for rooting. We have heard that you can use newer growth from willow cuttings to create a natural plant rooting hormone so we decided to put it to the test and invite you to join our willow water experiment!
Plant rooting hormones are substances that stimulate root growth in plants. Some plants naturally produce their own rooting hormones and of those plants, willow species are considered the best providers of natural, organic rooting stimulators available. This is because of the presence of indole butyric acid (IBA) and salicylic acid (SA) in their species.
IBA is a plant hormone that stimulates root growth and is present in high concentrations in the growing tips of willow plants. By soaking, you can get significant quantities of IBA to infuse into the water. SA is a plant hormone involved in signaling the plants defenses and works to fight off infection and threats giving cuttings a better chance to thrive.
Below, follow the steps to brew your own natural plant root hormone from your spring clippings of any Salix species of willow. We'll share with you how our experiment is progressing and send us your results!
How to Make Willow Water
Gather a handful of willow twigs, cut early in the spring. Use the newest, greenest twigs you can get because these have the highest acidic properties. These are the supple green new-growth portions of our willow cuttings.
Remove all of the leaves (and compost them, or throw them in the garden as mulch)
Cut your twigs into short pieces
Place your twig pieces into a pot or a mason jar, and cover with boiling water, just as if you were making tea. Let it stand overnight.
When finished, pour the liqui d though a strainer or sieve and store in glass container with a tight lid.
If you keep your willow water in the refrigerator you can use for up to two months.
To use, just pour some of your willow water into a small jar and place the cuttings there like you would flowers in a vase. Or you can use it to water whatever propagating medium you have used for your cutting.
We will test our willow water on this Jade plant propagation. So far we have waited 2 weeks for roots and they are just starting to appear. Stay tuned for results!
Step 1: Relieve Your EcoAnxiety, Get Started.
Hi all, Emily here, the new PRFCT Environmental Outreach Coordinator and I want to help you relieve your eco-anxiety, which is exactly what it sounds like: a gnawing tension and fear that there’s nothing we can do to save the planet from doom.
But here is an action you can start right away, so allow me to talk a little trash in this series about composting. According to the EPA, 30% of all solid waste sent to landfills is compostable organic matter. You can easily reclaim that 30% of “trash” and help turn it into environmentally beneficial material for your landscape.
It is easy. Purchase a container to collect kitchen scraps. I use a countertop container with a carbon filter. Edwina uses a 20-gallon flip-flip top garbage can with a removable (hole-free) bucket. City-dwellers, you can still do this! Freeze your compost in a bag and then either take it to a recycling center (yes, effort) or bring it with you to the country when you flee on the weekends.
Empty your container every few days where you plan to build your outdoor bin - next week we will show you how to design and build it.