Your lawn is crying out for core aeration when the ground becomes compacted due to shade or heavily trafficked areas. Compaction can occur in a variety of places……where children play, on a footpath or in post-construction areas.
Compaction usually causes bare/worn looking patches in the lawn. The ground can feel hard underfoot.
Aeration is done with an aerating machine that removes soil plugs approximately 2-3 inches deep, allowing nutrients, air and water to penetrate down to the grass roots. The machine is hard to manage and is usually best handled by a professional.
The soil should be moist to begin.
Mark the irrigation system so it isn’t punctured.
Directly after aerating, spread seed and compost (or compost tea).
The plugs will dry and return to the soil. If you are in a rush, they can be raked in.
The best time for aeration is NOW -- Fall --to get the best root regrowth and seed germination.
Ahh, that felt good!
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If there are bare areas in your lawn, reseed now, the grass can fill in and weeds will have no place to grow in the spring! But, don't over seed! Over seeding is the process of spreading seed over an existing lawn to fill in bare patches. How much seed to apply? Depends on the type of seed you are using. Look on the package for recommended rates.
Over seeding occurs when too much seed is applied over a given area. Why isn't more better? Too many grass plants growing too close together leads to over competition and die-off. In humid conditions, it can also cause mold and other fungus diseases like in the picture above. Gross.
If compacted: break up or aerate the soil.
Replace or amend poor soil with organic, weed free compost or new soil.
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
Atrazine is the second most widely used pesticide in the US (after glyphosate), with over 73 million pounds applied each year. A common agricultural pesticide, atrazine also is used on turf for broadleaf and grassy weed control. Because atrazine kills cool-season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, it is primarily used on lawns in warmer climates (ie. the Southeastern United States).
In humans, atrazine has been linked to:
• Endocrine disruption (what does this mean, anyway?)
• Birth defects and reproductive disorders
• Neurological effects
• Kidney and liver damage
• Eye and skin irritation
How are people exposed to atrazine? Not just direct contact with treated lawns, fields, and food. Atrazine is found in 94% of drinking water tested by the USDA, usually spiking in spring and summer months when it's most heavily applied. Even at extremely low levels, atrazine can interfere with human hormones, fetal development, and fertility. The European Union banned its use in 2004 over concerns that it is a groundwater contaminant.
What is endocrine disruption?
Your endocrine system is the set of glands and hormones they produce (such as estrogen, testosterone, and adrenaline) that help guide your development, growth, and reproduction. Some chemicals—known as endocrine disruptors—mimic your hormones, block hormone absorption, or otherwise alter the concentration of hormones in your body. Endocrine disrupting chemicals have been linked to ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, early puberty, infertility, and other reproductive disorders.
Photo credit: Lacuna Design / Getty Images
Maybe you've seen beneficial nematodes for sale at your local organic gardening center. Or heard about nematodes attacking the roots of your neighbor's tomatoes. What's the difference? And what are nematodes, anyway?
Nematodes are round, threadlike organisms that eat organic material—from bad bugs and bacteria to plant roots—in your soil. Like the bacteria in our bodies, soil nematodes can be helpful or harmful, depending on the type and number present. A healthy balance of nematodes is key to the health of your soil's ecosystem.
• Break down soil nutrients so that plants can easily absorb them
• Eat pests like grubs, bad bugs, and fungus
• Harmed by synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
• Eat plant roots
Want to make your soil friendly for beneficial nematodes? Make sure it is well-aerated; nematodes need plenty of space to move around. Kicking the chemical habit and adding compost to increase organic matter will help balance your soil's biology. When your soil biology is healthy, the less-desirable nematodes—and other pests—will be kept in check naturally.
Photo credit: D. Kucharski K. Kucharska / Shutterstock