Friday, August 2, 2013

Guest Post: Easy Ways to Save Water

This year, homeowners should make conserving water one of the most important environmental actions they take at home.  According to the EPA's WaterSense publication, “One of the best ways to save energy across the country and in our own home is to use water more efficiently.”

Katie Dubow of
Garden Media Group lends advice on easy ways to save water at home. Not to mention how it will help cut utility bills.  

Photo: tympsy/Flickr

100 Ways to Conserve” offers tips for preserving this natural resource when landscaping - since it accounts for between 30-70% of water used daily in American homes, depending on the region and season. 

·         Don’t water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away. Also note: trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation than those spraying water into the air.
·         Water your plants deeply, but less frequently, to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. More plants die from over-watering than under-watering. Set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden to remind you when to stop or redirect the water. A running hose can lose up to 10 gallons/ min
·         Check the root zone of your lawn or garden for moisture before watering. If it’s still moist 2-3 inches under the soil surface you have enough water. Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller so your system won’t run when it’s raining. Use a rain gauge, or empty tuna can, to track rainfall on your lawn. Then reduce your watering accordingly. A can of tuna also measures sprinkler output. 1in of water on 1sq ft of grass is 2/3 of a gallon of water.
·         Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a native, low-water-use plant like those from American Beauties for year-round landscape color, and save up to 550 gallons a year
·         Direct water from your roof’s rain gutters into a rain barrel to water your garden. 
For other easy ways to save water in and around the house, check out the graphic home tour navigator at to target room-specific conservation ideas.

And, use this tool on the EPA’s website to calculate the savings you would achieve by using water saving products.

Katie McCoy Dubow is creative officer at Garden Media Group, a public relations firm that specializes in the lawn and garden industry.  Located in Kennett Square, Garden Media offers innovative PR services designed to make their clients popular!  For more tips like this, visit their blog

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Lawn Enthusiast Takes on Pinterest

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! I recently discovered Pinterest. There is a world of lawn/ garden tips and awesome photos people have shared from their gardens on there. I created my account this morning, so add me and let's keep spreading great lawn & garden info!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Crash Course in Seeding versus Sodding

To Seed or To Sod?

Image credit: gardentrek
Warmer weather is finally upon us! So what does that mean? It means if you're looking to plant a new lawn, now is your chance! Especially if you're down in the south with the warm season grasses - which grow far better when the climate is hot. But how should you decide whether to seed your new lawn or sod it? Both methods work well, but there are differences that should be considered in choosing the right approach for your needs.

Image credit: foodiesathome
When choosing whether to sod or seed, one consideration is how long you're willing to wait. Seed can take up to two weeks to begin growing, so you will have to deal with the dirt look for a little while. Sod, on the other hand, is essentially an instant lawn - just lay it and you'll have a field of green.

Price is also a major consideration - and here the seed is our clear winner. Grass seed is by far the cheapest of the two options.  Grass seed can be sown on your own, or you can opt for a professional seeding. Either choice is cheaper than purchasing sod and the professional installation that is recommended with it.

Grass seed is also a great choice if you have shady areas in your yards.  There is a greater selection of grass types available when seeding a lawn, so you can purchase seed that will grow well in shady areas, as well as full sun.  Sod generally requires lots of sun to grow properly, so you may have issues with shady areas. 

The type of terrain in your yard also makes a big difference when choosing sod or seed.  If you have areas that erode easily, or are prone to becoming run-off areas, sod is often the better choice.  It does not wash away as seeds are prone to, and stays put after you lay it.

Grass seed and sod both require the similar care, so at the end of the day, it's really just a personal decision depending on you and your lawn's needs. Either choice has the potential to ultimately provide you with that lush, green lawn that you've been dreaming of. Which new lawn method is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

-- Philip

Monday, June 10, 2013

3 Summer Lawn Diseases To Avoid

I absolutely love summer. It's my favorite time of year. I've always been a cold-natured person as well, so the warm summer weather is just perfect for me. But with the good must come the bad. Many lawn diseases are seasonal and tend to be more frequent during the warmer summer months. I decided to focus on three in particular in my most recent guest post over on the Total Landscape Care website. Read my post on 3 Summer Lawn Diseases to Avoid to learn more about them and what you can do to fight them off.

Here are the three lawn diseases. Can you name them all? Give it a shot and then take a look here to see if you were right.

Photo credit: Cornell University

Photo credit: John Kaminski

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Best Practices for Watering the Lawn

Fellow lawn enthusiasts! What would you say are the best practices for watering the lawn? I share some of my own advice on how to do it with both conservation and efficiency in mind over at My Green Australia, a terrific blog devoted to green and sustainable living. I hope you'll take a look. Here's my introduction...
watering-lawnWatering your lawn or garden can be time consuming and expensive, especially in very dry years. So how can you get the most out of the water you use to water your lawn?
There are several ways to both conserve water and maximize the good that watering your lawn, garden, or landscaping can do. Some of them may cost a bit of money, but others are free. No matter what your budget, here are some tips almost anyone can utilize for watering their lawn....
(The rest over at MyGreenAustralia - thanks for reading!)
-- Philip

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Choosing the Right Lawn Mower for You: A Beginner's Guide

What Kind of Lawn Mower Do I Need?

Spring is finally here, and if you are a homeowner or if landscaping is not covered in your rental agreement, it’s about that time to get a lawn mower so you can keep your yard looking great. You’ll find that there are many different options available for lawn mowers, but also a number of factors to consider so that you obtain the perfect mower for your particular needs.

If you have a large, sprawling lawn, you may want to consider a riding lawn mower (like that shown above).  If you have a large yard, but have several flowerbeds, decorations, swing sets, or other obstacles, you need to make sure you have the maneuvering room that most riding mowers require.  Another important issue to consider with riding mowers is whether there are any steep hills in your yard.  Due to their size, there is a danger of the mower tipping over if the grade is too steep.

Also keep in mind differences in terminology.  A riding lawn mower and a tractor are two different machines.  Mowers are smaller, with the deck for the blades in the front.  Tractors typically have decks in the middle, and most have the ability to pull other tools.  These are often used on farms and for tilling, whereas a lawn mower is the better choice for an average yard due to its maneuverability.

If you have a small yard, around half an acre or less, a push mower (example to the right) may be your best choice. These are “walk behind” mowers that are either self-propelled or moved by physically pushing it.  If you have a relatively flat lawn, the self-propelled version can help you get the work done without the struggle, and many have adjustable speeds for your comfort.  Or you can get the classic reel mower of the past.  These have no engine, are better for the environment, and they often cut the grass closer to the ground. 

Once you have determined what size mower you need, you then need to decide whether you want an electric or gasoline powered engine.  Electric mowers are quiet, but require a battery or cord.  If you have a large lawn, an electric mower may not be feasible.

Lawn mowers truly are a necessity, and if you take the time to assess your needs you will have no problem choosing the right mower for you so you can keep your lawn looking great all season.

-- Philip

Photo credits:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Guest Post: An Anti-Greenwashing Dictionary for Consumers

Hello all. Philip here. I'm happy to feature another green blogger today by the name of Cameron Bruns. It's my pleasure to share her post clarifying the meanings of a variety of different "green" terminology frequently used in both the media and the marketplace. She hopes to clear up some of the confusion surrounding these terms so we can make smarter decisions as consumers. Thanks for your thoughts, Cameron! And to our readers, please be sure to take a look at her Boston Green Blog for all kinds of great ideas about green living and sustainability.

An Anti-Greenwashing Dictionary for Consumers


Consumers want to buy products that are good for the environment, which is great, except that some companies are using marketing tactics to exploit this demand. People are often rushed when they shop, so they make a quick comparisons of products and a snap decision on what is best for their budget, their family, and the environment. Marketers know this and design big green labels that say “All Natural” in huge font. Even if an item is packaged in green with a leafy logo, doesn't necessarily mean it is the best option for the environment. That is why it is important to be aware of the true definition of different “environmental” terms that may either be used to scam you into purchasing a not-so-green product or to help you identify the truly green options. Below are some of the most common words used in green marketing.


All Natural - There is no industry-wide definition of “all natural” which means companies may use the term differently. The FDA prohibits using misleading language on labels which should prevent companies from misusing the words “all natural”, however, the FDA does not provide specific regulations on the term so its use is still rather hazy.

Biodegradable -  A product made of natural materials that will eventually decompose back into the earth with the help of microorganisms.

Compostable - A material that breaks down to become dirt that contains no toxins and can support plant life.

Eco-Friendly - interchangeable with the term “green”. Referring to something environmentally preferable. On its own, this term provides no specific criteria.

Fair Trade - a certification code that verifies that farmers receive a fair price for their
products. Through Fair Trade programs, farmers receive credit and are given necessary assistance in order to eventually become a self-sufficient business.

GMOs - Genetically Modified Organisms, Organisms from bacteria, plants or animals which have been genetically changed in a laboratory through DNA technology.

Green - Vague descriptive term referring to anything environmentally friendly.

Organic - Grown without conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers or sewage and processed without food additives. Food products from animals have not been subjected to routine antibiotics or growth hormones. A USDA Organic certified label means that the product’s claims of being organic were verified by a third party.

Post Consumer Recycled - A product or material that was sold or used by consumers and then reused or made into another consumer product.

Recycled - Can mean either post consumer recycled o pre-consumer recycled. A pre-consumer recycled item is a  product or material which has been recycled or reused before it has become a consumer product. For example, an item made from factory scraps or waste materials that have not yet been used or sold to the general population.

Cameron Bruns is the founder of Boston Green Blog and a contributor to Merida, the premier source for distinctively designed natural rugs with a conscience for sustainability.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ever thought about growing a lawn on your roof?

A living roof, or green roof, as they are also called, is a roof covered in vegetation that provides several benefits for the building it sits on and the environment of the surrounding area. Living roofs can be made up of planted vegetation or container gardens, though there are some who say plants kept in containers don't really count as a living roof. They are being utilized in several cities to provide beneficial green space where there is none and they are also used for constructing more ecologically friendly homes...

Look at the rest of my post here at the Boston Green Blog! Fascinating stuff.
Image at Wikimedia Commons
-- Philip

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lawn Diseases: Brown Patch

Lawn Diseases: BROWN PATCH

So What Exactly is Brown Patch Disease?

Large brown patch lawn disease can seriously affect the beauty of your lawn. These patches appear because of various strains of the fungus Rhizoctonia solani. During hot weather, they can emerge and destroy areas your yard overnight. Particularly in the southeastern United States, this condition can infect many types of both warm-season and cool-season lawn grasses. And unfortunately, it is one of the most damaging of all turf diseases. The problem is that many homeowners have no idea how to identify the disease, let alone how to fight it. So let’s take a look at how to identify brown patch, where it comes from, and how you can remedy it.

How Can I Spot It?

Typically, the disease will cause large and brown circular shapes of thinned-out grass. Sometimes the grass may die off and create dead spots. In other cases, the center of the patch will recover, resulting in a donut-like shape on your lawn. Keep in mind, however, that areas damaged by brown patch are not always circular. Sometimes they may also grow together and be extremely irregular in shape. Look for what appears to be a dark, smoky ring around the patches of dead grass. Infected grasses often appear perfectly healthy until they become matted-down, are infected, and start to die.

What Causes It?

Brown patch disease most often occurs in very hot, humid conditions. It is therefore very common in the southeast. Look for it when temperatures are over 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime, and do not fall below 75 degrees at night. If you’ve been using lawn fertilizers with very high levels of quick-releasing nitrogen, you’ll be more likely to have the disease. So be sure to avoid these kinds of fertilizers during hot and humid weather.

What Can I Do About It?

The most effective solution for brown patch disease is prevention in the first place. Follow generally accepted lawn care principles (mowing to the right height, giving 1 inch of water per week) and be sure to do your watering early in the day. Avoid excess nitrogen from overfertilization and aerate your soil regularly. When it comes to treating the disease itself, fungicide may be necessary, in which case you’ll want to contact a professional.

-- Philip

Image credit: Garden Supply Company

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How To Add Compost To The Lawn: A Step-By-Step Guide

I am so honored to announce my most recent guest contribution over on The Ask HR Green Blog, an illuminating online blog geared towards Virginians seeking to live greener, more eco-friendly lives. If you haven't taken a look yet, I highly recommend browsing through their informative content. Also be sure to read my contribution on how you can add compost to your lawn soil for healthy and optimal turf growth. Thanks to all for reading and I hope you'll incorporate composting into your own personal lawn care routine! Would also love to hear your comments below.

How To Add Compost To The Lawn: A Step-By-Step Guide

-- Philip

How To Fix a Bare Spot On Your Lawn

I think we can all agree. Bare patches on the lawn are not the most attractive sight. They are something of an eye sore and can even spread if left untreated. So how can you effectively deal with those ugly patches of dead grass? The first step is to find the cause, then to treat and amend them. See below for my insight on the typical causes of bare spots as well as how you can treat them.

What causes the bare spot?

  • Lack of water. This is the first thing to check if you have dry patches on the lawn, as a lack of water is the most likely cause. Push a spade down into the soil and move it back and forward so that you can see if the soil is dry. If you have a sprinkler system, turn it on and check that all the sprays are working and that the lawn is getting well watered. Adjust the direction if necessary to ensure adequate coverage of the dry spot.
  • Lawn diseases. If there are birds pecking at your lawn, then it may be infested with some kind of pest; try to find out what and then treat it appropriately. Fairy rings are circles of mushrooms that kill the grass around them, and various other fungi can also cause dead spots.
  • Over-fertilization. Many homeowners in the US add far more fertilizer to their lawns than is necessary. Not only is this wasteful and a significant contributor to storm runoff, but it can also be a likely cause of dead spots. You might even be using the wrong fertilizer for your soil’s needs, in which case a soil test may be in order to help determine the appropriate fertilizer for you.
  • Other possibilities. Dog urine can also kill your grass - you know this is the cause when the brown patches have bright green edges. Scalping is another cause that occurs when too much of the grass leaves are removed during mowing (you never want to remove more than a third of the grass blade’s length at once) and lack of sunlight can also kill off spots on the lawn.

So how can you treat the bare spot?

Once you've determined the cause of a bare patch, you can start remedy it by nipping the cause in the bud. If the patch was caused by any sort of chemical spill or by dog urine, flush the area well with water and remove all the damaged grass. Next I recommend spreading compost in the hole. Then proceed to add new seed or lay new sod. If you are planting seeds, water them well and cover lightly with straw to warm and protect the seeds; with a new piece of turf (sod), cut it to fit and make sure you have dug down enough so that it is level with the rest of the lawn. Water well and do not walk on it. 

Repairing the brown or dead patches of a lawn is not a difficult job. All it takes is a little bit of analysis and troubleshooting. And after you repair the spot with new seed or sod, be sure to apply plenty of water until it is actively growing – then you can water the usual amount once again.

-- Philip

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

10 Steps to a Greener, Healthier Lawn

Check out my new guest post on green lawn care! Thanks so much to my friend Claudia Fugate for hosting. Take a look for tips on how to fertilize, compost, water, mow, and more - all in a green, sustainable, and eco-friendly fashion. I hope you enjoy and thanks for taking a look!
10 Steps to a Greener, Healthier Lawn

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guest Post: Lawn Thatch and Organic Remedies

Lawn Thatch and Organic Remedies - by Claudia Fugate, Gardening Naturally With Claudia
About the Author:
Claudia Fugate
Master Nursery and Landscape Professional
Garden Writer and Speaker: See my blog site for more About Gardening Naturally
Phillip was kind enough to ask me to guest post today.  Thanks, Phillip.

Many times we notice that the lawn is just not that bright green we expected.  Sometimes the watering does not perk up the lawn.  Bare spots do not fill in.  The fertilizer did nothing to make the turf thicker, greener.  The problem many experience is lawn thatch

Thatch is the both living and dead material that lies between the green blades and the soil. The depth of 1/2inch is considered excessive.  And that excess can inhibit water to reach the roots.  Thatch can keep nutrients from your fertilizer application to reach the roots, and the stress of the turf from the reduced water and nutrients can allow pests and diseases to set in. 

Ironically, a lawn that has been overly-maintained can be susceptible to thatch.  Too much water and too much nitrogen from fertilizers can cause the grass to grow rapidly.  Then mowing puts down clippings that microbes in the ground cannot decompose quickly enough. The result is thatch.

Several lawn care practices can reduce the likelihood of thatch.  Water deeply and infrequently.  Most turf needs about 1” of water a week.  And mow often enough to never remove more than 1/3 of the blade of grass.  Removing more that 1/3 of the blade at any one time causes too much moisture to be lost and the turf gets stressed.  Mowing the lawn should never be scalping the lawn.  The roots will dive deep into the soil when the grass is longer.  More top growth, more roots, and more roots mean more moisture and drought tolerance, and more nutrients can be taken into the lawn.

Compaction of soil removes oxygen and water.  No air and no water, no plant will survive.  By adding organic matter to the grass, the micro organisms and worms and other soil dwellers will draw down into the ground the beneficial organic material.  This is as simple as raking about ¼ - ½ inch of compost into the lawn.

If the lawn is severely stressed, a spray of dry molasses will add carbohydrates to the soil and the microbes will move more nutrients to the root zone. The micro-organisms will break down the thatch layer in the process. Horticultural Molasses is available in the marketplace. With a formula of 2-3 tablespoons per gallon of water, most sprayers can be used.  

Finally, core-aeration may be needed if the yard is very dry and compacted.  Drench the lawn with plenty of water prior to this process.  Moist soil is much easier to manage when pulling these plugs.

Leave these pellets on the lawn.  As they break down, they will be another source of organic material.  I recommend following this core-aeration with a layer of compost raked into the yard.  The holes that were opened will allow air, water, and the organic matter of the compost to get down into the soil.  Nutrients, air, and water -  just what this yard needs. 

Thanks so much to Claudia Fugate for the terrific post! For more interesting content on organic gardening, landscaping, and a variety of other topics, be sure to check out her blog Gardening Naturally With Claudia.

Getting Ready For Spring

Okay fine. Spring hasn't sprung quite yet. But it sure is getting close. It won't be long before we hear the buzzing bees and singing songbirds of spring, not to mention all the gorgeous colors of flowers blooming all around us. Of course, spring also means it's time to start thinking about our lawns. In particular, we need to think about how best to repair the damage that may have been done over the winter. Let's take a look at solutions to some of these common problems.
For many homeowners, winter can be a significant burden on the lawn. Snow in particular can put extra strain on your grass, often leaving behind bare spots and layers of thatch. Many homeowners have a tendency to either ignore these challenges or simply outsource the work to lawn professionals. But you'll find that tending to these issues yourself can be both rewarding and satisfying.
Bare spots can be fixed simply by applying new seed to the affected area. But before you go about reseeding, it's always a good idea to perform a soil test first. See what nutrients might be missing or lacking in the soil and then you can amend its composition. Then it's time to buy the new seed. Thatch is also very common coming out of the winter. De-thatchers are what you'll want here. Or you can use a specially-designed rake for a more hands-on approach.
Take the time now to amend your lawn so that it is prepared and can experience healthy new growth during the upcoming season!

Welcome, Fellow Lawn Enthusiasts!

Hello all and welcome to my new blog! For those of you who don't already know me, my name is Philip Brown and I write about lawn care and management. Now that spring is finally coming around (of course it certainly is taking its time to get here), I'm getting very excited about getting my hands dirty once again. And I'm in the process of putting together some interesting lawn care posts as we speak, so stay tuned for what should be some great stuff!