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Saving Trees

Nearly half of the trees cut in North America are made into paper. Every year, over 3.8 million acres of forest are clear-cut, leaving wide strips of stumps.

To make paper, wood is ground, pressed, dried and chlorine bleached, producing over 1,000 different organ chlorines, including the carcinogen dioxin, and mercury. Deforestation destroys wildlife habitat and increases erosion and sedimentation of streams.

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The Leewood Times is Going Green

Because trees are worth preserving, the editors of the Leewood Times have decided to make the newsletter available in print to only those who request it. Your LHOA newsletter will continue to be posted online at http://www.leewood.us/news/Pub_Index.htm

We understand that holding an actual piece of paper is important to some of our members, and we are aware that some of our members may not have access to the internet. Because of this, we will continue to print and deliver a select number of copies.

To request a subscription of the Leewood Times delivered to your door, please fill out the form at the end of The Leewood Times Volume III Issue 2 and mail it to the address provided.

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Why Go Green?

You can save energy and money. Given the astronomical rise in fuel prices in the past few years, it's no surprise that energy efficiency is the top reason consumers choose green. Remodelers favor energy-efficient appliances and water-conserving fixtures. Energy savings from all these techniques usually pay for their higher up-front costs in two to seven years.

You can save your lungs. Indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. When Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) commonly found in paints, stains and glues dry, they release chemicals and continue to do so for years. This can exacerbate allergies and asthma, and cause headaches and nausea. As a preventive measure, some homeowners opt for "low VOC" paint, natural stains and formaldehyde-free glue, which generally cost a few dollars more per container.

You can help save the planet. The final reason you might choose to go green is to leave the smallest footprint you can on the planet.

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Going Green in Your Garden

Once soil temperatures warm up to between 65 and 70 degrees F or higher and the threat of frost has past, you're set to transplant seedlings or sow seed directly in the garden.
As you prepare, take time to examine the "bones" of your landscape. Do you have a balance of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs? Have plants matured, changing a formerly sunny garden into a shady spot? You can use a hose to decide where new beds will be added. Lay it on the ground and move it around until you are happy with the bed lines. Visit your local Arboretum or Botanical Garden

Find out which plants thrive in your region. And if frosts still threaten, you can cover blooms at nightwith a sheet, but make sure to remove it during the day when temperatures warm up.

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What To Grow?

Find out which plants thrive in your region. And if frosts still threaten, you can cover blooms at night with a sheet, but make sure to remove it during the day when temperatures warm up.
Buy a few extra in case some die during the year. Incorporating native plants will be helpful—they require less water and, having evolved in the region, resist insects and diseases better than non-natives.

In damper climes, certain plants, such as bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) and deciduous hollies like Sparkleberry (Ilex), will not only tolerate wet soils but will thrive. And don't forget the wildlife: Berried shrubs like native Viburnums will attract songbirds and other avian life to your yard (but be careful to keep cats away). Refer to regional gardening books and plant societies for recommendations about what to plant in your garden (see "Resources" below).
This year enjoy the fruits of your labors literally—grow your own organic vegetables. All you need is six or more hours of direct sun, good garden soil, water and a little patience. Plant when the temperature is right: Crops like lettuce, radishes, spinach and other greens don't mind slightly cooler soil temperatures, but tomatoes, watermelons, squash and pumpkins (as well as many flowers) need warmer soil and air to flourish. Even if you just have a couple of large pots, you can easily grow cherry tomatoes, basil, hot peppers and other herbs.

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Weed, weed, weed. Pull weeds as soon as they appear. Any weeds you eliminate now will not set seeds, which means less work throughout the rest of spring. Clean up the garden if you didn't do it in the fall. Leaves should be raked off beds and put into a compost pile. With certain plants like roses, garden phlox and camellias, dead leaves should be destroyed. A soil test (see below) is an inexpensive way to find out what nutrients may be lacking, as well as determine the acidity (pH) of the soil. The results will help you select an appropriate organic fertilizer to add for your vegetables or ornamentals. By amending your soils you can also prevent problems like blossom end rot of tomatoes, caused by a lack of calcium, or yellow leaves, caused by a lack of iron. Once a garden plot or planting bed is weed-free, top dress it with compost (two inches deep) and let it sit until early spring when you can till it into the soil.

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The Soil Test

Find your local USDA extension service at www.csrees.usda.gov they can give you details on how to bring a soil sample to them (there is a nominal fee, which is usually less than $10).

Taking the sample:

Start with a clean trowel and bucket.
1. Take ten hearty plugs or scoops of soil (each plug should be four to six inches deep).
2. Mix the ten plugs together once they have been collected in the bucket.
3. Remove stone, grass, worms and other materials. Scoop out two 8-ounce cups of soil—a representative sample from a particular area. Repeat these steps for areas with different types of soil. Let the Extension Service know the types of plants you plan to grow, and they can test it for individual plants like azaleas or tomatoes.

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Pest Control

Americans apply over 100 million pounds of pesticides and herbicides around their homes each year. And children of parents who use pyrethroid insecticides around the home have higher urinary levels of those pesticides than children whose parents don't, according to Environmental Health Perspectives (see Food for Thought: Healthy Habits for Back-To-Schoolers and Beyond). Common insecticide ingredients such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), atrazine and dicamba have been shown to harm mouse embryos at times equivalent to the first week after conception in humans. So keep these chemicals away from your children and out of our waterways by using pesticide-free methods.

An earth-friendly approach to pests & slugs

An earth-friendly approach to control slugs, whether in the vegetable garden or the hosta bed, is to recycle the black cell packs your vegetable starts or annuals come in. Place the empty containers upside down near the base of plants. As the plants mature, hide the cell packs under the leaves. Each morning, check the containers for pests, and if you find any, simply throw the container away with the pests inside (or, if you don't wish to harm them, leave the slugs in an empty lot).

More pest control tips:

An easy method for slug control is to use grapefruit rinds (1/2 of a grapefruit with the meat scooped out). When the slugs crawl into the rind, dispose of it.

Know the rodents and other animals that might visit your garden; visit your local USDA extension for information.

Remember that a strong blast of hose water will blow insects off your foliage without applying a singlechemical.

When all else fails, use barriers like chicken wire to protect your prize tomatoes

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Go Green with These Eco-Friendly Gardening Tips

Spring is almost here and it's the perfect time for enjoying the outdoors and perhaps doing some gardening. Even though your garden may technically be green in color, it may not be "green" in the sense of being a low-impact garden. Embracing a green lifestyle involves growing a sustainable garden, one that is a thoughtful balance between resources used and results gained.
Whether its cultivating plots of vegetables or a collection of potted herbs and flowers, organic gardeners attribute their success to healthy soil, respect for beneficial insects’ work and the use of naturally pest-resistant plants. They use only natural pesticides and organic fertilizers derived from natural materials.

Planting a variety of flowers and shrubs will ensure that you have something in bloom all year long, or as much of the year as possible. This attracts insects and birds to your garden which can limit the health and safety risks associated with conventional pesticide use.
Gardens are great things to have not just because they are nice to look at and can provide fresh vegetables, but the nitrogen from their roots helps improve the soil. Dimmock says when you are done with your garden, leave the roots to rot so they will fertilize the soil without having to use chemicals.

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Some Tips to Keep Your Garden “Greener”

Trust Mother Nature. Mother Nature never needed to steal sips from a chemical cocktail of pesticides, weed killers, and chemical fertilizers to keep her act together. Nix the poisons and layer on some all-natural compost, instead. Call in beneficial insect reinforcements to wrestle pesky garden pests to the ground.

Buy recycled. If you don’t like the idea of reusing yogurt or takeout containers to house your hydrangeas, check out the myriad of environmentally friendly planters and raised-garden kits now available. It takes less energy to recycle something than to mine virgin materials.

Go native. Consider using native and indigenous plants already adapted to local conditions, native plants are easy to grow and maintain, generally requiring less fertilizer and water, as well as less effort to rein in pests.

Harvest rainwater. Adding a rain barrel is an inexpensive and effortless way to capture mineral- and chlorine-free water for watering lawns, yards, and gardens. By harnessing what's literally raining from the sky, you'll not only notice a marked dip in water costs, but also a reduction in storm water runoff, which in turn helps prevent erosion and flooding. Pop a screen on top of your barrel to keep out insects, and debris and make sure to frequently use your water supply to keep it moving and aerated.

Water with care. Adopting a few smart-watering habits will do much to stretch out your supply, especially during dry, hot spells in the summer. Adding mulch and compost to your soil will retain water and cut down evaporation. Water early in the day so you can avoid evaporation and winds.

The Four “R”s. Reduce, Recycle, Reuse and Rebuy. You want to reduce your output of waste to ensure you're using materials efficiently. Reusing compost and tree clippings for mulch, or rainwater for watering take up little time and energy, but offer plenty of environmental bang for your buck.

Recycling saves resources, while rebuying means seeking products that meet your needs, but are more environmentally friendly than your usual purchases.

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Woodland Gardening

Think layers, with tall trees as the upper canopy, small trees and shrubs below, and ferns and shade-tolerant woodland wildflowers on the forest floor. Use mulches to help maintain soil moisture, and prune low tree branches to admit more light to lower plants.

TREES: Red maple (Acer rubrum) grows quickly and provides excellent autumn color; ‘Autumn Flame’ features smallish leaves that turn bright red in early fall. Dogwoods (Cornus spp.) have it all: beautiful form, spring flowers and good fall color.

SHRUBS: Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) bears early spring blossoms followed by blueberry-like fruits. Native azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) provide color and fragrance.

GROUNDCOVERS: The glossy leaves of wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) release a bracing mint fragrance when crushed; red berries persist into winter. Trilliums (Trillium spp.) gradually form dense colonies.

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Strive for Super Soil

All plants grow best in rich, fertile soil that allows roots to penetrate at least 15 inches deep. Creating great soil may take a few years but is relatively easy. Begin by growing short-lived annuals in new beds. Dig in four inches of compost or other organic matter in spring and fall. The soil will show huge improvements in texture by its third season, making it worthy of more long-lived perennial plants. In addition, look for locally produced soil amendments at your nursery.

What’s in the Bag?

Unless you have a truck—or hire a landscaping service—you’ll probably buy soil amendments in bags at the garden center. Here’s what’s inside bags labeled as compost, humus, soil conditioner or planting mix—and the best ways to use each type of product.


What is it? Organic matter that’s been mixed and piled to promote natural decay while minimizing pathogens, weed seeds and odors. Often a good source of minor nutrients.
Best use: Dig a two-inch layer into soil between plantings or use more to improve the fertility of very poor soil.


What is it? Often a combination of compost and humus, but ingredients vary. Low in plant nutrients but provides a fast infusion of organic matter.
Best use: Dig in a four-inch layer when creating new garden beds or mix into planting holes for trees and shrubs.


What is it? Decomposed vegetable matter, most commonly leaves and chipped bark. Low in plant nutrients but high in cellulose, which improves soil texture.
Best use: Dig in a four-inch layer when creating new garden beds.


What is it? Typically a mixture of compost, humus and topsoil. Low in plant nutrients. Some mixes include supplemental fertilizer. (Make sure products do not include synthetic chemical fertilizer.)
Best use: Fill planting holes or dig into new garden beds. Follow label directions for how much to use, especially if the product includes fertilizer.

Read labels

Whether you’re looking for a fertilizer or a solution to a persistent pest problem, you can guard your garden’s natural integrity—and support large-scale sustainable agriculture—by looking for the OMRI seal when shopping for garden-care products. OMRI stands for Organic Materials Review Institute, a nonprofit alliance of farmers, scientists, environmentalists and businesspeople that determines whether products are acceptable for use by certified organic growers. The OMRI website (www.OMRI.org) includes a database you can search using brand name, active ingredients or type of product.

How Does a Garden Grow?

Organic gardeners attribute their success to healthy soil, respect for beneficial insects’ work and the use of naturally pest-resistant plants. They use only natural pesticides and organic fertilizers derived from natural materials.

Biointensive gardening focuses on deeply dug raised beds to coax maximum productivity from every square inch of soil. Grains are grown for use as food, mulch and soil improvement. The use of high-quality compost and plants that grow well together round out the system.

Biodynamic gardening is based on sound organic methods enhanced by special liquid preparations made from minerals, manure and plants, such as chamomile and stinging nettle. These preparations improve the soil’s self-healing properties and promote superior nutrition in crops. Biodynamic gardening also works to align with the forces of nature, including phases of the moon and planets.

Permaculture seeks to create functional, interactive systems in which both nature and people are well served. Permaculture practitioners gently enhance ecosystems by creating niches for useful plants that can perpetuate themselves without constant attention.
Just because your garden is full of green plants, doesn't mean it's environmentally friendly.

Try propagating good bugs like lady bugs, which eat other bugs. You can buy lady bugs and other insects at garden centers, online and from garden catalogues and magazines. Also suggested are tiny microscopic worms called nematodes.

Natural chemicals protect the groundwater and runoff and are also better for your plants. The problem with traditional pesticides is that they don't just kill bugs or weeds, they kill everything they encounter. If you plant is not in good health, the traditional pesticide could wind up hurting, not helping, matters.

Plant a variety of flowers and shrubs so you have something in bloom all year long, or as much of the year as possible. This attracts insects and birds to your garden year round.

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A Homeowner’s Guide to Organic Landscape Care

Site Considerations

Choose the “right plant for the right site”. This is central to all plants, including turfgrass. Research the cultural requirements of the plant. Sun, partial shade, shade; pH; soil preferences (especially drainage); water and fertility needs; winter hardiness; ultimate size and habit of the plant; slope; aspect; and any other “peculiarities” that the plant might prefer.

Every landscape possesses “microclimates”. Take advantage of these to site marginal woody and herbaceous plants, encourage earlier blooming (or delay blooming of shrubs prone to early season frosts, i.e. star magnolias), or protection from desiccating winds or sun. In selecting appropriate turfgrass varieties, variations in light, soil types, slope, and drainage considerations may vary within individual sites and influence selection of seed varieties.

Determine the characteristics of your soil through testing: soil pH, nutrient availability and organic material percentage, aggregate composition, and drainage capacity.
Planting Considerations (applicable to trees and shrubs)

Do not amend the soil at planting time. The only “acceptable” amendments are bonemeal and amendments that will correct the soil acidity.

Wide and shallow planting holes are much preferable to deep and narrow ones. The fine root system of most woody plants extends 2 to 3 times the diameter of the drip edge of the plant. Planting holes should be 3 times as wide as the rootball, with sloped sides.

Woody plants sited in beds perform much better than those sited in turf. If shrubs are placed within turf, maintain as large an edged “planting ring” as possible.

Check out the source of nursery stock before you purchase. Southern and western grown plants often do not adapt as well as northern grown ones.

Several woody plants are best planted in spring and may be lost if fall-planted. (Crabapples, plums, pears, cherries, birch, hackberries, hawthorns, silverbells, goldenrain trees, hornbeams, etc.)

Check out the plants themselves in the nursery before you purchase. Branching structure; symmetrical and radially spaced root structure with a good root flare (especially for trees and large shrubs/small trees); integrity of the root ball (for B&B stock); integrity of the root system on containerized stock (color and density of roots, medium it was grown in, circling roots, etc.); damage to the stem or branches (frost cracks, sunscald, mechanical damage, etc.); presence of insects and/or diseases. Avoid buying plants in flower.

Bareroot stock planted when dormant often results in a better quality plant than comparable or larger sized B&B or container plants (i.e. better root-to-shoot ratio).

Be extra careful to plant all woody plants (especially large shrubs and trees) at the proper planting height (i.e. at grade). Look for the root flare (sometimes several inches below the soil level in B&B stock) and insure that the flare is above grade
(trunk flare junction should be 1-2” above grade) and the plant ball is sitting on undisturbed ground in your planting hole (i.e. a pedestal).

Remove as much of the burlap, rope, and wire basket (if machine dug) as possible without compromising the integrity of the rootball.

Prepare the root systems of container-grown plants properly. Free up the root ends and loosen some of the container media. This will enable the roots to come in direct contact with the new backfill soil. Most well grown plants will only require gentle loosening up of the roots in the outer ½ inch of the ball, but if the roots appear more severely matted, it may be necessary to use a knife to open them up.

Inoculate woody plants at planting time with mycorrhizal fungi and growth promoting bacteria. Utilize biostimulants periodically to foster a strong root system and stimulate biological processes essential for plant growth and nutrient availability.

Do not fertilize woody plants during the first growing season.

Do not prune newly planted trees and shrubs (except for damaged branches), especially bareroot or transplanted stock.

Do not firm the backfill soil with your feet. With bareroot stock it is advisable to incorporate hydrogel into the backfill at planting time. Water newly planted woody stock the “correct” way (i.e. puddling at different backfill depths). Watering container-grown plants grown in soilless media requires extra care as water will have a difficult time moving into the root system from surrounding soil during the first growing season. This situation usually requires more frequent watering.

Mulch shrubs with aged organic mulch. The correct thickness of the mulch is between 2 and 4” inches; with finer mulches use the lower parameter. Keep mulch away from the stems of large shrubs/small trees. Be aware of the buildup of this mulch layer over a period of years. This all-to-common occurrence often raises the grade contiguous to the root flare, typically leading to tree decline. Observation of advantageous roots growing up into the mulch layer is indicative of too low a planting depth and/or too great a mulch layer.

Do not stake or guy trees (or large shrubs) unless absolutely necessary. If required, make sure that it is properly done (i.e. loose enough to allow stem movement); and is removed after a full growing season.

Do not wrap the stems of trees at planting time. If nursery-grown trees are marked (paint dot) on their lower stems, face stems in the planting hole accordingly (typically south).
Maintenance Considerations (applicable to trees and shrubs)

Make sure the plant has adequate moisture throughout the first growing season (i.e. an inch of water a week). Deep watering is preferable to shallow watering. Soaker hoses, drip irrigation, water gators and the like are the preferred method of watering. Probe with a soil corer to insure the water has permeated the root system. Generally rainfall will not provide adequate moisture until after a couple of growing seasons. Be careful however: more plants die from overwatering than from a lack of water.
Periodically renew the mulch layer, checking to make sure the pH is at an optimum range throughout the root system.

It is permissible to feed your woody plants in their second growing season. Utilize a quality organic fertilizer. Periodic use of biostimulants is preferred to fertilization. If utilizing a quality, “finished” compost, and the plants are growing is a “good” loam soil, all the plants nutritional needs will be supplied as the mulch breaks down.

Protect plants susceptible to deer browsing. Monitor browsing pressure year-round, as significant damage can occur during every season of the year.

Provide winter protection for susceptible plants (i.e. broad-leaved evergreens, marginal plants, etc.)

Periodically prune your woody plants to maintain health and vigor; correct structural problems (i.e. proper scaffolding branching on small trees, interfering branches); assist in insect and disease control (i.e. borers, side branch dieback in Cornus, powdery mildew, etc.); promote interesting branch formation; or to bring about earlier blossoming. The time of year is largely dependent upon your reason to prune. Severe pruning when the plant is dormant stimulates the production of strong, leafy shoots. Pruning when the plant is actively growing tends to check exuberant growth and helps bring about the formation of blossom buds. Know the plant before you prune (i.e. habit, ultimate size, etc). Tie shrub pruning to season of bloom. Generally, shrubs that bloom before the 4th of July flower on buds set during the previous growing season, while plants that bloom after the 4th flower on buds formed during the current growing season. Pruning on most shrubs is best done minimally and consistently by complete removal of a few selected branches of the oldest stems, instead of removing the conventional “1/3” every 3 to 5 years. Some shrubs benefit from annual and sometimes rigorous pruning (i.e. spiraeas, forsythia, shrub dogwoods, deutzias, mock oranges, lilacs, weigelas, etc.). Use the “right tool for the job” and sanitize tools between pruning individuals with isopropyl alcohol (especially on conifers and broad-leaved evergreens).

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Successful Lawn Care

Seed: Types and quality of turfgrass seed varieties varies greatly. Check out the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program website for best varieties for your area. IES advocates tall turf-type fescues for lawns that are not irrigated. The new varieties are very adaptable and versatile and will grow in a wide range of soil types, soil pHs, and light conditions. Very good drought tolerance; low fertility needs; few disease and pest problems; excellent heat tolerance; performs well in heavy traffic and use situations. Contrary to Extension recommendations it is cold hardy north of Westchester County. We advise a mix containing 70% tall turf-type fescues (at least 3 recommended varieties), 15% perennial ryegrass, and 15% Kentucky bluegrass (at least 3 recommended disease resistant varieties). Make sure the mix is inoculated with endophytes. Make sure the seed is fresh as the germination success falls dramatically after a year. Make sure the inert ingredients are minimal (i.e. less than 2%-3% by volume).

Fertilization: Periodic soil testing is essential to successful lawn care. Conduct yearly soil acidity testing and nutritional analysis every 3 to 5 years. Optimum soil acidity level is generally around 6.5. N. and K. levels are key to proper fertilization. We recommend 1-2 lbs. N. and 1-3 lbs. K/1000sf/year. Calibration of spreaders is also important. We recommend a quality organic fertilizer (if NPK >18, the fertilizer is not 100% organic) because they are mainly water insoluble making them naturally slow release, will stimulate the soil microbial activity thus facilitating nutrient uptake, reducing thatch, suppressing disease, enhancing the structure of the soil itself (i.e. tilth, water holding capacity, etc.). Some organic fertilizers contain biostimulants and beneficial bacteria (e.g. Plant Health Care’s “Healthy Turf” 8-1-9). Fall fertilizations, after the last mowing (late October, early November) are best in so far as nitrogen loss (mineralization and oxidation). Many organic turf managers say there is no need for spring fertilization.

Supplemental “feedings”: Use biostimulants to promote a strong, resilient root system that will withstand environmental and/or cultural stresses. Biostimulants are non-fertilizer organic substances that activate and accelerate the growth processes of plants. Some of the key ingredients in biostimulants are humic acid (The end product of decomposed plant tissue that plays many roles in soil and plant nutrition. They improve the cation exchange capacity of soil, increase cell membrane permeability, increase phosphorus uptake, root and cell elongation and ion transport.); Ascophyllum nodosum (This species of cold water sea kelp is a commonly used organic supplement that helps increase plant growth and prevents plant stress. Its primary ingredient is cytokinins, a plant growth regulator, that helps heal wounds, delay senescence and chlorsis, and promote root development.); amino acids (Part of the natural biochemical processes of the plant, causing improved nutrient absorption and increased availability of micronutrients.); carbohydrates (Serve as carbon energy sources for soil microorganisms.); and vitamin B-complex and K (Important enzyme catalysts that enhance normal plant metabolism. B vitamins contribute to root development.). We recommend 2 to 3 seasonal supplemental feedings per year.

Core aeration and topdressing: Core aeration periodically done on the entire lawn, especially in high traffic areas, will greatly benefit established lawns. We recommend fall aeration just to fertilization. Disperse the soil plugs by “sweeping”, power raking, or by mowing. Topdressing lawns with quality organic compost will likewise invigorate your lawn. By mixing grass seed into the compost, you can renovate thin areas of your turf. Make sure the compost is weed and disease free (i.e. Sweet Peat).

Watering: Regular watering is crucial for establishing and maintaining new and young lawns. Many grass types will go dormant during a drought, especially Kentucky bluegrass. If irrigation is not an issue, deep water (at least 1”-1.5”) at the first sigh of stress (wilting), and water frequently and shallowly throughout the summer. Water in the early morning to suppress turf diseases. Tall turf-type fescues are the most drought tolerant of all the commercially available grass types.

Mowing: Rule of thumb: never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade of any type of grass. Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues should be maintained at the 2”-3” height; tall fescues at 3”. Keep mower blades sharp! Dull blades wound the grass and leave convenient points of entry for diseases (i.e. leaf spot). Do not mow turf that is under stress. Avoid mowing in the mid-day sun. Do not bag clippings; rather use a mulching blade as the clippings can contain up to 35% N. and other essential nutrients.

Weeds: Weed problems usually arise as a result of environmental and/or cultural stresses. Extreme temperatures, drought, improper mowing, insect or disease infestation, improper or lack of fertilization are the most common vectors for weed entry. If the problem is extensive or the weeds particularly noxious, there is no alternative but to use an herbicide or remove by hand. Avoid potent and persistent chemicals whenever possible. Try new organically based herbicides such as corn glutin (a preemergent and early post emergent herbicide).

Diseases: The main disease problems in NYS are leaf spot, fusarium (necrotic ring spot, summer patch), red thread, rust, and snowmold. Best methods to minimize diseases include starting with disease resistant grass varieties and employing proper cultural practices. Leaf spot is the most serious disease of Kentucky bluegrass. Cool, wet springs fosters the disease, which manifests in summer with crown rot (“melting out”). Heavily fertilized lawns, especially those that receive high applications of N. in spring, are the most susceptible. Fusarium blight syndrome affects the roots of grasses. Summer patch is the more common of the two blights. Hot, dry summer conditions are conducive to summer patch. Buy resistant varieties of perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. We like tall fescues as they are very deep rooted and therefore more drought tolerant. Rust is common in perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass and is typically a fall problem. Low N. levels foster rusts. Fall fertilization typically prevents this disease. Snowmold can be a serious problem in upstate NY. Proper fall fertilization with N. and K. help minimize damage. Avoid fertilizing (with high nitrogen, inorganic fertilizers) after 10/1 and before the last mowing.

Insects: There are two basic types of damaging turf insects: surface feeders (chinch bugs, sod webworms) and root feeders (primarily white grubs of 5 species of beetles with Japanese beetles and European chafers being the most common). For the surface feeders use endophyte enhanced grass varieties. Botanical insecticides such as those derived from the neem tree are a safe and effective control for surface feeding insects. New biological controls for surface feeding insects are proving effective (i.e. the fungus Beauvaria bassiana as a chinch bug control). Avoid chemicals such as Dursban, Oftanol, Sevin, Orthene, and Turcam. Biological controls are best for root feeding turf insects. Chemical pesticides not only pose a health risk to the applicator and resident, but also deleteriously impact beneficial soil microorganisms. Parasitic nematodes are very effective for all white grub species. Monitor turf for grubs in early August. Treat when grubs average 8-10 per sf. Treat in August to control next spring’s population. Milky spore disease (Bacillus popilliae) is not effective on masked chafer, takes at least 3-5 years to effectively populate your turf, and is not effective in many areas of NYS. Armyworms have recently been a serious problem in many areas of NYS and CT. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is effective on this pest.

Whenever possible, avoid using lawns during times of drought or when the turf is frozen and there is no snow cover. DO NOT drive on lawns under these conditions!

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Integrated Pest Management

This philosophy of landscape care will lead to a healthy and successfully landscape and limit the health and safety risks associated with conventional pesticide use. “Biorational” controls, an important part of an IPM management strategy, are a catchall term for a diverse range of both cultural and mechanical landscape management practices. In the garden, thinning bee balm and garden phlox to improve air circulation would be a good example of a cultural biorational control measure intended to limit the proliferation of fungal spores. Roguing sick or weak plants from your landscape is another. Biological control measures are often as effective as conventional chemical controls in eradicating pest and disease problems. Traps (baits, attractants, or “sticky”) are also effective in reducing insect pest populations.

The selection of plants is of prime importance for successful landscape and garden management. Utilize the best species and cultivars that either possess or have had good disease and pest resistance bred into them. For example, our native white birch, Betula papyrifera, is inherently more resistant to bronze birch borer that its European or Asian counterparts. Commercial nurseries, private entities, and the government (USDA) continue to develop disease and pest resistant cultivars.
Gardeners and landscape managers should set thresholds, which will define their tolerance for diseases and pests. These threshold levels can vary greatly in virtually all agricultural and landscape applications. Once threshold levels have been established, if intervention is called for to eradicate or suppress pests and/or diseases, biorational control measures should be initiated. A few guiding principles for biorational controls:

If pesticides are called for (usually a last resort), adopt a “least toxic chemical” rationale. Often a botanical insecticide such as neem or pyrethrins will do the job.

Use “biochemicals” instead of pesticides. Examples of biochemicals are kairomones, pheromones, and insect growth regulators (IGR). Kairomones are chemicals that are produced by plants, which attract insects. Pheromones are chemicals secreted by insects. There are alarm pheremones, which will repel insects, and pheromones that attract insects (i.e. those Japanese beetle traps). IGR act on the hormonal systems of immature insects. They rarely kill the insect, but interfere with their development cycle (i.e. interrupts them metamorphosing from one stage to the next) causing the affected insect to stop feeding.

Biochemical controls often utilize botanical and biological controls. Bacillus thuringiensis (Btk) is highly effective in dealing with larval caterpillars such as gypsy moth caterpillars. Certain predatory nematodes and Milky Spore Disease (B. popilliae and B. lentimorbus) are used to control Japanese beetles in their larval stage. Biofungicides (bacterium Bacillus subtilis) have been found to prevent or control powdery mildew, gray mold, early blights, bacterial leaf blight, botrytis neck rot, walnut blight. They have been found to suppress downy mildew, scab, fire blight, bacterial spot, and pin rot.

Know your enemy! So often I see both the homeowner and many supposed professionals run out and apply the “pesticide de jour’ at the first sign of an insect. Putting aside the health and safety considerations coupled with the typical lack of knowledge about the nature of the chemical(s) they are applying or its mode of action, their applications often prove futile in controlling the pest. Timing
applications to maximize effectiveness, pest identification and potential for non-
target, beneficial insect kill, and proper application methods are all important
elements in safe and effective pesticide use.

Timing is everything. Learn what growing degree days are (GDD) and how to calculate them. All pesticide applications should be linked to GDD and/or plant phonological indicators (PPI) listed in “Cornell Recommends”. “Branching Out” an integrated pest management newsletter, published by Cooperative Extension, is invaluable for keeping abreast of what insect and disease problems have been scouted in your region. Their website is: http://BranchingOut.Cornell.edu .

Selected disease and pest control products for the organic gardener:

“Soap Shield” (from Gardens Alive!) is a fungicidal soap that combines a naturally occurring fatty acid (the soap) with copper (the fungicide). The soap acts synergistically with the copper allowing for much lower concentrations of copper to be effective. I have found this product to be very effective on a wide range of common garden fungal diseases including blackspot, mildew (both downy and powdery), rusts, and gray mold (botrytis). It is also labeled for use on fruits and vegetables (right up until time of harvest) and is effective tomato anthracnose, bacterial leaf blight, leaf spot, neck and bottom rot, alternaria, and scab.

“Pyola” (also from Gardens Alive!) combines canola oil (not the conventional petroleum derivative) with pyrethrins. This product is effective on virtually all stages of insects (including eggs), has residual repelling effect on many insects, and is not persistent in the environment. This product controls virtually all garden pests. It too is labeled for fruit and crops.

The various neem-based insecticides are excellent botanical insecticides. I use the “new” products derived from the seed of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) as it has not only excellent insecticidal and anti-feedent properties, but is also a very effective fungicide. Note that this product is not labeled for crops. “Green Light Rose Defense” available from The Green Light Company, and “Shield-All II” from Gardens Alive! are two such products.

Microbial fungicides have proven effective in IES gardens and greenhouses. These biological control agents provide long-lasting broad-spectrum control of several soil-borne diseases (i.e. pythium, fusarium, basal rots, various blights, etc.) We use it in the greenhouse to control damping-off and in the garden at bulb planting time to prevent rot. It is also completely safe to use in the vegetable garden. Gardens Alive! carries “SoilGard Microbial Fungicide” and “Serenade Solutions”.

Certain bacteria of the genus Bacillus are very effective in controlling many leaf-chewing insects. New and improved strains of B. thuringiensis such as Btk (B. t. var. kurstaki controls cabbage loopers, codling moth larvae, diamondback moths, gypsy moth larvae, imported cabbageworms, spruce budworms, tomato hornworms, and many more. Btsd (B. t. var. san diego) is very effective on certain leaf-eating beetles, including black vine weevil, boll weevils, Colorado potato beetles, and elm leaf beetle. Bti (B. t. var. israelensis) attacks larvae of blackflies, fungus knats, and mosquitoes when applied to standing water (West Nile Disease). All of the Bacillus bacteria are very selective, meaning they will not harm beneficial insects (except butterfly larvae). Bt is nontoxic to humans and is labeled for food crops. Another relatively new bioinsecticide is derived from the bacterium Saccharopoloyspora spinosa.

Predatory insects are now widely used in landscape settings as biological controls of insect pests. Pseudoscymnus tsugae, currently being released in northeastern states to control hemlock woolly adelgid, is now commercially available. Geocoris punctipes (a.k.a bigeyed bugs), predatory nematodes (Steinernema feltiae, etc.), ladybird beetles (Hippodamia spp.), green lacewings (Chrysoperla spp.), Trichogramma spp. larvae, have proven to be safe and effective.

Try diatomaceous earth, iron phosphate, or leftover brewed coffee or coffee grounds to repel or kill snails and slugs.

Instead of relying on chemical herbicides to control weeds in the landscape try herbicidal soaps or the combinations of vinegar and lemon juice. Both are 100% biodegradable and completely safe to the environment.

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Green Construction

Environmental consciousness comes at a premium. Green construction techniques and sustainable building materials can add anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. Whether that extra cost makes sense for you in the long run depends in large part on what you hope to get out of a green home in the first place.

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Small Steps to pay for the green

Seal up and clean those ducts

The typical house loses 15 percent to 20 percent of its heat or air-conditioning leakage from ducts alone. Use this energy savings and change out the incandescent bulbs.

Energy Saving Tips


Around the House:

Longer days mean shorter nights. Don't forget to adjust your outdoor lighting timers. You'll save money and extend bulb life.

Keep your home comfortable without air conditioning on all but the hottest days.

Keep windows closed in the heat of the day. Open windows in the cool of the night.

Resist opening and closing doors. Shut the door or at least try to minimize the number of times that doors to the outside are opened and closed. Each time you open the door heat enters the house.

Close the curtains. Close drapes and shades on windows during the day to keep heat from the sun out of your house (particularly on windows with an eastern and western exposure). In the evening opening drapes and shades lets the heat escape through the windows.

Insulation in your attic protects your home from excessive heat penetration in summer and cold penetration in winter. Invest in attic insulation for year-round comfort and efficiency.

Make sure roof ventilation is adequate to prevent heat buildup in summer and moisture buildup in winter.

Use floor and ceiling fans to create gentle breezes to keep you and your family comfortable.

Use compact fluorescent lighting wherever you can. Compact fluorescents use very little energy and produce much less waste heat than incandescent and halogen lights.

In the Kitchen:

Turn on your range hood when cooking to exhaust waste heat from your home. Coordinate meal planning with the seasons. Remember, nothing tastes better than a cold meal on a hot day.

Keep your oven door tightly closed. Use the oven light to check on progress when baking or roasting.

Select right-sized pots and pans with tight-fitting lids and cook at lower temperatures to reduce energy use. A six-inch pan on an eight-inch element, for example, wastes 40% of the element's heat output.

Make full use of microwave ovens in hot weather. Microwave cooking can reduce energy consumption by two-thirds and produces much less waste heat than your stove. Toaster ovens and slow cookers are also a great way to reduce energy use in the kitchen.

When you run the dishwasher use full loads. Use your range hood when the dishwasher is operating to vent excess heat and humidity outdoors.

Avoid activities that add heat or humidity to your home, particularly during the hottest parts of the day or limit them to times when nobody is home. For example, turn on your dishwasher as you leave the house or let dishes air dry rather than use the dishwasher's heater.

Vacuum your refrigerator's cooling coils every three months. Excessive dust buildup will reduce the energy efficiency and life expectancy of the compressor. Make sure there are no gaps in the door seal.

Don't overfill your refrigerator-freezer; cool air needs to circulate freely throughout the interior of the appliance.

In the Laundry Room:

Don't use your washing machine for a few small items; wait for a full load. Use the cold water cycle whenever possible

Clean the clothes dryer filter after each load, and clean the dryer duct regularly. Clogged filters and ducts restrict airflow, decrease energy efficiency and can be a fire hazard.

Air Conditioning:

Inspect and maintain your cooling system. Simple measures such as cleaning and replacing clogged air filters can reduce cooling costs up to 10%. An annual service call will extend the life of your expensive cooling equipment and boost efficiency.

Don't forget cooling system ductwork. Leaking joints, elbows and connections can boost energy consumption 20 to 30%. Use duct mastic to seal loose joints.

Adjust your air conditioner's thermostat when you go out, and shut your system down when you are away for extended periods. Unnecessary cooling costs money.

Walk away from the thermostat. Your house won't cool down any faster if you lower the thermostat setting. When your air conditioner is on it cools at the same rate regardless of the temperature setting.

Open the doors. A breeze on a summer day can be enough to keep you cool. Instead of turning the air conditioner on, open doors and windows on opposite sides of the house for cross ventilation.

When using your air conditioner, close all windows, doors and chimney dampers when using your air conditioner. Don't use your hard-earned money to cool the great outdoors. Unused rooms should be closed off to cut cooling costs.

Raise the thermostat. Raising the thermostat just 6°F can save 10% on your cooling bill. To compensate, the breeze created by a ceiling fan or portable fan typically makes you feel just as comfortable at a temperature 6°F warmer.

Dehumidifier Benefits. Consider using a dehumidifier instead of turning on the air conditioning. You will be comfortable at much higher temperatures if you reduce the humidity.

Vacuum dehumidifier evaporation coils. Dust builds up on the evaporation coils of every dehumidifier after steady use, causing them to use more energy. Unplug yours and vacuum the coils every 6-12 months.

Wash/change dehumidifier filters. Dirty filters cause dehumidifiers to use more energy with poorer results. Replace your disposable or wash your permanent filter at least yearly.
By now, you've probably heard the bad news—home heating prices are likely to rise by 30 to 50% this winter (which is forecast to be a cold one). But there is some good news as well. There are some simple steps that you can take around your home that can save you money while you keep yourself and your family warm and toasty.

Many households could save 20-30 percent on their household energy bills by implementing energy efficiency improvements. As an added bonus, you get to help the planet by saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Simple things you can do:

Turn your thermostat down several degrees when leaving the house for the day or extended periods of time. One easy way to do this is to purchase a programmable thermostat. You can also save by turning the thermostat down a couple of degrees all the time

Make sure your water heater is in good condition and keep the water temperature between 115-120 degrees. Even consider getting a tankless water heater that only heats the water you need.

Limit your time spent in the shower to cut down on hot water usage. You can also install aerators to save on the amount of water you use while showering - this will cut down on the amount of hot water you use.

Try and use cold water as often as possible when doing the laundry and line or rack dry your clothes - here is an example of a large drying rack you might wish to use - other racks are readily available at your local hardware or home stores.

Make sure to turn off the lights when you are not in a room.

Shut the doors to rooms you don't use on a regular basis.

Keep baseboards clean and unrestricted by furniture and carpet or drapes

Use the smallest oven or burner when cooking, or a crock pot, or use the smallest pan possible.

Don't peek into the oven as you are cooking.

Defrost foods in the refrigerator before cooking.

Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in standard fixtures.

Replace or clean your furnace filters monthly. This could save up to 5% on your heating bill
Long-term energy saving investments:

Buy Green - many utilities offer rebates in return for purchasing efficient appliances through the Federal Government's Energy Star program.

Seal up your home. Seal air leaks and add insulation.

Weatherize your windows.

Upgrade your windows. Look for windows with multiple layers of glazing, and approved by the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council), a non-profit collaboration of window manufacturers.

When buying a new furnace or boiler, make sure you purchase one with a more efficient AFUE or adjusted fuel utilization efficiency. The AFUE is the amount of heat actually delivered to your house compared to the amount of fuel that you supply the furnace. Thus, a furnace that has an 80% AFUE rating converts 80% of the fuel that you supply to heat -- the other 20% is lost out of the chimney. All Energy Star approved furnaces have AFUE ratings of 90% or more.

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New Home Green Construction

Green builders insulate walls with draft-stopping foam; the floors are covered in wood from a sustainable forest; and the rooms are decked out with nontoxic paint, just to name a few earth-friendly features. Interest in eco-friendly building and renovating has spilled over to the mainstream. Today the majority of houses that meet the U.S. Green Building Council definition of a "green" home - one that uses less energy, less natural resources and fewer toxic chemicals - are indistinguishable from their traditionally constructed neighbors.

Traditionally constructed homes, while far more energy-efficient than those built in past decades, can still squander a mind-boggling amount of fossil fuel. according to Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Energy-conscious construction can significantly reduce that waste. Some of the savings come from materials that provide extra thermal resistance, such as straw-bale construction and insulated concrete forms. More can come from designs that maximize exposure to winter sun and minimize summer heat.

Solar power is a different story. Panels are expensive to install and take years to recoup their costs in electricity savings.

Providing adequate ventilation can also improve air quality. One solution: adding a mechanical ventilation system, which can run between $500 and $2,000.

Green planning uses construction to minimize the waste of building materials; reducing water consumption by adding low-volume toilets or rainwater filtration systems; and working with products that are sustainable (wool carpeting, bamboo flooring, cotton insulation) or recycled (salvaged wood, steel made with reused rebar, insulation made from paper products).

Will it pay off?

If you were to build a house as green as you possibly could, it might cost you 20 percent to 30 percent more than traditional construction. But that would imply an extreme sense of environmental duty.

There are also some significant tax credits available on the state and federal level that may help pay for improvements. You can claim a credit of up to $500 on your 1040 for installing energy-efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, boilers and air conditioners, for example. (Log on to www.ase.org and click on Consumers for more on this.)

Before you invest in these, however, you might want to consider whether your monthly utility savings and any tax breaks will pay for the added cost in a reasonable amount of time. Assuming a $400,000 house with a 6.5 percent, 30-year fixed-rate loan and $80,000 down, your monthly payment would be $2,022. Add $10,000 of energy-efficient features to that and your payment goes to $2,085.

For you to cover the higher mortgage payment and recoup the up-front costs in seven years, your monthly energy savings would have to be $182. Add $20,000 and your payment goes to $2,149 - and you'd need to save $365 monthly.

In terms of resale value, green homes have come a long way. These days most do not telegraph their eco-friendly features; from the outside they look like any other house on the block.

Where to go for more information:

Contact a local or regional green building group. Use the link below

They can connect you with environmental architects and builders and inform you about techniques that work well in your climate, as well as tax credits offered in your area.

Ask contractors about the criteria the follow Then request a copy of the guidelines to make sure you know what you're in for. The U.S. Green Building Council, whose LEED rating is the gold standard for commercial green building, plans to launch a residential rating program this summer.

Meanwhile, the NAHB publishes guidelines (available at www.nahb.org under Publications) that cover everything from lot preparation to water conservation; many local organizations also rate homes on a checklist of practices.

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Organic Lesson: How to go Green

60 Simple, Affordable Ideas to Go Green Now

Link: http://www.organiclesson.com/how-to-go-green/


"The Green Guide" The National Geographic Online Green Magazine

A great resource from America's premiere magazine about our world.

Link: www.thegreenguide.com


The Go Green Initiative

A simple, comprehensive program designed to create a culture of environmental responsibility on school campuses across the nation.

Link: www.gogreeninitiative.org/


Green Home

Online store to shop for products for going green.

Link: www.greenhome.com


EPA Green Landscaping for Our Area

Beneficial landscaping for the Mid Atlantic Region.

Link: www.epa.gov


BBC Planet Earth TV Series

A breathtaking exploration of our world and its wildlife.

Link: www.bbc.co.uk


Tree Hugger

Over 100+ guides to help us go green

Link: www.treehugger.com


The North American Native Plant Society

Re-establish healthy ecosystems with native plants. The website includes an extensive list of native plant nurseries.

Link: www.nanps.org


The Virginia Native Plant Society

Its purpose is to further appreciation and conservation of Virginia's native plants and habitats.

example: spicebush (Lindera benzoin), a fragrant wetland shrub.

Link: www.vnps.org


The Native Plant Conservation Campaign (NPCC)

A native plant conservation campaign.

Link: www.plantsocieties.org


Bio-Integral Resources Center: BIRC

A nonprofit organization offering over 25 years of insight, experience, and leadership in the development and communication of least-toxic, sustainable, and environmentally sound Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods.

Link: www.birc.org


Organic Pest Control

Non-chemical solutions for dealing with a pest after it has already made a home in your lawn or garden.

Link: www.organicgardenpests.com


Wild Ones

is a nonprofit organization that seeks to restore landscape diversity through the conservation and establishment of native plant communities.

Link: www.For-Wild.org


Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

A 279-acre public garden dedicated to preserving native plants and restoring landscapes.

Link: www.wildflower.org


Virginia Cooperative Extension

Research based information for the people of the Commonwealth.

Link: http://www.ext.vt.edu/offices/


US Green Building Council

LEED for Homes is a rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. A green home uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier and more comfortable for the occupants.

Link: www.usgbc.org


Plenty Magazine

Plenty is an environmental media company dedicated to exploring and giving voice to the green revolution that will define the 21st Century.

Link: www.plentymag.com




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Help sometimes comes at a price or with a hidden agenda, but our helpful guides have neither. We hope that the information in our Leewood Times Guides give you starting points and focus. Our goal is to assist you in making informed decisions.

Here are the links to all the Leewood Times Guides


345 Money Saving Tips

Leewood Times 75 Money Saving Travel Tips

Leewood Times 2008 Winter Guide

Leewood Times Bar-B-Que Tips & Tricks

Leewood Times Employment Guide

Leewood Times Energy Saving Tips Winter / Summer

Leewood Times Guide to Credit Repair

Leewood Times Guide to Fall Festivals

Leewood Times Guide to Going Green

Leewood Times Guide to Holiday Entertaining

Leewood Times Guide to Local Farmers Markets

Leewood Times Guide to New Years Resolutions

Leewood Times Guide to Seasonal Allergies & Pollen

Leewood Times Guide to Spring Cleaning

Leewood Times Guide to the Capital Beltway

Leewood Times Guide to Volunteering

Leewood Times Guide to Voting

Leewood Times Spring Yard Maintenance Tips

Leewood Times Summer Fun Guide




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