Soil Test for Lawn Success

, ,

Use a soil test to determine what deficiencies may exist in the soil. Soil is made up of a combination of sand, silt, clay, air, water and organic matter. Organic matter is the universal soil improver, helping the soil hold moisture and nutrients. Key results we look at are the soil pH, the ratio of calcium to magnesium and level of calcium and the the important Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). The CEC is a measure of the soil’s ability to hold and exchange cations such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Also important, the Percent Base Saturation (next to the CEC on the UMASS Soil Test Report) shows values for potassium (target 2 to 5%), magnesium (target 10 to 15%) and calcium (target 65 to 75%).
-Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Aerate for Healthy Soil

,

We are approaching the time of year for core aeration and overseeding. Core aeration is a process using a machine to remove core plugs from a lawn area. Removing the plugs of soil relieves compaction and allows air to circulate into the root system. Usually the lawn is overseeded at the same time. Seeds will achieve soil contact in the holes opened up by the aerator. The plugs are left on the lawn and break down quickly. In very compact areas a double pass with the aerator at perpendicular angles will provide additional compaction relief. Core aeration on a residential lawn is critical to a healthy lawn care program (especially organic lawn care) and should be done each year or every other year, usually in the fall.
-Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Calculating rain for the rain barrels…

When speaking to a customer today, I was reminded that a common question is, ‘how much water can I collect in a rain barrel?’ Here is a simple formula that will get you close to the amount. Generally each inch of rain yields a half a gallon per square foot. So a 20×30 Cape style home has 600 square feet of catchable area, or 300 gallons in a 1 inch storm. Divide that by the number of downspouts to get approximate yield at the downspout, or 75 gallons in this example per downspout. In the Boston market, we recieve around 40 to 55 inches of rain each year, with around 30 to 40 inches occuring during the catchment time of year (spring to fall). Remember, rain water is a great addition to an organic lawn care or plant health program.

Green pest control in the news…., look at this article from the Lowell Sun on Green Pest Control.

-Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Leave the clippings.

, ,

For quality lawn care, as summer begins, finally, it is time to raise mowing heights to 3″ or higher, and try to leave the clippings on the lawn or turf. It is important to leave the clippings to reduce fertilizer use by returning nitrogen back to the soil. Leaving clippings can add as much as one lb of nitrogen per year. Contrary to popular belief, it does not increase thatch.
-Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

What does “green” mean?

, ,

What does “green” mean?
The answer is (obviously) stated what “green” means to us, GreenHow, Inc, in terms of pest control, lawn care and termite control. “Green” is a vague or ambiguous term. The term “greenwashing” is a response by consumers to a perceived or real misuse of the term “green.” Generally speaking “green” means environmentally-friendly products and services. Usually it is self imposed by a business, but it can be part of a certification or accreditation process. In our business lines, which are lawn care, pest control and termite control, the term “green” refers to different aspects. A brief description, in alphabetical order by our service types, will appear here over the next few days.
First, Lawn Care: The main terms we use to describe our lawn care services are organic, organic based and low impact. The organic service we describe uses materials listed on the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) list. This service includes no chemical herbicides or insecticides. This service is also accredited organic by the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Organic LandCare Program. The organic based service uses blended or bridge materials. These materials are mostly (as a percent of weight) organic, but contain synthetic forms of nitrogen. The purpose of the synthetic nitrogen is to 1) provide a more rapid nitrogen or fertility and 2) to allow greater coverage per 1,000 square feet which decreases material and labor costs (and consumer price). This service may be a better option for some customers who are transitioning to organic, and may opt for organic based for one intermediate year from traditional lawn care programs. The low impact lawn care service utilizes more traditional types of materials including synthetic nitrogen with options for herbicide and insecticides as needed depending on the site.
-Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Can I compost in the winter?

, , ,

One customer asked me today, Can I compost in the winter? If you have the Earth Machine composter we have given out to Organic Lawn Care customers in the past, you can add material to the composter. Use your countertop container to collect your materials, such as egg shells and fruit and vegetable material and coffee grounds to limit your trips out in inclement weather. Add shredded newspaper or cardboard for your “brown” since your leaf resource is probably under cover of snow or ice. You are cold composting anyway with such a small pile, and in this weather no breakdown will occur, but keep up with adding matter to the pile. Make sure you return the cover tightly to keep out rodents. You do not want to start a rodent or wildlife issue requiring additional pest control service. For further tips, check out this Winter Composting Fact Sheet from Cornell.
Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Organic Lawn Care

,

It seems like a funny time of year to consider lawn care, since we can’t see any grass right now. It is a great time of year to update what we know about lawn care. To that end, we sent a representative to the NOFA accreditation training that started January 14th and goes January 14, 15, 16 then 20, 21, concluding with an exam on January 21. NOFA stands for Northeast Organic Farming Association. The program began in 1999 as the Organic Land Care Program to educate the industry about a vision of “organic” land care. This program developed into the a program based on the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care written in 2000-2001. NOFA developed and offers a training course that is offered with or without an accreditation exam. We decided early in 2008 to make sure that we attended the accreditation training in 2009, and are happy the training is underway. We look forward to giving you an update on our progress toward accreditation.
Whether updating materials or training, in order to meet our customers’ needs and fulfill our mission, we need to think about lawn care even when there is snow on the ground.

Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.