3 Easy Tricks to Love Your Lawn Naturally

Everyone likes a lush, green lawn that is safe for people, pets and children to lounge and play. Here’s a video with a few easy tips for you to love your lawn naturally.

Natural Lawn Care, So Pets and Children (and You!) Can Play Safely

As the video shows, there are three (3) easy things you can do to keep your lawn lush, naturally.

TRICK #1: Trim the Top

Set your lawnmower blades on the highest setting. Also, aim to only cut the top 1/3 of the grass blades at any one time; otherwise the grass gets stressed.

TECHNICAL CORNER
Different grass species actually have preferred lengths. For example, cool season grasses (Fescues, Kentucky bluegrass) range from 1-4” high. Warm season grasses (St Augustine, Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia) vary from 0.75-3” high. Learn more about ideal heights to mow grass.

TRICK #2: Grasscycle!

Let the clippings land and return to the soil. Those tiny little bits can actually help nourish the soil: they typically break down within one to two weeks, and provide 15 to 20% or more of a lawn’s yearly nitrogen requirements. Learn more about grasscycling.

TRICK #3: Support Your Soil

Every fall and spring, spread a ¼” layer of compost or lawn soil. This layer – called a topdressing – helps support the soil structure, promotes good drainage, and stimulates microbial activity (that’s a good thing).

 A Few Other Tips for Natural Lawn Care

First, remember the four key components of healthy soil composition:

  • Mineral Soil (~45%)
  • Organic Matter (~5%)
  • Water (~25%)
  • Air (~25%)

Next, check out this case study of the lush soccer fields in Haddam, Connecticut – impressive root structure, all from topdressing with compost!

Finally, use these easy tips to keep your lawn happy:


WATERING YOUR LAWN: Use the Tuna Can Trick

If you’re going to water your lawn (or, ahem, frolic in a sprinkler), use a tuna fish can to roughly gauge how much water has fallen: place a tuna can on the grass when you turn on the sprinkler(s), and turn off the sprinkler(s) when the tuna can is full.

A few other tips around watering:

  • GO FOR DEEP, LESS OFTEN: Try to water well once per week rather than a few shallow sprinkles throughout the week. Then let the grass dry out completely over the week until you water deeply again. The roots will actually get more sturdy and robust during the dry period by searching for water compared to if you give them a few light sprinkles.
  • WATER IN THE MORNING OR EVENING: You’ll lose less water to evaporation.

AERATING YOUR LAWN: Use the Screwdriver Trick to Test

If you’re curious about whether or not your lawn needs aeration, try the screwdriver trick: Wait until the soil is relatively dry – but not completely dry and hard – and test it with a screwdriver. If you can depress the screwdriver an inch or two easily, the soil probably has sufficient aeration. If it takes some bearing down, your lawn could probably use some “aerifying”. Learn more about how to aeate your lawn.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

How Do I Choose the Right Mulch for My Landscape?

a fine mulchWhy add mulch?

Mulch is a landscaper’s best friend because it:

  • reduces weeds;
  • improves moisture retention;
  • maintains soil temperatures; and
  • enhances the beauty of landscapes.

Mulch is basically a magic carpet for your landscape.


How do you choose the right mulch for your landscape?

Using quality mulch in your garden is one of the easiest ways to transform your landscape. Mulch comes in all shapes and sizes and flavors. When choosing a mulch there are a few factors to consider – species of wood, source, size, and color – to identify a mulch that will best fit your needs. Since the selection process can be tricky we summarized our most popular mulches with the following descriptions.

CEDAR MULCH

This mulch has a pleasant cedar smell that lasts a fair amount of time after spreading. Cedar is also great for repelling insects. Cedar mulch has a very slow decay process so it won’t break down quickly. Also, cedar mulch is the most resistant to artillery fungus.

  • AVAILABLE IN BULK:  Canadian Cedar is available at our Harvest New England locations in Connecticut.
  • AVAILABLE IN BAGS: Cedar Mulch Blend (2-cubic-foot bags) by Garden Pro® is available in stores in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast.

BARK MULCHES / COLORED BARK MULCHES

This is a recycled mulch usually made from hardwood logs and bark. These types of mulches break down quickly and add nutrients to the soil. Natural colorants make this mulch stand out.

PINE BARK MULCH

This mulch has a naturally rich dark color with a pleasant pine scent. Pine mulch is a slow decomposer and is often over looked. This mulch has great longevity and is relatively inexpensive!

  • AVAILABLE IN BULK: Pine Blend is one of our most popular mulches, available in New England (Connecticut). Pine Fines are an exceptional soil conditioner for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, hollies and magnolias – available in the Mid-Atlantic (Maryland, DC, Virginia).
  • AVAILABLE IN BAGS: We offer a variety of Pine- based mulches including Pine Bark Mulch in two-cubic-foot bags in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.


HEMLOCK MULCH

This mulch has strong reddish and orange tones which add rich color to landscapes. Hemlock mulch is very aromatic. Just like cedar and pine mulch, hemlock mulches decomposes slowly so it is long lasting. Hemlock has a natural reddish look.

  • AVAILABLE IN BULK: Hemlock Mulch is available in at our Harvest New England locations.
  • AVAILABLE IN BAGS: Hemlock Mulch Blend is available in two-cubic-foot bags in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.a course mulch

Where can I find mulch from Harvest?

Great question! In addition to the mulches listed above, we offer a variety of mulch (and soil) products throughout North America. Find a convenient location near you:

Other Common Mulch-Related Topics:


Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted as “Choosing a Mulch: Practical Beauty” in March 2014; it has been re-posted with permission by the author, Shelley Sales, with updated content, availability, links and video.

Recycling Christmas Trees, Educating About Fire Safety

Recycling and fire safety don’t often get combined into one event. Yet here are:

On January 6th & 7th 2018, the Port Moody Firefighters Local 2399 held our 13th Annual Christmas Tree Chipping event at the Inlet Centre Fire Hall.  This was once again a successful year in which over $8,700 was raised for donation to the British Columbia Professional Firefighters Burn Fund.  These funds will be used to help purchase equipment to assist burn victims throughout British Columbia and to send the youth burn survivors to Burn Camp among other purposes.

In addition to collecting donations at this event, we held a display to show the dangers of open flames and other sources of heat near dry Christmas trees in order to demonstrate the importance of proper care and watering.  It is our hope that displays such as this help prevent further tragedies.  The rest of the trees are put through a wood chipper and put into large disposal containers where they are transported to a composting facility

Port Moody educating about fire safety with a christmas treeHarvest was pleased to support this effort by gratuitously taking in the tree chips to at our local composting facility.  Kudos to the Port Moody Firefighters for putting on such a successful event!

Here’s a video of the event.

Photo and video credit: Port Moody Firefighters

 

Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) – 2018

We had a great time this year connecting with partners and customers interested in our soils, mulches and specialty blends in the Mid-Atlantic market, as well as our premium Harvest Organics bagged products.

Psss — Do you know?  Our soil and mulch display booth is made of all east coast woods.  Pretty groovy.

 

Thanks so much to MANTS for yet again hosting an incredible event. If you liked these photos, check out our booth from MANTS 2017

If you carrot all about soil health, these puns walnut let you down

Have you been wining about low yields? Citrus down on that chair and let me squash your problems.

If you carrot all about soil health, lettuce almond your soil by raisin the bar for healthy soil.

So water your waiting for?

You butternut say it’s too expensive, because with the cashew make back on your increased yields, you can berry those costs in the dirt.

Like a bee puts nectarine in its hive, compost put nutrients directly in your soil. If your barley hanging in there with these puns, compost your comments on our website.

We walnut let you down.

~Created by Adam Pescatore

Photos from US Composting Council’s “Demo Days” in Los Angeles

The US Composting Council hosted its 25th annual conference in Los Angeles.  Harvest was a proud sponsor of the conference, and provided safety gear for the legendary “Demo Days” event at the City of Lopez Canyon Compost Facility. Ops attendees included Ted C., Chris F., Brent B., and Stewart M. Check out the beautiful scene in the following photos (photos thanks to Ted):

USCC 2017 - looking over windrows USCC 2017 - scarab turning and steam USCC 2017 - screeners USCC 2017 - spreading USCC 2017 - windrow close up USCC 2017 - windrow cover and steam USCC 2017 - windrow turning USCC 2017 - windrows and hils in distance USCC 2017 - windrows wtih scarab USCC 2017 - windrows USCC 2017 in front of Komtech USCC 2017

 

Pumping Value out of Pumpkins: Food Waste Growth Markets

Pumpkins and Other Food WasteThe growth strategy firm, Innosight, published a piece, “The Food Waste Opportunity: How Experiments Can Open New Growth Markets.”  It explores the burgeoning food waste industry and highlights Harvest as a leader in providing organic management solutions.

Here’s one slice of the story:

This Cinderella transformation of discarded food is just one example of how marketplace experiments can help spur new growth markets. Venture capitalists are believers: Harvest Power has raised more than $350 million, making it one of the best-funded startups in New England.

And another bit:

Because food is an organic compound and readily biodegradable, one might assume that all this waste is not a major problem. However, consider this. Food takes resources to produce-water, land, fertilizer, energy. It’s heavy and expensive to transport. As food lies in a landfill, it decomposes and emits methane – a gas 25 times worse for climate change than carbon dioxide. Lastly and certainly not least, there is a high social cost.

Read the full article.

Five Steps for Successful Raised Bed Gardening

Benefits of Raised Beds

First, you might be wondering why not just stick plants in the ground; why bother with raised beds? Raised beds are an excellent design for a number of reasons.

  • Raised beds improve drainage. In general, while plants need moisture, they don’t appreciate “wet feet”. Raised beds ensure good flow and drainage.
  • Raised beds improve aeration. An important component of good soil structure is air. Indeed, air comprises 25% of an ideal soil composition (25% air, 25% mineral soil, 45% mineral soil, and 5% organic matter). A raised bed allows you to fluff up the soil each season.
  • Raised beds add a sense of containment and order. Whether or not you have a raised bed within a structure, or with a natural border, they add a sense of order and organization to your landscape.

Raised Bed Inspiration

Next, let’s get some raised bed inspiration. As you can see, you can create a raised bed out of many materials and in a wide variety of shapes and sizes depending on your space and needs.

raised bed_0822

These raised beds, in the center of a community space, are thigh-high to keep animals out and ease harvesting of vegetables.

raised bed_1966

These raised beds, along the Fraser River in British Columbia, have benches around them to sit and enjoy the scenery.

raised beds within lawn

Not all raised beds have a border; these backyard beds were mounded up within the existing lawn.

This raised bed full of tasty herbs is located just off of a kitchen, making it easier to grab a fresh sprig of rosemary, thyme, sage, or whatever flavor is required.

This raised bed full of tasty herbs is located just off of a kitchen, making it easier to grab a fresh sprig of rosemary, thyme, sage, or whatever flavor is desired.

5 Steps for Creating a Raised Bed

Now that you recognize the benefits and are inspired, how do you go about creating a raised bed garden?

1. Pick a spot.

Full sun, or a mix of sun and shade, typically works best.

2. Pick your design / material. 

Use materials that are locally available to you. Wood (cedar typically lasts the longest), bricks, pots, and poured concrete are some ideas; the material should make sense for your space (and wallet!).

3. Fill the Space with Top Quality Soil

Generally speaking, a raised bed is at least 6”-10” higher than the existing soils. Also, you’ll want a soil blend that has both mineral soil (the existing soil) mixed with organic matter (e.g. compost or some other form of soil amendment). Harvest offers pre-blended mixes, such as Garden Soil in Connecticut, Garden Blend in British Columbia, and a range of bagged soil products (Potting Soil, Potting Mix, Soil Amendments, Peat Moss, and compost-based products) available from our retail partners.

4. Plant

Seeds or starts, veggies or flowers, plant what makes sense for you! Your local garden center will have tips. Our advice:

  • Start out small and build from your successes.
  • Have fun! Grow what you know. Also feel free to experiment! Gardening is a forgiving activity that provides an endless opportunity for exploring and learning.

5. Maintain

ON THE SIDE: It can be nice to maintain the border of your raised bed by applying a 2-3” layer of mulch, or rock, gravel, or pavers to keep down weeds.

SEASON TO SEASON: Your soil will get depleted over time. We suggest adding a 2-4” layer of soil amendment, such as compost or a potting mix, and mixing it into the top 6” of the bed every couple years. Of course, as with everything, remember to water.

NOTE: With watering, plants typically prefer a few long drinks (a couple deep water sessions per week) over short sips (many short sprays of water per week).

Let’s get back to some raised bed inspiration.

This raised bed is outside of a school: each class gets one plot. Also, check out the easy-to-maintain mulch that keeps the weeds at bay.

These raised beds are outside of a school: each class gets one plot. Also, check out the easy-to-maintain mulch that keeps down weeds.

Looks like the garlic (with a light mulch of straw) and kale (background) overwintered in these beds.

The garlic (in the foreground with a light mulch of straw) and kale (in the background) overwintered in these beds.

Yum: Strawberries, a great, simple snack on the way to class.

Yum! Strawberries, a great, simple snack on the way to class.

Ahoy! Who says raised beds need to be square.

Ahoy! Who says raised beds need to be square.

Looks like this gardener is going to try out square foot gardening.

Looks like this gardener is going to try out square foot gardening.

A raised bed at a Harvest site in Connecticut.  It's like a blank canvas waiting for gardening art.

A raised bed at a Harvest site in Connecticut. It’s like a blank canvas waiting for gardening art.

Note the weed deterrent strategy: cleared ground, covered with cloth, covered with a layer of mulch.

Note the weed deterrent strategy: cleared ground, covered with cloth, covered with a layer of mulch.

Simple, productive, orderly, and beautiful raised beds. What fun!

Simple, productive, orderly, and beautiful raised beds. What fun!

Do you have a raised bed?  If so, what style worked for you? What have you grown?