Tuesday, May 31, 2016

You Are What You Plant - Mistakes to Avoid when Landscaping

Landscaping can be costly. One way people spend so much is by including excessive decorative items, which may or may not be a distraction from the beauty of natural landscape. Another common mistake is forgetting to recycle. Instead of throwing away branches, clippings and other debris, you can dispose of them in an eco-friendly way. Shredding them and turning them into mulch can be a great alternative for fertilizers. You can also turn them into a compost pile and store them in a container your have made yourself. Another mistake people makes is when they plant in the wrong place. By first identifying the plant - if it needs consistent sunlight or shade - can inextricably change the growth and success of your lawn. To find out how to better take care your plants, here is a link:  Plant Finder. Another good measure to keep in mind is how deep you are planting. Making sure that plants are getting enough air flow. Its usually the same height of the container in which it came. Another one is when cutting the grass to short. This can result in a bare patch and could be susceptible to disease. Make sure to use the right size pots, making sure to that water does dry out too fast. For more information about avoiding common landscaping mistakes 25 biggest landscaping mistakes

Monday, May 30, 2016

Children and Pet Safe Alternative Forms of Pesticide

Pesticides are packed full of harmful chemicals designed to kill unwanted weeds and disease on the spot with almost instant results. Due to the high amount of chemical modifications, these treatments can leave some of those harmful chemicals in the soil, which is usually un-biodegradable after treatment has already been done. These chemical pesticides are not safe for humans or animals to come in contact with, and have warning labels that support this. Most people don’t realize the harmful effects that these pesticides can have on the soil as well as people, but there are alternatives that can be safe to use in a yard surrounded by pets and children.

Here are a few alternative forms of pesticides:
1.     Vinegar and Lime Juice
Vinegar and limejuice are both common ingredients and provide just enough acidity to kill those unwanted weeds and bacteria with out leaving behind a toxic aftermath. Undiluted vinegar is so acidic which makes for an effectively potent weed killer, and will do the job well on its own. Limejuice on its own is also highly acidic, so with the addition of lime juice added to the vinegar it will make for a more effective homemade and organic pesticide. Using the vinegar and limejuice as a pesticide instead of a store bought chemical product, means that pets and children will not be harmed if they come in contact with the homemade product.

2.     Epson Salt
Epson salt is fairly cheap and provides a very eco friendly way of repelling unwanted insects and pests from reaching your plants. However, anything in excess is not a good thing. When using Epson salt be careful not to over salt the plants as it can deteriorate the roots if too much is used. At the same time be sure to reapply the salt after the plants have been watered or after a rainfall.

3.     Lawn Height
In regards to pesticides used in lawns, interestingly enough, changing the mower’s height to leave the mowed lawn height at about 3 inches will help to reduce the chance of weeds growing in between blades of grass. The longer blades of grass will block the sunlight from reaching the ground making the possibility of a weed to start growing there highly unlikely. The taller grass will survive just fine; it is just the short weeds that haven’t grown yet that will be stunted. This method requires no chemicals and is just a physical characteristic of grass that can act on its own to reduce the amount of chemicals needed for the lawn care.

Sharpened Mower Blades

Dull mower blades can mangle the grass leaving it torn and bruised, which exposes it to pathogens. The open exposed area makes the grass unhealthy as diseases and bacteria can enter. Unhealthy and diseased grass will usually require more fertilization and pesticides to gain a healthy state again. Having a sharp mower blade is important, as it will help to reduce the chances for any lawn disease, which reduces the amount of chemicals used, and saves time and money in the long-term.

Here is a great article on how to sharpen a lawn mower blade yourself: 

Simple Tips for Plant Species Identification

Invasive species can populate quite rapidly and will compete aggressively against the native plants for valuable resources. Identifying non-native species of plants and removing them before they get the chance to spread is one of the best preventative measures for maintaining a native plant environment. There are so many plant species in the world, so it can be hard to identify a non-native plant form a native one.

If a certain plant in your landscape or garden is unknown to you, take a picture of it and bring it to your local nursery, they will most likely be able to identify it for you. If you have a smart phone there are many applications that can also help identify a plant for you as well. These days there is always an app for that!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Power of Natural

Using chemical sprays to control pests has proven to have many seriously harmful damages on the natural environment and human health. Reversing damages to ecosystems, plant and animal species, water contamination, crop loss, and human health has cost billions.

However, there was a time when products like Roundup did not exist and people used more natural methods to control pests. Biological Control is the practice of using natural means to maintain pests and plants. There are natural ingredients that can be used as effectively as chemical pesticides but lack the harmful side affects. Using these alternatives can lower your contribution to environmental pollution and economic cost by decreasing the dependency on chemical pesticides.

 Here are a few of the many many mixes you can make to use for pest control. These options won't harm your family or pets! You can find more here
Oil spray
Combine 1 tablespoon dish soap + 1 cup cooking oil, add 4 tsp soap and oil mix to 1 pint of water
Spray generously once every 7 days to control aphids, thrips, spider mites, and whiteflies
Baby shampoo spray
Combine 2 tablespoons baby shampoo with 1 gallon water
Spray generously and let sit for several hours before rinsing off with water. Do use the spray in the sun of on plants with hairy leaves
Garlic Spray
10-12 garlic cloves with 1 quart of water in a blender, allow to sit for 24 hours, then strain mixture through a cheesecloth into a jar and add 1 cup cooking oil. When ready to use combine ½ cup of garlic mix with 1 gallon water
Apply liberally to plants. The scent of garlic keeps many little pests away
Red pepper spray
Combine 1 tablespoon of red pepper powder, 6 drops of dish soap and 1 gallon of water. Mix thoroughly
Spray generously on plants for control of pests like leafhoppers, spittlebugs, beetles, and loopers
Salt spray
Combine 2 tablespoons salt with 1.5 gallons of warm water, allow to come to room temperature
Spray generously to control spider mites, caterpillars, cabbage worms, and chewing insects
Citrus spray
Boil 4 cups water, remove from heat, add 2 cups orange or lemon peel, let cool and strain.
Spray to repel white flies
Peppermint tea spray
Mix together 1 tablespoon peppermint essential oil with 1 quart water
Spray liberally, repels ants
Chrysanthemum flower tea
Boil 100 grams of dried chrysanthemum slower in 1 liter water for 20 minutes, strain and let cool
Spray generously. Chrysanthemum has a chemical component that attacks insect’s nervous system. Add organic neem oil for enhanced effectiveness.