Ice melting products that are for sale at home improvement and hardware stores may seem like a convenient option at first glance. But in reality, these products can hurt you, your kids, and your pets and can permanently damage your grass, landscape, and garden. In fact, these products usually contain a warning label that warns against direct contact with the salts (wearing goggles and rubber gloves are recommended) and forbids exposure to pets and children.

Most ice melting products contain a blend of calcium chloride and sodium chloride, essentially forming a strong rock salt. For dogs and cats, these salt-based ice melters are really a health hazard. Inevitably, the crystals become stuck and embedded in their fur and paws, leading to discomfort, irritation, skin ulcers, and can even cause bacterial infections. Furthermore, the ingestion of ice melting products (due to the licking of fur and paws) can cause horrendous intestinal problems and gastritis, making a trip to the vet not so uncommon.



As for ice melting products and kids, please also take caution. When children come in contact with the crystals, usually while playing in the snow out in the backyard, the salt gets everywhere; it sticks to clothing and can easily sting eyes. And we mean really sting— it is not fun! Aside from eye irritation, salt-based ice melting products also hurt and burn the skin, often causing redness, blisters, and dermatitis if your child is sensitive— Ouch! Accidental ingestion is also not so safe; it causes kidney damage and lots of stomach problems.

Lastly, ice melting products can ruin your whole lawn. The salt burns and kills grass and plants, leading to a dead garden and large, dry brown spots all over the lawn once the snow finally melts away. Salt also erodes soil and destroys soil health, displacing minerals and making it very difficult for your grass to grow back in the spring. Furthermore, salt residue can cause permanent damage to decks and concrete, tile and flagstone, asphalt, wood, floors, rugs— you name it. These rock salts are engineered to be extra strong, and are a huge no-no when it comes to caring for your lawn and landscape in the wintertime. As for its environmental effects, rock salt and ice melting products poisons birds and contaminates ground water and streams, ultimately harming local aquatic life.



Try to resist the temptation to speed things up this winter by dumping salt all over your property. Taking drastic measures to melt snow will NOT make the spring come any faster. Instead, we recommend just using an old fashioned shovel or a snowblower to clear a safe walking path. If you must use something on your sidewalk, use Safe Paw. But the best way to make sure your yard is prepared for snowfall is to take a defensive approach: remember to prune, rake your lawn before a big snow storm, make sure your plants are hydrated (snow and ice on dry plants or branches will cause them to snap off), and apply lots of mulch to your garden beds. Please also keep in mind that ice damage is better than salt damage, and is also much easier to reverse come spring.



Bundle up and stay warm out there!

When it’s wintertime and very cold out, we know it can be difficult at times to find the motivation to work outside in the garden. But despite the chilly and uninviting weather, there are some things on your winter gardening to-do list that really should be done before spring comes. Pruning your trees and shrubs especially take priority in the winter months, as the absence of leaves and foliage make it much easier to see where to make the right cuts and trims. In fact, there are many types of trees and shrubs that require pruning back in the winter while they are dormant, such as wisteria.

Below is an easy step-by-step guide from HGTV Gardens for how to prune deciduous trees (meaning they shed their leaves annually) effectively:

From: HGTV Gardens 

Step 1: Look for Awkward Stems

Pruning in Winter

When the leaves of a deciduous tree have fallen, take a look at its overall shape. Look for stems that are badly placed, or those growing too far down the trunk. This tree has an awkward stem growing from the base that must be removed. First, remove any dead and damaged wood. Then use a pruning saw to make a straight cut through any branches growing from the base of the tree.

Step 2: Thin Stems

Thin Stems

Prune thin stems with loppers or pruners, taking them back to 1⁄2 in (2 cm) from the ring of slight swelling where the stem and trunk meet, known as the branch collar.

Step 3: Cut Thick Branches

Thick Cut Branches

Thick branches, and those that are likely to tear, are cut in stages. First, cut under the stem, a short distance from the trunk. Cut about a quarter of the way through the underside of the branch.

Step 4: Make a Second Cut

Second Cut

Make a second cut above the lower one, and aim to join the two. Be sure your tools are sharp to prevent snagging.

Step 5: Branches May Snap

Broken Branches

Even if you have taken great care, a heavy branch may still snap off, but it doesn’t matter at this point, since this is not the final cut. Don’t worry if the cut snags as it falls away.

Step 6: Remove Stub

Remove Stub

Remove the stub by using the technique outlined in steps 3 and 4. Make your final cut just slightly away from the branch collar.

Source: http://www.hgtvgardens.com/garden-basics/pruning-trees-in-the-winter

From: Sprinkler Juice

It’s January! Time to adjust to the New Year and embrace winter weather: lots of snow and cold temperatures are going to be settling around most of the U.S. for a while. This impacts us in many ways, including the look and state of our lawns.

It’s no fun having ice on the lawn, unless you want your lawn to be a skating rink. In addition to being slippery and unsightly, ice can be damaging to your yard.

It’s not just the grass. Ice can also be damaging to plants. If ice crystals form in the crown of the plants, plant cells can rupture, eventually killing the plant.

Sheets of ice on grass and gardens can cause problems, especially when the ice melts then re-freezes. It’s important to be aware of what can cause ice problems besides, you know, the actual ice.

Lawns with poor drainage are particularly susceptible to ice buildup and damage. The combination of standing water and cold temperatures can be problematic. You can try and remove and break up some of the ice with an ice chipper. You can also wait until spring and warmer weather to assess damage and make repairs. The grass may rebound by itself or it may need some help, such as re-seeding, topdressing, and watering bare spots to generate new, healthy grass.

Source: Sprinkler Juice

From: Organic Gardening

When you take down your tree after the holidays are over, where will it go? Did you know that you can recycle your Christmas tree and keep it from going to overflowing landfills? Get prepared ahead of time for how to dispose your tree in an eco-friendly way– when the holiday hubbub is over, you’ll thank yourself! Here’s what to do:

christmas trees

Make mulch
Cut off the boughs and place them on the ground like a blanket to protect plants that are susceptible to windburn, plants that are marginally hardy in your area, and plants that might come up early and be nipped by a late spring frost, such as fall-planted pansies or early emerging perennials. (Keep reading for ideas on what to do with the trunk!)

Give it to the birds
Move the tree in its stand outdoors for the winter, where it can provide food and shelter for wild birds. Even better, put the tree near a bird feeder or hang bird treats from the tree—like a small piece of wood or thick cardboard smeared with a mix of birdseed and peanut butter—and it will not only attract birds but feed them, too!

Give it to the fish
Sink your tree in a nearby pond (with permission, of course!). In deep water, old trees become habitats for fish and aquatic insects. In shallow wetlands, trees can act as barriers to sand and soil erosion—though currently only the State of Louisiana has a tree-based restoration project in place. For more information, go to savelawetlands.org.

Compost or chip it
Call your municipality’s administrative office to find out if your town has a special day for picking up Christmas trees or a place where you can take them after the holidays where they will be ground into wood chips and/or composted. Often you can go to the municipal compost site in spring and get free compost and/or wood chip mulch for your garden. Of course, you won’t recognize the chips/compost from your tree, but you can feel good knowing that it’s helping other gardeners have healthier landscapes and you have kept perfectly good organic matter from clogging a landfill.

Turn it into a trellis
Move the tree to a corner of your yard and in the spring set it up in your garden as a trellis for peas or beans.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Warmest Wishes!


Source: Organic Gardening

Visit the original version of this publication here

Happy Holidays!

 Organically grown Christmas trees ARE NOW AVAILABLE!


Freshly cut & shipped right to your door on the arrival date of your choosing!

Read about John’s visit to the organic Christmas tree farm 

Christmas trees are nearly always farmed in mass using harmful chemical pesticides and herbicides. These growing techniques are dangerous to the environment, to the farmers, to wildlife and pollinators, and to you, your family, and your pets.

At ecoLogical, we believe in helping communities to live sustainably and make choices that are as environmentally responsible and eco-friendly as possible. That’s why we’ve partnered up with Murphy’s Christmas Trees and Organics, a family-owned organic farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Murphy’s farm sustainably and organically raises Fraser Fir Christmas trees that are Toxic Free NC certified and Certified Naturally Grown.

Please visit our online order form to order your tree online. You can select your size, shipping arrival date, and even an organic wreath to go with your Christmas tree!

John’s visit to the organic Christmas tree farmThis October, John traveled all the way to North Carolina to meet Doug Murphy, the owner of Murphy’s Christmas Trees and Organics, and see the farm and inspect the trees in person.

John was nothing less than extremely impressed— the trees are absolutely gorgeous and robustly green; they are truly the best trees out there.

Normally, Christmas trees that are sold at conventional Christmas tree lots, or big box retailers, are up to 45 days old at the time of purchase— they are cut down and then sit on display (or on shipping trucks!) for weeks and weeks until they are finally sold.

On the contrary, just a few hours before we ship your tree directly to your home, your tree at Murphy’s is cut and immediately boxed, and will arrive right at your front door within a couple of days. You can’t possibly buy a fresher Christmas tree!

Choose Organic & Happy Holidays!
from ecoLogical Lawn & Tree Care

On behalf of Bee Safe Neighborhoods and Friends of the Earth, we all at ecoLogical Lawn and Tree Care urge you to deliver a card to store managers at Lowe’s Home Improvement asking to please take bee-killing pesticides and neonicotinoid-treated plants and products off of their shelves this Halloween.

It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s an absolutely necessary cause. The Home Depot has already agreed to label all of their neonic products by the end of 2014– let’s get Lowe’s on board, too!

Below is a personal letter from Friends of the Earth:

Hello friends,


Treat-or-treat. Tell Lowe’s to give the bees something good to eat!

Bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat, but they are dying at alarming rates. A growing body of science shows that neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides are a key contributor to bee declines and are harming birds, butterflies, reptiles, earthworms and soil microbes, which are essential for healthy ecosystems and food production.

But Lowe’s continues to sell neonicotinoid pesticides and plants pre-treated with them – contributing to the decline of bees.

Halloween is right around the corner, and thousands of people across the U.S. and Canada will be knocking on Lowe’s door October 29-31.

Join us: Deliver a Halloween card asking Lowe’s to give bees treats, not tricks, and take bee-killing pesticides and plants pre-treated with these harmful chemicals off their shelves.

Over a dozen retailers across the country recognize that neonics are a problem and are doing their part to start fixing it. BJ’s Wholesale Club, a store with over 200 stores in 15 states eliminated neonics from its store. Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer agreed to label all plants treated with neonics by the end of 2014 and is working with its suppliers on alternatives to protect bees. These stores demonstrate Lowe’s can make the shift! 

But Lowe’s isn’t listening to clear science or its customer base. Thousands of you have signed petitions, made calls and taken action on social media asking Lowe’s to be a pollinator champion and stop selling “poisoned plants” and bee-killing pesticides. 

We need your help to ramp up the pressure. Pledge to take one simple action to save bees: Deliver a Halloween card asking Lowe’s to take the bee-killers off its shelves.

Just this week, Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller said neonicotinoids are “the biggest threat to the structure and integrity of the ecosystem that I have encountered in my life, bigger than DDT.” We need to stop Lowe’s from continuing to be a “Little Shop of Horrors” housing these bee-toxic pesticides. 

Delivering a card to store mangers is easy and fun. Hope you’ll be joining us this Halloween,


Tiffany Finck-Haynes and Lisa Archer
Food and technology program
Friends of the Earth U.S.


Please share this with your neighbors, family, and friends!

If you are posting on social media, be sure to include the hashtag #TreatsNoTricks

It’s the middle of October and your lawn is covered with leaves. What do you do?

First of all, jumping into a big pile of leaves is a fun fall activity to do in the backyard. But don’t leave the leaves there for too long! Leaves block sunlight and block air from circulating through your turf and soil, especially if a layer of leaves gets wet from the rain or snow. Ultimately, a colorful blanket of leaves on the ground can cause even healthy grass to die.

Instead of raking the leaves into one giant mound that will hang out in the corner of your yard for 3 months, or stuffing them all into an enormous bag for the garbage collector to haul away, put the rake down and get to work with a mulching mower, or install a mulching blade from the hardware store in your regular mower. Shredding the fallen foliage into small, mulched bits will provide you with a very nutrient-dense, microbial-rich, organic topdressing that you can spread easily on your garden or vegetable beds, fold into soil/planters mix, and sprinkle all over your lawn. This organic leaf mulch will fully decompose by spring, reinvigorating your soil with necessary nutrients over the winter while also obliterating pesky weeds.


Happy fall! Get mulching!



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