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Sources: Pesticide Action Network and Environmental Protection Agency

As April flowers begin to pop up all around our yards and gardens, you may also begin to hear the blissful, melodious buzz of the honeybees. . . bzzzz! It’s truly the sound of spring, and it makes us happy!

bees_4The latest buzz that’s going around about bees, however, is causing us all great concern.

Honeybees are the most economically and agriculturally important pollinators in the whole world, yet their population has been declining severely since the 1990s. In fact, in just the U.S. alone, commercial beekeepers have been reporting up to a 36% decrease in their managed bee populations year after year. Scientists finally attributed this steady depletion in bee population to a phenomenon they named Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in 2006. The culprits behind this dilemma? Studies have shown that this growing rate of bee deaths is mainly due to pesticide poisoning, pathogens and diseases, environmental stress, and habitat loss.

So, why save the bees?

Because, believe it or not, out of the 100 crops that provide 90% of the world’s food supply (that’s a lot of food!) over 70 of these crops are pollinated by bees. In other words, 1/3 of the food that we see on our plates each meal is from a bee-pollinated plant. Bees are absolutely essential to our agricultural system and to the cultivation and production of numerous fruits, vegetables, and field crops.

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How you can help save the bees -  While there are several organizations that are working hard to combat CCD and improve pollinators’ protection from pesticides (such as the EPA and the USDA CCD Steering Committee), we can all help in our own ways to save our honeybees.

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- Plant lots of flowers and herbs to attract honeybee colonies. We love lavender and geraniums, but you can find the full list here.

- Let your dandelions feed the bees! It is very important to NOT remove your dandelions until AFTER they have bloomed and their flowers have gone. Dandelion flowers are honeybees’ main source of protein and are necessary for their survival, so please leave them for the bees! To learn more, check out this excellent letter from Boulder resident Gabriele Sattler entitled, “Don’t poison our pollinators that we saw in this week’s Boulder Daily Camera.

- Say NO to pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Choose organic lawn care and protect not only your kids and pets from exposure to toxic chemicals, but also protect the bees from pesticide poisoning as well! Eliminating chemical treatments from your lawn, trees, and plants eliminates the possibility for many serious and/or fatal health problems and illnesses to attack the species of our ecosystem.

- If you ever find a honeybee habitat on your property, please give us, ecoLogical Lawn and Tree Care, a call right away at 303-444-3456. Leslie Ratica, a local Boulder beekeeper, specializes in sustainable honeybee colony maintenance and will gladly come to your property to extract and re-home any swarms and/or hives upon request.

 

Now that it is March and daylight savings time has kicked in (hello, extra hour of sunshine!), it finally feels like spring is upon us. As the weather continues to get warmer and warmer and melt away our last few Colorado “snow days,” it’s finally time to start preparing ourselves for the grass to turn greener and the flowers to bloom!

Besides embarking on your spring cleaning to-do list, we recommend that you also get a start on your spring lawn care to-do list. But after hibernating all winter long and subsequently putting our backyards on the back burner, where do we begin when it comes to prepping our lawns for the new season?

To make things a little less daunting, we’ve narrowed the spring lawn care to-do list down to three basic essentials to keep in mind so that you can ensure your lawn is healthy, beautiful, and chemical-free for you and your family (and your pets, too!) to enjoy in 2014.

Grab the rake! – In order to get a good look at your lawn and assess if there are any patchy areas or regions that will require some special attention (keep an eye out for any fungus, moss, or snow mold), you will need to clean up any remaining winter debris, mulch, and/or dead foliage. You will also need to remove any protective coverings (such as tarps) around your yard, shrubs, and garden beds.

Aeration is key! – After your lawn is tidied up, the next essential step on your to-do list should be having your lawn de-thatched and thoroughly aerated. Aeration will allow nutrients, water, air, and sunlight to enter compacted soils and enrich your lawn’s root zone, which will enable your grass to grow lush and green! In organic lawn care, aeration is absolutely necessary in order to have a healthy and weed-free lawn.

core                                        Photo: simplygreenlawncare.com

Time to seed! – After aeration, your lawn will be ready for seeding and organic bio-fertility treatments (we recommend several applications of our microbial-rich, fresh-brewed Compost Tea). Slit seeding is a process where 1/4-inch slits are cut into the soil before grass seed is dropped, enabling the seeds to have better contact with the soil.  Slit seeding, along with bio-fertility treatments and aeration, is the best way to guarantee healthy germination of grass seed and a gorgeous, green lawn that is free of toxic pesticides.

 

Please feel free to visit us online at http://www.ecologicallawncare.com or call us at 303-444-3456 to request a free estimate on any of our spring 2014 season services. Happy Spring!

mowerFrom SprinklerJuice.com

With Fall on its way out and Winter just around the corner, it’s time to pack away the lawn mower and bust out the snow blower!

If you have not done so already, it’s time to get your lawn mower ready for winter storage. You want to take the time to properly winterize your mower now so that it works properly when you are ready to rev it up again in the spring.

You may think winterizing your mower means parking it in the shed (if you have a shed) until baseball season rolls around again. You’ll want to do a little more than that.

Pick up some gasoline stabilizer. It won’t cost much but it will pay off for your mower. Gas that sits in a mower’s tank all winter long can clog the carburetor. The ensuing repair job will cost a lot more than that fuel stabilizer. For every two-and-a-half gallons of gas in the tank, add one gallon of an ethanol-capable gas stabilizer.

Change the oil. This will help extend the life of the mower’s engine.

If you have a riding mower, try and charge the battery periodically during the winter months. Start the mower and let it run for several minutes.

Consider scraping the grass clippings from the underside of the mower deck after the final mow of the season. This will help prevent rust.

Make sure to store your mower in a clean, dry place.

Once your mower is ready for winter, it’s time to think about getting your snow blower ready for action.

Make sure you’ve changed the oil at least once during the last year. It’s a good idea to start the snow blower season with fresh oil and gasoline. If you have questions about your snow blower’s specific engine-type, check the owner’s manual.

Check to see if any nuts or bolts need to be tightened. The vibration of the snow blower can cause nuts and bolts to loosen, especially on the control linkage.

Check the belts on your blower to make sure there is no cracking or fraying. Make sure the augers and runners are correctly adjusted and in good shape. Check the air in the tires. Tires can get soft or flat over the summer.

There’s your checklist! You’ll be ready to brave winter in no time.

 

Source:

Sprinkler Juice Blog

 

 

 

leaf rakeFrom Sprinkler Juice

Winter is a couple months away but there is still time for fall gardening. Some of the things you do now can have year-long benefits. Think about getting to work on your garden before you have to think about getting out the snow shovel.

 

Check for discounts. Lots of stores are still offering sales on summer items as they begin to fill the shelves with winter tools. This is the time for look for discounts on seeds and some plants. You might also get good prices on lawn and gardening equipment.

 

Plant bulbs for spring flowers. This is still a good time to plant bulbs for irises, tulips and crocuses. Plant bulbs while temperatures are still in the forties and fifties but before the ground freezes.

 

Build a compost. You can use items like raked leaves and shredded twigs.

 

Add mulch to your garden bed. A few inches of mulch will help moisture levels throughout the fall and winter and will help suppress weed growth.

 

Fertilize your lawn. You may have put away your mower but grass is still growing under the soil. Phosphorus-rich fertilizer will help will help strengthen roots.

 

Pack up the sprinkler system. It might be time to dry out your sprinkler system and store it to prevent winter damage.

 

Check your soil. You may want to add fresh soil before winter.

 

You can also do actual gardening. Some plants thrive in the cooler temperatures. Consider planting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. You’ll just need to keep the snow off the crops and make sure the ground is not frozen for an extended period of time. You should also consider getting rid of spring and summer plants that are no longer producing good vegetables.

 

 

Some of what you do now will make for a greener garden once spring arrives.

Snow hat 

This is the time of year when we are finalizing winter preparation in our yards. Sprinkler systems are being properly prepared for the cold weather. Hoses are being dried out and put away to avoid freezing.

Experts say this is also a good time to take a thorough walk around your home to make sure your house is secure for winter.

You should grab a pen and paper and prepare to take inventory. Start with a pair of binoculars so you can check the tiles on your roof to determine if any need to be replaced or repaired. The same holds true for areas around your chimney. See if you can spot any cracks. Be prepared to write down what you find and call a professional roofer for an inspection. It’s important to get any roof repair work done before snow starts falling.

Take a look around your patio or deck. You’ve probably put the big lawn furniture away for the season but it’s still a good idea to make sure there are no items still outside that can be damaged by cold weather or frost. Any patio furniture that does remain outside should be cleaned, dried and possible covered.

As long as you are standing on the deck, you might as well look down and check out the condition. Check for wood splintering and any other damage that needs to be treated before winter weather makes it worse.

Double-check your outdoor faucets to make sure there are no drips. You probably already checked faucets when you put hoses away but it’s still a good idea to give those faucets another look. Consider wrapping and covering faucets to prevent water damage.

Winter means it gets dark earlier in the day. Now is the time to check exterior lighting around the driveway and front walk. Outside lights will reduce the risk of icy falls.

Check for wear and tear around windows and sidings.

At the end, check your list and determine what work needs to be done before winter arrives.

Source:
garden shet
If you’ve tried gardening before and just couldn’t get into it perhaps you’re wondering, “How is it that so many gardeners love gardening? While the reasons are simple they certainly aren’t the same for everyone. Here are just a few of the secrets to love; garden love.
The Child Inside – What was your favorite activity as a kid? Where could you parents find you most? If you answered, “Playing outside, probably digging in the dirt,” then you’re destined to be a gardener. Nothing unleashes the kid inside better than gardening. In what other way, as an adult, can you find a better excuse to get your hands, face, and clothes caked in dirt. At your age gardening is the probably the only acceptable means of getting your hands dirty, why wouldn’t you love it?
Peace and Quiet – Maybe you live a city dwellers life, maybe you have four kids to keep up with, maybe your boss never gives you a moments rest. If so, the garden can be your escape. Let Mother Nature wrap her arms around you; feel the sun beat down on your back, smell the fresh scent of the soil and you break it, welcome the chirping of the birds and the refreshing relief of a cool breeze. Though you work until your muscles ache and your clothes stained, you’ve never felt so peaceful, so calm. Gardening has a unique way of slowing you down; no matter how fast you work you can’t rush the harvest.
A Place to Learn – Your weekly routine can become mundane. Though you feel as if you’ve mastered titles like mother, wife, boss, friend, homemaker and partner you don’t feel fulfilled. Why? Because you’re not learning. For the overworked and overtired professional who doesn’t seem to be expanding mentally, the garden can be a safe place to learn, grow, and experiment. Though you may fail at first nothing is more rewarding than watching a seedling mature.
Source:
leaf rakeAutumn is finally here, and you can’t wait to bust out your cool weather clothes and autumn decorations! You’ve also noticed that your grass doesn’t look as vibrant and green as it did over the summer; is there  anything you can do? Is reviving your lawn this late in the season even worth it? Of course it is! Proper lawn care, especially in the fall, will ensure that your grass grows back thick, green, and luscious come spring. If you don’t know how to take care of your lawn during the fall season, check out these tips.
Keep Watering – First things first, don’t shut off your sprinkler system. Even though the weather is cooler and you aren’t as thirsty as you were over the summer, it doesn’t mean your lawn feels the same way. Keep watering on schedule. You want to make sure your lawn stays lightly saturated even when the temperature drops, as this will keep the blades from drying out before they go dormant.
Time for a Trim – If you raised the height on your lawnmower blade over the summer, now is the time to lower it back down. During the fall season, you want to cut your grass a little shorter than you did in the summer. Since harmful UV rays are no longer a threat, you don’t need the long blades of grass to protect the shorter ones. You want your grass shorter; that way, fallen leaves and snow don’t weigh down the blades and distress your lawn.
Seed – We know this may sound silly, but autumn is the perfect time to seed your lawn. Seed cool-weather grass like rue-grass or bluegrass, as this will fill in any dead spots and will help your grass grow back thicker and greener in the spring. Plant the cool-weather grasses early, so that they have plenty of time to take root before the first snowfall.
Remove Leaves – Stay on top of leave removal, as leaves can damage and smother your lawn. If you want healthy blades of grass come spring, you’d better keep your grass clear of twigs and dead leaves. We know this can be a tedious job, but just think about how beautiful your spring lawn will look and how happy you’ll be that you don’t have to remove heavy, wet, soggy, dead leaves come spring.

 

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