Bernadette Calvario


Posted by Bernadette Calvario on 1/9/2019

Sustainable landscaping, while often called “green” on labels and in the media, usually comes in a variety of other colors. The idea behind dry-scaping or xeriscaping is to use less water, conserve and protect local wildlife, promote the local environment and use less energy. That doesn't mean you're stuck with the desert look though. Most environments support a wide variety of plants, so just think about what grows naturally in your area. Before you get started on updating your home from a high-water consumption—though beautiful—green lawn to modern eco-friendly desert-scaping, dry-scaping or xeriscaping in a variety of reds, blacks, blues, and browns (and some green too) it's essential to plan. 

Who is going to Use it?

Think about who uses your existing lawn or patio. Do the kids play on it? What about BBQs with outdoor games? It’s important to ensure that your new dry-scaping features serve similar purposes, or you could end up with useless outdoor space, which is not good at all. Stay away from harsh gravel for kids play areas, and try something like recycled tire rubber, mulch, or sand for softer landings and fewer skinned knees. Use paving stones to create paths and borders around local flora you don’t want visitors to walk through and combine it with various gravels for a stylish look.

Where Should Each Part Go?

When setting up your new yard, think about what elements you currently have, and how shade, sun, natural water, and wind fit into your yard. Pay attention to how the ground slopes, using the lowest points for plants since water pools there. Keep any existing trees and other local flora and include additional shade tolerant plants around them. Anywhere wind is likely to blow away your ground covering, go with heavier ground cover such as rocks, paving stones, or plants that are anchored in by the roots.

What Should You Use? 

In addition to natural ground coverings such as rock, mulch, and paving stones, try alternative recycled materials to add some color to your landscape. Recycled tires make soft, brightly colored additions for play areas; recycled concrete and brick can be used in retaining walls and rock gardens; even glass gets recycled and tumbled into colorful "mulch" which is excellent for adding designs to pathways or as borders to raised rock gardens and flower beds. Ask at your local gardening shop, find an eco-certified landscaping company or just search the internet to find out what plants are best to use in your area for water and soil conservation. Double check their water usage requirements, and if they need a boost in the driest seasons, try installing a drip-irrigation system that adds water in a slow and controlled manner which helps reduce waste caused by overwatering. 

How to take care of it?

There is no lawn to mow all the time, so it should be easy, right? Yes and no. Keep an eye on your new xeriscape to ensure it doesn't become a bed full of weeds that quickly get out of control. Before using any old weed killer, check to make sure the herbicide works within the environment and may safely be used around children and animals. As a preventative measure, try covering the ground underneath any gravel, mulch, or stones with water-permeable landscaping fabric. The larger rocks or ground coverings will hold it down, but for lighter materials use garden staples for extra security. Never, ever use plastic underneath your gravel or mulch. It will collect water, slide around and eventually end up in a landfill, which is what you've tried to avoid in the first place. 

Whether you want to know if your current property value will increase with xeriscaping or want your agent to choose homes with “green" landscaping just ask! Your real estate agent will happily assist you.





Posted by Bernadette Calvario on 7/12/2017

If you're a dog owner you know well that caring for a dog is like caring for a small child who stays a small child for their entire life. They're a lot of work, but dogs are a part of the family and anyone lucky enough to have a canine companion will tell you that they're more than worth the trouble. One difficulty many dog owners face is burn spots on their lawns. Most people assume that dogs are going to kill their grass one way or another and it's useless to try to prevent it. However, with some diligence and training you can prevent dead spots from taking over your lawn.

What is lawn burn?

Dog urine is very high in nitrogen. While a little bit of nitrogen is healthy for your soil and your grass, too much makes the soil extremely acidic which kills your lawn causing "burn" spots. If you've ever gardened before you might be familiar with the concept of soil's pH number. A pH number describes how acidic (0-6) or how basic (7-14) a substance is. Different types of plant life require different levels of acidity on the pH scale. When you buy fertilizer or plant food at the garden shop you're really buying a mixture of chemicals that alter your soil's pH. The ideal pH for growing healthy grass is 6.5-7, roughly midway on the pH scale.

What can be done?

Ok, so now you know the science behind why your dog doing his business kills your lawn. But what can you do about it? There are a number of different techniques that have been proven to be effective at mitigating or eliminating the damage caused by lawn burn.
  • Training. The most effective methods of preventing lawn burn is through proper training of your dog. Find a part of your yard that you ideally want to train your dog to do their business in. This part can be dirt, rocks, or an out of sight patch of lawn that you don't mind taking some damage. Lead them over to this area when it's time for them to go out and give them treats and verbal praise when they do their business in that area. If they start to urinate in another area, correct them by calling them over to the area they should be in. Don't punish them, as this will confuse dogs and they might not feel safe urinating outside at all.
  • Water down. An effective method of preventing burn spots is to simply saturate the area where the dog urinated with water immediately afterward. This will dilute the nitrogen from the urine and limit damage.
  • Healthy nutrition. Dog food is sometimes very high in protein which increases nitrogen in their urine. Pick a food that has healthy amounts of protein in it. Similarly, dehydrated dogs will have urine with a higher nitrogen level. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water.

Myths about lawn burn

Many myths about dog-related lawn burn have appeared over the years. Some people argue that female dogs' urine burns a lawn more than males. This is untrue. If a female dog's urine does burn the lawn more it is simply because female dogs have a tendency to stay in one place while doing their business. Other myths include the usefulness of feeding your dog supplements to eliminate spots or that certain dog breeds have more acidic urine and cause more spotting. These are also misconceptions. The best options are to work together with your dog and make sure they are well-fed and hydrated. Soon your lawn will regrow to its former glory.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Bernadette Calvario on 8/3/2016

planting flowersWe all want our yard to look perfect, or at least better than the neighbor's. But taking care of the yard takes a lot of work and many of us come to depend on harsh weedkillers or insect deterrents to keep the yard looking pristine. What many don't know is that there are other, more eco-friendly options that will keep the pests at bay. Better yet, many of these solutions are easily made from household items. Follow these tips to keep your yard looking great without filling the ground and air with chemicals.

Killing weeds

What is a weed? Ralph Waldo Emerson lovingly describes a weed as "a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." While this may be true, it doesn't mean we have to let them take over our grass each year. Weeds are invasive because they spread--quickly--and kill off the plants and grasses we want in their place. To combat weeds there's no need for harsh chemicals that harm your yard and break your wallet. Instead, try diluting some white vinegar with water and pouring it on the weeds. This should take care of most of the weeds. However, the vinegar will drastically change the pH of your soil, so you don't want to rely on this for the rest of the season. The next time you see a weed popping up, pour some boiling water directly on it. It will kill the weed but keep your soil healthy so your grass or flowers can keep growing normally.

Insect deterrent

Having bugs in your yard is a good thing. They're part of the natural ecosystem that helps maintain your soil and pollenate your plants. Sometimes, however, insects can become invasive and destructive to the vegetation in your yard. If you notice beetles eating all of your plants' leaves, dilute some plain Dawn dish soap with water and spray it onto the infected leaves. The soap won't harm your plants but it will drive the beetles crazy, sending them off to someone else's yard. Nature has its own insecticides that few of us take advantage of. Plant marigolds, for example, around the perimeter of your property to deter scores of insects and other pests from ever entering your yard. See this helpful list for many other pest controlling plants.

Bug Repellant

We've talked a lot about protecting your yard from invasive pests. But what about protecting yourself? Whether it's pesky flies or biting mosquitos, there are many natural ways to keep the bugs away when you're out in the yard. Most effective commercial insect repellants contain DEET, a strong smelling chemical insecticide. We've all heard about the dangers of DEET, which was developed by the U.S. Army in the 1940s for use in warfare. The chemical compound has been approved and re-approved for use by the EPA since then, but studies have raised questions of its safety. Many people object to using DEET based on its potent smell alone. So, what are the alternatives? Many have taken the bug spray conundrum into their own hands, mixing various herbs and essential oils to keep the bugs away. Check out these recipes and let us know which one works for you!





Posted by Bernadette Calvario on 6/29/2016

If you keep a garden but find yourself throwing away leftover food, you're probably missing out on the opportunity to reclaim the nutrients of that food through composting. When you compost, you're essentially speeding up nature's process of breaking down organic matter into fertile soil. The compost can then be used to nourish the soil of your garden or lawn. Today you'll learn how to make a compost bin, mix the compost, and then spread it into your lawn and garden so you can make the most of the extra waste you have at home.

Making a compost bin

There are endless ways to make a compost bin. In fact, a bin isn't even necessary to make good compost, and some people choose to just keep a pile that they turn throughout the year. Making a bin has many advantages, however: it keeps the compost pile warm and moist (two essential elements that speed up decomposition), it keeps pests out of your compost, and it keeps your neighbors happy who might not want to smell decomposing food when they go outside. Compost bins are commonly made from wood, chicken wire or plastic. Some towns even subsidize compost bins to encourage people to compost rather than throwing their compostable waste in the trash. Old wooden pallets are a great product to build compost bins from.

Adding compost to your bin

People who are new to composting often worry about what can be composted. Once you get started, though, you'll soon realize that almost any organic matter will break down in a compost bin. Beginners often stick to vegetables, coffee grounds, grains, and materials from your yard. Greens and Browns Compostable materials are often broken down into greens (nitrogen-based materials) and browns (carbon-based materials). Your compost bin doesn't need a perfect balance to be effective, but using some of each type of organic matter will produce the best results. Too much brown matter in your bin will be hard to decompose. Too much green matter will make the compost slimy. Here are some examples of great carbon and nitrogenous materials to put in your bin: Brown:
  • dry leaves
  • straw
  • newspaper
  • sawdust
  • wood chips
Green:
  • fruits and vegetables
  • weeds from the yard
  • fresh grass clippings
  • flowers
  • coffee grounds

Maintaining the compost pile

To create a good environment for decomposition you'll need three things: heat, moisture, and air. This makes compost bins relatively low-maintenance, but here are some tips to speed up the decomposition process: Heat In the spring and summer, nature will provide this for you, but having an enclosed bin that receives plenty of sunlight will help you out. Moisture The bacteria that are doing the composting in your bin require water to live. But too much water will make your bin a slimy mess. Shoot for moist, not wet. Air A compost bin needs to be aerated to blend the ingredients together. You don't need to turn it often; once every two to three weeks is fine.   Now that you know all you need to about making great compost for the lawn and garden, it's just a matter of mixing it in and reaping the rewards. Mix compost into garden soil and lawns early in the spring and in the fall after harvest to keep the soil healthy year-round.







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