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How to Figure Out the Best Grass Type for Your Lawn

grass

By: Raymond Poole

Knowing what kind of grass to grow in your lawn can be a hard choice to make. There are so many different varieties that will work in your specific area that it can be hard to choose just one variety. Check out these steps on how to figure out the best grass type for your lawn:

#1: Decide On a Category

The first choice that homeowners need to make about planting a new lawn is to decide on either a warm or cool season grass. Warm season grasses’ main growing period is from spring to fall when temperatures are between 80°-95°F.  Cool season grasses grow best in cooler temperatures that stay between 60°-75°F. If your home is located in the northern part of the country you will probably do better with a cool season grass while far southern locations should choose a warm season grass. Those homeowners along the middle of the country are in the transitional zone. You would usually pick warm season grasses for the summer and then overseed your lawn with a cool season grass during the colder winter months.

#2: Consider Your Climate

Just because you live in an area that is predominantly a cool season grass location doesn’t mean that all cool season grasses will do well. Consider climate specifics that make your home’s location unique. Look at the humidity of the region as well as the amount of annual rainfall in order to find a grass that will fit perfectly into your yard. There are four temperature range zones within the United States to take into account as well: cool/humid, cool/arid, warm/humid and warm/arid. Finding a grass type that matches your home’s climate is essential to having a successful lawn.

Another option is to take a walk around the neighborhood for established lawns that are doing well and ask those homeowners what kind of grass they have for their lawn. Tailoring your grass to what does well in your area will make a world of difference.

#3: Choose a Variety

There are many different types of grasses that are either cool or warm season varieties. Each type has its own specific texture and growing characteristics. Popular cool season grasses include Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass. Popular warm season grasses include bermudagrass, St. Augstine, and zoysiagrass. Consider researching many different kinds of grass in order to find one that fits your lawn maintenance preferences as well as the overall look that you would like for your lawn.

#4: Determine Your Lawn Goals

Knowing what kind of use your lawn will get at your home will have a lot to do with what kind of grass you choose. Some grasses grow quite lush and provide a great full texture but also require a lot of maintenance. Other varieties are specifically bred for wear tolerance in high traffic areas like on a path between the garage and back door. Drought and heat tolerant grasses will also grow well in hotter conditions. For those wetter climates that could see a lot of rainfall or have a high humidity, consider choosing a disease resistant grass variety that would help keep lawns healthy and strong.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best grass type for your lawn. Take into account your regional area within the United States as well as your specific climate depending on your home’s location. After you choose a grass variety make sure that it also coordinates with the goals that you have for your lawn use in order to create a lawn that will work perfectly with your new home.

Raymond Poole is an organic cooking and gardening fanatic. He spends his free time trailing and testing different growing techniques to make his beloved fruit and vegetable garden to flourish to full flavor.

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Gearing Up For Gardening

gearing up for gardening

By Kristina Phelan

Spring is upon us and the time to begin your garden preparations has arrived. No matter if your garden is small or large; all gardeners need to do the same things in order to harvest great produce. Follow these tips on how to prepare to have a successful gardening season.

Plan It Out

Seasoned gardeners will tell you that planning is probably the most important part of having a quality harvest. Research different plant varieties and really think about what you want to grow this year. If you have a not so green thumb, make sure you understand the maintenance of the plants before hand, this will most definitely help when it comes to keeping your garden bright and fruitful.

Know how much space each plant will take and make sure to draw out a map of your garden area. This will help you be more organized and will cut down on stress when you are planting seeds. Note areas of your garden that are wetter and use that information to plant varieties that don’t mind moist soil.  Having a definite plan of where your plants will be is key to having a successful garden.

Start Early

Many gardeners start to plant seedlings indoors during early spring in order to extend the growing season. Choose plants that need a little extra time in warmer soil and try planting seeds indoors.

You can find starter kits in stores but you can also use washed out yogurt cups or plastic disposable cups for small seedlings. You don’t need a lot of space or a lot of soil for these young starts. If you miss the window to start seedlings indoors, consider purchasing starts from a local supplier. This will help to make sure that these plants grow to full maturity and produce well before the summer is over.

Check Your Tools

Early spring is a great time to double check your tools to make sure that they are in proper working order. Does your shovel need a new handle? Did you forget that you broke your rake at the end of the harvest last year? Repairing or replacing these tools before you get started in the garden will help you have a more enjoyable time in the garden. Spring is also a great time to get tools as many stores have sales on tools that they know gardeners will need. Walk through the aisles of your local store and see if there are any new tools on the market that would make your gardening even easier.

Mix It Up

If you had a certain tomato variety do extremely well last year than by all means plant it again this year. But if you were not satisfied with a certain variety, or didn’t have any luck growing something, try choosing a different variety this year. If you don’t want to commit to one variety of tomatoes, consider choosing a few different varieties to see which one will do best in your garden. Some plants are very easy to grow, like cucumbers and squash, but be sure to only grow things that you know you will use or can sell. Depending on the kind of garden you choose to have, creating an herb garden indoors is also a fast way to prepare a hearty part of your garden. Nothing is worse than putting in a lot of time and effort into growing something that will just go to waste.

Spring is a time for a fresh outlook on the coming warmer months of the year. Gardening is a great way to relieve stress and should be enjoyable. Following these few tips to get ready for the coming gardening season will help to make sure that you have a prosperous garden this year.

Kristina Phelan is a freelance writer and her parenting column, Mama Bear Moxie, is printed in a few newspapers across the country. She lives on a farm in the Midwest with her husband, three kiddos, and too many animals.

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10 Easy Ways To Go Greener With Your Landscaping

go greener

By Steven Randel, Houzz

In the previous Building Green story, we looked at plant materials and how you can make healthier choices by selecting species that are native, easier to maintain or both. The other part of your yard that needs equal attention for environmental health is your hardscape. These are the walkways, decks, paths, planter borders and retaining walls that define the architecture of your plot of land. Lighting and water are also important elements of this part of your project. Below are examples where conscientious planning promotes a healthy existence for these homes. Go greener with your landscaping. 

go greener with your landscaping

Tate Studio Architects, original photo on Houzz

Paths.

“Less is more” is a good theme to keep in mind. Letting the natural terrain and plant life take the spotlight can have a dramatic effect. As seen in the Arizona residence above, the natural landscape has been saved for most of the yard of this large parcel of land. The driveway to the house has a minimized width at the street and shares the route with the walk to the entrance of the house.

go greener with your landscaping

Hanselman Landscape and Gardens, original photo on Houzz

Walks.

This Philadelphia landscape uses ironstone obtained from nearby Hershey, Pennsylvania, for this beautiful garden path. Local natural materials such as this stone can be a better choice compared with engineered materials, which come with all of the downsides of manufacturing. They are also a better choice than natural materials that come from a distant location, as those require more energy and time to be shipped. Check into local sources whenever possible; you may make some unexpected finds.

When using wood in outdoor applications, you will want to consider its durability as well as its renewability. Stick with wood species that are easily replenished and commonly used in your area.

go greener with your landscaping

D-CRAIN Design and Construction, original photo on Houzz

Planting borders and steps.

You might want to consider simple materials used in a minimalist fashion, as has been done for this home near Austin, Texas. Cor-Ten steel plates can create planter beds as well as steps. The gravel paving in this example allows the landscape to absorb rainfall rather than shedding it off into stormwater drains. Note the succulents growing on the steps, which is a charming result of this design.

Patios.

When you want a patio, consider using stone paving, as has been done in the Northern California yard below. Space between the stones can be left for gravel when laid over a bed of sand, which allows for rainwater to be absorbed into the soil. Solutions like this are often far more attractive than a large pouring of concrete.

go greener with your landscaping

450 Architects Inc, original photo on Houzz

go greener with your landscaping

Cali Bamboo, original photo on Houzz

Decks.

All-wood decks once were common, but wood has become more expensive. It can be wise to employ other materials for deck surfaces and reduce consumption of natural resources that can be more difficult to replenish. Various composite materials have been invented in recent years — research which brands suit your circumstances best and are the most environmentally conscious. This deck is laid with a product called Cali Bamboo. The company has a line of composite decking planks and other materials that replace traditional wood deck surfaces. The use of bamboo in the composite material makes it a good choice, since bamboo is a fast-growing, plentiful resource.

go greener with your landscaping

Bianchi Design, original photo on Houzz

Driveways.

The juxtaposition of the gravel driveway with the sculptural elements of this Arizona house enhances the design scheme. Driveways like this are a better solution than black asphalt paving, which is simple and cheap but environmentally unfriendly. Gravel for driveways is an option in wetter climates as well, but its composition will be different. Arid climates are good for decomposed granite, but wetter zones require larger gravel with a deeper gravel bed over sand than the former.

Rainwater collection.

Rainwater retention cisterns will probably become more and more common. The solution is elemental to some of the water issues that modern development faces. Imagine you have 100 acres of suburban development. The houses, paving, gutters and streets of that area will shed rainwater that was once absorbed into the water table of that land. The watershed of many developments placed together causes tremendous storm runoff that can cause flooding downstream.

When you can capture the rainwater on your site, you can slowly release it back into your parcel of land by using it to water your landscape. At the same time, you’ll avoid using water from the municipal system. This lessens the burden on water supplies, replenishes water tables and helps to stop sudden stormwater runoff that can cause flooding.

Fences.

Redwood, cedar and pine, among other woods, have traditionally been used for fencing. Foresting has environmental consequences, however, and as it is becoming more limited, these wood species are becoming more expensive. Alternatives are block walls and metal panels, which also can be expensive. Bamboo, once again, provides a relatively inexpensive solution and is a quickly replenished material. Bamboo fencing can create a striking and unique effect for your landscape. Cali Bamboo sells bamboo fencing in several colors and sizes. Consider these or other bamboo fencing options and see if they could be a healthy choice for you.

As mentioned, steel fencing is more expensive. However, design simplicity may solve part of the cost issue.

Lighting.

Light pollution occurs whenever artificial light illuminates the night sky unnecessarily. Security issues often contribute to this situation, but motion sensors are one solution. Even when you use motion sensors, it is best to downlight areas and surfaces.

Consider that when someone shines a flashlight directly at you, you will feel a slight pain in your eyes. This is a bad sign. If this happens to you often, it can degenerate your eyesight over your lifetime. You may scare away a crook here and there with a floodlight that illuminates your driveway; however, every time you pull into your driveway at night, that light will have a negative impact on your eyesight.

Light that washes a wall is far more effective than light that is directed outward or toward a person. You will see a shadowy figure more clearly when the person is softly backlit than when the glare of a direct source obscures your sight, as our eyes have a much harder time readjusting in the glare of direct lighting.

Using smart devices.

One last trick you might want to implement is using a smart device. Many household systems, especially irrigation, now have ways to manage consumption. Devices are even available that will shut off the sprinklers if it is raining or the soil is already wet. This will avoid wasting water when it is not needed in your landscape.

Related Links:

Entertain Outdoors With a New Patio Bar Set

Consult Local, Highly-Rated Fencing Professionals

Subtle Outdoor Lighting Options for Your Home

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