DIY Yards and Health

DIY Yards and Health
Helping the Do It Yourself home owner in making themselves and surroundings healthy

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Does Grassology work?
 reel mower

A quote from the below blog on Grassology Reviews?
"Based on a few months worth of Grassology Reviews we've accumulated, most customers complain of poor service, difficulty cancelling orders, and underhanded selling tactics. Regarding the product specifically, the most common complaints cite failure to work, poor seed quality, and that Grassology is simply a rebranded mix of Pearl’s Premium.
- See more at:"

So what DOES work when trying to get a grass blend that is not so difficult to maintain?

I am not a lawn salesman, but over the last twenty years in the business, I have heard hundreds of similar claims for improved turf grass. My back lawn has four different varieties that had similar claims as this new Grassology and none of them lived up to the sales hype.

What I have found is the old standard Rye/Blue grass combination maintained correctly is the only real way to control growth and keep a green lawn. So my advise is not to tear up your existing lawn, but to over seed with a good quality blend. Then use a simple plant water probe to test areas of your lawn for wetness when watering.
water meter

When testing with your water probe you will find that there are areas that are sandy and areas that may have heavy clay. These areas need different amounts of water to keep the lawn consistent.

Change the nozzle in the sprinkler head to compensate for areas that need more water. The next step is to make sure the sprinkler adequately covers each area.sprinkler adjust

Once the water is taken care of the next item is to take better control of your fertilizer.

If you use a standard fertilizer system or a service you are getting too much nitrogen which does make the lawn very green but it also promotes too much growth.

If you are doing it yourself, it is better to do more applications with less material. This means you need to calibrate your spreader, see above under lawn, and reduce the overall impact the nitrogen is having. Nitrogen leaches fast through our soil. So more is not better. More just means you lost a lot of nitrogen that the plant couldn't take up fast enough before it moved through the soil and into our sub water. This moves nitrogen into our wells, rivers and lakes. Something we do not want to do.

I recommend a golf course product you can purchase from supplies called Spread it and Forget it.
With this product you can fertilize once during the growing season and it does a true slow release utilizing heat. This creates a consistently green lawn without that annoying flush of growth. It is often hard to find because you have to ask a local supplier for it.

If you can't find this product, you can focus on time release and even organic fertilizers that are slower to release nitrogen. Just know if you go organic it will take a lot of material. But the organic will help the soil become self sustaining which may be worth your extra time and cost in the long run.

I don't sell any of these products. I'm just sharing with you the truth of what works.

Don't waste your money on gimmicks, simply maintain what you have.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Browning on a pine tree

Always keep in mind that you can get a quick view of the health of a tree by what is happening at the very top. This is the longest distance for fluid uptake to move and often the top will show signs of stress first.

Pines can have several issues as this link shows.

Tree with die back

However it is dangerous to jump to a conclusion based on web or book information. You must know the history of the tree over the past year, including water, environmental changes, construction or landscape changes and pesticide use. I see misdiagnosis as a common problem in the field and it's because people grab one small bit of information and decide "that's got to be it."

Accurate history is a must if you want an accurate diagnosis and cure.

A good way to do this is with a Tree Log. Simply a diary you keep of what was done to the tree and the reactions you see happening every month. Include services the lawn care has been doing, watering practices and what the weather has done.

This Tree Log becomes very helpful when asking a professional service to be accountable for the treatments they are giving the trees. There should be only one Dormant Oil, do not let TruGreen cheat you with two, that is the reason I resigned from that organization. Only one is necessary and to do more is not for the tree but the companies profit. This also is important for remembering to do systemic insect treatments on Ash and Maples in the fall when they will store the product better for the first push next spring.

The Log gives you a map of how you actually water and the trees reaction. It is invaluable because our memories are pretty crowded with everything else; we don't want to forget our trees though.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Ants seem to be everywhere. Keep in mind that spraying them can make matters worse. Bait is the correct way to treat them in that it kills the nest and truly wipes out that colony.

Most DIY folks try the "ant hotels" and state they don't work. Part of the problem is that the bait needs to be fresh and often the bait sold in a grocery store has been on the shelf since last year.

Ants are so sensitive to chemicals that when you spray a pesticide they often will not walk over it. This is also why you should never spray and then follow up with bait. The ants will not take bait that has been near pesticide spray.

As a matter of fact, ants are so sensitive to pyrethroids that if the container is even stored near the bait, they will not take the bait. This may be why the ant hotels on the retail shelves do not work. I often smell pesticide leaks when I walk down a retail store isle. If it is anywhere near those ant hotels, the hotel will not work.

Ants are a series of battles won but you will never win the war. Expect re-occurrences and jump on them with ant bait as soon as you see them. There are constant scouts our looking for a new area. If they find a food source, they are going to report it. Better for the scout to take back a bait that kills the queen of that colony. So diligence in fresh ant bait is also important.

If you're having problems call or email me directly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why Spiders Bite

Spiders are moving - these are the adults that over wintered and they are not friendly.

identyfy a spider biteDuring the cold winter months the food sources such as flies and bugs are  not moving but in their egg cycle. Without food spiders go into a hibernation waiting for spring. Their average life span is two years. When spring does warm up, they awaken hungry and aggressive to guard their egg sacks.

We often do spring cleaning and this is when the encounter occurs.


A corner area or under a table is disturbed as we clean and the spider attacks to protect its environment.

Keep in mind, all spiders use some sort of venom or injection to break down cell  tissue. They capture a prey and then put in digestive enzymes to break down the tissue so they can eat the prey externally. So in a way their stomach action is happening outside their bodies.

When we are attacked by a spider, it may use the same venom as a weapon if it has that ability. But unless it is really threatened, it doesn't want to use that venom that it will need to eat.

Often the bite is just with the fangs. The problem is those fangs have been used on dead and decaying carcass of flies which have a high amount of bacteria. Your epidermis was punctured introducing this bacteria. Spider bites that did not hurt at the time of the bite, but itch and become very red after the fact are usually from this. Treat them with anti-bacteria in that case or as your doctor directs.

There are spiders such as the black widow with amazing venom. Consider how small the venom sack on a black widow is and how much she puts into a human victim, yet the results are extreme. I often am told, "I think I got bitten by a black widow". Truth is, if  you get bitten by a black widow, you'll know it. It will be extremely painful at the time of the bite with nausea, headaches and sometimes even partial paralysis of the legs.

People seem to have an unreasonable fear of spiders. The fact that they are aggressive predators in their micro-environment is part of the reason their presence bothers us. As small as they are, they still have that boldness and speed that unnerves us giant monsters with overwhelming size over them.

My rule is spiders are fine in their environment outside, just not in our environment inside.