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Tips for dealing with storm damage to your yard

As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” but they also sometimes bring severe weather that can damage your lawn, trees and landscaping.

Tips for dealing with storm damage

Photo courtesy of University of Minn. Extension

Here are a few tips** to help you deal with storm damage to your yard.

  • If your yard was flooded you first need to let the lawn dry out, which could take a few days or a few weeks. Try not to walk around on the wet ground too much, as this can damage your lawn.
  • If the yard was seriously flooded the soil may have compacted, so you might need to aerate. Aerating helps break up the soil so that air can reach the roots of the grass.
  • Dead or broken tree branches should be pruned back. Then, it’s recommended that you wait one growing season to check on the tree’s recovery. Care for the tree during this time by watering and feeding it. Consult a professional if needed.

**Courtesy of PLANET (Professional Landcare Network)



Connect with your neighbors through nature

Springtime has arrived, and it is ushering in warmer weather in many parts of the country. This means more people are getting out of their homes and into their yards, parks and green spaces.

Connect with neighbors through nature

TurfMutt encourages neighbors to connect via nature.

Here are a few ideas on how to collaborate with your community through your natural environment.

  • Create a map of the parks and other green spaces in your community. Label walkways, hiking paths, picnic areas and playgrounds. Then, share the map with your neighbors, encouraging them to visit and enjoy these locations.
  • Invite neighbors to your favorite park for a potluck picnic.
  • Plan a monthly nature walk through your neighborhood and invite the people who live on your block to join you. Each time you can choose a new location from the map you created.

Have you developed unique ways to connect with your neighbors through nature? Share your ideas below or post them on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.

For even more ideas on how to encourage your family and friends to go outside and enjoy your local environment and green space, download TurfMutt’s Family Activities Guide.



School gardens help with STEM education

Community gardens in low-income elementary schools are helping children learn science, math, language arts and more.

Gardening helps kids learn.

School gardens help kids succeed in school

REAL School Gardens is a nonprofit organization that helps bring learning gardens to low-income elementary schools. The group has funded gardens in more than 90 schools in Texas.

PEER Associates, Inc. conducted a three-year evaluation of the program. It found that 94 percent of teachers said their students were more engaged as a result of the gardens program. In addition 90 percent of teachers responded that the program made them better prepared to help students succeed. Impressively, since the gardens have been installed, the schools have averaged a 12-15 percent increase in the students’ standardized test pass rates. The biggest increase was in science.

Read the entire article here.

For more ideas about how to get your kids interested in the green spaces around them, download TurfMutt’s Family Activities Guide.







Choose native plants for your climate & conserve resources

TurfMutt – protector of green spaces everywhere – has a message for those of us gearing up for spring planting: choose the right plants and grasses for your climate.


Spring planting tips

Choose native plants to help the environment.

Plants and grasses that are indigenous to your climate will need less water and fertilization to survive. You can go to your local nursery or visit TurfMutt’s interactive U.S. Ecosystems Map to find your climate zone and discover which plants are native and will grow well in your area.

For instance, if you live in a drought-prone area, you will want to select plants and grass that withstand heat and need less water. Learn more eco-friendly lawn and landscape tips here or watch TurfMutt’s new video to learn more ways that small changes in your backyard can make a big impact on the planet.



Use landscaping to control ticks & help prevent Lyme Disease

April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month, while May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium that is carried through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. Symptoms typically include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash.

Keep ticks out of your yard

Mowing frequently can help create a “tick free zone” in your backyard.

You can use your landscaping to help prevent Lyme disease by creating a “tick-free zone” in your backyard. Here’s how:

  • Mow frequently.
  • Regularly remove leaf debris and clear tall grasses and brush from around your home and at the edges of your lawn.
  • Place wood chips or gravel between your lawn and any wooded areas to restrict tick migration to your backyard.
  • Keep the ground under your bird feeders clean.
  • Situate playground equipment, decks and patios away from trees and the edges of your yard.



No foolin’ – getting outside is good for your health

It’s April Fool’s Day, which means you may get taken by a prank, joke or trick at some point today. But no foolin’,  getting outside is good for your health. Here are just a few ways being in the great outdoors can positively impact your well being.

Health benefits of nature

Spending time in nature can help relieve symptoms of ADHD in children.

  • According to researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD show fewer symptoms and improved concentration after spending time in nature. Something as simple as a walk down a tree-lined street showed benefits.
  • Exercising outdoors may be better for you than working up a sweat inside. According to a study in the International Journal of Health Research, people engaging in “green exercise” had lower blood pressure, higher self esteem and improved mood compared to indoor exercisers.
  • Research suggests that time in nature can reduce symptoms of depression. For example Dutch researchers found that living close to parks or near lots of trees can have a positive impact on mental well being, while living in places without parks or trees can have major negative impacts.

Chime in! What are the positive effects you’ve experienced from spending time in nature? Share your thoughts below or on TurfMutt’s facebook page.


Outdoor activity idea: build a rain barrel with your family

As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” But did you know that you can help your garden, save other water sources, and help to eliminate runoff by collecting the rainwater in a rain barrel? April is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to plan this activity with your family!

Learn how to build a rain barrel

Building a rain barrel now will help you save water this summer.

Rainwater is better for your plants and soil than hose water because it is highly oxygenated and free of the compounds contained in faucet water. Collecting rainwater also reduces runoff pollution and soil erosion. Additionally, collecting your own water ensures you will have reserves during times of drought and water restrictions.

You can make rainwater collection a family activity by carving out some time before the showers start to build and decorate a backyard rain barrel.  A typical rain barrel is constructed using a 55-gallon drum, a vinyl hose, PVC couplings and a screen gate to keep debris and insects out.

For a step-by-step guide on how to make a rain barrel from scratch visit this EPA link. For more ideas on activities you can do with your kids to help them learn how to care for the important green spaces in your own backyard download the TurfMutt Family Activities Guide.



U.S. Dept. of Interior Announces Plan to Connect Youth to Great Outdoors

TurfMutt’s tail is wagging for joy over a new initiative launched by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). It is working to connect millions of young people to America’s great outdoors.


DOI kids and outdoors initiative

The DOI launches program to get kids interested in the great outdoors.

Under an order signed last week by DOI Secretary Sally Jewell, opportunities for nature-related recreation, education,  volunteer and career experiences will be expanded for millions of youth and veterans. The order formalizes the goals of the youth initiative that the DOI first announced back in October. You can learn more about it by watching this video.

The goals are to help young people play, learn, serve and work in America’s natural and cultural resources. The effort aims to connect youth to nature and to bridge the growing divide between children and the great outdoors.

Jewell noted one-third of the Department of the Interior’s work force will be eligible to retire in five years, creating the need for America to raise up a new vanguard of professionals to care for our natural and cultural resources for future generations.

Click here to learn more about the Interior Department’s youth initiative.




Watch TurfMutt’s new video & Learn how to be a backyard superhero!

Small changes in your backyard can make a big difference to the planet. In his new video TurfMutt, protector of green spaces everywhere, explains three simple ways you can be a backyard superhero just like him.


Spring lawn care video from TurfMutt

Watch TurfMutt’s spring lawn care video

Watch TurfMutt’s spring lawn care video to learn the easy steps you can take this spring to make a positive impact on your backyard, and the environment.

TurfMutt is quiet the star! You can also catch his video on Discovery Network’s Animal Planet and The HUB.

For more tips like these visit Turf’s website.




4 ways to celebrate spring

Despite the readings on the thermometer, spring has officially arrived today.

Gardening is good for kids.

Plant something green to celebrate the first day of spring.

The first day of spring is a wonderful time to celebrate the great outdoors with your family. Here are just a few spring celebration ideas. What are yours? Share them in the comments section or post them to TurfMutt’s Facebook page.

  • Plant something green! Depending on where you live, the first day of spring might be the perfect opportunity to plant your vegetable garden or just a few blooms to spruce up your outdoor space. Check TurfMutt’s ecosystem map for ideas on what to plant, where.
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt. See who in your family can collect the most treasures as you hike through your neighborhood or the local park. Collect items such as acorns, feathers, unique leaves and rocks.
  • Build a rain barrel. April showers bring May flowers, so why not collect that rainwater and use it to water your plants? Learn how by reading TurfMutt’s Family Activities Guide.
  • Take your dog on a hike. Get your four-legged friend into the action by going on a long hike or walk with your dog.