The children at two elementary schools in Arizona and Indiana are sporting new, green-themed backpacks this week, thanks to TurfMutt. The lucky students attend the schools that were named runners-up in TurfMutt’s second annual “Spruce Up Your School” Sweepstakes.
TurfMutt congratulates the runners-up for the “Spruce Up Your School” Sweepstakes.
The winning schools were nominated by Ms. Becky Adams from Hearn Academy in Phoenix, Ariz., and Mr. Robert Voss from Yorktown Elementary in Yorktown, Ind. Thanks to these teachers’ dedication to eco-consciousness, each of their students received TurfMutt-themed “Green Packs” stuffed with eco-friendly school supplies, a canvas backpack, lunch bag, colored pencils and a water bottle.
The grand prize winner – Morgan Elementary School in Paducah, Ky., received a $5,000 grant to improve the green space around the school playground and common area.
To congratulate the winners TurfMutt (a.k.a. Lucky the rescue dog) is doing a full-body wag!
Morgan Elementary School in Paducah, Ky., is the grand prize winner of this year’s “Spruce Up Your School” Sweepstakes.
Morgan Elementary wins Spruce Up Your School Sweepstakes.
TurfMutt is barking for joy over the news that Ms. Davidson’s class at Morgan Elementary in Paducah, Ky., won the grand prize on behalf of her whole school. The $5,000 grant will be used to introduce more green space around the school grounds and play area. Additionally, all of the students at Morgan Elementary will receive a TurfMutt backpack stuffed with school supplies.
Ms. Davidson and the students at Morgan Elementary will receive the grand prize check and backpacks on on Friday. There’s even a surprise visit in store from TurfMutt (a.k.a. Lucky the Rescue Dog).
In addition to the grand prize winner there are two runners-up: Ms. Becky Adams from Hearn Academy in Phoenix, Ariz., and Mr. Robert Voss from Yorktown Elementary in Yorktown, Ind. Each of these teachers’ students will receive TurfMutt-themed “Green Packs” full of eco-friendly school supplies, including a canvas backpack, lunch bag, colored pencils and a water bottle.
From all of us at TurfMutt, congratulations to the winning schools, and thanks to everyone who participated!
It may seem like something straight out of a horror flick, but there are several reasons to celebrate “Swarmageddon” – the once-every-17-year emergence of the Brood II cicadas happening on the east coast this summer. Over the next few months swarms of these insects will make their above-ground debut, offering a glimpse of Mother Nature at her finest.
“Swarmageddon” is happening across the east coast.
Since the late 90s this breed of cicadas has been burrowed underground, feeding on fluid from plant roots. Typically, the cicada do not harm the plants they feed on. Their migration from underground actually helps aerate and fertilize the soil.
After their 17 year feast the insects move out of their underground abode in droves. They shed their shells, test their wings and begin looking for mates. The noise of the mating call can reach up to 90 decibels or more! The mating season lasts for several weeks. The adults will lay their eggs in trees and plants, then will die off. The nymphs that were conceived will hatch from their eggs and burrow into the ground, kicking off the next 17-year cycle.
Birds and other animals that feed on insects will have a feast! Dogs and cats will often play with and eat the bugs, as well. This is typically not a problem unless the bugs give Fido or Felix an upset stomach. Call your vet if you are concerned about your pet. These insects are even considered a delicacy in some cultures. There are lots of cicada recipes online that you can try…if you dare!
If you’re feeling left out, your chance is likely coming depending on where you live. This year the Brood II cicadas will emerge on the east coast. Last year it was Brood I in the Appalachia region, and next year it will be Brood III in the midwest.
The cicada are just one example of insects and other wildlife that help create a healthy ecosystem. To learn more about the helpful habitats created in your own backyard, check out TurfMutt’s “healthy habitats” lesson that you can do with your family.
Small yards can be challenging. How do you know the plants you choose at the store will mature to be the right size, scale and shape for your space? Here are a few tips to keep in mind for those with a not-so-big-backyard.
Photo courtesy of Seth Berman Gardeners.
- Small yards are often shady yards, so select plants that tolerate shade from buildings, fences and tree canopies.
- “Mounding” foliage and flowers can provide lots of visual interest without overwhelming small spaces.
- A variety of color – rather than a huge number of plants – can be just as effective.
- Know your zone, and choose plants according to what will thrive best in your climate. Check out TurfMutt’s interactive ecosystems map for more information.
What are your tips for beautifying your small spaces? Share your ideas and photos with us here and on the TurfMutt Facebook page.
A rain garden is a great – and beautiful – idea for places in your yard that are near a storm water runoff source like a downspout, driveway or entrance area to a home.
Photo courtesy of www.cuyahogaswcd.org.
Rain gardens use plants that can tolerate having soaked roots; they are good for the environment because they reduce rain runoff by allowing storm water to soak into the ground, rather than flow into storm drains and surface waters. Runoff causes erosion and water pollution.
Choosing plants that thrive in your specific climate and area of the country is imperative to ensure the rain garden will survive in your climate and do well in absorbing excess water after a storm. Explore TurfMutt’s interactive ecosystems map for more information on plants that will thrive in your soil conditions and climate.
To learn more about the role plants, grasses and trees have in preventing soil erosion download TurfMutt’s interactive, informative lesson you can do with your family.
Do you have a rain garden in your yard? Share your pictures and design tips on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.
For most of the country the temperatures are warming up, beckoning homeowners to spend more time outside enjoying their backyard spaces. But the tranquility of the outdoor oasis can be marred by nosy neighbors, close quarters and limited lot sizes.
Create privacy in your outdoor space with landscaping.
Consider these unique landscaping ideas to make your private outdoor spaces even more private.
- Perhaps the most obvious choice is to erect a fence. Wood, vinyl, stone, cinder blocks or brick are options. Additionally, you can build a retaining wall that can be paired with plants, shrubs or climbing ivy for a more aesthetic look.
- Evergreens are a great way to create a living, year-round privacy screen. Try planting trees in a zig-zag line to allow more sunshine to get to the plants. This also creates a fuller visual effect.
- If you’re selecting a hedge plant to create privacy, be sure to choose one that is made for your soil and climate conditions.
What other ways have you used landscaping to create a serene space in your backyard? Share your thoughts and photos with us on the TurfMutt Facebook page.
Did you know that proper landscaping can actually help keep intruders away? According to a recent report, plants, trees, rocks, fences and other elements work together to make a property more or less attractive to would-be criminals.
Proper landscaping can improve home safety.
Chuck Sczuroski, a senior trainer at the National Crime Prevention Council in Arlington, Va., is a retired police officer. Now he travels the country teaching “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.” The idea is that landscaping and site design can help with several areas of safety.
- Natural surveillance: keeping shrubs and bushes trimmed back so intruders don’t have anywhere to hide, for example. To ensure you can see clearly what’s happening outside your home, keep shrubs 2-3 feet high and low-hanging tree canopies no closer than 6-7 feet above the ground.
- Natural access control: this principal is all about discouraging criminals from coming onto the property and directing them away if they do. For instance, trees and shrubs that are planted too close to a house can offer easy access to upper-story windows, balconies and decks that are often left unlocked.
- Territorial reinforcement: establishing clear boundaries with a fence and landscape lighting sends a message that this particular area belongs to someone, so intruders should stay away.
- Image/maintenance: well-maintained landscape is an outward symbol of pride and concern, indicating to potential criminals that this property isn’t a good target.
What other ways have you used landscaping to increase the safety of your home or community? Share your ideas with us here or on the TurfMutt Facebook page.
We wanted to point out a great resource for teachers – Classroom Earth. This group helps teachers of all subject areas integrate environmental education into their classrooms. A program of NEEF, the National Environmental Education Foundation.
One resource is Planet Connect, a component of Classroom Earth, which is an online portal where high school students can learn about current environmental topics, funding opportunities, green colleges and environmental careers. Students can also share and exchange ideas about how they are playing a critical role in solving today’s environmental challenges. To learn more visit: www.planetconnect.org
Some of their resources include:
Australian researchers have found that the scent of freshly cut grass is working wonders on our mental state.
Smell of cut grass triggers stress relief.
The researchers discovered that when grass is cut, it releases chemicals that make people feel less stressed and relaxed. It can even help prevent the mental decline of old age!
According to the study, the scent works directly on the brain, most specifically affecting the regions responsible for emotion and memory. They found that the scent and chemicals of freshly cut grass actually help regulate stress hormones.
The smell of fresh cut grass is just one harbinger of spring. What are some of your favorite sights, sounds and smells of spring? Share them here or on our Facebook page.
The first day of spring is March 20th, and that means it’s time to start thinking about getting your yard ready for the warmer season. Here are a few tips to help get you started.
The first day of spring is March 20.
- Remove debris – including sticks and leaves – from the lawn.
- Start checking on your lawn and garden equipment – do they need a tune-up and/or cleaning?
- Aerate compacted soil to bring oxygen to the root system. When and how do you aerate? Let us know.
- Have you made your pruning schedule? Which plants need to be pruned when? Here’s one schedule: http://everchanginggarden.ca/PlantsPruning.html
We want to hear from you – what are your springtime yard rituals?