Saving the planet- one yard at a time!

Like TurfMutt on Facebook Follow TurfMutt on Twitter Subscribe to TurfMutt on YouTube Subscribe to TurfMutt.com

Study: children prefer to play outside than watch TV

A recent study of nearly 3,000 parents and children by Eureka Children’s Museum in West Yorkshire (UK) found 81% of children prefer playing outside to watching TV. But half of the parents polled reported that they did not let their child leave their home or yard. Additionally, only 37% of those parents surveyed said they let their child go to the end of the street. The main concerns? Road traffic and strangers.


Study shows kids prefer to play outdoors, but parents are wary.

The survey also found an interesting difference between where children play today, and where their parents played when they were young. Parks, yards and homes topped the children’s list of favorite places to play, while parents remembered playing in fields, woods and the street when they were youngsters.

The study concludes that parents need to be provided with the tools and confidence to allow their children more freedom to play outside. The risk, according to study authors, is that the next generation of children will become even more house-bound than the current one is.



holiday gift ideas to engage kids in the green space around them

Kids spend a lot of time “plugged in” to television, video games, computers, etc. But during this season of giving you have an opportunity to encourage the kids in your life to embrace, explore and take care of the green spaces around them with unique holiday gifts. All it takes is a little creativity on your part.


Photo courtesy of Home Science Tools.

Here are a few ideas to get you started. Happy shopping!

  • Binoculars are good for birdwatching, scoping out backyard wildlife and more.
  • Gardening kits are a hands-on way to teach kids about the importance of plants and how to care for them. Include some seed packets and kid-sized gardening tools, then make a plan for spring planting together. Or, start the seedlings inside during the winter and transplant them this spring.
  • Gardening-themed games are a good way to teach kids about plants and vegetation, even when it’s not the right season for hands-on planting activities outdoors.
  • Work and give together. Every community has ‘adopt-a-park’  or ‘adopt-a-street’ programs. Sign up together so you can teach the child the importance of caring for the green space around them.






use materials from mother nature to decorate this holiday season

Even during the holiday decorating season it’s possible to get your kids interested in the outdoor spaces around them. It just takes a little creativity to turn outdoor collectables into treasured holiday decor. Here are a few ideas.


  • Gather bare branches to create a woodland scene in your home. Place the branches in a narrow vase filled with cotton balls to mimic snow. You can add a few more tufts of “snow” to the branches. Finish the project by tying a few artificial berries, small pine cones, or even bright red cardinals from the craft store.
  • Make your own ornaments with collections from nature. All you need are clear plastic ornaments, pine tree clippings, small pine cones, feathers and whatever other treasures your little ones can find. Fill the ornaments with your nature-inspired materials and tie a festive bow on top to create a one-of-a-kind gift, party favor or decoration.
  • For a fragrant and festive swag, cut herbs from your garden (thyme, rosemary, sage and bay leaf are nice options), bundle them up and tie them with a red ribbon. You can hang them on a door, mantle or the backs of chairs to add a little naturally-scented holiday cheer. When they are dry you can use the herbs for cooking.
  • Stems with a few leaves or berries make a great natural display for holiday cards/photos that you get from friends and family.

The best thing about using nature-inspired decor? When it’s time to take down the decorations you can simply compost the materials for a late-season gift to planet Earth!


Early winter weather has an upside for some landscaping

During this season of gratitude are you finding it hard to give thanks for the winter weather hitting much of the country already? If so, consider this. It turns out that for some plants there is an upside to early chilly temperatures.

Early frost-benefits-landscaping-TurfMutt

Temperatures that drift into the 30s early in the season can help “harden off” landscape plants, toughening them up for even colder winter weather to come.  In general plants become more tolerant of adverse conditions when they are gradually exposed to them rather than being plunged into them suddenly.

For example, citrus trees – popular in some areas of the country – can withstand more cold if they have been exposed earlier to lower temperatures. In fact, having a mild fall but then a drastic shift to winter can actually damage even hardy plants.

We hope you find a lot to be thankful for this holiday season! Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at TurfMutt.



Prep your snow blower for winter use

Ready or not, here comes the snow! Here are a few tips to get your snow blower prepared to handle its winter chores.


Photo courtesy of Toro.

  • Replace the fuel filter.
  • Inspect the blade, belts and other parts for wear. Replace as needed.
  • Change the oil.
  • Install a new spark plug, if needed.
  • Clean off any dirt and grease build-up.
  • Check the air pressure in the tires.
  • Lubricate the bearings (if required for your model).
  • Add new fuel and a fuel stabilizer to keep fuel fresh longer.

How to care for plants during a cold snap

Temperatures are plunging across many parts of the country, with snow in some areas. That means you need to take some extra precautions with your plants and landscaping, if you haven’t already. Here are a few tips.

Cold weather tips-TurfMutt

  • Cluster container plants together, or bring them inside (especially potted succulents).
  • Water landscaping plants before a freeze to help the soil absorb more solar radiation and re-radiate heat during the night.
  • Cover plants with cloth sheets or frost protection fabric. You will need to remove covers during the day to allow for ventilation and enable plants to receive the benefits of the sunlight.
  • For trees, adding a layer of mulch around the base of the trees can help them moderate temperature fluctuation and moisture loss.

Prep your lawn mower for winter storage

Giving your lawn mower a little TLC before you store it until the grass is green again can ensure that it’s ready to roll next spring. Here are some ‘to-do’ items to complete before putting your mower away for the season. Before you start make sure your owner’s manual is handy, and remove the spark plug before doing any maintenance.


  • Clean it up. Brush or hose off any dirt, clippings and other debris that has collected on the machine and in the under body.
  • Sharpen the blades. Now is a great time to replace or sharpen the blades, as needed, so the unit is ready to go next season. You might even consider a tune-up now so you can avoid the rush at the shop next spring.
  • Add stabilizer. Most manufacturers recommend adding a fuel stabilizer or draining the fuel system before storing it. If your mower has one, turn the fuel valve to the “off” position.
  • Change the oil and filter. Replace with the engine manufacturer’s recommended oil and filter type.
  • Store. Your mower needs a cool, dry place away from anything with a pilot light for winter storage.

TurfMutt’s Halloween safety tips for your four-legged friends

For many families, Halloween is a favorite time of year. But there’s one member of your family who may not have the same affinity for the holiday – your pet! TurfMutt has these tips to keep you four-legged family members safe this Halloween.

TurfMutt-outdoor-education-kids-greenspace1. Be careful with candy. Trick-or-treat candies are not safe for pets. In fact, all forms of chocolate can be dangerous – even lethal – for dogs and cats.

2. Be considerate with costumes. Many pets don’t like to wear costumes, so be considerate of your furry friend’s feelings. If you do dress up your pet make sure they can easily see and hear and that the outfit doesn’t constrict their breathing or movement in any way. Make sure your pet’s ID tags are part of any costume you choose – just in case they get loose.

3. No trick-or-treating for Trixy. It might be tempting, but don’t take your dog along for trick-or-treating. Even the best-trained pet can become spooked or aggressive in the noise and confusion of Halloween!

4. Safely place pumpkins. Put your pumpkins – especially jack-o-lanterns with candles inside – out of reach of pets so they don’t knock them over.

5. Party poopers allowed. Sometimes, the safest place for your pet is in a quiet room or kennel away from the festivities.



Check out the new TurfMutt website and meet our new partner, Scholastic Education

Have you noticed that TurfMutt.com has a new look? It’s part of TurfMutt’s just-announced partnership with Scholastic Education. Scholastic is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in education technology and children’s media.


With Scholastic’s help we’re going to grow TurfMutt to reach even more students, teachers and families. The new TurfMutt program with Scholastic features a full lineup of  illustrated environmental superhero characters, such as The Oxygenator, Water Warrior, Professor Botony and Green Ranger.

This team of superheroes, called the Outdoor Powers, and TurfMutt are on a mission to “Save the Planet One Yard at a Time” by showing families that green spaces should be appreciated, understood and cared for in a sustainable way.

The TurfMutt.com website offers videos, resources and activities to teach kids (grades K-5) and families backyard science, including how to take better care of the green spaces around them.



3 ways to use pumpkins to engage kids with the outdoors

Autumn and pumpkins go hand-in-hand. But did you know there are some creative uses for these giant gourds that can help your kids engage with the outdoors? Here are three interesting things to do with pumpkins this fall.


Learn creative ways to use pumpkins to get kids outdoors (photo credit wikipedia.org)

  • Make a bird feeder. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and flesh, and then fill it with bird feed. You can drill holes into the side to attach rope, or you can simply cradle the pumpkin inside rope to hang it from a tree. You can even enlist the kids to help decorate the feeder with natural elements like sticks and pine cones.
  • Play pumpkin bowling. Find a space in your backyard to serve as the “alley.” Stack your pumpkins (smaller ones work best for this) and then take turns using a medium-sized ball to knock over the pumpkins.
  • Have a pumpkin hunt. This is like an egg hunt, but with baby pumpkins! Hide them around your yard, give each kid a bag and send them off. The one to collect the most pumpkins the fastest wins.