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How to Start a Compost Pile

If you don’t already have a compost pile now is a great time to start one so you can feed your summer vegetable and flower gardens in a “green” way.

Composting is a great family activitiy.

Photo courtesy of Denver Urban Gardens.

Why composting? It helps increase water retention, decrease soil erosion and replace chemical fertilizers. Make it a family event so your kids can learn all kinds of great science lessons while helping the Earth – and have lots of fun in the process!

Here are four steps to help get you started. For a more in-depth look at composting read this article from the University of Illinois Extension.

  • Select your space. You can use a compost bin to keep your pile neat, but you don’t need one. You simply need a pile that is at least 3x3x3 feet so that it has enough mass to decompose without a bin.
  • Collect your materials. You’ll need carbon-rich “brown materials” (fall leaves, dead flowers, shredded newspaper), nitrogen-rich “green materials” (grass, veggie & fruit peels) and soil.
  • Create your pile. Layer the materials starting with brown, then green and finally soil. Continue layering the pile with all of your materials (the goal is to make it three-feet high), then moisten with water.
  • Manage your pile. Use a shovel or garden fork to turn the pile every couple of weeks. Move the matter at the center to the outside and shift the outside materials toward the center. Keep the pile moist but not soggy.





4 tips for sprucing up your outdoor space this spring

If you’re itching to improve your outdoor space this spring, TurfMutt has four tips to help you save time and money.

Spring planting tips

TurfMutt shares tips for saving money and time this spring.

  • Map our your plan. Drawing your plan out on paper can help ensure you don’t buy too much or not enough for the space you’re creating.
  • Consult the professionals. Check out TurfMutt’s ecosystem map or talk to your local nursery about what plants are native to your area. Also, if your design is complicated you might want to hire a landscape designer or architect to consult on your project. A little upfront investment could save you time and money in the long-run.
  • Shop around. Check prices and availability at your local specialty stores, as well as the big retailers to search for the best overall value. Sometimes paying a little more for higher-quality products is well worth it.
  • Make it a family affair. Involving your children in the design, selection and planting of your outdoor space is a good idea for many reasons. It gets your children away from the television, video games and computer screens. It also gives them a vested interest in the project and in the value of your own personal green space. This will likely result in them wanting to spend even more time in the yard. In addition you’ll have an extra set of hands or two to help do the cleaning up, planting and weeding!

Daylight savings starts Sunday – use the “extra hour” to get outside with your kids!

We’ll spring forward on Sunday, a sure sign that warmer weather is just around the corner. One way to make the most of the extra daylight is to commit to getting outside with your family for one hour a day. It’s not only a healthy alternative to the “screen time” that monopolizes most kids’ lives (in the form of TV, internet and video games), but it’s also a great way to bond with your family and teach your children the value of outdoor space.

Spring forward to a more active spring.

This spring enjoy time outside with your family.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started on a more active, outdoor-focused spring season.

  • Make it a habit. Studies show kids are most likely to be active right after school, but pick a time that works well for your family’s schedule. And stick to it! It typically takes 40 days to create a new habit.
  • Plan fun activities. You’re less likely to bail on the scheduled outdoor time if you have something specific planned. For a few fun ideas check out TurfMutt’s Family Activities Guide.
  • Participate in the activities. Your kids are more likely to be excited about the activity if you are, too! Don’t just sit on the sideline and watch. Instead, commit to being an active participant to offer a good example to your family.
  • Don’t be a fair weather fan. Spring weather can be unpredictable in many parts of the country. Unless the weather is dangerous, commit to being outside even if it’s colder or hotter than you might prefer. Be sure to bundle up everyone appropriately for cold weather (layers, a hat, gloves, warm socks, boots, coats, etc.) and take the necessary precautions in hotter temperatures (sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, hydration, etc.)

What are your favorite ways to get outside and enjoy the spring weather with your family? Share your suggestions in the comments section below, or post them to TurfMutt’s Facebook Page.




TurfMutt Helps Keep Spring Break Boredom at Bay

Spring break (and even snow days) can go from a chorus of “yay, no school!” to “I’m bored!” in a matter of seconds. But TurfMutt has a cure for spring break blues. Just check out TurfMutt’s website for a host of ideas for getting outdoors and fun learning activities that will educate your kids about the importance of green space.

TurfMutt's student activities guide

TurfMutt to the rescue! Beat spring break blues with TurfMutt’s help.

TurfMutt’s interactive Student Activities Guide has resources and activities for your children to learn more about caring for the green space that surrounds them. The Family Activities Guide includes a long list of outdoor activities that encourage your family to go outside and enjoy your local environment and green space. The website also has a host of lesson plans that you can tweak to work at home for your kids.



Add some time outdoors to your spring break plans

Whether you are planning a family getaway for spring break or you’re staying a little closer to home, TurfMutt encourages you to add some outdoor time into your plans.

Get outdoors during spring break.

Outdoor activity benefits the mind, body and spirit. It increases fitness levels, increases Vitamin D levels and improves distance vision, lowering the chance of nearsightedness. Exposure to outdoor settings reduces ADHD symptoms, improves standardized testing scores and decreases stress levels.

Getting outdoors can also be a simple and inexpensive way to entertain your family when school’s out. You can plan an outing to a local park or national monument for hiking, snowshoeing or picnicking. Take a walk with the dog through your neighborhood or play a rousing game of fetch in your backyard. If the weather is nice enough you can use the extra time to spruce up your yard and add some spring plantings. The sky is literally the limit!

Do you have a favorite way to get your family outdoors in the springtime? Share your ideas and photos on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.


Today is World Spay Day

Today is the 20th Annual World Spay Day. World Spay Day is a campaign by The Humane Society of the United States to highlight spaying/neutering as a way to save the lives pets who might otherwise be put down in a shelter or killed on the street. TurfMutt was a stray dog before he was rescued, and he’s a big supporter of World Spay Day.

Today is World Spay Day

There are many benefits to spaying or neutering your pet.

  • It reduced breeding-related health risks, like reproductive cancer, which can add years to your pet’s life.
  • It reduces the urge to roam, which means your pet is less likely to become lost or be hit by a car.
  • It reduces the number of unwanted animals. Sadly. 16,000 cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters daily but only half of those pets find fur-ever homes

You can find low-cost spay and neuter services at www.worldspayday.org.



Happy Love Your Pet Day!

Have you given your dog, cat, rabbit, or whatever animal you call yours a little extra love yet today? If not you better hop to it because today is Love Your Pet Day!

Love Your Pet Day

Feb. 20 is Love Your Pet Day.

TurfMutt thinks every day should be Love Your Pet Day, but he’s all for a day dedicated to giving a little extra love to those who give us so much love each day of the year.

Here are just a few special ways to show your pet you love them.

  • Purchase your pet’s preferred treat and make a big deal out of presenting it to him after dinner.
  • Turn off the TV, bundle up the entire family and take your dog on an extra-long walk.
  • Schedule a day of pampering for your pet by taking him to the groomer.
  • Spread the love by donating to your favorite pet charity in honor of your furry friend.

Do you have a special way you show your pet you love him? Share your photos and ideas with us on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.


Interested in saving stray dogs? You don’t have to go all the way to Sochi to help.

TurfMutt has been wagging his tail with joy to see that so many of the Sochi street dogs who were saved from euthanasia just before the Winter Olympics started are now being adopted. In fact many members of Team USA are adopting Sochi dogs to take back home with them when the winter games are over!

Sochi street dogs have many people considering adoption

Sochi street dogs have many people considering adoption

TurfMutt – a rescue dog himself – loves the idea of pet adoption. (Click here to hear TurfMutt’s story and the adoption message from his best friend, OPEI’s Kris Kiser.) But TurfMutt wants to remind all Americans that if the stories of Sochi’s street dogs has you thinking of adopting a fur-ever friend, you don’t need to go all the way to Russia to do so.

In fact there are plenty of adoptable dogs and cats in a shelter near you! The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) makes it easy to find dogs in your local shelter with its searchable database.

Do you have a recent adoption success story you’d like to share? Post pictures of your new pet on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.





Valentine’s Day Pet Safety Tips

There’s nothing quite as sweet as a snuggle with your pet for Valentine’s Day. But if your plans include more than that, you should take heed. Some of what makes Cupid’s holiday festive for humans can actually be dangerous for your pet. The ASPCA offers a long list of ways to make sure your Valentine’s Day plans don’t cause problems for your pet.

Valentine's Day pet safety tips

ASPCA offers Valentine’s Day safety tips for your pet.

Here are a few of the top safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Some flowers, like lilies, are potentially fatal to cats. When purchasing floral arrangements specify a lily-free version if your Valentine has cats. Also, keep thorny-stemmed flowers away from your four-legged friends who can be harmed by stepping on or ingesting them.
  • Chocolate is dangerous for pets and can cause gastrointestinal, neurological and cardiac problems.
  • Candlelight can help set a romantic mood, but be sure to blow out the flame when you’re not in the room to keep your curious critters safe.

Do you have a Valentine’s Day photo of your pet to share? Post it to TurfMutt’s Facebook page.


How Energy Wise Are You? Take this quiz to find out.

TurfMutt partners with a number of companies and organizations who share in the belief that we should care for and protect our everyday environment.

One of TurfMutt’s partners is the U.S. Department of Energy, whose mission is to advance energy technology and promote related innovation in the U.S.

US Dept. of Energy

Take the US Dept. of Energy’s Energy Quiz.

The Department of Energy has a great quiz that allows you to test your energy know-how. Be sure to scroll to page three for the start of the quiz. The answer key is on page two.

For more information and additional quizzes on fostering an appreciation of the environment and an interest in the green space in your community visit the TurfMutt education page.