Tag Archives: landscape

Lawn Update

For some reason some of you care passionately about what I do to my lawn.  Here is my spring update.

  • The lawn weathered the winter far better than I thought it would.  We have one sparse patch and the dog did her best to kill some of it off but over all, it is way better off than I expected.
  • Some of that I credit to using fall fertilizer.  It made a big difference which I need to remember this fall.  
  • We have used six bottles of Killex on our lawn to control dandelions.  Some of you have success using the dandelion bar, I have never seen any difference.  I have no idea why it doesn’t work for us.  
  • Despite using six bottles so far of Killex, I have a boulevard of dandelions this morning.  It’s the same with everyone else but no one else is fighting it.  Also the abandoned lot behind us isn’t helping things.
  • I have fertilized heavily this year.  I used to reseed the dead areas but then I am naturing new grass every year.  This year I am fertilizing and then waiting for it to grow in.  I guess the idea is that I want more of the grass that is successful surviving our winter, not some stuff that is designed for a more temperate climate and looks good in the summer and then dies off.
  • I wish I didn’t have to fertilize this month but like a lot of houses in Mayfair, topsoil was never used.  It’s gotten better since we moved in but it isn’t ideal.
  • In the past I have spread out peat moss and compost to help with soil conditions but for the first time since moving in, the lawn feels spongy as a result of putting down stuff on top of the clay that we had before (I have said before, the biggest mistake I made was not bringing in topsoil and rotor tilling my entire lawn when we moved in).
  • I will be using compost tea later this summer.  I tend to fertilize every six weeks and around the start of July I will brew up a batch and apply it to the lawn.  The advantage of compost tea is that it promotes deep roots on grass and makes it hardier.  It is also environmentally friendly.
  • I will continue to leave the clippings on the lawn.  Grass is largely water and it makes a big difference to the soil after leaving it on the lawn for several years.  I do roto-rake to break up the thatch in the spring but when you have a clay foundation to your yard like we do in older neighbourhoods, organic material makes a big difference.  I water a lot less now that I did years ago as a result.
  • I do use some Roundup.  We have problems with an illegal ground cover (it’s banned by the city) crawling over our boulevards.  Killex won’t kill it so in the past I have just killed everything and then replanted a hardy grass.  I used it around my driveway now.
  • Do no evil

    Dupont has apparently not heard of Google’s slogan.  It has come out with a new game changing herbicide (good) but then the reports of hundreds of thousands of trees dying starting to roll in.  Dupont says it isn’t their fault but rather than pull the product for more testing, it has kept on selling it and has blamed landscape contractors.   The New York Times has more.

    “We are investigating the reports of these unfavorable tree symptoms,” said Kate Childress, a spokeswoman for DuPont. “Until this investigation is complete, it’s difficult to say what variables contributed to the symptoms.”

    DuPont continues to sell the product, which is registered for use in all states except California and New York. The company said that there were many places where the product had been used without damaging trees.

    The E.P.A. has begun gathering information on the deaths from state officials and DuPont as well as through its own investigators. “E.P.A. is taking this very seriously,” the agency said in a statement.

    In a June 17 letter to its landscape customers, Michael McDermott, a DuPont products official, seemed to put the onus for the tree deaths on workers applying Imprelis. He wrote that customers with affected trees might not have mixed the herbicide properly or might have combined it with other herbicides. DuPont officials have also suggested that the trees may come back, and have asked landscapers to leave them in the ground.

    Mr. McDermott instructed customers in the letter not to apply the herbicide near Norway spruce or white pine, or places where the product might drift toward such trees or run off toward their roots.

    For some landscapers, the die-off has been catastrophic. “It’s been devastating,” said Matt Coats, service manager for Underwood Nursery in Adrian, Mich. “We’ve made 1,000 applications and had 350 complaints of dead trees, and it’s climbing. I’ve done nothing for the last three weeks but deal with angry customers.”

    “We’re seeing some trees doing O.K., with just the tips getting brown, and others are completely dead and it looks like someone took a flamethrower to them,” he said.

    So far, the herbicide seems to affect trees with shallow root systems, including willows, poplars and conifers, he said.

    Underwood Nursery is replacing the trees, which its liability insurance covers, but faces a $500 deductible for each incident. “It’s already cost us $150,000,” Mr. Coats said. Some landscapers are finding that their insurance does not cover the tree deaths at all.

    Dupont seems to be using the News Corp style of

    The Re-emergence of the High Line

    I have never been to New York but one of the things I want to see when I go there is the High Line when it is done.  The New York Times has a nice article on how it is coming along.  It’s enough to make me want to move to New York.  Oh right, I have always wanted to live in New York but it’s another reason why I want to live in New York. 

    Speaking of New York, at coffee yesterday I was listening to some co-workers mention that they would want to live in a small town.  I thought they were crazy and when I mentioned New York, Boston, San Francisco, London, and L.A. as cities I want to live in, they thought I was certifiably crazy.  Each carries risks.  In several of those places, the chances of being run over by a run away swather is a lot less then the others.  Nothing is worse than “death by swather”.

    RIP Lawnmower: 1991-2007

    In 1988 my mom and I drove over to CO-OP and bought our a lawnmower. It outlived my mom but couldn’t outlive the One Tonne Challenge which mortally wounded it as I tried to be more environmentally caring and installed a universal mulching blade on it. I never knew that you should actually replace the whole hub (it never said that on the package) which tossed out the balance for the mower, cracking the gas tank. Epoxy worked for a while but the crack spread to the point where I couldn’t fix it and it was time to replace it (the engine still purrs) after 16 years of abuse (Maggi hates it and actually bites it whenever it is started and actually has to be chained up for her and the mowers safety). After looking at a push mower (good for the environment but bad for cutting really large lawns), I went to Wal-Mart and bought a mulching rear bag mower they had for cheap. I know some of you are going to hate me for shopping at Wal-Mart but it was over $100 (or a third) cheaper which is crazy and I am not sure how anyone competes with that on the low end mowers. They were cheaper than most other places electric mowers let alone side discharge ones.

    Before you assault me for getting a gas mower instead of a push mower, we did take a long look at them and talked to some friends of ours who have smaller lawns than ours who all said not to bother with one on our lawn. While everyone is advertising electric mowers as eco-friendly, some of what I read pointed out that if your province or state used a lot of dirty coal plants to produce electricity and you have a big yard, you undermine a lot of what you have done by switching to low wattage bulbs. Also, in the proud Canadian tradition of talking about the environment but taking no action, we are naming my new mower, Kyoto.

    In the long run I think it may just be easier to keep a herd of sheep.