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Natural Organic Lawn Fertilizer
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What is Corn Gluten Meal
Corn Gluten Meal as a Fertilizer
Corn Gluten Meal​

Organic Lawn Care 101
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Weed Free Lawn
Corn Gluten Meal as a Fertilizer

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When Should I Fertilize My Lawn? - A Lawn Care Calendar
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University of Minnesota Fertilization Facts

Fall Fertilization
Lawn Diseases

Corn Gluten Meal as a Fertilizer
Comparison of Organic and Synthetic Fertilizers
Organic Fertilizer and Weed Control

Purdue University Turfgrass website
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Root Structure Diagram

Make a Natural Weed Killer From Kitchen Ingredients
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Non Toxic Ant Control
The History of Lawns in America

Back in the days when the frist homes were established in the United States, lawns consisted of packed dirt or a mixture of flowers and other native plants growing in the yard - not the lush, green lawns we aspire to achieve today. Having a beautiful lawn was viewed as a luxury expense for the wealthy in England who could afford groundskeepers - and Americans wanted that too.

In 1915, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Golf Association partnered together to create a durable lawn. Importing grasses from Africa, Europe and the Caribbean allowed them to test different grass combinations, finding suitable ones that would flourish in our many climates. 

Grasses can be divided into two categories: cool-season and warm-season grasses. Cool-season grasses are found in the northern part of the U.S., while warm-season grasses are found in the southern parts. In between these areas, there is a small section known as the transition zone, where both grass groups are found. 

Cool-Season Grasses

Since the cool-season areas have winters with temperatures below zero, it's important that the grasses can handle a large range of temperature. Cool grasses grow in the spring and fall and become dormant during the hottest and coldest parts of the year. The most popular varieties include:

Kentucky Bluegrass: This is the most popular of cool-season grasses, forming a thick, dark green texture for a great-looking lawn.

Tall Fescue: This grass needs little additional upkeep and is great on playgrounds because it can handle the regular use.

Fine Fescue: Another popular cool-season grass, all types of fine fescue are tolerant of both sun and shade. It has a soft, fine texture and rich green color similar to Kentucky bluegrass.

Ryegrass: This grass germinates and establishes quickly, so it's common to find it in seed mixtures throughout the cool-season region.

Bentgrass: Used mainly for golf courses, bentgrass can be found occasionally in home lawns, but can be a bit pricey and tricky to maintain.

Warm-Season Grasses

In the South, growing and maintaining a good-looking lawn is a more involved process than in the North. Maintaining good soil is critical for growing a low-maintenance lawn because most types of grasses turn brown when cooler temperatures arrive. 

Bermuda: Commonly known as the "South's grass," it's the predominant grass type for most of the warm-season area. It has a fine texture with good tolerance for cold, but doesn't do well in the shade. 

St. Augustine: It's commonly found in Florida, along the Gulf Coast, and in Southern California because of its dark green color, and heat and shade tolerance. This grass forms a thick turf that is perfect for thriving in hot, humid areas.

Centipede: This medium-textured grass has a fair cold tolerance and grows low to the ground.

Zoysia: Zoysia grass can be found in cool-season areas but turns brown as soon as the weather cools down and doesn't replenish its color until late spring. When used in the warm-season areas, it forms a dark green turf but grows slowly.

Sustainable lawns are now cheaper and easier.

Friday, September 16, 2011. For more about the author - 
About the writer, Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts "The Organic Gardeners" at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including "Grow Organic" and "Good Bug, Bad Bug".

Having a lush, green lawn isn't the status symbol it used to be.

Now, having a lush, green sustainable lawn is the only way to one-up the Joneses.

In the past decade, several communities — including the Canadian province of Quebec; Westchester County, NY; Saginaw, Mich.; Sarasota County, Fla.; and all of Wisconsin — have adopted various bans on the use of "weed-and-feed" products, particularly those containing phosphorus fertilizers, because of environmental and health concerns. In Quebec, the list of banned products consists of almost two dozen active ingredients — pesticides and herbicides — including 2,4-D and Sevin (carbaryl) — two of the many lawn and garden chemicals Americans frequently use.

Paul Tukey, founder of Safelawns.org, an organization dedicated to promoting environmentally friendly lawn-care, and the author of "The Organic Lawn Care Manual," describes the typical American lawn as a "junkie" — utterly dependent on three or four annual applications of fertilizers, constant artificial irrigation, grub control, weed control, height control.
Perfect Organic Lawn and Garden Fertilizer
This booklet is 19 pages and takes a few moments to download. You may print a copy to keep for reference.
The U.S. Government Printing Office no longer has this booklet in inventory due to budget cuts. You can read it online or print your own copy. It is a good resource.

Sustainable lawns are now cheaper and easier.

Paul Tukey, founder of Safelawns.org, an organization dedicated to promoting environmentally friendly lawn-care, and the author of "The Organic Lawn Care Manual," describes the typical American lawn as a "junkie" — utterly dependent on three or four annual applications of fertilizers, constant artificial irrigation, grub control, weed control, height control.

So here, then, are six easy-to-implement ways to grow a gorgeous sustainable lawn that rivals any chemical-laden landscape and is easy on the eyes and the budget. A gentle reminder, though, that change doesn't happen overnight. It might take more than a season to wean your turf of these vices. But, stick with it. Tukey says a sustainable lawn is a lot less expensive in the long run and far easier to care for.

Step 1: Feed the Soil -  Shift your thinking from "feeding my lawn" to "feeding my soil."  We should grow grass to the way a forest grows trees.
Create a nutrient-cycling system where your grass is fed by additions of organic matter rather than through added artificial chemicals. We should rely on the beneficial insect and microbial life in your soil to break organic matter down into usable plant nutrients — as happens naturally in any undisturbed ecosystem, such as a forest. This is easily accomplished by spreading Schulz Organic Fertilizer on your lawn two times a year.
The nutrient-rich feeding stays at the surface and in the root zone for 90 to 120 days. The grass is continually fed for months between applications, far longer than a chemical fertilizer.

Schulz Organic Fertilizer is granulated and can be spread with a broadcast spreader as well as a drop type spreader.

If a lawn has thinned out from drought stress, traffic wear, increasing shade or other problem, it is best to make a heavier application. Some clients opt for a mid-summer application. After two or three years the lawn usually thickens and the applications return to normal. The reason is that, if your lawn has been fed only a chemical diet for many years, there is little organic matter and/or microbial and insect life there, and it takes a few years to build it up to a point where the cycle is self-sustaining.

And, as many are now aware, 75 percent of the nutrients in chemical fertilizers run off into our watersheds before plants can use them, — but nearly 100 percent of the nutrients in natural-organic granular fertilizers stay in our soil and continue to feed our lawns for months.

Step 2: Pay attention to your mowing and your mower. Mowing too short will cause stress and give the grass a sunburn. Never cut more than one third of the height of the grass blade when mowing. Raise the cutting height to 3 inches or even higher. Leaving turf grass 3 to 4 inches tall allows the grass more blade length to absorb the sun to grow into a healthy plant while it shades its roots, keeping the soil cooler and moist and shades out weed seedlings and generates a good, deep-root system. After all, the more leaf surface area grass has for photosynthesis, the more energy it has to promote good root growth. You should only mow short in the early spring and again in the late fall. Lenghten your mowing intervals by a few extra days especially during the days of summer. Sharpen your blades often. Dull blades tear,rather than slice the grass, causing injury and leaving a jagged brown edge. Consider an electric or battery powered mower. Gas mowers make much more pollution "per mile" than automobiles.​ Recycle your clippings back into the soil via the mower's mulching feature. Because these tiny clippings are quick to decompose and chock full of nitrogen (and every nutrient required by the turf), with a mulching mower, you are fertilizing every time you mow.

Step 3: Pick the right grass. 
If you want to cut down on mowing chores even more, you can overseed and replace your existing fast-growing Kentucky blue and perennial rye grass lawns with one of the new low-and-slow growing seed mixes. Some seed mixes require mowing only three or four times a year. This particular brand is a collection of fescue varieties and newer cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye with slower growth rates. The patented seed blends are drought and pest resistant and deep-rooted, and require less fertilizer. 

Step 4: Read your weeds. If your lawn is mostly dandelions, then, that's what your soil wants to grow.You can kill the weeds repeatedly or you can work to improve the growing conditions to favor growing conditions so the turf will thicken. Dense turf is the best way to keep your lawn weed free.The dandelions will come back unless you fix your soil.

Many weed problems are the result of poor soil conditions. Get a soil test through your local cooperative extension service. It will be $20 well spent. 

Then follow the feeding rules. A dandelion problem often infers a lack of available calcium or too much magnesium in relation to calcium. Your lawn soil is supposed to have seven times more available calcium than magnesium. If your soil test confirms this to be the case, use high-calcium limestone (not dolomitic limestone, which will worsen the problem) or gypsum to fix it. Remedy the poor soil conditions and the increased health of the grass will make major weed outbreaks a thing of the past.

And, you can skip the chemical "weed-and-feed" products. Canada has outlawed combination weed-and-feed products with the  thinking that the combination product made it too easy for homeowners to over apply the chemicals included with the fertilizer. The USA is soon to follow the Canadians.

 A German company called Neudorff has developed a natural product from chelated iron that does a fantastic job of ridding the lawn of dandelions, plantains, thistles, ground ivy, chickweed and lots of other nasties without harming the grass. It is sprayed over the lawn and kills only the broadleaved weeds with a rapid infusion of iron (which, by the way, is a nutrient grass uses to make more green). Neudorff licenses their product to several companies. Brands include Iron-X, Fiesta, Ortho EcoSense and Whitney Farms Lawn Weed Killer, among others. It is an effective alternative to 2,4-D based products.

Step 5: Insects happen. Turf experts say there have to be at least 10 grubs per square foot of turf to cause significant damage. Conventional lawn care actually promotes insect damage, and you'll find that, after your lawn care practices change to chemical free, insect worries often disappear. 

Step 6: irrigation and watering. Maintenance matters. Most grasses require abouit 1.0" to 1.5" of water per week which moistens the soil to a depth of 4.0" to 6.0" below the surface. Be careful not to overwater because flooding the lawn allows excess water to run into the storm drains. The correct method is to water for a short time then move the sprinkler to a new location allowing each section adequate time to absorb the water and soak to the desired depth. Remember to water less often, but more thoroughly for best results. This means that on watering day you may water the same area several times at intervals to allow time for deep absorbtion. Lawns that are frequently irrigated and fertilized will develop shallow root systems that are unable to sustain the plant's health during stress periods and are more easily damaged by feeding grubs. Shallow roots also are more affected by surface drying. Deeper rooted lawns suffer far fewer consequences. If grubs do become problematic, turn to beneficial nematodes or Milky Spore for a natural cure. For a list of alternative pest controls click here for a view of the Bio-Integeral Resource Center catalog.

Resource conservation requires lawn-lovers to reconsider how and when we water our turf. Less-frequent waterings promote deeper root systems. Instead of being hand-fed their water from a sprinkler, these roots need to go out and get their own. This practice makes for better nutrient acquisition via that extensive root system. So, if you must water your lawn (which no one really does), do it only in the morning when less is lost to evaporation. And, do it deeply and less frequently. If no rain has fallen during the summer months, irrigating once per week is perfect. Run the sprinkler just long enough to fill up an empty tuna can placed in the sprinkler's path.

Other sustainable lawn-maintenance chores include dethatching and aeration, especially in the beginning. Chemical-fed lawns have a lot of thatch build-up, and one of the first steps in converting your lawn to natural maintenance is a good dethatching (the fall is best for this as the weather is cooler and soil stays moist longer - summer stresses turf and extra stress can cause death). Removing the old, dead grass stems still attached to the growing plant allows for better penetration of water and any added organic fertilizers. A fully organic lawn almost never has to be dethatched. The beneficial microbes and insects break the thatch down for us resolving it plant food.

Aeration is the key for an easy conversion process. Reducing compaction by removing finger sized cores of soil, opens up channels for water, nutrients and air to move about and into the soil profile. Again, after your lawn is fully converted to an organic maintenance program, aeration is seldom is necessary except in cases of compaction because of physical practices (regular soccer games, the presence of heavy equipment, etc.).

If you should need to overseed, choose your seed wisely. There can be a wide range of seed prices and generally you get what you pay for. Choose the right seed that is best adapoted to the conditions of the location. Seeding is best done in the fall. Prepare the area so the seed will have contact with the soil. Seeding is most easily done in the late fall 
and germination will be automatic without additional watering in the spring.  The good news is that vigourous healthy turf will fill in bare spots faster than overseeding.

The best time to start your conversion to sustainable lawn care is September. Aerate, dethatch, spread compost or granular organic fertilizer and over seed. Be patient about the process and tolerant of the learning curve. The status as the first fully sustainable lawn on the block comes with the best kind of bragging rights. It may take some time to wean your lawn of its bad habits, but the effort is worth it. Stay the course. A sustainable lawn is a whole lot less exspensive in the long run and far easier to care for. 

The ideal fertilizer should be designed to completely fulfill the nutritional requirements of the plant it serves. 

The three major components of a typical fertilizer are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium; often referred to by their chemical symbols "N", "P", and "K". Thus a fertilizer with a guaranteed analysis of 9-0-5 would consist of 9% Nitrogen (N), 0% Phosphorus (P2O5), and 5% Potassium(K2O). 

Mineral nutrients are classified as major, secondary, and minor elements. No one essential nutrient is of greater importance than any other. All of the essential elements are necessary for proper development of turfgrass, but the major and secondary elements are needed in larger quantities than the minor elements.

Major Elements: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium

Nitrogen is an essential part of all living matter. It is the basis for amino acids, which combine to form proteins. Nitrogen is associated with above ground vegetation growth and density of turf, as well as its deep green color. Deficiency is noticed in turf that has turned light green or yellow. The blades start dying at the tip and progress along the midrib until the entire leaf is dead. 

Phosphorus is the key nutrient in seeding development since it contributes so much to initial root development and seed formation. It is directly related to the vital growth process. Deficiency is most likely to be observed in seedling growth when new seedlings are slow to develop. On established grasses the leaves tend to turn purple.

Potassium otherwise known as potash is found in large quantities in the plant. Potassium is associated with winter hardiness and disease resistance in turf. Deficiency will appear in the blades becoming streaked with yellow, turn brown at the tips and eventually die. Susceptibility to disease and winter injury is also increased. 

Secondary Elements: Sulfur, Calcium, and Magnesium 

A soil may be alkaline, acidic or essentially neutral. The alkalinity or acidity of a soil is measured by its pH. 

All pH values occur somewhere in a scale running from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral with numbers less than 7 indicating acidity and numbers over 7 being alkaline. It is commonly accepted that a pH range of 6.5 to 7 is good for raising turfgrasses. This is because overall nutrient availability is at its maximum in this range. Any time the pH strays too far from this range the nutrients become less available and more difficult for the plant to utilize. 

It is possible to improve soil pH by adding high-calcium lime to acidic soils or by adding sulfur, in various forms, to alkaline soils. It is wise to have a soil test run to determine if the pH needs to be raised, lowered, or left as is. 

Sulfur is an essential part of certain amino acids and proteins. Together with nitrogen this element makes new protoplasm, which enables plant cell growth. Deficiency is similar to that of nitrogen in that the leaves will turn light green or yellow, and then turn brown and eventually die. 

Minor Elements: Iron, Manganese, Copper, Boron,
                               Chlorine,Molybdenum, and Zinc 

Iron plays an integral part in chlorophyll production and is also a part of many enzymes. It is responsible for giving turf its deep green color. Deficiency symptoms include chlorotic or even white young leaves due to a reduction or loss of chlorophyll. 

Other Minors are essential but not discussed here since most soils have the minor elements in the necessary amounts. A complete soil test will determine if any of these minor elements are needed.
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