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Archives for December 4, 2013

Five people on planes who are way worse to fly with than my kids

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City to Study Saving Southern Bridge Pier

The city of Washington will continue to explore saving a pier on the south end of the bridge adjacent to the riverfront trail.

Members of the Missouri Highway 47 Bridge Committee and the Washington Historic Preservation Commission (WHPC) met Tuesday morning to discuss possibilities for reusing the span or pieces of the current bridge that is scheduled to be replaced.

The idea, which also included benches and landscaping, was brought up by an engineer during the design phase for the new bridge.

Steve Strubberg of Horn Architect, who also is on the WHPC, presented a sketch of what the pier could look like if it were preserved. Strubberg, who told the committee that Horn Architect did gratis work for the firm that presented the original sketch, said the pier is north of the railroad tracks and south of the trail.

He was unsure if there would be anything that might prevent the pier from being saved.

The pier is an estimated half-mile down the trail, committee members said.

Positives to Saving

Strubberg said the pier would be an economical solution to maintenance, because it wouldn’t require the maintenance that a steel structure would.

Though some of the trail foliage has grown up blocking the view, Strubberg said the view is great and the pier is a “unique” art deco design.

The fact that the pier is already in place also was noted as a plus, as well as that could reduce demolition costs.

Strubberg also suggested using the pier as part of the “trail education process,” with the history of the bridge.

Nancy Wood, WHPC member, expressed concern about access to the pier.

Others said that while accessibility would be an issue, the pier could be a destination on senior trail day for those unable to walk to the pier.

Other Ideas

Discussion centered on saving the pier, but other ideas also were raised.

Tim Jones, a member of the historic preservation commission, brought up the possibility of putting a piece of the bridge over St. John’s Creek to St. John’s Island, which is in close proximity to the parks system and to downtown.

“When we lost that bridge, we lost a lot of potential for things that could be developed on that island if the city was able to acquire some of that land and maybe add it to the parks system,” Jones said.

Rick Hopp, who also is on the commission, said he didn’t think the property owners would be in favor of the proposal and that the owners farm that land.

Hopp asked if the bridge had to be removed.

Zick said the maintenance would be too much for the city and would be a liability.

Others suggested keeping the entrance of the bridge for reuse, but didn’t have ideas for reuse because of the size of the bridge.

Zick said that the beauty of the bridge is in its overall shape.

Others agreed that saving a single piece wouldn’t preserve the beauty of the bridge.

“No piece will look like anything without the rest (of the bridge),” said Bryan Bogue, WHPC member.

Next Steps

Members of the parks department will begin clearing brush and study the feasibility of saving the south pier before the January bridge committee meeting.

Darren Lamb, city economic development director, said the cost of saving any piece of the bridge would fall on the city or county and that MoDOT would not pay for movement or reconstruction.

The city must tell MoDOT its plans on saving any piece of the bridge by June 2014.

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Open Year-Round, Knupper’s has Ideas for Every Season

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Business Spotlight. We will regularly post profiles submitted by local businesses. To include your business in our Business Spotlight series, visit this link and complete the form.


Business: Knupper Nursery Landscape

Address: 1801 Rand Rd., Palatine



Contact: (847) 359-1080

Submitted by: John and Sue Heaton, owners

When and how did your business get started? Knupper’s was started in the 1930’s by Richard and Lucile Knupper. John Heaton bought the business from the Knupper’s in the 1960’s, and he and his wife Sue have owned the business since then.

What is your business best known for?
 Knupper’s is known for its high quality plant material (including fresh Christmas trees!) and flowers, its landscaping services, and its knowledgeable staff. It’s known for its commitment to the village of Palatine and for hiring local people.

Does your business offer a special deals card or program? Knupper’s has a loyalty program called Knupper Bucks that gives customers 1 buck for each 10 dollars spent, year-round. Two times a year we have “Knupper Bucks Festivals” where customers can redeem their bucks for up to half the cost of any plant material.

What’s something interesting about your business your customers might not know? John’s dad was a gladiola farmer in Nebraska, and for a long time, Knupper’s had a winter business of wholesaling gladiola bulbs to over 500 Walmarts across the United States.

Why did you choose Palatine to open your business? Palatine was a great place for young families who were buying houses and needing flowers and landscaping for their yards.

Want Your Business Featured on Palatine Patch?

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What You Get for… $725000

WHAT: A two-bedroom two-bath ranch house near Chesapeake Bay

HOW MUCH: $735,000

SIZE: 1,800 square feet


SETTING: Pasadena is a waterfront community of 24,000 people just south of Baltimore. This house is at the end of a thin two-mile-long peninsula reaching into a creek that empties into the Chesapeake Bay. The property faces the water on two sides and has water access. The neighborhood is characterized by mix of smaller houses from the 1940s and ’50s, when the area was primarily second homes, and larger houses built as the area became more of a suburb to Baltimore and Annapolis, both within a half-hour’s drive. Washington is about an hour’s drive.

INDOORS: The single-story house was built in 1950 and renovated within the last five years. Floors throughout are hardwood, and most of the walls have white board-and-batten siding. The living room has a pyramidal brick fireplace, a wood-beam ceiling and a wet bar with built-in shelves. A sunroom with heated slate floors faces the bay. French doors in the master bedroom also open to the sunroom. A porch off the breakfast nook has pitched wood ceilings.

OUTDOOR SPACE: On one side of the house is a deep-water dock and a pier. On the other is a stone bulkhead with steps leading down to the water.

TAXES: $4,981 a year

CONTACT: Jeanne Dobson and Michelle Blanchard, Keller Williams Flagship of Maryland (443) 305-9003;


WHAT: An 11-bedroom four-and-half-bath Greek Revival with a two-bedroom barn apartment

HOW MUCH: $725,000

SIZE: 8,795 square feet


SETTING: Gorham is a town of about 16,000 within a 20-minute drive of Portland, the state’s largest city. This house, a large 18th-century Greek Revival on the National Register of Historic Places, is on over six acres at the edge of downtown, a historic district known as Gorham Village. The village is home to small shops and restaurants and a campus of the University of Southern Maine, which has some historic brick buildings dating back to 1878 as well as contemporary residence halls.

INDOORS: This three-story house was built in 1770 and expanded during the 19th century. It is zoned both residential and commercial. Original features include wide-plank wood floors and exposed ceiling beams, built-in cabinetry and bookshelves, and nine wood-burning fireplaces — one in nearly every common room and several of the bedrooms.

The owner’s quarters take up all of the first floor and most of the second. There’s a living room, a dining room, a library, a study and a three-season sun porch. The kitchen has a Viking range. Two of the first-floor bedrooms are used as a private art gallery; the third has an en-suite bathroom with a hot tub and sauna. Upstairs, the owner’s apartment has three more bedrooms. The master has an en-suite bathroom and a fireplace. The other bedrooms on the second and third floors are used as rental units, and have a separate entrance.

Also on the property is a barn with a two-bedroom apartment, an art studio, a greenhouse and an outbuilding where the current owners make honey. Both the barn apartment and the art studio have wood stoves.

OUTDOOR SPACE: The house is on 6.4 acres, with a spring-fed pond used for swimming and canoeing; peach trees; blueberry, grape and blackberry bushes; and flower and vegetable gardens. On one side of the house is a croquet court, bordered by hedges and a walled garden, an aspect of the landscaping dating back to about 1900. Large magnolia trees shade the lawns.

TAXES: $7,189 a year

CONTACT: Alyssa Bouthot, the Swan Agency Sotheby’s International Realty (207) 450-3420;


WHAT: A four-bedroom three-and-a-half-bath log house

HOW MUCH: $729,000

SIZE: 5,371 square feet


SETTING: Evergreen is a residential community surrounded by parkland in the Rocky Mountains, 15 miles from Denver. This secluded house is on a winding hillside road near the edge of town, neighboring other multiacre properties. Downtown Evergreen, a small main street lined with shops and restaurants, many of them in turn-of-the-century buildings, is about a 10-minute drive away.

INDOORS: The three-story log cabin was built in 2002. Most of its rooms have exposed log walls, wood-beam ceilings and views of the surrounding mountains and valley. The great room has a fireplace and a pitched ceiling nearly 20 feet high, and opens to a deck that wraps around to the kitchen. Floors throughout the first floor are oak with radiant heating. Kitchen appliances include a Heartland stove with enamel finish and nickel plating, honed slate countertops and a Viking refrigerator. The kitchen is separated from the great room by a center island with butcher-block countertops. It has two decks, including the one shared with the great room. A family room adjoining the dining area has a wood-beam ceiling and a fireplace. French doors open to a study.

Three bedrooms are on the second floor. All have vaulted ceilings and walk-in closets; one has a window seat. The master also has a stone fireplace and private deck. Floors in its en-suite bathroom are slate, and the room has a separate shower and a claw-foot tub. The walkout lower level has a recreation room with a wet bar and an additional bedroom suite. Also on the property is a treehouse.

OUTDOOR SPACE: Two and a half mostly wooded acres.

TAXES: $5,637 a year

CONTACT: Jennifer Davenport and Emily Henderson, Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty (303) 919-4891 / (303) 717-3418;

Article source:

KI Garden Club presents ‘Holiday in the Home’

Holiday in the Home

Holiday in the Home

From left, Kent Island Garden Club members Linda Elias of Grasonville and Lois Rys of Stevensville and guest floral arranger Mary Ellen Bay of Westminster display a number of beautiful floral creations at the 2012 “Holiday in the Home” presentation.

Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 1:00 am

KI Garden Club presents ‘Holiday in the Home’

STEVENSVILLE — The Kent Island Garden Club will present “Holiday in the Home,” which will feature demonstrations of creative floral designs by Murdoch Florists, a holiday boutique and a Shabby Chic table, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the American Legion on Route 8 in Stevensville. The designers will demonstrate floral designs, which include flowers, evergreens, LED lights and other elements to create new ideas for using what is already available within the home. The designs will be raffled during the afternoon. In addition, there will be door prizes, a Shabby Chic table, Unique by Design (affordable fashion jewelry) and a 50/50 raffle. Light refreshments will be served. Tickets are available at the door for $10.

This event is the single annual fundraiser for the Kent Island Garden Club. Proceeds from the sale of the

tickets will be used to fund the many local projects in which the Garden Club participates throughout the year. Among these projects are the seasonal decorations at the historic Cray House in Stevensville, the design and maintenance of the colonial herb garden. Seasonal decorations are also done at the Love Point Train Station, the historic Stevensville post office and at the Kent Island Library.

Members also support the Heritage Society’s ongoing restoration of the Kirwan House gardens and the new butterfly garden. Other projects include the landscaping development and maintenance for the historic plot at the Stevensville Cemetery and the environmentally suitable landscaping for Broad Creek cemetery. The “Let Freedom Ring” garden at the Kent Island Volunteer Firehouse is maintained by the club. Memorial bricks for the walkway to honor those who have served our country are available through the garden club.

The garden club participates with other civic groups to support and enrich the community. On the Kent Island Heritage Day, the club participates in the parade and staffs a booth to provide information and sell perennial plants which flourish in this area.

The county-owned historic Christ Church in Stevensville has its seasonal garden planted and tended to by the garden club to enhance the lovely old building.

The KI Garden Club also works with school children to develop and cultivate an interest in gardening. Matapeake school and the garden club have worked with an interested group of students to develop environmentally friendly gardens around the school.

The Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore has invited the KI Garden Club to participate in the prestigious Art Blooms festival for more than 10 years. Each club is assigned an exhibited artwork to design and present a floral interpretation of that artwork. As a spin-off of this beautiful event, the KI Federation of Art has invited the KI Garden Club members to select artwork presented for the juried art show in the spring and create floral interpretations.

In addition to the aforementioned projects, the KI Garden Club provides financial support to the following: Adkins Arboretum, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, the Daffodil Society, the Kent Island Heritage Society and several other organizations.

More about Kent Island Garden Club

  • ARTICLE: KI Garden Club hosts holiday show
  • ARTICLE: Kent Island Garden Club presents flower show

More about Murdoch Florists

  • ARTICLE: KI Garden Club hosts holiday show

More about Ki Garden Club

  • ARTICLE: KI Garden Club hosts holiday show


Wednesday, December 4, 2013 1:00 am.

| Tags:

Kent Island Garden Club,

Murdoch Florists,

Ki Garden Club,


Christ Church,

Cray House,

American Legion,

Stevensville Cemetery,

Chesapeake Bay Foundation,

Love Point Train Station,

Adkins Arboretum,

Kent Island Library,

Broad Creek Cemetery

Article source:

Garden Club members help make the season bright

Dr. Yaun’s Blog

Learn the latest about all aspects of health including fitness, nutrition, sleeping habits, pain management, etc. Every aspect of health must be accounted for in daily life. This blog provides a guide to living an active lifestyle pain-free!

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Gardening Tips: Instant Gratification – Perennials for the impatient gardener

In the garden, I want instant gratification. Planting seeds and waiting two years for the plants to bloom calls for more patience than I usually possess. So when it comes to perennials, those stalwarts that live for years in the garden, I often buy potted plants that will please me with flowers their first year in the ground. But growing perennials from seed is a real money-saver, and the siren call of a $2 seed packet that will yield a couple of dozen plants is hard to ignore — especially when I compare the price of those homegrown plants to the $3 to $5 a pot I’d pay at the nursery.

Over the years I’ve done some experimenting and discovered a garden-full of easy-to-grow precocious perennials. If you plant these seeds early (in the garden if it’s an early spring, in pots if not), you can often enjoy colorful flowers the first year.

Gardening Tips: Instant Gratification

My first success was globe mallow (Sphaeralcea grossulariifolia, also sold as S. incana; Zones 4-10), a wildflower from the West with spires of simple cupped flowers in summer. I almost missed out on this hollyhock relative because the catalog called it orange, and I thought the color would be hard to work into the garden. I’m glad I took a gamble, because the blossoms are actually a soft orange-red, further mellowed by the effect of the gray-green leaves.
Orange globe mallow is beautiful with blues, like ‘Blue Mirror’ delphinium, another first-year bloomer. I had a hard time believing I could have blooming delphiniums the same year I planted seeds. But here in the humid lower Midwest, it’s one of the few delphiniums I can grow; the stately giants simply peter out when faced with our summers, so I grow smaller cultivars (Zones 4-8), like ‘Butterfly’, ‘Beverly Hills’, ‘Southern Jesters’, and ‘Southern Noblemen’, all quick to bloom from an early spring sowing.

If you’ve always wanted a hedge of lavender, meet ‘Lady’ (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Lady’; Zones 7-9), a fragrant delight that’s almost as easy to grow as marigolds. I like to jazz up its soft purple with the bright gold of ‘Early Sunrise’ coreopsis (Zones 4-10), which blooms the first year with fluffy double daisies. I sprinkle seeds of Verbena bonariensis (Zones 7-10) among the coreopsis; they’re “see-through” plants with tall, almost bare stems that you can put anywhere in the garden. Butterflies love their tight-packed clusters of tiny purple flowers, which bloom right through light frosts.

If you have a garden pool, plant seeds of monkey flower among the surrounding rocks for a spill of color from summer through autumn. Look for hybrids like ‘Red Emperor’ and ‘Fireflame’ for knock-your-eye-out color, or plant a mixed pack of ‘Calypso Hybrids’ for a flurry of warm color.

Summer-blooming perennials are your best bet for a first-year show. Pristine white musk mallow (Malva moschata ‘Alba’; Zones 3-8) is one of my favorites, with silken blossoms on branching three-foot plants. Golden marguerite Anthemis tinctoria ‘Kelwayi’; Zones 3-7) quickly grows into relaxed clumps of ferny foliage splashed with lemony yellow daisies that bloom into fall.
First-year flowers aren’t guaranteed, even with these precocious perennials, but I don’t mind taking that risk. If I don’t see any blooms this summer, there’s always next year!

Article source:

Gardening Tips: To do list tips for garden chores in May

Garden to do list for may

It is getting toward the end of the spring season by May.

-Be sure and keep things neat and tidy as the season ends.

-Add anything you used as winter mulch to your compost bin.

-Don’t forget to turn the compost often and keep it moist.

-Inspect the mulch and be sure you still have 4-6 inches of it. If not then add more fresh mulch to your beds.

Gardening Tips: To do list tips for garden chores in May

-If you have plants that are top heavy with flowers, you will need to stake them well to prevent breakage.

-Any faded or spent blooms on roses should be pruned.

-Keep vines tied up well and guide them to grow where you want them.

-If you have strawberry plants that are new keep the flowers pinched off until the second year and you will have a better harvest of larger strawberries.

-Move your houseplants outdoors for a few hours every day.

-Plant new rose bushes.

-Keep the weeds from getting too large before removing them.

-Keep all plants watered as needed.

-Water in the morning to prevent disease problems.

-If fruit trees have suckers they need to be removed.

-Protect any fruiting plants like watermelon or cantaloupe from coming in contact with wet soil. Place hay under the fruit for protection.

-Sow seeds of annuals like Poppies, Larkspurs and Asters.

-Cuttings can be taken from most plants now and rooted with a rooting hormone and placed in peat moss.

-Plant any trees or evergreens before the weather gets too hot.

-Stake your tomato plants well.

-Continue to plant succession crops in your vegetable garden.

-Water your plants with compost tea, by putting compost in a barrel of water and let it stand in the heat for awhile. The solids will settle to the bottom and the water can be used for all plants, indoors or out.

-For a more formal look you can prune hedges or shrubs into pretty shapes. This pruning will keep them compact and bushy.

-Re-pot any plant that is root bound. If you see roots coming out of the bottom of a container then it is time to re-pot in a container one inch bigger in diameter. The roots may have to be trimmed a little bit. Be sure the roots are not growing in a circle when you put them in their new container. This circling will strangle the plant.

-For larger flowers always pinch off any side shoots such as the Peony.

-Take herb cuttings to start new herb plants.

-Harvest herbs by pruning and dry for later use.

-When you are sitting outside in the evening think about which white flowering plant would be good to plant in your garden. Moonflower seeds grow fast and look great in the moonlight.

-Enjoy the aromatic herbs and beautiful flowers of your garden.

-Don’t work too hard as it is easy to over do things when you have so much garden work to do.

Article source:

Gardening Tips: Controlling Plant Height In the Greenhouse

One of the many challenges faced by greenhouse growers is keeping the plants height short and controlled. We nurture our plants providing the proper amounts of food, light, water, and temperatures and, even with all that, the plants stretch and get leggy anyway. Are there ways to control plant height and keep them from stretching?

There are three methods of control: biological, physical and chemical. Lets look at these methods separately.

Gardening Tips: Controlling Plant Height In the Greenhouse

Biological Method: thoroughly research the cultivars you want to grow. Many bedding plants have varying maturity heights; short, medium and tall. Select the cultivars that best suit the area in the greenhouse where it will grow. It is best to grow varieties that stay short, as this is an easier way to control the plants height. The plant takes care of itself.
Schedule your start times so the plants will mature on time. Starting seeds too soon and allowing them too much time to grow creates a need to “hold back” the plant. Trying to hold a plant back from maturing is very hard to do and in the efforts made to try and accomplish this, the quality of the plant can diminish. I remember starting tomato seeds in late February for a May planting. I was a little over anxious. The seeds germinated right on time and continued to grow rapidly. There was no holding them back and I wound up with tomato trees. I lost many of the plants along the way as I was trying to maintain them. The following season I adjusted the start times, what a difference a few weeks made.

Physical Method: this control method encompasses many aspects of the plants growth from the growing environment to the cultural practices used.

1. Light intensity is one of the easier ways to keep plant height controlled. Give the plant ample room to grow. Crowding the growing area creates competition for all available light giving less to each plant. Grow only the amount of plants that you can feasibly fit in your greenhouse. Once a plant senses the others presence next to it, the plant will start to grow upward. Keep the canopy open by limiting the amount of hanging baskets grown. The plants below will be shaded too much for proper growth. I ignored these suggestions when I grew for retail purposes. I would try to squeeze out as many plants as I could from the greenhouse and indeed some plants did suffer; growing tall and leggy and ultimately not surviving the season due to the stresses they were put under.

2. If your greenhouse is made of glass, make sure it is kept clean as much as possible. The amount of light that is able to come through a dirty glass panel is diminished considerably. Plastic coverings that are old tend to turn yellow. This too causes less light to come through. Replace the covering when it is showing signs of aging. Poor lighting conditions cause the plants to stretch and grow leggy. Provide as much light as you can.

3. Container size helps to control plant height as well. Using containers that are too small, creating restricted root systems, reduces the stretching of bedding plants.

4. Watering a plant less often, allowing it to wilt slightly between waterings, gives a shorter plant, but you risk poor quality if wilting is allowed to occur too often. Plants can tolerate a certain amount of wilting. Be careful to not allow the plant to wilt to the point of no return.

5. Fertilizing less is an old time favorite way to control plant height. This method can be quite successful, so long as it is controlled. The nutrients that effect plant size are nitrogen and phosphorous. Nitrogen withheld has the biggest effect on plant height; however, allowing too much deprivation of the N nutrient for too long a period can cause yellowing of the leaves and overall poor quality. There are special fertilizers sold at garden centers that have predetermined nutrient combinations, for example, regular use of the water- soluble 20-1-20 or 20-2-20, has been shown to produce shorter, stockier plants.

6. Temperature control, using a method known in the industry as DIF, has been shown to be a useful method in controlling plant height. Developed by researchers from Michigan State University back in the 1980’s, their research basically showed that the average temperature (the average day plus night temp) affects a plants growth rate with higher averages resulting in more rapid growth and development.

DIF, the difference between day temps and night temps affects stem elongation and height. Stem elongation is the distance of the stem from one node to the next. DIF is calculated as the day temp minus the night temp and can be either positive DIF (day temp is higher than night), zero DIF (day temp = night) or negative DIF (day temp is less than night).

Trying to keep a greenhouse in negative DIF is a difficult task for most. Another way was found that accomplished reducing a plants height and is the easiest DIF treatment to use, it is called “cool morning pulse”. By reducing the greenhouse temperature 5 to 10 degrees F lower than the night temperature for 2 to 3 hours, starting 30 minutes before dawn, reduced plant height as effectively as negative DIF and was easier to do. Here is an example: night temp of 68 -degreesF, two hour drop to 60 -degreesF (30 minutes before dawn), and then 65 -degreesF maintained during the day. For warmer plants: 72 -degreesF at night; 64 -degreesF pre-dawn for 2 to 3 hours; 65-degreesF day.

There are thermostatically controlled devices that you can set up to automatically change these temperatures at the correct times. Salvia, Rose, Snapdragon and Fuchsia had very good responses to this DIF control compared to Aster, French Marigold, Tulip and Squash which showed little or no response.

Mechanical Methods are used and have been known for a long time to be a good control. By brushing, shaking or bending the plant on a regular basis caused the plants to stay short. A mechanical device was created for use in commercial greenhouses that grow vegetable seedlings. A bar is drawn across the tops of the seedlings once or twice a day. The bar is low enough to make contact with the plant without breaking the tops. A 40 percent reduction in height was recorded. Other systems using vibrations, periodic shaking and blowing air movement are also good methods of height control.

Chemical Method is really the last resort that should be taken. Improperly applying these chemicals can cause extensive damage to the plant and can be unhealthy for anyone entering the greenhouse. Chemical growth regulators are not approved for use on vegetable seedlings. A hormone called gibberellins is responsible for a plants cellular growth and elongation. Growth regulators and retardants are anti-gibberellins that inhibit gibberellin’s synthesis thus keeping the plants from growing tall. Common growth regulators and retardants are A-Rest, B-Nine, Bonzi, Cycocel, Florel and Sumagic, each used on different plants and performing different functions.

These chemical controls are considered pesticides and are best left to the professional. For the hobby greenhouse grower the non-chemical methods of control are best.

Article source:

Garden: Tips for spring lawn maintenence for beautiful spring green grass!

A Beautiful Spring Green Lawn

Dreaming of greener grass? Longing for relaxing summer evenings in the hammock with a glass of lemonade and full view of a beautifully manicured lawn? You’re not alone. A crossword puzzle I worked recently gave the clue, “suburbanite’s pride.” The answer was an obvious little 4-letter word: “lawn.” All of us though, whether we live in the suburbs or out on a rolling country road, take great pride in a beautiful lawn. It becomes the centerpiece of summer gatherings and the favorite spot for good family times.

Spring and fall are the best times to take a good look at your lawn and do the work necessary to ensure it will be its best come next spring and summer. All lawn maintenance activities are best done in the late summer and early fall. This includes sowing a new lawn, fertilizing, repairing, and reseeding. Here are some tips for fall lawn care that will let you enter winter carefree and anticipate the greener grass of summer.

Garden: Tips for spring lawn maintenence for beautiful spring green grass!

First, determine the status of your lawn right now. Is it (1) already healthy and green with little need of repair; (2) basically in good shape with just a few spots that need some work; or (3) in need of total restoration so that you feel like you need to start from scratch?

A healthy lawn is free of weeds and disease, free of brown and dry spots, has little or no thatch, and doesn’t have you sending the kids out everyday to pick the dandelions. (Thatch, by the way, is a term that means that layer of dense, tangled up grass roots and dead organic material in your lawn’s root zone. It’s bad, and you don’t want it.)

A lawn that does have some bad spots but is basically more than 50 percent good can be restored to perfection with some work. A lawn that has more than 50 percent of it covered with weeds, dry spots, or diseased areas should be totally reworked and begun from scratch.

Once you decide which category you lawn falls into, you are ready to get to work. Even the perfect lawn needs some work this time of year to ensure it will stay that way. The perfect lawn should be fertilized now and again in the spring. Choose an organic fertilizer free of harsh chemical salts. Avoid anything that says “fast acting.” You don’t need fast acting; there’s plenty of time to get the job done, and those fast acting chemicals just kill the earthworms and get to the water supply. Fertilizing in the fall prepares the lawn for winter by inviting strong vigorous growth to build the root system and store energy. Your grass will overwinter better and be ready to face the stress of summer heat if fertilized and strengthened now.

It is very important to not overfertilize. Too much nitrogen is especially harmful to your lawn. Grass will do something called “luxury consumption” when it comes to nitrogen. That means it will just keep on consuming nitrogen if it’s available. The result is too rapid growth and increased susceptibility to disease. Use a slow release organic fertilizer and apply only twice a year according to its directions or at the recommended rate of a soil test.

The perfect lawn should also be treated now for pest control. Many common lawn weeds such as dandelions germinate in the fall when the weather turns cooler. Check your garden supply store for a pre-emergence weed killer and apply according to its directions.

Also, check the “perfect” lawn now for thatch. You should be able to stick your fingers between the clumps of grass. You should also be able to feel the soil when you push your finger through the grass. If all you feel instead is a tangle or roots and matted organic material, you probably have thatch. Thatch keeps your lawn from properly utilizing water, provides habitat for nasty lawn pests, and prevents nutrients from cycling between your grass and the soil.

Early fall is the best time to de-thatch. You can rent a power dethatcher from garden supply centers. After you dethatch, fertilize and water the lawn well. It should recover in about 6 weeks.

The not-so-perfect lawn should also be fertilized and treated for pest control during the fall. Now is a good time to get a soil test done if you haven’t had one in several years. Contact your local extension service about soil testing and follow their recommendations. Brown spots in the lawn can be a result of thatch, overzealous mowing, compacted soil, or lack of water and nutrients. Check for thatch and remove if necessary as described above. Also, make sure that you are mowing at the correct blade height. Most lawn grasses should only be cut by 1/3 of their blade height. If you are cutting shorter than that, you could be damaging the roots and stolons.

If your soil is heavy or seems compacted, it’s a good idea to aerate the lawn now. (A good indicator of a compacted soil is poor water drainage.) A garden aerator can be rented or you can hire a professional to do the job. After aerating, add a topdressing of sand or ground compost. This helps the roots and improves the soil quality.

Now is also the time to take stock of your watering habits. Lawns should be watered in the early morning so grass can dry before sundown; otherwise the wet grass becomes an invitation to disease overnight. Also, be sure to water infrequently and deeply as opposed to very often shallow waterings. Shallow waterings discourage root development and keep the roots from getting down in the soil to where the nutrients are.

To repair bare spots, remove any dead grass and rake some compost into the soil. Then sow new seed.

If you need to start from scratch, be sure to start in time. You will need about 1 and 1/2 months before the first frost. Start by tilling your old lawn. Till up everything–grasses, weeds, all of it. Then fertilize with a good organic fertilizer as described above. If you have a heavy soil, you can also add compost or manure at this time to improve soil tilth. Then, smooth out the area and fill in any low spots. Go over the area with a rake to remove any stones or debris.

Purchase high quality grass seed. Be sure to read the label. Grass seed should have a guaranteed germination rate of at least 75 to 85 percent and it should be less than 0.05 percent weeds by content.

Using a rotary spreader, spread the grass seed over your lawn area. Then cover with weed-free straw. Be sure that you get even distribution of the seed. It’s a good idea to sow half the seed in one direction, then the other half in right angles to the first. Water thoroughly and make sure the seeds receive constant moisture until established.

Then sit back and relax. Your lawn is ready for winter and will bring lots of satisfaction at the coming of spring.

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