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Landscape Architects Argue That Sustainable Design Results In Net …

Agriculture
landscape architects

Published on September 28th, 2017
by Carolyn Fortuna

0

September 28th, 2017 by  

Landscape architects and clean tech? Sounds like the old nature-versus-society conundrum, doesn’t it? Well, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) says that homeowners can implement cutting-edge methods so that residential landscapes support the environment — no matter the location or property size. And the ASLA is backing up its argument with a series of free online sustainable design guides to help spread understanding about sustainable and resilient residential practices.

Developed for homeowners as well as landscape architects and designers, the guides outline ways that, through a comprehensive approach of integrated site design and sustainable building, sustainable residential landscape architecture practices cannot only improve the environment but also result in net-zero or even climate-positive homes.

The four ASLA guides fit into a larger trend about the growing preparedness of homeowners to make changes to their landscapes in response to climate change and technological innovations. The ASLA 2017 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey showed that, yes, consumers prefer sustainable design elements for their outdoor living spaces. But they also want tech-friendly elements to merge indoor and outdoor spaces. For the first time, wireless/internet connectivity entered the top 10 project types, suggesting that people want a backyard that allows them to enjoy both nature and digital communications/ entertainment.

The survey was fielded February 2 through February 16, 2017, with 817 responding. Here are the top 10 exterior project design types with the expected highest consumer demand:

  • Native/adapted drought tolerant plants – 82.31%
  • Native plants – 81.60%
  • Low-maintenance landscapes – 79.25%
  • Food/vegetable gardens (including orchards, vineyards, etc.) – 76.52%
  • Permeable paving – 76.31%
  • Reduced lawn area – 72.66%
  • Fire pits/fireplaces – 71.51%
  • Drip/water-efficient irrigation – 71.05%
  • Wireless/internet connectivity – 70.77%
  • Rainwater/graywater harvesting – 70.32%

“Well-designed residential landscapes provide social interaction, enjoyment of nature, and physical activity, while also reducing water use and stormwater runoff,” said Nancy C. Somerville, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. So sustainable landscapes and technology make valuable partners in the quest to mitigate greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions.

In response to consumer demand outlined in the trends survey, ASLA has designed the free online guides to offer a wide selection of tips, research, and best practices, including The Sustainable SITES Initiative™ (SITES®), a system for developing sustainable landscapes. The guides center around increasing energy efficiency, improving water management, applying ecological design, and using low-impact materials.

Increasing Energy Efficiency with the Help of Landscape Architects: Guide #1

Back in 2014, CleanTechnica featured an article about California’s net-zero energy mandates. It described how all California residential buildings by 2020 and all California commercial buildings by 2030 must produce as much energy onsite as they consume on an annual basis. It seemed visionary then, but now we know that inefficient home energy use is not only costly but also contributes to the growth of GHG emissions, the primary cause of climate change.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the residential sector accounted for 21% of total primary energy consumption and about 20% of carbon emissions in the U.S. in 2012. Architecture 2030 adds that building construction and operations-related energy use add up to almost 50% of total GHG emissions. So ASLA’s guide #1 supports research in the field around planning and designing collaborative efforts, which have the potential to usher in a sustainable and carbon neutral future.

Homeowners can leverage clean energy technologies, like solar-powered LED outdoor lighting. If part of a broader integrated site design, sustainable residential landscape architecture can help eliminate the need for fossil fuel-based energy. Landscape architects can help homeowners by undertaking a comprehensive energy audit and then identifying landscape-based solutions for generating renewable power or reducing energy waste.

Other examples of integrated site design are residential green roof and wall systems, which can cut energy use and home heating and cooling costs. Green roofs are energy-efficient vegetated roof systems. Green walls, also known as vertical gardens, can increase energy efficiency, lessen indoor and outdoor temperatures, and improve air quality. Additionally, when homeowners use trees and dense shrubs to shade their home and external HVAC systems, green walls help to block wind, thereby further limiting energy use.

Improving Water Management: A Landscape Architect Approach: Guide #2

In 2014, the U.S. National Climate Assessment determined that “the risks from future floods are significant, given expanded development in coastal areas and floodplains, unabated urbanization, land-use changes, and human-induced climate change.” Just three short years later, with the series of continual hurricanes in autumn 2017, extreme weather and climate events that have direct relation to human activity are — unfortunately — becoming the norm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that flooding caused some $260 billion in damages from 1980 to 2013. And, in the past decade alone, flood insurance claims have totalled $1.6 billion annually, putting further pressure on the already deeply indebted flood insurance system. However, in the second guide, the American Association of Landscape Architects says that sustainable landscape architecture practices, including green infrastructure, can impact the effects of climate action on residences. With green infrastructure design, residential landscapes reduce flooding during storms, conserve water in times of water scarcity, and limit the massive energy costs associated with running complex water management systems. Here are some sample green infrastructure approaches that landscape architects can offer to residential homeowners to help protect against flooding:

  • bioswales;
  • bioretention ponds;
  • rain gardens;
  • rain water harvesting;
  • water recycling; and,
  • drip irrigation.

Minimizing water usage is another way that homeowners can create a healthy residential environment by promoting infiltration, storing, and recycling of water. Limiting the use of valuable potable water for landscapes also helps. The ASLA calls for recycling and reusing greywater (and even blackwater) for landscape maintenance, car washing, and toilet flushing. They also point to maximizing the benefits of natural stormwater systems by improving the quality of soil on residential properties. Remediation techniques decrease water and air infiltration when soil is degraded and compacted.

Applying Healthy Ecological Design with a Landscape Architect: Guide #3

Among the many effects of urbanization is the transformation of intact, ecologically productive land into a monoculture of lawns that no longer support functioning ecosystems. According to the Audubon Society, the continental U.S. lost a “staggering” 150 million acres of habitat and farmland to urban sprawl. The remaining isolated natural areas are not large enough to support wildlife.

Why are plants so central to a functioning global ecosystem? Plants oxygenate the atmosphere and reduce atmospheric pollutants. They are the ecological basis upon which life depends, and without them and the insects that co-evolved with them, local birds cannot survive. Landscaping choices have meaningful effects on the populations of birds and the insects they need to survive. When homeowners, landscapers, and local policy makers select native plants for landscaping, such as are suggested in ASLA guide #3, they are engaging in ecological restoration, which is a valuable strategy for mitigating the impacts of climate change.

When applying a healthy ecological design to residential landscapes, homeowners who use native plants reduce the use of excess water, energy, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides that damage natural ecosystems. A healthy ecological design also supports pollinators. Native plants can be used to regenerate sustainable plant communities and reconnect fragmented ecosystems in residential areas. They are not only key to the global ecosystem: they are crucial to environmental and human health at the residential and neighborhood scale. Sustainable residential landscapes can build into a community and regional network of productive landscapes. Landscape architects can help residential homeowners to create a network of productive ecosystems, expand wildlife habitat areas, and boost human health and well-being.

Landscape architects partner with communities, non-profit organizations, and local governments to increase public awareness about using sustainable residential design practices that yield productive plant systems and reduce the negative ecological impacts of typical residential development.

When Landscape Architects Use Low-Impact Materials: Guide #4

Homeowners who don’t reuse or recycle existing materials contribute to the waste materials that fill our landfills and create additional waste when they are demolished. Sure, many materials designated for residential landscaping projects aren’t designed to be recycled. But there are alternatives, such as are listed in guide #4.

  • Homeowners can identify local materials that reduce the energy consumption associated with transportation.
  • Many innovative low-impact materials are permeable, which allow water to infiltrate and recharge aquifers rather than being routed to stormwater and sewer systems.
  • Some of these materials are also reflective, which helps to limit air temperatures and minimize air conditioning to cool buildings.
  • Certified, sustainably-harvested woods, recycled woods, and recycled plastic or composite lumber preserve forests, which are critical to sequestering GHG emissions.
  • Sustainable concrete from materials like fly ash (a byproduct of coal-fired power plants) or repurposing concrete from structures on the existing site can avoid sending useful materials to the landfill, conserve natural resources, and reduce a project’s carbon footprint.

Used in both landscapes and buildings, low-impact materials can reduce GHG emissions and create a healthier environment. Human industry does not necessarily need to harm the natural world. We do need to do research into sustainable materials, consider multiple options for material reuse and recycling prior to embarking on exterior home projects, and discuss with others alternative approaches so that materials within well-intentioned landscape projects don’t contribute to the problem of GHG emissions.

Final Thoughts

We’ve known for a long time that an essential link exists between nature and human society. But never before has the need to draw upon local sustainable practices been so important. We need to partner with nature wherever possible to secure our neighborhoods against flooding or excessive heat, to help improve air and water quality, and to protect human and environmental health. When nature is harnessed by people and used as an infrastructural system, it’s called “green infrastructure.” Green infrastructure can begin with the smallest of projects, beginning with residential landscapes and moving into park systems and urban forests. It’s efficient, cost-effective, and smart. If you’d like to learn more, here are 40 case studies from the ASLA that illustrate the transformational effects of sustainable design on residences. If you’d like to teach your child more, here are a series of educational resources from the ASLA that are written in a fun but developmentally appropriate way to help the next generation of homeowners to learn more about sustainable practices.

Photo Credits:

Increasing energy efficiency: ASLA 2011 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Carnegie Hill House, Charlottesville, Virginia by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. Image credit: Eric Piasecki. Image link A green wall with lush plantings and edibles sits above a children’s sandbox.

Improving water management: ASLA 2010 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Catalina Foothills, Tucson, Arizona by Design Workshop, Inc. Image credit: D. A. Horchner / Design Workshop, Inc. Image 142-08 link (via Dropbox) This project implements the first graywater reuse system for residential application in the region. It is intended to reduce water consumption by approximately 40 percent.

Applying ecological design: ASLA 2016 Professional Honor Award, Residential Design Category. Kronish House by Marmol Radziner. Photo credit: Roger Davies. Image link Over the four-year construction period, the addition of hundreds of mature trees and countless flowering shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers, brought in a flood of nesting birds and insect pollinators. The transformation was evident to workers who had been at the site from start to finish. They went from seeing virtually no wildlife at the beginning to experiencing a cacophony of bird song at dusk and swarms of bees, butterflies, and moths bouncing from plant to plant as they came into bloom. The diverse plantings ensure staggered bloom times to keep pollinators busy year-round, and create niche habitats for many bird and small mammal species. The property is now a lush oasis for urban wildlife in an otherwise biologically monotonous neighborhood.

Using low-impact materials: ASLA 2010 Professional Honor Award, Residential Design Category. Pacific Cannery Lofts by Miller Company Landscape Architects. Photo credit: Dennis Letbetter. Image link The landscape architect mined elements from the cannery structure, including abandoned machinery, for repurposing in the new gardens. The recycled tumbled glass riverbed in the Dining Room Court, and stone columns in the Lew Hing Garden add to the historic character. Hand crafted site furnishings made from FSC-certified wood, concrete, steel, and glass were designed by the landscape architect and crafted by Miller Company Landscape Architects’ in-house installation team.

Overall image: ASLA 2010 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Lily Lake Residence, Dalton, Pennsylvania by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Ltd. Image credit: Nic Lehoux. Image link The project reduces electricity costs for the house by leveraging shade from the site’s mature trees.


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About the Author

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. She’s won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. She’s molds scholarship into digital media literacy and learning to spread the word about sustainability issues. Please follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Google+


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Article source: https://cleantechnica.com/2017/09/28/landscape-architects-argue-sustainable-design-results-zero-net-homes/

VIDEO: Tips and tricks for fall gardening, from the experts

Colorado is known for its beautiful fall weather, and that means gardening season can stretch well into November. The experts who bring us the world-famous Annual Flower Trial Garden at Colorado State University offer their best insider info for smart fall gardening. Their advice includes how deep to bury bulbs, how to save flowering plants from year to year, and how to cut and mulch perennials to prepare for winter.

Article source: https://source.colostate.edu/video-tips-tricks-fall-gardening-experts/

VIDEO: Tips and tricks for fall gardening, from the experts

Colorado is known for its beautiful fall weather, and that means gardening season can stretch well into November. The experts who bring us the world-famous Annual Flower Trial Garden at Colorado State University offer their best insider info for smart fall gardening. Their advice includes how deep to bury bulbs, how to save flowering plants from year to year, and how to cut and mulch perennials to prepare for winter.

Article source: https://source.colostate.edu/video-tips-tricks-fall-gardening-experts/

New gardening guide offers tips on growing marijuana | The Seattle …

They’ve written guides about growing fruit, vegetables, houseplants and more. Now, the authors of a popular gardening series have set their sights on something a little different.

“What’s Wrong with My Marijuana Plant? A Cannabis Grower’s Visual Guide to Easy Diagnosis and Organic Remedies” (Ten Speed Press, 2017), by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth, is the fifth in their “What’s Wrong With…’” series, and is one of the first mainstream gardening books to offer practical advice on a topic some still consider taboo.

“I’ve been interested in medicinal plants for some time,” explains Deardorff. “So it seemed perfectly natural to me to extend our series to ‘What’s Wrong With My Marijuana Plant?’ ”

In the book’s introduction, the authors remind readers that the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal crop. They warn prospective growers to check the laws of their state before planting it. (Home-grown marijuana for recreational use or for sale remains illegal in Washington state, according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.)

But, Deardorff says, “Medical marijuana is now legal in 26 states. In some of those states you need a medical recommendation to grow it, but in others even recreation growers can now grow it, so it seemed like the timing was right.”

The publisher of the series’ earlier books, Timber Press, declined to publish this one. Just when the authors thought they might have to self-publish, Ten Speed Press agreed to step in.

“Another side to this is that we feel it’s crucially important that any plant to be used medicinally be grown organically, and our book helps people address any problems they encounter during the growing process using organic solutions,” says Wadsworth.

“Our audience is not stoners,” Deardorff adds. “Ninety percent of them are probably older women who are growing marijuana for medicinal uses.”

The book, like the earlier books in this series, takes a visual and diagnostic approach that can be especially helpful for novices.

“We focus on the first symptoms a grower can see with the naked eye. So in our book, there’s a picture of what that problem looks like and a detailed description so you can diagnose the problem. Then you can change the growing conditions accordingly,” Deardorff says.

The book is divided into sections based on the parts of the plant, such as leaf, stem, root or flower.

Because so little research has been done on marijuana in the U.S., largely due to its federal legal status, the authors researched the book by interviewing medical-marijuana growers around the country, including indoor growers, outdoor growers and home growers.

“We combined the information from these visits with research using publications from the Netherlands and Israel,” Deardorff says. He says those countries are leaders in research on medical marijuana.

“In general, it is a good strong weed,” he says. “It grows well. It grows strong. But like any other plant, it does have issues.”

The most common problem for marijuana plants, he says, is mites. And one common mistake, whether marijuana is being grown outdoors or inside in pots, is not using a potting soil that’s sufficiently light and airy. Plant nutrition is another issue, since nutritional needs change over the life of the plant. That requires different fertilizers. And although marijuana plants are generally robust, they can get powdery mildew or aphids.

“A lot of people are still using pesticides to deal with things when they should really be growing it organically, particularly for a weed like this that may be used medicinally,” he says.

What’s next in Deardorff and Wadsworth’s gardening-book series?

“I’m so done with ‘What’s wrong with my whatever’ books,” says Deardorff. “I’m thinking now about the nature of gardens, the interaction between wildlife and plants, something completely different from fruits and vegetables and weeds.”

Article source: https://www.seattletimes.com/life/garden/new-gardening-guide-offers-tips-on-growing-marijuana/

New gardening guide offers tips on growing marijuana | The Seattle …

They’ve written guides about growing fruit, vegetables, houseplants and more. Now, the authors of a popular gardening series have set their sights on something a little different.

“What’s Wrong with My Marijuana Plant? A Cannabis Grower’s Visual Guide to Easy Diagnosis and Organic Remedies” (Ten Speed Press, 2017), by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth, is the fifth in their “What’s Wrong With…’” series, and is one of the first mainstream gardening books to offer practical advice on a topic some still consider taboo.

“I’ve been interested in medicinal plants for some time,” explains Deardorff. “So it seemed perfectly natural to me to extend our series to ‘What’s Wrong With My Marijuana Plant?’ ”

In the book’s introduction, the authors remind readers that the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal crop. They warn prospective growers to check the laws of their state before planting it. (Home-grown marijuana for recreational use or for sale remains illegal in Washington state, according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.)

But, Deardorff says, “Medical marijuana is now legal in 26 states. In some of those states you need a medical recommendation to grow it, but in others even recreation growers can now grow it, so it seemed like the timing was right.”

The publisher of the series’ earlier books, Timber Press, declined to publish this one. Just when the authors thought they might have to self-publish, Ten Speed Press agreed to step in.

“Another side to this is that we feel it’s crucially important that any plant to be used medicinally be grown organically, and our book helps people address any problems they encounter during the growing process using organic solutions,” says Wadsworth.

“Our audience is not stoners,” Deardorff adds. “Ninety percent of them are probably older women who are growing marijuana for medicinal uses.”

The book, like the earlier books in this series, takes a visual and diagnostic approach that can be especially helpful for novices.

“We focus on the first symptoms a grower can see with the naked eye. So in our book, there’s a picture of what that problem looks like and a detailed description so you can diagnose the problem. Then you can change the growing conditions accordingly,” Deardorff says.

The book is divided into sections based on the parts of the plant, such as leaf, stem, root or flower.

Because so little research has been done on marijuana in the U.S., largely due to its federal legal status, the authors researched the book by interviewing medical-marijuana growers around the country, including indoor growers, outdoor growers and home growers.

“We combined the information from these visits with research using publications from the Netherlands and Israel,” Deardorff says. He says those countries are leaders in research on medical marijuana.

“In general, it is a good strong weed,” he says. “It grows well. It grows strong. But like any other plant, it does have issues.”

The most common problem for marijuana plants, he says, is mites. And one common mistake, whether marijuana is being grown outdoors or inside in pots, is not using a potting soil that’s sufficiently light and airy. Plant nutrition is another issue, since nutritional needs change over the life of the plant. That requires different fertilizers. And although marijuana plants are generally robust, they can get powdery mildew or aphids.

“A lot of people are still using pesticides to deal with things when they should really be growing it organically, particularly for a weed like this that may be used medicinally,” he says.

What’s next in Deardorff and Wadsworth’s gardening-book series?

“I’m so done with ‘What’s wrong with my whatever’ books,” says Deardorff. “I’m thinking now about the nature of gardens, the interaction between wildlife and plants, something completely different from fruits and vegetables and weeds.”

Article source: https://www.seattletimes.com/life/garden/new-gardening-guide-offers-tips-on-growing-marijuana/

Disaster preparedness tips for pet owners

As we near the end of September, our Prepare Kansas campaign soon will draw to a close. The goal of this K-State Research and Extension campaign has been to help Kansans become better prepared for emergencies and natural disasters.

Although many people are aware of these risks, few actually have a disaster plan for their families and homes. Even fewer have plans that include their pets.

This month, I worked with Alicia Boor, Cottonwood District ag agent based in Great Bend, to present disaster preparedness programs in our counties. While my presentations focused on preparing your home, family and finances for disaster, Boor’s topic was developing a disaster plan for pets. Her former work experience in zoos has made her aware of the need to have a plan in place for the animals in our care.

Not having a disaster plan can be dangerous for pets, as well as for their families and first responders. Here are a few ideas to help pet owners develop an emergency preparedness plan that includes their pets and the necessary items they might need to quickly respond in the event of a disaster.

Just as people always should be prepared for a disaster, we should keep our pets prepared for an unexpected event as well. First, be sure your pets wear a collar at all times with your current contact information. Also, include an alternate emergency contact such as your veterinarian if possible. Proper identification is essential for reunification in the event your pet gets lost.

In addition, dogs and cats always should be kept up-to-date on their vaccines. If your pet has to be evacuated and sheltered with other animals, it might be more susceptible to infectious diseases and conditions. The most important vaccine is the rabies vaccine, since your pet might be more likely to come into contact with other pets and possibly even wildlife if sheltered or lost.

Regardless of the nature of the disaster, it is important to have a disaster kit with basic supplies that are important for a pet’s safety and well-being. An appropriately sized carrier or cage with your current contact information can be used to safely transport your pet, and it also can serve as a temporary means of housing. You also should include the following in a pet’s disaster kit:

• Copies of important papers (emergency telephone numbers, rabies vaccination certificate, vaccination record, microchip information, drug/vaccine/food allergies, list of current medications with doses, etc.) and a current photo of you and the pet together, labeled with identifying information such as species, color, sex and age.

• Enough of the pet’s food in sturdy containers to last for a minimum of three days, plus a three-day supply of clean water and bowls to use for food and water. Canned food is preferred for its storability and moisture content if your pet is not on a special diet, so be sure to include a can opener and utensils in your kit.

• Extra leashes/collars and sanitation supplies (cat litter, plastic bags, etc.) A long piece of gauze can be wrapped around the animal’s snout and tied behind its ears to create a temporary muzzle.

• Medications as needed and a basic first aid kit for the pet.

• Pet comfort items (blankets, towels, toys, etc.).

All of these supplies should be kept in a water-proof container that is easy to transport and appropriately labeled with your current contact information.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for owners to become separated from their pets during disasters. It is imperative that pet owners not enter affected areas or attempt to return to their homes until they are given permission to do so by emergency management authorities. If separated from your pet, contact animal control, your local animal shelters, area veterinary hospitals and the pet’s microchip company, if applicable. Social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) also have been used in recent events to reunite owners with their pets.

For more information about preparing pets for disaster, see www.ready.gov/animals and follow the Prepare Kansas blog at blogs.k-state.edu/preparekansas/.

Linda K. Beech is Cottonwood District Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.

Article source: http://www.gctelegram.com/lifestyle/20170928/disaster-preparedness-tips-for-pet-owners

Disaster preparedness tips for pet owners

As we near the end of September, our Prepare Kansas campaign soon will draw to a close. The goal of this K-State Research and Extension campaign has been to help Kansans become better prepared for emergencies and natural disasters.

Although many people are aware of these risks, few actually have a disaster plan for their families and homes. Even fewer have plans that include their pets.

This month, I worked with Alicia Boor, Cottonwood District ag agent based in Great Bend, to present disaster preparedness programs in our counties. While my presentations focused on preparing your home, family and finances for disaster, Boor’s topic was developing a disaster plan for pets. Her former work experience in zoos has made her aware of the need to have a plan in place for the animals in our care.

Not having a disaster plan can be dangerous for pets, as well as for their families and first responders. Here are a few ideas to help pet owners develop an emergency preparedness plan that includes their pets and the necessary items they might need to quickly respond in the event of a disaster.

Just as people always should be prepared for a disaster, we should keep our pets prepared for an unexpected event as well. First, be sure your pets wear a collar at all times with your current contact information. Also, include an alternate emergency contact such as your veterinarian if possible. Proper identification is essential for reunification in the event your pet gets lost.

In addition, dogs and cats always should be kept up-to-date on their vaccines. If your pet has to be evacuated and sheltered with other animals, it might be more susceptible to infectious diseases and conditions. The most important vaccine is the rabies vaccine, since your pet might be more likely to come into contact with other pets and possibly even wildlife if sheltered or lost.

Regardless of the nature of the disaster, it is important to have a disaster kit with basic supplies that are important for a pet’s safety and well-being. An appropriately sized carrier or cage with your current contact information can be used to safely transport your pet, and it also can serve as a temporary means of housing. You also should include the following in a pet’s disaster kit:

• Copies of important papers (emergency telephone numbers, rabies vaccination certificate, vaccination record, microchip information, drug/vaccine/food allergies, list of current medications with doses, etc.) and a current photo of you and the pet together, labeled with identifying information such as species, color, sex and age.

• Enough of the pet’s food in sturdy containers to last for a minimum of three days, plus a three-day supply of clean water and bowls to use for food and water. Canned food is preferred for its storability and moisture content if your pet is not on a special diet, so be sure to include a can opener and utensils in your kit.

• Extra leashes/collars and sanitation supplies (cat litter, plastic bags, etc.) A long piece of gauze can be wrapped around the animal’s snout and tied behind its ears to create a temporary muzzle.

• Medications as needed and a basic first aid kit for the pet.

• Pet comfort items (blankets, towels, toys, etc.).

All of these supplies should be kept in a water-proof container that is easy to transport and appropriately labeled with your current contact information.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for owners to become separated from their pets during disasters. It is imperative that pet owners not enter affected areas or attempt to return to their homes until they are given permission to do so by emergency management authorities. If separated from your pet, contact animal control, your local animal shelters, area veterinary hospitals and the pet’s microchip company, if applicable. Social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) also have been used in recent events to reunite owners with their pets.

For more information about preparing pets for disaster, see www.ready.gov/animals and follow the Prepare Kansas blog at blogs.k-state.edu/preparekansas/.

Linda K. Beech is Cottonwood District Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.

Article source: http://www.gctelegram.com/lifestyle/20170928/disaster-preparedness-tips-for-pet-owners

5 tips for attracting birds to your garden

Attracting birds and bees to our yards and gardens is simple, if we provide what they like and need.

Joanie Smith, owner of East Bay Nature in Walnut Creek and Dublin, says there are five essential elements for success — water, food, cover, nesting and safety.

Water if the No. 1 attractant, she says, even more than food. Birdbaths are obvious additions, but instead of using a decorative bowl on a pedestal, or one that hangs from a tree, try a ground bath. It is more natural for birds, and it helps eliminate one concern — predators hiding beneath the pedestal baths.

The baths should be shallow — no more than 1 or 1-1/2 inches deep. While there are plenty of beautiful, glass birdbaths, Smith says they often are too slippery. Birds like to be able to grip onto something, so concrete or rougher type baths are better. If you do have a glass bowl, consider putting rocks in it.

Moving water, even slight drips, will also draw birds. Smith says that became apparent to her when she noticed several birds flying around the side of her house to the back. It was a steady flow of them, she says, and when she went out to see what was attracting them, she found them bathing and splashing in a leaky connection for a washing machine.

You can easily add a drip to your existing birdbath.

Food is important, too, and you can vary the types of food and feeders depending on the birds you want to attract. The most popular seed, Smith says, is shelled sunflowers, called chipped sunflower seeds. It also is the least messy.

Safflower is popular, too, she says, and has an added benefit that most squirrels don’t like it. Don’t mix safflower with other seeds — the squirrels will just pick out the stuff they like.

Many birds — seed-eaters and insectivores both — like suet, which is rendered beef fat that has nuts and fruits mixed in. There is a variety of suet flavors as well as devices to hold them.

Choose feeders that are suitable for the bird feed. On tube feeders, the more ports it has, the more birds you’ll attract.

Blooming plants that provide birds with nectar, seeds and berries will also make your yard a welcoming place.

The third need for attracting birds, Smith says, is cover — trees, shrubs and brush that provide hiding places for birds to escape danger and to build nests.

For cavity dwellers — birds that create nests inside of dead trees and crags — installing nesting boxes, Smith says, will attract birds and help them find places to raise their young. The size of the entrance hole is crucial, Smith says. Small birds nesting in boxes with holes that are too large will open their nests up to predators.

Don’t use birdhouses that are created as decorations, not nesting boxes. Their emphasis is on looking pretty or cute, not on what birds need. These decorative houses could have holes that are too large, metal roofs that will create conditions that are too hot, or they might be made of materials that provide no insulation.

Lastly, we need to make sure our yards are safe for birds to visit, so that means keeping your cats indoors. If your neighbor has roaming cats, Smith says, it would be best not to attract birds to your yard. It’s not fair to the birds, she says, who are in their natural habitat.

We can’t protect the birds from all predators — hawks need to eat, too, she says — but we can make them more secure by placing nesting boxes, feeders and birdbaths in protected areas.

Birds can bring a lot of joy and entertainment to our yards, but they also are helpful in keeping insect populations in check and for helping with pollination. Another good aid are mason bees, and you can attract them by installing bee blocks.

Mason bees are good neighbors — they don’t sting and are non-aggressive. The males will mate with the females, then die. The females lay eggs in the small holes of the bee block and then seal them with mud. There is only one generation each year.

The bees are excellent pollinators, Smith says, much better than honey bees. The mason bees will visit every flower while the honey bees tend to focus on one type.

Smith sells mason bee cocoons to get the block party started.

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/28/5-tips-for-attracting-birds-to-your-garden/

5 tips for attracting birds to your garden

Attracting birds and bees to our yards and gardens is simple, if we provide what they like and need.

Joanie Smith, owner of East Bay Nature in Walnut Creek and Dublin, says there are five essential elements for success — water, food, cover, nesting and safety.

Water if the No. 1 attractant, she says, even more than food. Birdbaths are obvious additions, but instead of using a decorative bowl on a pedestal, or one that hangs from a tree, try a ground bath. It is more natural for birds, and it helps eliminate one concern — predators hiding beneath the pedestal baths.

The baths should be shallow — no more than 1 or 1-1/2 inches deep. While there are plenty of beautiful, glass birdbaths, Smith says they often are too slippery. Birds like to be able to grip onto something, so concrete or rougher type baths are better. If you do have a glass bowl, consider putting rocks in it.

Moving water, even slight drips, will also draw birds. Smith says that became apparent to her when she noticed several birds flying around the side of her house to the back. It was a steady flow of them, she says, and when she went out to see what was attracting them, she found them bathing and splashing in a leaky connection for a washing machine.

You can easily add a drip to your existing birdbath.

Food is important, too, and you can vary the types of food and feeders depending on the birds you want to attract. The most popular seed, Smith says, is shelled sunflowers, called chipped sunflower seeds. It also is the least messy.

Safflower is popular, too, she says, and has an added benefit that most squirrels don’t like it. Don’t mix safflower with other seeds — the squirrels will just pick out the stuff they like.

Many birds — seed-eaters and insectivores both — like suet, which is rendered beef fat that has nuts and fruits mixed in. There is a variety of suet flavors as well as devices to hold them.

Choose feeders that are suitable for the bird feed. On tube feeders, the more ports it has, the more birds you’ll attract.

Blooming plants that provide birds with nectar, seeds and berries will also make your yard a welcoming place.

The third need for attracting birds, Smith says, is cover — trees, shrubs and brush that provide hiding places for birds to escape danger and to build nests.

For cavity dwellers — birds that create nests inside of dead trees and crags — installing nesting boxes, Smith says, will attract birds and help them find places to raise their young. The size of the entrance hole is crucial, Smith says. Small birds nesting in boxes with holes that are too large will open their nests up to predators.

Don’t use birdhouses that are created as decorations, not nesting boxes. Their emphasis is on looking pretty or cute, not on what birds need. These decorative houses could have holes that are too large, metal roofs that will create conditions that are too hot, or they might be made of materials that provide no insulation.

Lastly, we need to make sure our yards are safe for birds to visit, so that means keeping your cats indoors. If your neighbor has roaming cats, Smith says, it would be best not to attract birds to your yard. It’s not fair to the birds, she says, who are in their natural habitat.

We can’t protect the birds from all predators — hawks need to eat, too, she says — but we can make them more secure by placing nesting boxes, feeders and birdbaths in protected areas.

Birds can bring a lot of joy and entertainment to our yards, but they also are helpful in keeping insect populations in check and for helping with pollination. Another good aid are mason bees, and you can attract them by installing bee blocks.

Mason bees are good neighbors — they don’t sting and are non-aggressive. The males will mate with the females, then die. The females lay eggs in the small holes of the bee block and then seal them with mud. There is only one generation each year.

The bees are excellent pollinators, Smith says, much better than honey bees. The mason bees will visit every flower while the honey bees tend to focus on one type.

Smith sells mason bee cocoons to get the block party started.

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/28/5-tips-for-attracting-birds-to-your-garden/

Garden tips: Getting the most from mums

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Article source: http://lancasteronline.com/features/home_garden/garden-tips-getting-the-most-from-mums/article_78e9a0d4-a396-11e7-8416-dba8c6da7fc3.html