It’s the time of year when many of us like to deck the halls with boughs of holly. Here are some TurfMutt tips for keeping the environment in mind while you decorate this year.
Planting a winter shrub that is native to your area is one way to be “green” this holiday season.
- Consider planting an ornamental shrub that’s native to your area rather than purchasing a seasonal potted arrangement. The shrub will last longer and can help fight runoff and heat islands throughout the year.
- If you do want to add a festive arrangement to your porch or walkway, consider reusing one of your pots from a summer arrangement. Reusing is an important, and often overlooked, aspect of green living!
- Find foliage/flowers in your own back yard to make wreaths, garland and ornaments. Look for items in your own yard that you can use to decorate before you buy new at the store. Evergreen branches, pine cones, nuts and interesting twigs can be foraged from your yard to save some money – and the environment.
Do you have any holiday success stories for reducing, reusing and recycling? Share them in the comments section or on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.
Much of the country has been in a deep freeze for days, and some areas are still digging out from under layers of ice and snow. If your trees and shrubs were buried, here are a few tips for minimizing the damage.
- Be careful when assessing your trees as branches and ice chunks can fall at any moment. Don’t approach a branch that is caught up in a power line.
- Don’t try to shake heavy ice or snow off the branches and limbs – you may do more harm than good.
- Bark can tear when branches fall off. Repair any torn bark to keep insects at bay and avoid disease by smoothing the ragged edges and removing all loose bark to the point where it is firmly attached.
- Unless there is heavy damage, you will likely want to wait until spring to determine if a tree needs to be removed. Healthy trees – and especially those that didn’t split or break because of the heavy weight – will likely recover with time.
- If you had a lot of downed branches and limbs, consider having your trees professionally pruned when it warms up to prevent damage in future storms.
For more tips and questions to ask yourself to assess if a tree can be salvaged or needs to be removed visit this link. To learn more about the value of trees and green spaces download TurfMutt’s Family Activities Guide.
Do you have any photos of your snow-covered yard and trees? Share them here or on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.
TurfMutt is a superhero who helps fight environmental villains like Carbon Creep, Heat Freak and Dust Demon. This week we introduce you to another one of TurfMutt’s arch enemies, Dr. Runoff.
Meet TurfMutt’s enemy, Dr. Runoff
Dr. Runoff is a “pour” role model for superheros around the world. Runoff is the overflow of water from the land that is carried into bodies of water. The water can overflow into a stream, river or even an ocean. Dr. Runoff is most powerful when the soil can no longer hold any water. The water “runs off” roads and parking lots, picking up chemicals and minerals and carrying them to lakes and rivers. It’s a real problem for our waterways.
But you can help “hound” Dr. Runoff with plants! Planting new lawns and landscape areas help build a root system that traps rainwater in the soil. The water can then be used by the plants. Grasses help filter the contaminants out of the water. In fact, grass can make rain water 10 times less acidic than water running off a hard surface!
Want to learn more? Download TurfMutt’s Student Activities Guide.
National Mutt Day is Dec. 2, and our favorite pup, TurfMutt, wants to take this opportunity to remind people to consider adopting a pet from your local shelter.
Watch the TurfMutt video about pet adoption.
TurfMutt is a rescue dog who was saved by his new best friend, Kris Kiser. Now, he works with Kris to help educate kids and their families about the value of green spaces to our health and well-being.
If you are looking for a new pet to add to your family, please consider adopting at your local animal shelter or rescue center. There are millions of loving and healthy dogs available for adoption who would love to become your “TurfMutt.”
Do you have a pet rescue story you want to share? Visit TurfMutt’s Facebook page to post your photos and comments.
Boosting your immune system is one of the best ways to keep healthy during cold and flu season. And despite the old wives’ tale that going outside during cold weather can make you “catch” a cold, spending time outdoors is actually one of the best things you can do to prevent getting sick.
TurfMutt knows getting outside, even when it’s cold, is good for your health.
According to Dr. D.J. Verret, an otolaryngologist in Dallas, “Actually being cold has nothing to do with your risk of catching a cold. Colds are caused by viruses or bacteria which are more often spread in the winter because of close contact from everyone being indoors.”
Scientists have uncovered a wealth of other reasons that getting outside is good for your health, not just doing flu season, but all throughout the year. Here are a few of the interesting facts. Click here to learn more about the health benefits of nature.
- Exercising outdoors can actually offer more health and mood benefits than exercising inside.
- Hospital patients with views of trees in their rooms had much shorter stays in the hospital after an operation than those who had views of brick walls.
- According to Dr. Richard J. Jackson, former director of the National Center of Environmental Health, people who live in communities that are “walkable,” have bike trails nearby and are near parks and green spaces have higher levels of health than those without these amenities
Do you need some inspiration to get your family out of the house this winter? Read TurfMutt’s Family Activities Guide for ideas.
‘Tis the season for giving thanks, and TurfMutt wants to encourage you to add “green spaces” to your list of reasons to be grateful this year.
Green spaces offer so many benefits and reasons to be thankful for them
Our green spaces – yards, parks and community grounds – are important for many reasons. They clean and cool our water and air, serve as shelter for a variety of living things, and give us great places to play and have fun!
It’s especially important for children of all ages to learn ways that they can help care of the green space in their own backyard. For ideas to help you and your family care for the green places that surround you (and have a little fun at the same time!), download TurfMutt’s Family Activities Guide.
What part of nature/green spaces are YOU most thankful for this year? Share your ideas in the comments section or on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.
Rainwater is better for watering houseplants than tap water because it has fewer chemicals. During the warmer months you can collect water in rain barrels or even buckets to water your plants. (Learn how to make a rain barrel by reading TurfMutt’s Family Activities Guide.) But what’s a gardener to do during the winter months?
Collect and melt snow to water your indoor plants this winter.
Collecting and then melting snow is an effective way to water houseplants, and it just takes a couple of extra steps.
1. Shovel or scoop snow into buckets. You can pat it down with your foot to make room for more snow.
2. Place the buckets inside to melt. You might consider placing a towel under the containers to capture any condensation.
3. When the snow melts use a funnel to transfer the water into jugs or water canisters. If there is a lot of debris in the water you might want to use a sieve.
4. Water your plants with the room temperature water.
This is one of the best ways to reduce, reuse and recycle water this winter. And your indoor plants will thank you for it!
Do you have other “green” ideas? Share them here, or on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.
This week TurfMutt posted some important information on Petfinder.com, the pet adoption website, about how to keep pets safe during fall yard work.
Hear TurfMutt’s tips for keeping pets safe during fall yard work.
Here are a few of TurfMutt’s top tips. Read more safety tips and information in TurfMutt’s story on Petfinder.com.
- Make sure pets are out of the immediate vacinity of the area where you’re about to use a leaf blower or mower, and keep pets off riding mowers!
- Clear the area of dog toys, leashes, bowls and other non-pet-related debris (like sticks, stones and pine cones) to protect the animals, humans and your lawn equipment.
- Don’t forget that clearing the yard of leaves the “old fashioned way” with a rake can be a fun family activity that gets everyone moving.
Just because the white stuff will be falling soon doesn’t mean you can’t continue to compost throughout the winter. Composting is a unique way to teach your children about going green, and get them involved in the process by adding to and tending the pile.
Photo courtesy of earth911.com.
Compost is a pile of food scraps, yard trimmings and other organic waste that you can use to fertilize your yard and feed your plants. It not only replaces chemical fertilizers, but it can also help increase water retention and decrease soil erosion.
Lower winter temperatures will slow or temporarily stop the composting process, but as temperatures warm up in spring the decomposing process will begin again in full swing. But even when the temperatures drop and activity slows, microbes responsible for the breakdown of the compost pile remain active. In fact, the center of your compost pile will likely be warm and steamy, even though the outer layers are cold.
You can help your compost pile along in the winter by covering it with a roof or a simple tarp. If you do this be sure to add water regularly to keep the pile active. Snow is a natural insulator. If you have a pile you’re not feeding, leave the layer of snow on top of it. For piles that you are continuing to feed, remove the layer of snow before you add to it. Help your active piles along by not turning them during the winter so you don’t disturb the layer of insulation.
Do you have other composting tips that work during the winter? Share them here or on TurfMutt’s Facebook page.
Dust Demon is a fan of blowing away soil, and TurfMutt needs your help to stop him!
Dust Demon blows away soil causing big problems. Help TurfMutt defeat dust demon.
Soil erosion is a big problem and Dust Demon is the cause. Nearly six billion tons of bare soil wash or blow away each year. Dust in the air damages the environment – and causes physical problems for those with asthma and allergies.
Turfgrass is one of the best defenses against erosion and holds the soil better than any other plant because of its giant root system. Did you know that a single grass plant can have more than 300 miles of roots?
Download TurfMutt’s “Breath of Fresh Air” lesson plan to activate your family’s knowledge about air pollution.