When someone mentions green this time of year, you may think of St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns, four-leaf clover, or the green hills of Ireland. But this tradition goes beyond St. Patrick and his holiday.
The Irish Tradition of Green
Long before green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the ancient Celts wore green in celebration of the Vernal Equinox and the rebirth of the earth. And who could blame them? Known as the Emerald Island, Ireland’s principal color is green. Some even claim that the island boasts over 40 shades of that beloved color. As time passed, the wearing of green came to symbolize Irish nationalism. Today, people all over the world wear green once again to celebrate the coming of spring.
For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to enjoy the green hills of Ireland on a daily basis, here are some tips to help you bring that Irish green into your landscape this spring.
Clear–rake up any leftover leaves from fall, pick up any broken branches from winter. If thatching is a problem, use a rake or a power thatcher to clear away the problem.
Prune–trim back fruit trees and summer blooming bushes (including roses). Pruning encourages new growth and allows the plant to receive plenty of sunlight.
Weed–it’s best to stop the weeds when they’re young. After removing new spring growth, take preventative measures (i.e. landscape fabric, mulch, pre-emergent herbicides, etc.) to limit weed growth throughout the season.
Divide–make sure your perennials have plenty of room to grow. If things are getting a little tight, divide them up. Your neighbors would probably love some, or maybe there’s a spot in your yard that’s looking a little bare. Whatever the case, your plants will bloom better with that extra room to grow.
Plant–bring color and new life to your yard by adding some new plants to the mix.
Fertilize–if you have a well-established lawn, spring is a great time to fertilize. Pick a fertilizer with a slow-release nitrogen (nitrogen help keep your lawn green, but too much can cause damage to your lawn and the environment—especially water sources—so make sure you use it sparingly).
Water–it’s important that you don’t over or under water your lawn, as both cause problems. At this time in the watering season, you will most likely not need to water your lawn every day. Rather, set your timer to water less frequently and allow the moisture to soak deep into the soil and establish a stronger root system.
Grow–let your grass grow. Your lawn will be healthier if you don’t cut it too short. By letting your grass grow about 2 to 4 inches in length, you will protect the roots from the sun and disease, which will keep your lawn greener and healthier.
These tips will help keep your landscape lush and green this spring. So, here’s to wishing you the luck of the Irish!
Winter may be digging its icy claws into the world, determined not to give up its hold. But we all know Spring will come . . . eventually. You can speed up the process in your own house by starting your vegetable seeds indoors. It’s fun. It’s easy. And it helps beat the late-winter blues.
Sowing your seeds indoors will not only bring you that little burst of life that you need, it will also give your garden a kick-start. Starting your garden inside gives your plants plenty of time to sprout and establish themselves in a controlled environment. It also brings you a few weeks closer to fresh produce.
If you’re new to gardening, consult a guide for your area or talk to a garden specialist about what plants you should start and when. As a general rule, you should start your seeds at least 4 to 6 weeks before you want to transplant your plants into your garden.
Things you’ll need:
A space protected from the weather
Seed starting soil, or other nutrient-rich, loosely packed soil for planting
Sunlight, or florescent lights if you don’t have a suitable window
Containers—you can buy plastic trays from your local nursery or simply use an empty egg carton. for containers you can place right in the ground, try sugar cones (you know, the ones you use for ice cream?) because they stand on their own and slowly decompose as you place them in the ground.
Plants to Sow Inside
Remember to check planting guides or your local specialist for the most accurate sowing dates in your area.
Doesn’t this list make your mouth water in anticipation for summer produce? Mmm . . .
And when you’re ready to transplant your seedlings outside, our drip watering and hose tap timers will help you water areas that aren’t covered by your underground irrigation system.
So, get those hands in the dirt again and start planting!
With the very top of summer sliding past,
I often wonder, what’s up with my grass?
It’s brown, it crackles,
It raises my hackles,
And I despair
That it is beyond repair.
It would be a midsummer night’s dream,
For my grass to appear a lush green,
Just in time for my soiree
Where we will play a lively round of croquet.
So dearest Titania, send me a fairy
“Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire. . . .
Swifter than the moon’s sphere . . .
To dew [my herbs] upon the green”
And thus fulfill my midsummer night’s dream.
Midsummer Watering Tips
All rhyming aside, (and due to lack of Shakespearian fairies) here are some tips to keep your yard looking lush and green through the rest of the summer:
Interval watering – do you have stubborn brown spots popping up on your lawn? Rather than adding more water, try interval watering. Water each zone for 10-15 minutes, and then repeat 2 more times. This allows the water to soak into the soil without running off into the neighbor’s yard or down the drain. Do this 2-3 times per week (or as needed).
Raise you lawn mower height. A slight raise in the length of your lawn protects the roots from the blaring summer sun and keeps your lawn looking healthier.
Sharpen your lawn mower blades. This cuts the grass rather than tearing it and protects your lawn from disease.
Keep those weeds down. Unwanted weeds compete with your existing landscaping for much needed water. Eliminating that competition helps your plants to thrive.
Are you looking for activities to do with the kids this summer that are both fun and educational? Why not teach them about water conservation?
Why teach your kids about conservation?
There are many benefits to becoming a water-wise family, including saving money, but there’s more to it than that. Conservation is a community effort and learning begins in the home. By teaching your kids about conservation you teach them to look beyond themselves—to see the beauty and wonder in the world.
Did you know?
Each time you water your lawn you can be using up to 3,000 gallons of water
An average American family of 4 can use 400 gallons of water a day
Standard toilets use about 3.5 gallons of water per flush
A typical faucet uses about 2 gallons of water per minute
Here are some easy ways for your kids to get involved in water conservation:
Have your kids help you check your sprinkler system. (Any easy excuse for running through the sprinklers is a good one, right?)
Make sure that your sprinklers are not watering the sidewalk, driveway, street, or house
Look for leaking or broken sprinkler heads
Try the screwdriver test. Have your kids stick a screwdriver into the grass, if it goes in 6 inches with minimal effort there is no need to water. If they struggle getting the screwdriver into the ground it may be time to water again
Use a hose-end nozzle when washing the car instead of letting the hose run
Have them remind you to use the rain delay option on your sprinkler system timer/controller when it rains
Turn off the water when brushing teeth
Check for leaks and work on fixing them together
Shower instead of taking baths
Stop using the toilet as a waste basket
Use only one cup to drink out of throughout the day
Put a container of water in the fridge so you always have cold water (without having to run the tap)
One way to really help your kids understand how much water we use is to do some activities with them.
The Human Faucet. This do-at-home experiment shows kids how much water they use when they let the tap run while brushing their teeth. You can find detailed instructions here.
Visit your local water plant or nearby natural history museum to learn about the water cycle.