Inspirational Gardens
Inspirational Gardens
Inspirational Gardens
Inspirational Gardens

Thoughts & Learning’s from this Landscaper

August 28th, 2012 | Posted by John Rice in Newsletter - (Comments Off on Thoughts & Learning’s from this Landscaper)

As part of my continuing education in the landscaping field and as an expression of my commitment to provide service that is toxic free and as ecologically friendly as possible, I am happy to announce that I am now one of the 550 accredited* organic land care professionals in the US. 

I have now expanded my list of organic offerings

This work includes:

  1. The remediation of areas that have been exposed to the long-term effect of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides  & herbicides.
  2. Working with areas that have had no care at all and you want to begin organic land care practices on them.

In addition, I am now offering low mow lawn installations and transitions to those interested in minimizing your lawn care expenses.

A few statistics to possibly peak your interest in going organic:

1. I have been told by my doctor that in the past 80% of cancer was identified as hereditary and 20% environmental.  Now as of 2010, the statistics have been reversed: cancer is 80% environmental and 20% hereditary.  I am now looking differently at the signs on the lawn that warn us not to have children, pets and pregnant women walk on the lawn for 1-3 days.

2.  More and more towns have regulations indicating that new houses may not have any storm water run off going into the street or off one’s property into the next property or into wetlands nearby. In some towns all homes are regulated to have no storm water run-off. The issue is this: the water coming off many properties is polluted and is costing the towns money to clean it up as they are mandated to clean polluted water.  To keep costs from rising too much they are mandating that our water stay on our property.

How to our properties get this pollution? For most part, it is what we put in our lawns, how we fertilize and the choices we make about spraying our trees and plants with pesticides.

3. In chemical formulas, the inert ingredients can be the ones that change in the formulas and are the most toxic. Companies are not obligated to declare them in the compound. Reading the active ingredient list will not give you full disclosure about your exposure to chemicals, toxic or otherwise.  

We may be poisoning ourselves right on our own property, we don’t even know it and we don’t have to be.

A Bit of Hopeful News:

NJ just passed a regulation limiting how much fertilize you can use and when you can fertilize. They also have black out periods when you cannot fertilize at all. MI, NY VA earlier passed similar regulations, a bit less stringent, but the trend has started.

Making the Change:

This is a transition that happens in steps and takes some time. Like weaning a baby or breaking any habit, your land will need time to adjust to being managed in this way. If you are ready I can talk to you this spring about the transition. Most often, we begin lawn transitions in the fall.  Other transitions we can start right away. I can explain the process in more detail when we speak.  It does not need to cost you more. I can fertilize your plants, trees and shrubs organically for roughly the same price as the chemical formulas.  Organic lawns use 40%-60% less water according to one study done in the town of Beverly.  Those yummy Driscoll’s strawberries and raspberries we get at the store are fertilized with compost tea.  I can fertilize your plants with the same biological nutrients.

“You Must Be The Change you wish to see in the world” – Ghandi

Other Important information

Ticks. Fun facts to know and tell:
(Information received from my meeting with an U-Mass researcher):

  • Ticks are rarely found on lawns
  • Ticks hate to go across wood chips. Ticks like to be on plants and weeds about 6-12”high and then when you or your pet walk by and brush the plant, they latch on to you.
  • Ticks do not jump, fly or drop from trees, but grasp passing hosts from the leaf litter, tips of plants, etc. Most ticks are probably picked up on the lower legs and then crawl up the body seeking a place to feed. Adult ticks can however, seek a host (i.e., deer) in the shrub layer several feet above the ground, about or above the height of children.
  • Predators and the weather control 99% of the ticks. 
  • We have not been able yet to identify many of their predators. We know assassin bugs and wasps eat them but they alone do not account for such a high rate of control.
  • Ticks have a high mortality rate during cold snowless winters.  They spend their time during a snowless winter in leaf litter in the wild areas and forests and when exposed to the cold many will die. 
  • If you have fields on your property, it is advised to mow the field 3-4 times year to keep the rodent density down in your fields. This will help with ticks. Ticks have been around for millions of years and they are not insects they are related to spiders.
  • If we have a dry summer many die or are dormant.
  • Ticks do not move much more than one yard on their own. 

Lyme disease:

  • I have had it. I caught it right away and was fortunate. I have ticks on me a lot; sometimes 12-15 of them are crawling on my clothes. Winston gets them so does Sophia. 
  • Check yourself everyday. Have someone help you if you can.
  • If a tick has the disease — and not all ticks have Lyme disease– and you catch the tick on you within 24 hours you have a less that 1% chance of getting the disease.
  • If you find the tick within 48 hours you have a 12% chance of getting Lyme disease.
  • Rates jump to 79% if the tick is in you for 72 hours and if the tick has Lyme disease.
  • Most people know to look for a bull’s eye on the tick site but this actually only shows up about 50% of the time.
  • What to look for is that the rash keeps expanding/migrating is a sign that you have Lyme disease.
  • It is advised to keep bird feeders away from your house.

Deer carry ticks but it is rodents that infect the ticks and give them Lyme disease. The name Lyme disease comes form Lyme, CT where it was found in the 1970’s.

  • Most (about 98%) Lyme disease cases are associated with the bite of the nymph stage of the blacklegged tick, of which 10-36% may be infected with Lyme disease spirochetes.
  • Nymphet blacklegged ticks are very small (about the size of a pinhead), difficult to spot, and are active during the late spring and summer months when human outdoor activity is greatest. The majority (about 75%) of Lyme disease cases are associated with activities (play, yard or garden work) around the home.
  • Adult blacklegged ticks are active in the fall, warmer days in the winter, and in the spring when outdoor activity and exposure is more limited. They are larger, easier to spot, and therefore associated with fewer cases of Lyme disease (even though infection rates are higher).
  • Children 5-13 years of age are particularly at risk for tick bites and Lyme disease as playing outdoors has been identified as a high-risk activity. Take notice of the proximity of woodland edge or mixed grassy and brushy areas from public and private recreational areas and playing fields. While ticks are unlikely to be encountered in open fields, children chasing balls off the field or cutting through woods to school may be entering a high-risk tick area.
  • Pets can bring ticks into the home, resulting in a tick bite without the person being outdoors. A veterinarian can suggest methods to protect your pets. Engorged blacklegged ticks dropping off a pet will not survive or lay eggs in the house, as the air is generally too dry.

I now offer an organic tick product to protect you and your family

Deer: The state estimates that there are 90,000 deer in MA.  45,000 are inside of Route 495.  The carrying capacity is about 40% of that. Some towns inside 495 are now doing controlled hunts. See your selectman if you are interested.  Amazing; Doe’s rarely travel more than .5 miles from where they are born.   If she keeps coming back to your house, she probably was born on your property.

Connecting wildlife Corridors: The edges/boundaries between our property and the neighbor next door — is often “wild” and an important connecting corridor for wildlife to travel in so they can get to larger habitat. Please keep that in mind when making plans for your property.  It is much better to let them pass through. When you formalize or landscape your property from “wall to wall” so to speak, you cut off their avenues and they stay “trapped” on your land.

If you would like help in restoring a corridor I’d be delighted to assist you.

Woody plants are carbon sinks, they hold carbon, they help us with climate change, they clean the air, and they keep your property and house cooler.

Pervious asphalt is now available to help us not have water running down are driveways.

Worms: They are very sensitive. When we put down chemicals they are the first to disappear, either by dying or leaving the area, and they are the last to come back.  Many times when I work in the border areas on properties I’m walking through all these worm castings that they leave behind. They are prolific.  If a property uses conventional lawn care usually when I go on the formal part of the property I don’t see any evidence of worm activity

Mulch:  When you are buying mulch you may see words like enhanced or colored. This means that the mulch has been dyed and/or has high levels of iron or other indigents you may not want on your property.  Many of these colorized or enhanced mulches are cut up pallets or other cut up wood products with all kinds of chemicals in them.   

Recommendation: In using mulch to add organic matter to your soil, use aged bark, preferably pine.

Clover: Clover used to be in just about all lawns because it adds nitrogen to the lawn, making fertilizer unnecessary in fact. So welcome clover. It flowers briefly each year and is nature’s way of nourishing the lawn.  It is very similar to how comfrey fertilizes apple trees.

I look forward to another year of supporting your property to be a place of beauty, peace, inspiration, and to being able to support you to have it be safer for you and family to enjoy in good health!

Thank you as always for your trust and for your business.


* NOFA was the accrediting institution