Issue 15:  September, 2012 
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Alternative Pavement Designs Part 2
TYN Friendly lawns
Composting
Garden Tip #1
  
Prune rambler roses and remove any diseased and/or dead rose canes.

Helpful Links

 

TYN Website 

 

 

 

 

 Garden Tip #2
 
Collect seeds from perennials and annuals. Remove and compost spent annuals and fallen leaves.
Garden Tip #3
   
Get your bermudagrass or Zoysia lawns ready for winter by increasing the cutting height this month. This helps
buffer these grasses from cold damage.

Does Your Yard Measure Up?

We call it a Tennessee Yard Done Right -- a yard that is in harmony with Tennessee's native flora, soil and topography. You don't have to be an expert gardener or landscaper to create a Tennessee Yard Done Right. All it takes is a willingness to learn and a desire to build a yard that is based on the nine principles found in our TYN handbook:

 

Right Plant, Right Place

 

Manage Soils and Mulch

 

Appropriate Turf Grass Management

 

Water Efficiently

 

Use Fertilizer Appropriately

 

Manage Yard Pests

 

Reduce Storm Water Runoff and it's Pollutants

 

Provide for Wildlife

 

Protect Water's Edge

 

To find out more information download our free

Tennessee Yardstick Workbook
Garden Tip #4
  
Keep harvesting herbs, especially tender herbs like basil. Make pesto and freeze it in sealed
plastic bags or containers.
Upcoming Events 

 

Three Rivers Market hosts Knox County TYN Workshops!!


Three Rivers Market will be hosting four TYN

workshops. Each workshop will cover important elements of sustainable landscaping and yard maintenance. 

 
Dates and topics of workshops:

 

Sept. 29th

Creating Healthy Tennessee Yards and

Neighborhoods

 

Oct. 6th & 13th

6th-Cover Your Dirt 

13th-Plants, Plants and more Plants: The Good

The Bad and The Ugly

 

Nov. 3rd

Managing Your Yard to Protect and Enhance

Water Resources


All workshops are on a Saturday from 3-5pm.

 

If you sign up for all four workshops the cost

is $45 for the general public and $40 for Three Rivers Market members.


Individual workshops are $15 each for the general public and $12 each for Three Rivers Market members.


Participants who sign up for all four workshops will receive a rain gauge, a cloth tote bag, a ruler, a bug magnifying glass, and

a full color reference workbook.

 

Sign up through the UTK Agriculture Extension

Office: (865) 215-2340
Find more information here.


UT Gardens Knoxville
Fall Plant Sale
Saturday, October 6th

9:00am-2:00pm 
 

 Come and shop for some unique and cutting-edge

plants for your garden as well as rain barrels, garden art, and outdoor ornaments.


Find more information here.


UT Gardens Jackson
Autumn Fest


Plant Sale Thursday October 4th, 2012
3:00 - 6:30 pm

 

Following the plant sale on Thursday, all

shoppers are welcome to attend the monthly

Madison County Master Gardeners meeting. At

the meeting, UT Horticulturist Jason Reeves will share slides of his recent travels to

gardens around the world. Feel free to bring

your own brown bag dinner. Master Gardeners will provide drinks and desserts.


Find more information here. 

Garden Tip #5
  
Continue to harvest tomatoes and peppers. Harvest onions and garlic as soon as the tops fall over and begin to dry out.

Keep In Touch!
Ruth Anne Hanahan and Dr. Andrea Ludwig
TYN Statewide Co-Directors
Tennessee Water Resources Research Center
University of Tennessee
311 Conference Center
Knoxville, TN 37996
Join Our Mailing List

Greetings!

 

Hope you have had a wonderful summer!  It's hard to believe fall is almost here. As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we will be shifting formats and sending out mailings quarterly. Our next newsletter will be our holiday edition in December! This month's issue is packed with information to keep you going until then. Starting us off, we have the second installment on alternative pavement options by Chris Masin. Tom Samples and John Sorochan from the University of Tennessee Plant Sciences Department give us great information on ways to repair drought stricken or stressed turf grasses, and our second year AmeriCorps member Katie Walberg provides us with simple strategies for getting that compost pile started, even in small yards. As always, check out our timely garden tips and upcoming events!!

 

Thanks again for reading!

The TYN Management Team


 Alternative Pavement Designs
(Part 2)

by Chris Masin, P.E.

 

Example of plastic reinforcing grids.

Has your dog worn a path through your yard? Do you have an area where guests pull onto your lawn for overflow parking? Thinking about paving, but worried about the water generated and the loss of your beautiful grass? In our second article highlighting alternative pavement designs for your next landscaping project, we will cover Plastic Reinforcing Grids. These can also be called Flexible Plastic Pavement or Grass Paver Matrixes.


Basically, these are prefabricated rolls or squares of plastic material around 1" thick consisting of "cells" or holes. There are a multitude of companies that market different cell designs with different shapes, sizes and wall thicknesses. Your selection will vary on the type of traffic you expect, from pets, horses, lawn equipment to passenger cars. You can even buy a brand that is rated for helicopters or private planes in case you expect some extra special guests.

 

The lattice-like openings are filled with gravel and left as is or filled with soil or sand and then seeded or sodded. The grid prevents the material from moving and protects the roots from being crushed. For areas that receive light or intermittent use, this grid system can reduce runoff and reduce pollution by providing infiltration and treatment as the water percolates through the soil. Another big benefit is that the area will have a reduced heat island effect as grass does not absorb as much heat as traditional hardscapes. Many of the products offered are being made from 100% recycled plastic and are ADA compliant.

During and after installation of gravel drive with reinforced grid

 

Example of reinforced grid that was planted with grass

Installation is fairly easy, but as was with our last pavement alternative, porous concrete, the system will be limited to the flow of the base material. Flow rates for this product can range from 60 to 320 inches per hour, so the manufacturers recommend at least a 6" layer of course washed stone (3/4" dia. or TDOT Grade E). A suitable base would also include a 6" layer of a mixture of 2/3 "crusher run" or #57 stone and 1/3 masonry sand. If the area is large or is expected to collect run-off from other areas (or you live in the clay-rich, poor-percolating Memphis area), an under drain of 4" plastic perforated pipe can be added below the sub-grade. If the grid is to be filled with soil or sand for grass, a layer of filter fabric should be placed over the base to stop the base from clogging. Many of the grid manufacturers sell the material with a layer of filter fabric already attached to the bottom. The grid is then rolled out or the individual squares snapped together. The tops of the cells should be ¼" to ½" below the adjacent ground or hard surfaces. The cells or grid are then filled with fine aggregate (3/8" or pea gravel) if it is to be left exposed or filled with good top soil or sand if it is to be seeded or covered with sod.

 

The resulting spaces should be useful, require little maintenance and add to the natural aesthetics that our Tennessee Yards and Neighborhood homeowners strive to achieve.

 

Chris Masin is a senior engineer for Shelby County, TN. Mr. Masin is the resent past-president of the Tennessee Stormwater Association (TNSA) and is well trained in low impact design (LID) and Green Development practices. Prior to joining Shelby County, Mr. Masin served for nine years as the Public Works Director for the City of Lakeland, Tennessee.

TYN FRIENDLY LAWNS
Tom Samples and John Sorochan
University of Tennessee
Plant Sciences Department
Drought injury on tall fescue
This summer's extended drought has injured turfgrasses in many Tennessee lawns. Although warm-season species including bermudagrass and Zoysia have resumed growth following recent rains, lawns may be thin and prone to weed invasion this fall. Unfortunately, the combination of high temperatures and severe drought may have been lethal to some cool-season turfgrasses.

In Tennessee, bermudagrass and Zoysia usually respond very favorably to a fertilizer application in September.

Fungal Mycelium Brown Patch Disease on Tall Fescue

However, to avoid fertilizer "burn", no more than one pound of highly water-soluble nitrogen (N) should be applied per 1,000 sq. ft. Many fertilizer manufacturers market "winterizer" formulations specifically for late-summer or early fall fertilization of warm-season turfgrasses. In addition to N, these fertilizers most often contain potassium (K). Potassium is second to N in turfgrass tissue level, commonly ranging from one to three percent by dry weight, and has long been positively associated with turfgrass tolerance to stresses such as cold, heat, drought and wear. A fertilizer containing 15 percent N, 0 percent phosphate (P2O5) and 30 percent potash (K2O) is one example of a winterizer type. Information regarding the nutrient content of several organic sources of essential nutrients is presented in Table 1.

Winterizer fertilizers may also contain a pre-emergent herbicide such as dithiopyr (Dimension®) or prodiamine (Barricade®) for the control of certain winter annual grassy (annual bluegrass) and broadleaf (chickweed, henbit) weeds. A number of herbicides or herbicide combinations containing 2,4-D, mecoprop, dicamba and/or carfentrazone are labeled for the post-emergent control of broadleaf weeds in several species of established warm- and cool-season turfgrasses.

 

Late summer and early fall are excellent times to renovate a weak lawn of cool-season turfgrasses. Seed of improved varieties of fescues and Kentucky bluegrass is harvested, processed, packaged and shipped from the Pacific Northwest to Tennessee just in time for planting. Information regarding the performance of many individual varieties of tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass in field trials conducted at universities in the United States and Canada is available online at: http://ntep.org. Results of the 2005 National Kentucky Bluegrass Test with 110 varieties, and the 2006 National Tall Fescue Test with 113 entries conducted here at the University of Tennessee Research and Education Center Plant Sciences Unit in Knoxville are included in the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program Reports for each species.

 

For best results, seeds need to be in direct contact with soil and the soil needs to be fertile and loose. The germination process begins when seeds take in water. Seeds lodged in aerial shoots or suspended in thatch above the soil surface are capable of germinating, but developing seedlings seldom survive unless the primary root breaking through the seed coat quickly moves into soil. Kentucky bluegrass seeds usually require two to three weeks to germinate compared to tall fescue seeds which most often germinate in six to 12 days.

 

Seed size influences the recommended inter-seeding rate. For example, one pound of tall fescue seed usually contains more than 230,000 seeds per pound, while one pound of Kentucky bluegrass seed contains 1.5 million or more seeds per pound. If, at present, turfgrass plants cover about one-half of the soil surface, the recommended inter-seeding rate is calculated by multiplying the recommended "bare ground" planting rate by 0.5. For example, the recommended inter-seeding rate for a tall fescue lawn with 50 percent ground coverage would be at least three pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. (0.5 times six pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. equals three pounds of tall fescue seed per 1,000 sq. ft.). The recommended inter-seeding rate of a Kentucky bluegrass lawn with an existing ground coverage of 50 percent would be at least one pound of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. (0.5 times two pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. equals one pound of Kentucky bluegrass seed per 1,000 sq. ft.).

Walk-behind Slit Seeder
Many outdoor power equipment rental centers lease walk-behind, mechanized seeders engineered to plant seeds in rows or channels without severely damaging the lawn. Other options to improve seed contact with soil include aerifying or dethatching the lawn before broadcasting seed and applying a thin (e.g., 1/8- to 1/4-inch) layer of mature compost or pulling a drag mat in several directions across the lawn immediately after inter-seeding.

 

Ideally, a newly inter-seeded lawn should be lightly irrigated as needed throughout the day to insure that water is available to support seed germination and seedling growth. As seedlings increase in size and roots reach a greater soil depth, more water can be applied less often (e.g., one-half inch, or about 300 gallons per 1,000 sq. ft., twice each week). Although light, daily irrigation is often necessary to promote seed germination, an established lawn should be irrigated in the early (3:00 am to 6:00 am) morning. The goal is to reduce evaporation and to limit the amount of time turfgrass leaves remain moist and prone to attack by fungal pathogens.

 

Routine mowing at an appropriate cutting height after inter-seeding will allow more light to penetrate the canopy and reach the leaves of emerging seedlings. The lawn should be dry and the mower blades sharp. Leaves of both seedling and mature plants can be torn if mowed with a dull blade. Lawns injured by dull mower blades are much more susceptible to disease and drought.

Katie Walberg head shotComposting: It's easier than you think
By Katie Walberg 

 

 

 

I am by no means a composting expert, but after reading the article "Don't let your leaves go to waste" in our Nov., 2011 newsletter by Julie Berbiglia, I thought I would try it out. I used to think this was one of those practices only "hard core" gardeners do. Certainly it had to involve a ton of work. How do you keep bugs from taking over?  Doesn't it get stinky? Don't I need to know some highly technical information about microbes, worms and soil composition? I have a small yard; do I have room for one?  All good questions, but what I didn't realize is compost piles really aren't that complicated; they definitely don't stink; bugs don't take over; and they can be created in small yards and spaces. Plus, when you get one going they can be incredibly beneficial to you and your community by cutting down on household waste (i.e. less trash bags being hauled to the curb); providing a great way to dispose of yard waste (i.e. grass clippings, wood chips, plant and tree debris); and yielding a free soil additive, loaded with nutrients that you can use to fertilize your gardens.  Win / win if you ask this budding backyard gardener.

 

The beautiful simplicity of the composting process

 

Small compost pile working its magic

Composting is basically organic matter breaking down or decomposing.  This happens to all organic material at some point regardless of whether we throw it in the trash or put it in a pile. This is nature's way of "taking care of business" and reusing materials, a built in process that never fails. However, how quickly this happens is a combination of moisture, heat, and air. Theoretically you could just pile your organic materials up and leave it alone, patiently allowing nature to take its course. This will provide you with compost eventually, but for those of us interested in using compost in our gardens seasonally, this (sometimes a two year process) can be too long.  Simple practices like containing and covering your materials and periodic turning will even out the moisture content while aerating the compost accelerating the process.

 

So, what do you do to get started?

 

First, pick a spot in your yard that is easy to get to and relatively close to where you will be generating  your kitchen scraps and yard waste. In my case I picked a spot a few feet away from my back porch. No need to have to run all the way to the back of the yard to deposit what you collect, unless you just want the extra exercise. However, keeping it away from any flammable materials, including buildings, is a good idea because compost piles do heat up as the materials break down.  A compost pile can be as small as 2½ - 3 ft square or round, and my pile is just that.

 

Gerry's compost pile, simple and efficient!

Once you have identified a site for your compost pile, you can decide how you would like to contain the collected materials. This really boils down to an aesthetic decision because you don't need much containment at all.  In fact, it can be just a pile as my neighbor Gerry demonstrates.  I find it beneficial to cover my compost pile with a soft cover (i.e., a tarp made of durable fabric), but you can also create a hard cover like a wooden or metal roof. This will help keep critters out, provide protection from rain storms that can wash away nutrients, and keep the moisture inside the pile allowing for accelerated decomposition.  If you want to create a boxed-in structure, you can use pallets, wood and chicken wire or even large bricks or paving stones. Notice the "high-tech" stone block method I have utilized. Make sure to leave one side open or create a door to allow for access to the pile for turning. My pile has two wooden slats that can be lifted for easy access. 

 

Covering your compost pile with a tarp will help speed up the process. Also, an accessible front opening allows for easier turning and maintenance.

 

Another tip for adding kitchen scraps is to try to bury it in the pile.  This will discourage animal visits and keep the rotting material from smelling.

 

Check on your pile often!  Not only is it cool to see how quickly everything breaks down, but you can monitor its moisture and see how often it needs turning.

 

How do you know your compost heap is healthy?

 

Compost should smell earthy, like dirt and not like rotten eggs or other fowl smells.  As compost matures it creates a dark, crumbly soil amendment that is rich in beneficial fungi, bacteria, enzymes, acids, and other nutrients.

 

Things to consider when creating and maintaining a compost pile

 

Compost piles can get hot!

 

Hot compost can be a good thing, killing off seeds that may try to germinate in your gardens and harmful bacteria. In fact, an ideal temperature is 135-160 degrees fahrenheit.  (If you want to keep tabs on it, you can always purchase a compost thermometer.) It should be noted however that where there is heat, there can be fire. To prevent spontaneous combustion of your compost pile, make sure to keep it moist and allow for adequate ventilation.  Turning the pile regularly is a good strategy because it helps distribute moisture. Making sure you have a nice combination of wet organic material in the pile (green yard clippings and kitchen scraps) will help keep the moisture content up as well.  If the pile gets too dry, simply add water to boost its moisture content.

 

A steaming compost pile is an indication that microbic critters are hard at work, making a rich compost.  However, it is best not to turn it while steaming; the addition of oxygen can cause it to ignite. First, bring the temperature down by adding water or other moist composting materials and then turn it.

 

Bacteria breaks it down.

 

Compost piles harbor bacteria that work to break the materials down.  Some of these bacteria are not great to come in contact with or breathe.  When working with compost, always wear gloves and closed shoes and remember to wash your hands after handling. Also, it may be wise to wear a protective mask to avoid inhaling harmful bacteria or fungus.  If you experience any respiratory issues after handling compost, contact a physician.  Generally, good common sense and hygiene will protect you from any of these issues.

 

Things you don't want to put in your compost!

 

These are the do's and don'ts provided in Julie's article. They are important to reiterate for many reasons including keeping animals out, preventing bad bacteria from growing and keeping smells at bay.

 

 

That's it!  Just remember, every new practice has a learning curve, but it doesn't take long to figure out how to best maintain and use your compost pile.  Keep observing the natural composting process as you add materials from your kitchen and yard. Before you know it, you'll be sharing with your neighbors your new tricks-of-the-trade for generating wonderful compost for your gardening and landscaping needs.  I know I look forward to using my compost as soon as it's ready! 

 

See Ya' in December!
Thanks so much for reading!
Check back with us for details on our new projects
and more tips on achieving a healthy home landscape.
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