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February 2014
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Spring Gardening 101

Attention weekend warriors! It's almost time to fire up those weed trimmers, pull out the gardening trowels and hit the local home and garden stores for all the springtime lawn and garden must-haves. Before you head out, here are seven good-to-do tips from the lawn and garden experts at askHRgreen:

 

1.Get Your Soil Tested - Why buy water-polluting fertilizer if you don't need it? A soil test  provides a list of recommendations for soil amendments to help you make the right decisions for your spring lawn.

 

2. Seed Bare Spots - Bare spots aren't just bad for curb appeal, they allow dirt to get carried away with rainwater and cloud up aquatic habitats. They're also an indicator that something is wrong with your turf. To fix bare spots, test your soil, consider soil amendments and investigate other ground cover options that might do better in your yard.

 

3. Plant More Plants - Trees, shrubs and perennials beautify your yard and reduce water pollution more than grass. A bonus-you won't have as much grass to mow when you replace lawn with flower beds and trees. Go all out and choose native plants which are adapted to thrive in our climate. They also require less water and fertilizer throughout the year.

 

4. Water Wisely - There's so much you can do to conserve water while you are watering!  Watering in the morning when the sun is low and temperatures are cooler minimizes evaporation by 30 percent. Make sure your sprinklers aren't watering your driveway to maximize efficiency. And for FREE water, install a rain barrel to collect rainwater from your downspouts to use for all your outdoor water needs.

 

5. Mulch to Perfection - Cover your flowerbeds with 2 inches of mulch. It helps to prevent soil erosion, seals in moisture and reduces weeds. 

 

6. Clean Up Your Mess - When your outdoor work is complete, make sure you clean up the right way. Leaves and yard waste should always be composted or disposed of in accordance with your locality's requirements (bagging, placement, etc.). Also, if you have applied fertilizer, make sure none has fallen on to hard surfaces like sidewalks and driveways. Sweep fertilizer back into your yard to minimize water pollution.

 

7. Ask The Pros If you're not a do-it-yourselfer and prefer to have someone else maintain your landscape, do your homework before hiring a contractor. Use this list of eight questions to ask your lawn care provider to be sure the work they do in your yard will not harm local waterways.

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Fix That Faucet During Fix-a-Leak Week

Why are you letting that leaky faucet drip, drip, drip away your hard-earned money? March 17-23 is "Fix-a-Leak Week," so let's get to it! Correcting household leaks can save homeowners an average of more than 10,000 gallons of water per year, or the amount of water in a typical backyard swimming pool. And when you let water drip, you also waste the energy and resources that go into treating and delivering safe tap water to your home. The good news is that fixing leaks is an easy and inexpensive way to go green and save some green, too. It's as simple as check, fix, or replace.
1. Check for Leaks: If a family of four uses more than 12,000 gallons of water per month in the winter, it's likely due to a leak. To check toilets, place food coloring in the tank and wait 15 minutes to see if color seeps into the bowl (flush immediately after to avoid staining). And of course, if you see water dripping from indoor or outdoor faucets and fixtures then you know you've got a leak. 

2. Fix Leaks: Check to make sure leaky faucets have tight washers and connectors, and that gaskets maintain a tight seal. Toilet flappers are notorious for turning a bad seal into lots of wasted water. Replacement parts for toilets, faucets and other fixtures are typically cheap, easy to find and simple to replace.

3. Replace: Replacing old fixtures with WaterSense fixtures can save an average household more than 500 gallons of water each year. WaterSense labeled models are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well or better than standard models. So update your fixtures in the name of being green!

Gear Up for a Great American
Cleanup Event Near You! 

Grab your work gloves, and get ready Hampton Roads! The Great American Cleanup begins this month. A nationwide grassroots effort of Keep America Beautiful, the event brings together community residents and groups who beautify parks, clean up litter and waterways, host recycling collections and plant trees and flowers. Cleanup activities take place from March to May. After the hard winter we've had, everyone should be eager to head outdoors and enjoy the warming temperatures, while giving back to the community. Find an event planned for your community, and check back often. New events will be added throughout the spring.

 

Learn more about local events year-round at askHRgreen.org