MowGreen Guide – 21 Ways to Clean & Serene
Lawncare season is here and going green is key for pollution reduction. Tending the average lawn tended with gasoline gear emits 4-5 tons of carbon pollution per year, or the equivalent of an extra that car on the road per home – not good for severe weather and climate change! MowGreen’s LawnCare is Carbon Neutral!
Green LawnCare Checklist:
1. Mowing – Reel mowing is the greenest way, but solar charged battery-powered rotary mowers have some advantages. We do both according to best practices and your preferences, but usually electric these days.
MowGreen invented a double and triple reel mower push gang kit (Reel2Reel(tm)) which allows a single person to mow an acre in two hours. It’s a great exercise system too, with tool-less design, easy to switch between single, double and triple reel mowing. Kits are manufactured in Bridgeport, CT and can be purchased from MowGreen.
Our battery powered electric mulching mowers are charged from Solar and 100% green power. We have units that can run all day on a battery with a single charge and can mow an acre in under an hour. Some units have solar charging canopies to re-charge while mowing!
Mowing the grass at longer lengths than most, (3 to 4 inches), has been shown to reduce weeds dramatically while maintaining greener, healthier grass that sinks more carbon too. And, regular mowing weekly rather than waiting long periods is healthier because a smaller percentage of the blade is cut each time, creating healthier roots. Studies have shown that for every quarter inch below 4 inches of grass length cut, the chance of weed encroachment goes up a couple percent! Chances at 4 inches = 11%, while 3 inches = 23%!
Whereas our mowing is carbon neutral, because we charge with solar or other 100% renewable energy, what about the vehicles we haul them with? We buy carbon credits to balance out any gas we use in our vehicles, making us one of the only carbon-neutral, or carbon-balanced companies around.
We offer a variety of high quality grass seed. One interesting type is Pearl’s Premium grass seed (see below under Overseeding), which is rated as one of the slowest growing, deepest rooted varieties, and requires less mowing, water and fertilizer. It is a mix of mostly native fescues. It is also evergreen, so it tends to look good even in the off season. We use it less often however, because we haven’t experienced an appreciable difference between it and our lower priced certified weed seed free mix which is mostly native fescues too.
2. Trimming – Battery-powered string trimmers are clean and serene, and efficient.
3. Light Edging – Some electric trimmers swivel to become light duty edgers to give lawns a great finished look.
4. Sweep up – Electric battery-powered blowers are often as powerful as gas blowers, but clean and quiet! We make piles with blowers but don’t try to move them with blowers! Tarps are a better bet. Rakes are still cool too!
Most MowGreen clients get the basic four services listed above plus some or all of the following:
5. Soil Samples & Enhancement – we do soil samples and get them lab analyzed with recommended PH and fertilizer reports. The average report calls for some added N-P-K fertilizer in Spring and Fall and some lime for PH adjustment and soil biology restoration. A lab in New Haven, the New Haven Agricultural station will accept soil samples and analyze and report on them for different types of plants. Other metrics include level of organic matter, soil type, magnesium and calcium levels. We offer organic soil enhancement which brings dead soil back to life and we also adjust soil to meet ideal grass growing conditions. One interesting product (Quantum) introduces probiotics for the soil and some refer to it as a “liquid aerator”. An organic guideline sheet can be found here.
6. Spring Cleanup – It’s typically done in March or early April, in two phases, but depends on weather. We recommend a light superficial blowing and rake over for turf when to prepare for spring seed patching in early spring. The reason aggressive raking in the Spring is discouraged is to avoid disturbing and surfacing summer weed seeds which may give them a better start. Core aeration in Spring is a bad idea for the same reason. We don’t recommend clearing beds until late April or when soil temps average 50 degrees for 5 days to avoid killing insects and reptiles. Its best if ornamental plants can be left with leaves, stalks and dead heads through the winter for this reason.
7. Pre-emergent Weed Control – Corn gluten meal is effective but must be managed with proper timing. It suppresses new weed growth in Spring and Fall by drying, shunting new seed germination, as well as a protein type reaction that suppresses broad leaf weeds especially. When done for a couple seasons, it is reputed to be 90% effective for weed control. A corn gluten meal is available which suppresses weeds and delivers nitrogen and pottasium as a “10-0-2” fertilizer, providing double value. Only 5 lbs per 1000 s.f. are necessary for what we use.
8. Fertilizing – Corn gluten meal is not only a weed suppressor, but a nitrogen fertilizer (N) and potassium (K). When combined for weed control and including some grass and leaf mulch mowing, leaving clippings on the lawn, you may not need much fertilizing beyond it. Additional fertilizer is often recommended to help boost overseeding and overall turf success. Some fertilizing is often suggested by our soil sample reports. We use only organic fertilizers, either sprayable or spreadable, with battery powered sprayers, hand pump units and walk behind spreaders. We suggest a spray of Neptunes Harvest 2-0-2, Quantum Total (Probiotics!) and Vitazyme a few times per season to augment corn gluten meal which is also recommended two or three times per season.
9. Overseeding – Keeping grass dominant is great weed control, so seed patching/overseeding 3 weeks before, or 4-5 weeks after corn gluten is applied is often done (Spring). We usually use a mix of grade A weed free certified tall fescues with some Kentucky Bluegrass and Perrenial Rye added (and some Dense Shade mix where appropriate). The tall fescues are low maintenance, while the three types make for a resilient combination. Rye germinates faster and boosts seeding success. In the Fall, aeration, raking and de-thatching before the seeding makes sense for seed contact with soil for better germination. We often apply a thin layer of compost and or straw when we overseed to help keep grass seed in place and retain moisture.
10. Compost top dressing or compost tea – This is also suggested to add when overseeding to help the
seed get a quick start and to create and maintain healthy soil biology. Compost may introduce weed seeds unless it is prepared perfectly and covered until used, while compost tea is difficult to get right also. Rather than compost tea, we prefer a predictable lab mix of beneficial microbes that you get from Quantum. We can compost top dress automatically with a large compost spreader that we pull with our electric mower for fast, efficient, zero-emission and quiet compost top dressing.
11. Aeration – Cutting out plugs of soil to provide air to roots helps them stay healthiest. Especially in high traffic packed down areas, this can make a difference. We have stilt-like dual core cutters that can be a great workout and to reach tight spaces that are hard to access with an aeration machine. For larger lawns we do electric aeration! Aeration can be done any time of year, but not suggested for the heat of summer months, nor the
12. Liming – If you are in New England and haven’t limed lately, your PH may be acidic and more hospitable for weeds than grass. Many tests show that lime is needed for good grass growing soil. We use high calcium humic acid enhanced lime which spreads quickly and is affordable. It helps restore PH and the soil’s biology for nutrient up-take. With our acid rain, lime is something to add often if soil tests call for it. Soil for grass should have a PH rating above 6. A single bag of enhanced lime can maintain PH for a large lawn (8,000 s.f.) and spreads in about an hour or less. One bag per 4,000 s.f. raises the PH around a half a point (like from 5.5 to 6). This is one of the most important and affordable steps in lawn maintenance (no brainer, about $50, applied).
13. Weed Control – We believe in allowing plant diversity in lawns because its health and more interesting. Many “lawn weeds” are edible and nutritious. However, we do help maintain grass in the majority where desired. We are also promoting lawn reduction and native ground cover alternative to grass where possible.
A mix of pulling weeds, spraying with organic weed killers, or grinding certain ones down with a trimmer before they produce seeds for annuals are good methods. Removing weed seeds by hand or with a grass catching bag mower to keep them off the lawn is good practice also for annuals (like with crab grass, an annual weed, if you get the seeds, it won’t come back). We like Finalsan best as an organic non-selective weed killer because it is not as acidic as others. We sometimes use 20% vinegar too. Careful with vinegar it can damage skin, eyes, and lungs if handled improperly. Even 5% white vinegar can work, but it needs sunlight to be reliable. Non-selective means it will kill grass too. Non-selective is useful for gravel and walkway cracks that may be hard to hand weed or weed whack, or even in garden beds where weeds are spaced away from ornamentals.
Selective organic weed killers exist that kill broad leaf weeds but not grass! We like Fiesta. It is an Iron Chelate and greens up the grass a bit while also killing broad leaf weeds.
14. Hard Edging – We do hard edging around gardens with manual shovel-like edgers, aided by electric edgers. Light edging is easy with electric trimmers that have swivel heads.
15. Mulching – We use local organic mulch and have prepared many a mulch bed. It’s worth noting that leaves are a natural mulch for beds, so for innovators, consider skipping the bed leaves removal, and the bark mulch! In fall, we can often leave some whole leaves on beds and also mulch mow leaves and blow the excess on the beds. We encourage leaving leaves and dead plants in beds for the winter and not clearing out until late April into May, or not at all. The more leaves you have for mulch, the less you need mulch! And if you like the aesthetics of mulch, why not just use less and top coat the leaves which are just as good?
16. Compost Areas – Compost corrals, pits, containers, and piles on premise are great. We will help set up composting for you if interested. Your towns are hoping you will compost yard debris on your property to avoid the cost of hauling it all away and concentrating it at a facility. The best way to deal with yard and food waste is to turn it into fertilizer on site!
17. Fall Cleanup – MowGreen uses solar or other renewable-charged, quiet, battery-powered electric blowers as powerful as loud, smelly gas-blowers now, and we are competitive for cleanup services. We like rakes and tarps too. Blowers are good for making piles, not moving them. Making an area on your property to pile the debris can save a lot of time and effort and make rich compost additive for your soil. Also consider using leaves as natural mulch in your beds rather than removing them and replacing with wood mulch. We usually mow in mulch mode, so mulch mowing leaves can dramatically reduce the bulk and feed the soil, making fall cleanup a lot more productive and less costly.
18. Lawn Reduction/Native Plants/Gardening – We would love to help you reduce your lawn and replace some of it with native plants. Less lawn mowing, more food growing! We partner with specialists in this area for building gardens and there are many great options. MowGreen has reduced the lawn at HQ with raised bed vegetable and herb gardens as well as wild raspberry and blueberry patches. Our evolution as a business leans toward gardening. We all aspire to be experts at installing and maintaining native plants to help restore balance to the food web and to re-wild private properties to support pollinators and more.
19. Hedging – We have quiet solar/green power charged battery hedgers consistent with our mission and your sanity.
20. Pruning & Sawing – We do pruning required with some manual loppers and saws and also quiet solar/green power charged battery chain saws. Easy on the ears and lungs!
21. Organic Tick, Mosquito and Grub Control – Ticks can be controlled on your
property with organic methods to protect your family and pets from lymes disease. We use Tickkillz a mix of cedar oil and other plant derivatives that kill ticks and mosquitos and repel them. MosquitoCure is also a good product to add for extra Mosquito reduction. For grub control, we use GrubGone only if necessary. Other methods to reduce ticks should be considered. Japanese barberry increases tick counts, so getting rid of that helps. A border around the property of wood chips keeps them from crawling in. Opossums are great tick eaters, so welcome them if you see them (usually at night).
Other – We aspire to educate and offer safe healthy methods for other lawn and land care, and other projects like installing or removing plants, stone walls, rain barrels, rain gardens, mini-meadows are welcome. If you need something say something : ). We can recommend specialists for jobs beyond our scope (like high gutters or tall dangerous tree work – we are okay with the simpler jobs).
We have organic trained and experienced staff. Our methods, equipment, treatments and results improve every year, which has helped us sustain double digit growth rates most years since 2006.
We’d be happy to tailor a program personalized to your property to help you estimate and control any services desired.
MowGreen is a social entrepreunership, so we all win together. Visit MowGreen.com, email or call us for an easy switch allowing you to avoid tons of carbon pollution at your place. A simple MowGreen brochure is here, so you can share it with others (please : )!
>500 tons Carbon (& other) pollution avoided annually!
>5 MILLION auto-mile equiv. emissions cut since 2006
>5000 Acres Mowed Without Gas!
Dan QuiMowte, Man of LaMowGreen
Tending the ave. lawn with gas emits tons of green house gases per year; like a car driving 12,000 miles, as gas lawn gear is 20 times more polluting per gallon than in a car. Lawn Care is over 5% of US air pollution. MowGreen cuts grass without gas. Over 500 metric tons of air pollution are avoided annually – over 5,000 acres mowed without gas, avoiding 5 MILLION auto-mile equivalent emissions since 2006. MowGreen® is a carbon neutral company, focused on sustainable lawn care technologies and services. Clean & Serene, No GasolineSM.
Values: Reduction, Ecology, Ethics, Life sustaining, & Respect, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Lasting value (REEL).
Mission: Get the Gas off the Grass, More Food Growing, Less Lawn Mowing, No Invasives, Let’s Plant Natives.
Vision: National Network of locally managed and centrally supported eco-friendly gardening & lawn care.