There Are More Than a Dozen Types of Grass — Here’s How to Know Which One You Have

© Spanic – Getty Imagesgettyimages-157314625

Growing and maintaining a healthy, green lawn doesn’t have to be a time-consuming, laborious chore. Other than mowing regularly and occasionally applying a fertilizer, lawns are actually pretty low maintenance, and most lawns can thrive with little more than healthy soil, sunshine, and a little rain. That is, if you plant the right type of grass seed for your particular region of the country.

There are more than a dozen different types of grasses, and many lawns contain a mixture of two or more types. Turf grasses fall into two basic categories:

Warm-season grasses thrive in warmer climates, such as the southern, southeast and Gulf Coast regions of the U.S.

Cool-season grasses are best suited for regions that experience cold winters and widespread temperature fluctuations, such as those states located in the north, northeast, upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.

Here are descriptions and details on the best types of grass to grow in different parts of the country. For more specific information for your region, contact a nearby university extension office or local nursery.

Warm-Season Grasses

Bermuda grass has dark green pointed leaves and a vibrant root system of rhizomes and stolons that spread out both below and above the ground. As a result, Bermuda grass forms a thick, dense lawn. It must be watered frequently, but can withstand being cut very short, reducing the number of times you must mow throughout the summer.

  • Centipede grass has light green, notched leaves. It grows using stolons, so it spreads horizontally across the soil, creating dense turf. As with Bermuda grass, centipede grass grows low to the ground and requires less frequent mowings. However, it’s not very well suited for extremely dry regions, unless it’s watered often and consistently. Centipede grass requires less fertilizer than most warm-season grasses, and it can withstand acidic soil.
  • St. Augustine grass is a slow-growing variety type of grass that has wide, coarse leaves with slightly rounded tips. It’s extremely resilient and heat resistant, making it popular throughout the Gulf Coast, especially Florida. It needs to be watered often, but it can survive heavy downpours that are common in the southeastern region of the U.S. And while St. Augustine grass isn’t as soft and cushiony as some types, it stands up well to heavy foot traffic and mechanized lawn equipment, and it can grow in sandy soil.
  • Zoysia grass shares some characteristics with St. Augustine grass. It’s slow growing, prefers full sun, and produces stiff, coarse leaves. But zoysia grass can be watered less often and it usually turns dormant—and brown—during extended cold spells. But it’ll turn green again once the weather warms up.
  • Dichondra isn’t a type of grass, but I included it here because it’s a warm-season species that’s often planted instead of grass in some western and southwestern states. Dichondra is a small flowering plant that’s related to morning glories. It has creeping stems that produce closely spaced round, bright green leaves. Dichondra must be fertilized regularly, but it can be mowed just like grass to maintain a trimmed, neat appearance.

Cool-Season Grasses

© KacieBuccieri – Getty Images Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Fine fescue grass is a fast-growing plant with very thin, pointed leaves. It can’t endure extended periods of extremely hot, dry weather, but it’s ideal for northern climates because it tolerates temperature swings and does well in both full sun and shade. This is an ideal seed to plant under trees. Note that there are different species of cool-season fine fescues, so be sure to plant one that’s recommended for your specific region. And fine fescue is also commonly used in seed mixes, often blended with bluegrass and ryegrass seeds.
  • Kentucky bluegrass is perhaps the most popular of all cool-season grasses. Many northern sod farms grow Kentucky bluegrass because it’s a reliable crop that produces healthy, hearty lawns. It has beautiful dark green, V-shaped leaves that are soft, yet resilient to foot traffic and lawnmowers. Kentucky bluegrass grows strong and quickly due to a robust root system of underground rhizomes. In fact, it’s known to be “self-repairing,” meaning that it quickly overgrows damaged areas. It tolerates both sun and partial shade, but struggles in heavily shaded areas.
  • Perennial ryegrass has very thin, soft, pointed leaves, but is surprisingly resilient to foot traffic. It’s popular because it does well in sun and shade, and it germinates quickly and becomes established faster than other cool-season varieties. Perennial ryegrass is commonly found as part of a grass-seed mix; it’s often mixed with Kentucky bluegrass seed to produce a lawn that’s more shade tolerant. One drawback is that ryegrass tends to grow thicker in some areas than others, creating green clumps that make a lawn look a little patchy.
  • Tall fescue stands up to hot, dry weather much better than other cool-season grasses, and its thick, coarse, dark green leaves can withstand heavy foot traffic and mechanized lawn equipment. And like ryegrass, tall fescue will occasionally grow in isolated thick dark green bunches.

Article by Joseph Truini for Popular Mechanics©

Source: There Are More Than a Dozen Types of Grass — Here’s How to Know Which One You Have (msn.com)

Surviving Daylight Savings Time – March 13, 2022

A Teacher/Tutor Guide

It’s that time of year! It’s getting warmer, trees are greening up, and we can head outside for some fresh air. Right? Ugh, not so fast. The reality of Daylight Savings Time is waking up groggy in the dark, scrambling out of bed, guzzling down some coffee, and trying to maintain our composure in traffic on the harried drive into school where we will be rewarded for our efforts with late, sleepy, grumpy students. 

Parents and teachers aren’t the only ones who struggle with lack of sleep the first week or two of daylight savings. Growing students need their sleep even more. It can make us all scratch our heads and wonder why we do it at all. (Those in Hawaii and parts of Arizona can skip this post and go back to bed for an extra hour of sleep!). 

There are more accidents, heart attacks, and strokes in the week or two after daylight savings time. So go easy on yourself, and others.

Be Kind

Be kind to yourself and your students during the daylight savings shift. It takes a while for our bodies to get used to the new schedule. You might find yourself more easily irritated because you lost some much-needed shut-eye. Your students will feel the same way. Be prepared for late, grouchy students. Remember that this too shall pass.

History 

Create a lesson about why we have daylight savings time. Although it was first used in Thunder Bay, Canada in 1908 to enjoy more sunlight hours during the day, it didn’t take off until Germany and Austria started to use it in 1916 to save energy during WWI. 

Sleeping Habits

Encourage your students to get enough sleep. In the week leading up to DST, remind them to go to bed a few minutes earlier every night in order to shift their circadian rhythms gradually. Explain how exposure to blue light from technology too close to bedtime hinders their ability to fall asleep. Talk about how important sleep is for our health and remind them that bed-time routines are important for people of all ages to set the stage for a good night. And don’t forget to follow your own advice!

Enjoy Some Extra Sunlight

Especially if you live in a colder climate, you are used to going home during the winter after a long day at school and getting cozy in the dark. DST gives us time to decompress outside before we hang it up for the night. Enjoy an after dinner walk or just relax on your porch. The extra daylight in the evening keeps us alert a bit longer. Use that extra time at the end of the day to prepare for your morning routine. Hopefully, it’ll just take a few days for you and your students to get back on track and get busy enjoying Spring!

By Patti for Remedia©

Source: Teaching Daylight Savings Time – March 13, 2022 – Remedia Publication (rempub.com)

Unplug These Appliances That Hike Up Your Electricity Bill

Hold on to your wallet. Due to inflation and prices surging for natural gas, heating oil, and other fuels, you will see a significant rise in your bills this winter. So if you’ve already opened your electric bill only to be shocked by the amount owed, you’ve already seen the change. According to Associated Press, households can expect to see jumps of up to 54% in their heating bills.

©FreshSplash / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Figuring out how to reduce your electric bill can be as simple as figuring out what’s costing you the most. To do this, you can follow a simple formula to determine how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) a device is using in a month or year, and then find ways to cut back where possible.

Kilowatt-hours are essentially a way of measuring how much power a device uses in an hour of being turned on. If you look at most appliances, they will supply a wattage or a range of wattages the device operates at — how many watts it burns in an hour. Once you have the wattage, simply divide that by 1,000 (to convert the watts to kilowatts) and then multiply by how many hours a day you use the item. That will give you a basic figure for how many kilowatt-hours a day you’re using with that item.

From there, you can use the U.S. Department of Energy’s number for the average U.S. utility rate of $0.14 per kWh, or you could get more specific and get your rate straight from your energy provider. Based on what your costs are, you can then determine which appliance or device is the actual energy vampire and what’s not really using much electricity.

Random Energy Suckers

There are certain devices that still suck power even after they’re turned “off” — and that’s a major issue. You need to be aware of how many are actually continuing to draw power even when they’re not on, including devices like your computer, instant-on TVs, surround sound systems or even cable and satellite TV boxes. For that matter, anything with a built-in digital clock is pulling a little juice.

The National Resources Defense Council estimates that almost a quarter of the energy used by your home is consumed by idle devices that aren’t even on. It is estimated that the average household in Northern California spends between $210 and $440 a year on energy vampires and the country as a whole spends $19 billion a year for electricity it’s not really using.

How do you deliver the proverbial wooden stake to the heart of your energy vampires? Unplug things you aren’t using, use power strips for devices you know use power while idle, adjust power settings on things like your computer or TV and consider getting timers for outlets to help control usage.

Not sure which devices are adding the biggest idle load to your energy bill? These are the top 10 culprits, according to the NRDC.

1. Fishpond Equipment

  • Average Wattage: 220 watts
  • Cost per Year: $220

Although you likely can’t pull the plug on your fishpond (unless it’s not currently housing fish), consider investing in an energy-saving pump to cut down on energy costs.

2. Hot Water Recirculation Pump

  • Average Wattage: 28-92 watts
  • Cost per Year: $28-$93

Plug your hot water recirculation pump into a timer and program it to switch the pump off at times when no one is typically using hot water, such as in the middle of the night.

3. Set-Top Box

  • Average Wattage: 16-57 watts
  • Cost per Year: $16-$57

Many homes have multiple set-top boxes, which leads to a bigger energy suck. Consider unplugging boxes that aren’t used regularly, such as a box in a guest bedroom. For the boxes you use regularly, consider plugging the entire entertainment system (set-top box, TV, speakers, etc.) into a power strip so that the whole thing can be turned off at once.

4. Audio/Visual Gear

  • Average Wattage: 7-40 watts
  • Cost per Year: $7-$40

Audio devices like amplifiers, stereos, boom boxes and internet radio receivers are easy enough to unplug when not in use. This simple act can save you up to $40 a year.

5. Fans

  • Average Wattage: 110 watts
  • Cost per Year: $111

Unplug fans when not in use, and switch to a fan with a timer so that it doesn’t stay on all night while you sleep.

6. 24/7 Lights

  • Average Wattage: 4-104 watts
  • Cost per Year: $4-$104

There really is no need to keep a light on when you are not using it. Switch off lights when not in use or put them on a timer so that they shut off automatically.

7. Television

  • Average Wattage: 2-54 watts
  • Cost per Year: $2-$54

Unplug any TVs that you don’t regularly use, such as one in a guest bedroom. You should also adjust the power setting on your TV. Consider disabling your TV’s “quick start” setting to save on energy.

8. Aquarium

  • Average Wattage: 4-104 watts
  • Cost per Year: $4-$104

The main culprit of energy usage in your aquarium is the heater. Although you might not be able to unplug it depending on the optimum temperature for your fish, consider insulating the tank and placing it in a well-heated room to cut down on heating costs. If you have an aquarium light, unplug it when not in use.

9. Desktop Computer

  • Average Wattage: 1-49 watts
  • Cost per Year: $1-$49

Your computer doesn’t draw a ton of power, even when it’s on, with a typical desktop costing you about a penny an hour. However, even pennies can add up over the course of a year. Plug your computer, monitor, printer, computer speakers and other computer accessories into a single power strip that can be turned off when not in use. Let your computer go to sleep after a maximum of 30 minutes of inactivity, and turn your computer off whenever you’ve finished using it.

10. Modem

  • Average Wattage: 5-17 watts
  • Cost per Year: $5-$17

Unplug your modem before going to bed. You don’t need internet access when you’re asleep.

Source: Unplug These Appliances That Hike Up Your Electricity Bill | GOBankingRates

Always Avoid These Things At the Grocery Store

When you go to the grocery store, it’s tempting to drop a little more cash on those little convenient items. Why buy whole apples when you can buy prepackaged sliced fruit? Who wants to make their own salad dressing when it’s already bottled? These things may be cheap and easy time-savers, but consider the larger scheme of things.

There are some items at the store that you should skip buying entirely, whether it’s to save some money, reap the health benefits, or to do your part when it comes to saving the environment. The next time you run to the store and feel tempted to buy some of these things, think twice about putting them in your cart.

Bottled water

Unless you’re dealing with unsafe drinking water, bottled water is an unnecessary expense that can add up quickly. While it’s portable and convenient, it can also cost both you and the environment dearly over time.

Your best bet? Buying a reusable water bottle and keeping it filled with tap water.

Greeting cards

Not only is a grocery store’s selection of greeting cards lacking, but you’re going to be paying upwards of $3 or $4 for even the cheaper brands. It’s best when it comes to picking the perfect card to peruse a department store to pay less and have additional options.

Your prescriptions

It might be far easier to go ahead and pick up your medications while doing your weekly shopping, but grocery stores charge higher premiums for even the most common prescription drugs. If you find you’re routinely paying more out of pocket, you might want to find a dedicated pharmacy.

There are numerous more tips in this article by Brittany Vincent for House Beautiful. See them all by clicking the link below.

Source: Always Avoid These Things At the Grocery Store (msn.com)

Tips for starting your spring garden off strong

Cloudy, cold winter days may seem endless, but as the weather warms, bulbs will bloom and grass will green, giving way to sure signs of spring.

Grab your trowel and get ready. Spring is just days away.

Starting seeds

Keep in mind how last year the pandemic saw new gardeners flood garden centers and increase demand for products sold by online seed companies. Buy your summer-flowering bulbs, seeds and transplants early. Last year, many seeds and transplants were in short supply or out of stock. This spring, order your seeds early and purchase your transplants as soon as they are available.

It’s also important to avoid damping-off disease when starting seeds. Damping-off will cause seedlings to wilt and die. Use a pasteurized soil-less medium. Keep the temperature around 65 to70 degrees Fahrenheit for best germination and provide bottom heat if possible. Most of all, avoid overwatering. 

Soil preparation

Prepare the soil before planting. This means removing rocks and debris form the soil. Dig in a 2- to 4- inch layer of organic matter, which helps to breakdown heavy clay soils and improves drainage.

Never work your soil when it is wet. Tilling or digging when the soil is wet will cause it to dry into concrete-like clods.

Pick up a handful of soil before digging and squeeze. If it crumbles easily, it is ready to be dug. If it doesn’t, it is too wet. Allow the soil to dry for a couple of more days and test again before digging.

Late spring frosts

Be prepared for late spring frosts. Cover tender plants with row covers, cardboard, blankets, hot caps, or newspaper. Do not use metal or plastic for protection, because these can conduct cold to plants.

We have had frost close to Memorial Day in Illinois. The latest spring frost occurred in Rockford on May 27, 1992.

The growing season between the last spring frost and the first fall frost ranges from around 160 days to 190 days from northern to southern Illinois.

Transplanting

Buy healthy transplants. Leaves and stems should be green and healthy without any signs of yellowing or browning. Gently remove transplants from their pot and check the root system. Roots should be white with visible soil. Check for insects such as whiteflies or aphids. 

Harden off transplants. Before exposing transplants to cool, spring temperatures, wind and sun, gradually introduce them to the outdoor environment over a 10-to-14-day period. At first, place the transplants in a shaded area for a couple of hours. Gradually increase their exposure to sunlight each day until they are outdoors for 24 to 48 hours before planting.

Perennials and ornamentals

Divide perennials. Dig around the plant and lift the clump out of the ground. Break the clump into sections. Larger sections will re-establish quicker than smaller sections. Keep the clumps moist until ready to plant. 

Cut back. Cut back ornamental grasses to about 4 to 6 inches. Not removing the foliage will delay the warming of the crown of the plant and will slow new growth. Ornamental grasses should be divided in the spring if the center of the plant has died out or if it has become overgrown.

Article By Ron Wolford, Horticulture Educator

Source: Gardeners Corner Spring 2021: University of Illinois Extension