What's Up Blog - Green Spaces Landscaping
Jun 25

Smoke from US wildfires boosting health risk for millions

By | Science-and-Nature

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Climate change in the Western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a spike in premature deaths.

That emerging reality is prompting people in cities and rural areas alike to prepare for another summer of sooty skies along the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains — the regions widely expected to suffer most from blazes tied to dryer, warmer conditions.

“There’s so little we can do. We have air purifiers and masks — otherwise we’re just like ‘Please don’t burn,’” said Sarah Rochelle Montoya of San Francisco, who fled her home with her husband and children last fall to escape thick smoke enveloping the city from a disastrous fire roughly 150 miles (241 kilometers) away.

Other sources of air pollution are in decline in the U.S. as coal-fired power plants close and fewer older cars roll down highways. But those air quality gains are being erased in some areas by the ill effects of massive clouds of smoke that can spread hundreds and even thousands of miles on cross-country winds, according to researchers.

With the 2019 wildfire season already heating up and fires breaking out from Southern California through Canada to Alaska, authorities are scrambling to better protect the public before smoke again blankets cities and towns. Officials in Seattle recently announced plans to retrofit five public buildings as smoke-free shelters.

More intense and frequent wildfires in the U.S. means more lung-damaging smoke that researchers say could affect tens of millions of people. One study estimates the number of deaths from chronic exposure to smoke will double in coming decades. (June 25)

Scientists from NASA and universities are refining satellite imagery to predict where smoke will travel and how intense it will be. Local authorities are using those forecasts to send out real-time alerts encouraging people to stay indoors when conditions turn unhealthy.

The scope of the problem is immense: Over the next three decades, more than 300 counties in the West will see more severe smoke waves from wildfires, sometimes lasting weeks longer than in years past, according to atmospheric researchers led by a team from Yale and Harvard.

For almost two weeks last year during the Camp Fire , which killed 85 people and destroyed 14,000 homes in Paradise, California, smoke from the blaze inundated the San Francisco neighborhood where Montoya lives with her husband, Trevor McNeil, and their three children.

Lines formed outside hardware stores as people rushed to buy face masks and indoor air purifiers. The city’s famous open air cable cars shut down. Schools kept children inside or canceled classes, and a church soup kitchen sheltered homeless people from the smoke.

Montoya’s three children have respiratory problems that their doctor says is likely a precursor to asthma, she said. That would put them among those most at-risk from being harmed by wildfire smoke, but the family was unable to find child-sized face masks or an adequate air filter. Both were sold out everywhere they looked.

In desperation, her family ended up fleeing to a relative’s vacation home in Lake Tahoe. The children were delighted that they could go outside again.

“We really needed our kids to be able to breathe,” Montoya said.

Smoke from wildfires was once considered a fleeting nuisance except for the most vulnerable populations. But it’s now seen in some regions as a recurring and increasing public health threat, said James Crooks, a health investigator at National Jewish Health, a Denver medical center that specializes in respiratory ailments.

“There are so many fires, so many places upwind of you that you’re getting increased particle levels and increased ozone from the fires for weeks and weeks,” Crooks said.

One such place is Ashland, Oregon, a city of about 21,000 known for its summer-long Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

During each of the past two summers, Ashland had about 40 days of smoke-filled air, said Chris Chambers, wildfire division chief for the fire department. Last year, that forced cancellation of more than two-dozen outdoor performances. Family physician Justin Adams said the smoke was hardest on his patients with asthma and other breathing problems and he expects some to see long-term health effects.

“It was essentially like they’d started smoking again for two months,” he said.

Voters in 2018 approved a bond measure that includes money to retrofit Ashland schools with “scrubbers” to filter smoke. Other public buildings and businesses already have them. A community alert system allows 6,500 people to receive emails and text messages when the National Weather Service issues smoke alerts.

“We really feel like we’ve made a conscious effort to adapt to climate change,” Chambers said. “But you can’t just live your whole life inside.”

The direct damage from conflagrations that regularly erupt in the West is stark. In California alone, wildfires over the past two years torched more than 33,000 houses, outbuildings and other structures and killed 146 people.

Harder to grasp are health impacts from microscopic particles in the smoke that can trigger heart attacks, breathing problems and other maladies. The particles, about 1/30th of the diameter of a human hair, penetrate deeply into the lungs to cause coughing, chest pain and asthma attacks. Children, the elderly and people with lung diseases or heart trouble are most at risk.

Death can occur within days or weeks among the most vulnerable following heavy smoke exposure, said Linda Smith, chief of the California Air Resources Board’s health branch.

Over the past decade as many as 2,500 people annually died prematurely in the U.S. from short-term wildfire smoke exposure, according to Environmental Protection Agency scientists.

The long-term effects have only recently come into focus, with estimates that chronic smoke exposure causes about 20,000 premature deaths per year, said Jeff Pierce, an associate professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.

That figure could double by the end of this century due to hotter, drier conditions and much longer fire seasons, said Pierce.

His research team compared known health impacts from air pollution against future climate scenarios to derive its projections. The results suggested smoke will spread to become a dominant pollutant even in areas not typically associated with wildfires, such as the South and Northeast.

Even among wildfire experts, understanding of health impacts from smoke was elusive until recently. But attitudes shifted as growing awareness of climate change ushered in research examining wildfire’s potential consequences.

Residents of Northern California, western Oregon, Washington state and the Northern Rockies are projected to suffer the worst increases in smoke exposure, according to Loretta Mickley, a senior climate research fellow at Harvard University.

“It’s really incredible how much the U.S. has managed to clean up the air from other (pollution) sources like power plants and industry and cars,” Mickley said. “Climate change is throwing a new variable into the mix and increasing smoke, and that will work against our other efforts to clear the air through regulations. This is kind of an unexpected source of pollution and health hazard.”

___

Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MatthewBrownAP

Jun 25

Jump in wildfires means smokes health impact will spread

By | Science-and-Nature

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Climate change in the Western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a spike in premature deaths.

That emerging reality is prompting people in cities and rural areas alike to gird themselves for another summer of sooty skies along the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains — the regions widely expected to suffer most from blazes tied to dryer, warmer conditions.

“There’s so little we can do. We have air purifiers and masks — otherwise we’re just like ‘Please don’t burn,’” said Sarah Rochelle Montoya of San Francisco, who fled her home with her husband and children last fall to escape thick smoke enveloping the city from a disastrous fire roughly 150 miles (241 kilometers) away.

Other sources of air pollution are in decline in the U.S. as coal-fired power plants close and fewer older cars roll down highways. But those air quality gains are being erased in some areas by the ill effects of massive clouds of smoke that can spread hundreds and even thousands of miles on cross-country winds, according to researchers.

With the 2019 fire season already heating up with fires from southern California to Canada, authorities are scrambling to better protect the public before smoke again blankets cities and towns. Officials in Seattle recently announced plans to retrofit five public buildings as smoke-free shelters.

More intense and frequent wildfires in the U.S. means more lung-damaging smoke that researchers say could affect tens of millions of people. One study estimates the number of deaths from chronic exposure to smoke will double in coming decades. (June 25)

Scientists from NASA and universities are refining satellite imagery to predict where smoke will travel and how intense it will be. Local authorities are using those forecasts to send out real-time alerts encouraging people to stay indoors when conditions turn unhealthy.

The scope of the problem is immense: Over the next three decades, more than 300 counties in the West will see more severe smoke waves from wildfires, sometimes lasting weeks longer than in years past, according to atmospheric researchers led by a team from Yale and Harvard.

For almost two weeks last year during the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed 14,000 homes in Paradise, California, smoke from the blaze inundated the San Francisco neighborhood where Montoya lives with her husband, Trevor McNeil, and their three children.

Lines formed outside hardware stores as people rushed to buy face masks and indoor air purifiers. The city’s famous open air cable cars shut down. Schools kept children inside or canceled classes, and a church soup kitchen sheltered homeless people from the smoke.

Montoya’s three children have respiratory problems that their doctor says is likely a precursor to asthma, she said. That would put them among those most at-risk from being harmed by wildfire smoke, but the family was unable to find child-sized face masks or an adequate air filter. Both were sold out everywhere they looked.

In desperation, her family ended up fleeing to a relative’s vacation home in Lake Tahoe. The children were delighted that they could go outside again.

“We really needed our kids to be able to breathe,” Montoya said.

Smoke from wildfires was once considered a fleeting nuisance except for the most vulnerable populations. But it’s now seen in some regions as a recurring and increasing public health threat, said James Crooks, a health investigator at National Jewish Health, a Denver medical center that specializes in respiratory ailments.

“There are so many fires so many places upwind of you that you’re getting increased particle levels and increased ozone from the fires for weeks and weeks,” Crooks said.

One such place is Ashland, Oregon, a city of about 21,000 known for its summer-long Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

During each of the past two summers, Ashland had about 40 days of smoke-filled air, said Chris Chambers, wildfire division chief for the fire department. Last year that forced cancellation of more than two-dozen outdoor performances. Family physician Justin Adams said the smoke was hardest on his patients with asthma and other breathing problems and he expects some to see long-term health effects.

“It was essentially like they’d started smoking again for two months,” he said.

Voters in 2018 approved a bond measure that includes money to retrofit Ashland schools with “scrubbers” to filter smoke. Other public buildings and businesses already have them. A community alert system allows 6,500 people to receive emails and text messages when the National Weather Service issues smoke alerts.

“We really feel like we’ve made a conscious effort to adapt to climate change,” Chambers said. “But you can’t just live your whole life inside.”

The direct damage from conflagrations that regularly erupt in the West is stark. In California alone, wildfires over the past two years torched more than 33,000 houses, outbuildings and other structures and killed 146 people.

Harder to grasp are health impacts from microscopic particles in the smoke that can trigger heart attacks, breathing problems and other maladies. The particles, about 1/30th of the diameter of a human hair, penetrate deeply into the lungs to cause coughing, chest pain and asthma attacks. Children, the elderly and people with lung diseases or heart trouble are most at risk.

Death can occur within days or weeks among the most vulnerable following heavy smoke exposure, said Linda Smith, chief of the California Air Resources Board’s health branch.

In the past decade as many as 2,500 people annually died prematurely in the U.S. from short-term wildfire smoke exposure, according to Environmental Protection Agency scientists.

The long-term effects have only recently come into focus, with estimates that chronic smoke exposure is causing on the order of 20,000 premature deaths per year, said Jeff Pierce, an associate professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University. That figure could double by the end of this century due to hotter, dryer conditions and much longer fire seasons, said Pierce. His research team compared known health impacts from air pollution against future climate scenarios to derive its projections.

Even among wildfire experts, understanding of health impacts from smoke was elusive until recently. But attitudes shifted as growing awareness of climate change ushered in research examining wildfire’s potential consequences.

Residents of Northern California, western Oregon, Washington state and the Northern Rockies are projected to suffer the worst increases in smoke exposure, according to Loretta Mickley, a senior climate research fellow at Harvard.

“It’s really incredible how much the U.S. has managed to clean up the air from other (pollution) sources like power plants and industry and cars,” Mickley said. “Climate change is throwing a new variable into the mix and increasing smoke, and that will work against our other efforts to clear the air through regulations. This is kind of an unexpected source of pollution and health hazard.”

___

Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MatthewBrownAP .

May 15

Looking for climate change info, teachers find propaganda

By | Science-and-Nature

When science teacher Diana Allen set out to teach climate change, a subject she’d never learned in school, she fell into a rabbit’s hole of misinformation: Many resources presented online as educational material were actually junk.

“It is a pretty scary topic to take on,” said Allen, a teacher at Sanford Junior High School, in southern Maine. “There are some pretty tricky websites out there. You kind of have to be an expert to be able to see through that like, ‘Oh, no, these guys aren’t telling you the truth.’”

There are materials produced by climate change doubters, lesson plans developed by the oil industry, and countless other sites with misleading or outdated information. The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network , funded by federal grants, reviewed more than 30,000 free online resources and found only 700 acceptable for use in schools.

“There’s a lot of information that’s out there that is broken, old, misleading, not scientifically sound, not sound technically,” said Frank Niepold, a climate education coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Heartland Institute, an Illinois-based group that dismisses climate change, in 2017 sent thousands of science teachers copies of a book titled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” The book, attributed to the group’s Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, misrepresents the near-universal consensus of scientists and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global warming is real and man-made.

Teachers across the country describe struggles finding trustworthy materials to help them teach climate change. (May 15)

Another resource, a set of six lesson plans on understanding climate change, is available online from the Canada-based Fraser Institute, which counts the Charles Koch Foundation among its financial supporters. The lessons claim that mainstream climate scientists have made selective use of data and that it’s a matter of debate whether human-generated carbon dioxide emissions have contributed to climate change, saying “the issues are far from settled.”

“Our history is full of examples where ‘common knowledge’ was discarded in favor of more correct hypotheses,” the lesson plans say. Among them, it lists, “Are diseases caused by evil spirits? Are natural disasters caused by angry gods?”

And: “Does smoking pose a threat to your health?”

Also vying for educators’ attention are classroom-ready materials made available by the oil companies. ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and other companies have invested heavily in promoting science, technology, engineering and math education in K-12 schools. Such materials are used widely to teach topics related to energy, but critics say they can mislead by not addressing the role of burning fossil fuels in global warming.

For teachers in cash-strapped schools, it can be hard to pass up the free handout materials.

Melissa Lau, a sixth-grade teacher in Piedmont, Oklahoma, attended one of the training sessions put on regularly for teachers by the Oklahoma Energy Resource Bureau, which is funded by the oil and gas companies. She kept the $50 stipend and the tub full of science equipment she got from the group but she tossed its illustrated lesson plans featuring the character “Petro Pete.”

In a book available online, Petro Pete has a nightmare about everything that would be missing from his life if there were no petroleum products, from his toothbrush to his school bus.

“I get free beakers and cool things like that,” Lau said. “But the curriculum itself is borderline propaganda.”

A spokeswoman for the industry group, Dara McBee, said their materials align with Oklahoma standards, which do not reference climate change, and they are intended to supplement what students learn in school.

Kevin Leineweber, a science teacher at Cascade High School in Clayton, Indiana, said he is skeptical about resources sent to him, including oil industry materials, but some colleagues are less so. At a districtwide science meeting a couple months ago one elementary school teacher expressed excitement about receiving unsolicited materials on climate change in the mail, to help introduce the topic to students. After talking it over with Leineweber, the teacher tossed the mailing of unknown origin.

“I’m just like, ‘Oh, jeez,’” Leineweber said.

The oil industry materials have the effect of pushing climate change to the periphery, Charles Anderson, a professor of science education at Michigan State University.

“The school systems of the country are so fragmented and under-resourced that they have no choice but to turn to people like the oil industry who offer them free stuff,” he said.

Climate change education varies across states, and often from one classroom to the next. The Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize climate change and how humans are altering the planet, have been adopted by or served as a model for most states. But many teachers report that they shy away from the topic not only because of issues with materials but also the political sensitivities, and uncertainty over where to introduce an issue that crosses so many disciplines.

Diana Allen, 48, said she began to see it as her duty to teach climate change even though it’s not required under Maine’s science education standards.

For her lesson plans on climate change, she turns primarily to other teachers, pulling resources they have vetted and shared on an email thread overseen by the National Association of Science Teachers. Other teachers have turned to the National Center for Science Education, which posts free climate change lessons and has a ”scientist in the classroom ” program.

Many educators say that climate change as an area of instruction is still so new that textbook publishers have not caught up enough to provide useful materials.

“I have a Ph.D. from Stanford in biochemistry, and it’s still hard for me to source stuff that works in my classroom right,” said Kirstin Milks, an Earth science teacher at Bloomington High School South in Indiana.

Milks helps train educators on how to teach climate change. In their applications, many teachers display a sense of urgency in their applications, she said.

“I think we all are in that same boat of understanding that this might be one of the most important social justice issues of our time, one of the most important environmental issues of our time, one of the most important political issues of our time,” she said.

Sometimes educators have to push back against what their students are taught in other classrooms.

Leigh Foy, a science teacher at York Suburban High School in Pennsylvania, said a social studies teacher at her school has told students for years that climate change is a hoax and he could prove it with an experiment. He would fill a cup in the classroom with ice and water, mark the water level, and show students it didn’t rise as the ice melted. The problem, Foy said, is his lack of accounting for the difference between sea ice and land ice or the expansion of water as it gets warmer.

“This is just an example of what we’re up against,” Foy said.

Teachers who have gotten themselves up to speed on climate change often say they make it a primary goal to help their students identify untrustworthy materials.

Sarah Ott, who teaches physical science to eighth-graders in Dalton, Georgia, dedicates a section of her class to climate literacy. In one April class, she discussed how to identify misinformation, highlighting materials including a petition signed by more than 30,000 purported scientists that dismisses the dangers of global warming.

“These people are fake experts and this is being used to mislead people,” she told her students. “So we’re going to be learning about misinformation and ways for you to spot misinformation. And this is a great skill because you’re not just going to use this for science. You’re going to use this for all of your subjects.”

____

Associated Press writer Sarah Blake Morgan contributed to this report from Dalton, Georgia.

May 15

Teachers grapple with climate change: A pretty scary topic

By | Science-and-Nature

When science teacher Diana Allen set out to teach climate change, a subject she’d never learned in school, she fell into a rabbit’s hole of misinformation: Many resources presented online as educational material were actually junk.

“It is a pretty scary topic to take on,” said Allen, a teacher at Sanford Junior High School, in southern Maine. “There are some pretty tricky websites out there. You kind of have to be an expert to be able to see through that like, ‘Oh, no, these guys aren’t telling you the truth.’”

There are materials produced by climate change doubters, lesson plans developed by the oil industry, and countless other sites with misleading or outdated information. The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network , funded by federal grants, reviewed more than 30,000 free online resources and found only 700 acceptable for use in schools.

“There’s a lot of information that’s out there that is broken, old, misleading, not scientifically sound, not sound technically,” said Frank Niepold, a climate education coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Heartland Institute, an Illinois-based group that dismisses climate change, in 2017 sent thousands of science teachers copies of a book titled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” The book, attributed to the group’s Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, misrepresents the near-universal consensus of scientists and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global warming is real and man-made.

Teachers across the country describe struggles finding trustworthy materials to help them teach climate change. (May 15)

Another resource, a set of six lesson plans on understanding climate change, is available online from the Canada-based Fraser Institute, which counts the Charles Koch Foundation among its financial supporters. The lessons claim that mainstream climate scientists have made selective use of data and that it’s a matter of debate whether human-generated carbon dioxide emissions have contributed to climate change, saying “the issues are far from settled.”

“Our history is full of examples where ‘common knowledge’ was discarded in favor of more correct hypotheses,” the lesson plans say. Among them, it lists, “Are diseases caused by evil spirits? Are natural disasters caused by angry gods?”

And: “Does smoking pose a threat to your health?”

Also vying for educators’ attention are classroom-ready materials made available by the oil companies. ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and other companies have invested heavily in promoting science, technology, engineering and math education in K-12 schools. Such materials are used widely to teach topics related to energy, but critics say they can mislead by not addressing the role of burning fossil fuels in global warming.

For teachers in cash-strapped schools, it can be hard to pass up the free handout materials.

Melissa Lau, a sixth-grade teacher in Piedmont, Oklahoma, attended one of the training sessions put on regularly for teachers by the Oklahoma Energy Resource Bureau, which is funded by the oil and gas companies. She kept the $50 stipend and the tub full of science equipment she got from the group but she tossed its illustrated lesson plans featuring the character “Petro Pete.”

In a book available online, Petro Pete has a nightmare about everything that would be missing from his life if there were no petroleum products, from his toothbrush to his school bus.

“I get free beakers and cool things like that,” Lau said. “But the curriculum itself is borderline propaganda.”

A spokeswoman for the industry group, Dara McBee, said their materials align with Oklahoma standards, which do not reference climate change, and they are intended to supplement what students learn in school.

Kevin Leineweber, a science teacher at Cascade High School in Clayton, Indiana, said he is skeptical about resources sent to him, including oil industry materials, but some colleagues are less so. At a districtwide science meeting a couple months ago one elementary school teacher expressed excitement about receiving unsolicited materials on climate change in the mail, to help introduce the topic to students. After talking it over with Leineweber, the teacher tossed the mailing of unknown origin.

“I’m just like, ‘Oh, jeez,’” Leineweber said.

The oil industry materials have the effect of pushing climate change to the periphery, Charles Anderson, a professor of science education at Michigan State University.

“The school systems of the country are so fragmented and under-resourced that they have no choice but to turn to people like the oil industry who offer them free stuff,” he said.

Climate change education varies across states, and often from one classroom to the next. The Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize climate change and how humans are altering the planet, have been adopted by or served as a model for most states. But many teachers report that they shy away from the topic not only because of issues with materials but also the political sensitivities, and uncertainty over where to introduce an issue that crosses so many disciplines.

Diana Allen, 48, said she began to see it as her duty to teach climate change even though it’s not required under Maine’s science education standards.

For her lesson plans on climate change, she turns primarily to other teachers, pulling resources they have vetted and shared on an email thread overseen by the National Association of Science Teachers. Other teachers have turned to the National Center for Science Education, which posts free climate change lessons and has a ”scientist in the classroom ” program.

Many educators say that climate change as an area of instruction is still so new that textbook publishers have not caught up enough to provide useful materials.

“I have a Ph.D. from Stanford in biochemistry, and it’s still hard for me to source stuff that works in my classroom right,” said Kirstin Milks, an Earth science teacher at Bloomington High School South in Indiana.

Milks helps train educators on how to teach climate change. In their applications, many teachers display a sense of urgency in their applications, she said.

“I think we all are in that same boat of understanding that this might be one of the most important social justice issues of our time, one of the most important environmental issues of our time, one of the most important political issues of our time,” she said.

Sometimes educators have to push back against what their students are taught in other classrooms.

Leigh Foy, a science teacher at York Suburban High School in Pennsylvania, said a social studies teacher at her school has told students for years that climate change is a hoax and he could prove it with an experiment. He would fill a cup in the classroom with ice and water, mark the water level, and show students it didn’t rise as the ice melted. The problem, Foy said, is his lack of accounting for the difference between sea ice and land ice or the expansion of water as it gets warmer.

“This is just an example of what we’re up against,” Foy said.

Teachers who have gotten themselves up to speed on climate change often say they make it a primary goal to help their students identify untrustworthy materials.

Sarah Ott, who teaches physical science to eighth-graders in Dalton, Georgia, dedicates a section of her class to climate literacy. In one April class, she discussed how to identify misinformation, highlighting materials including a petition signed by more than 30,000 purported scientists that dismisses the dangers of global warming.

“These people are fake experts and this is being used to mislead people,” she told her students. “So we’re going to be learning about misinformation and ways for you to spot misinformation. And this is a great skill because you’re not just going to use this for science. You’re going to use this for all of your subjects.”

____

Associated Press writer Sarah Blake Morgan contributed to this report from Dalton, Georgia.

garden work
May 01

Gardening- Simple Way to be Happier and Healthier

By Audrey | Uncategorized

So you know you should have about 150 minutes a week to stave off or reduce many chronic conditions likecardiovascular and diabetic issues. You know a sedentary lifestyle isn't ideal. Not to mention the boost you get , mentally, from physical activity.
Research has shown that you are significantly happier, feel better about yourself and others when you are more physically active by even 10 min a day.

the benefits of being in a natural environment are also well documented to relieve stress, lower heart and blood pressure rates. This is on top of a happiness boost.
A new study has tied this up in a neat package for us, as if we didn't know, the answer is gardening!
Trying to get in the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week can seem daunting — that’s a lot of time at the gym! But what if you could reap the emotional and physical benefits of working out through a favorite activity, like tending to your garden?
A long-term study from the CDC, using data collected from across the world—China, Texas, North Carolina—tracked something called “leisure time physical activity.” These were activities done in varying weekly amounts, like dancing, gardening, walking or other physical activities. They compared it to the risks of various forms of death, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The study is unusual because it took place over a long period; eleven years, and the large number of participants, at nearly 90,000. The data came from the National Health Interview Survey, an annual event done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compared to a sedentary lifestyle, doing these things for only 10 to 59 minutes a week led to an 18 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality—basically, less chance of dying during the survey period. More physical activity even further decreased that risk; 150 to 299 minutes of physical activity each week led to a 31 percent decrease in all-cause mortality.

But what if you find it hard to do that activity anymore. The spirit may be willing but the flesh is worried about a fall or how heavy the bag of mulch might be. How much better would it feel to have some expo help, who could follow your instructions as well as offer advice and enough brain that you don't have to worry?
David, at Green Spaces can work with you in the garden. He has the education and experience not only in Gardening but in working with many different ages and abilites in the garden. No matter your functionality, if you want to get out in your garden, David will help you do as much of as little as you want. You can call David, directly at 623 485 9158 or contact through the website.

Gardening has been previously linked to positive health changes; a big comprehensive review of previous studies found that gardening is linked to a decrease in depression, anxiety, and body mass index, along with increases in quality of life, life satisfaction, and a sense of community. Gardening has also been linked to huge benefits for the elderly, citing a reduction in falls, reduction in stress, and even reduced need for medications.
There are too many benefits to getting out in your garden, to be ignored. So, let's go garde. David, takes away any worries about your physical  abilities or knowledge gap.


 your text here...

Apr 13

Yes, People Do Notice Your Landscape and Lawn

By Audrey | Landscape Trends

Lawns and yards are more important than many people might realize.

According to a survey done on behalf of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), 79 percent of people  say a lawn is an important feature to consider when buying or renting a home. These potential home buyers or renters are looking at homes and noting the size (and, of their lawns.

Strangely enough lawn size was even the number one priority for millennials on a ranking of home features, according to the survey.  Bet they are also  paying close attention to all the lawns they pass. So if you think no one is noticing your lawn and landscape, your are probably wrong. People do notice, and they definitely care, according to these statistics.

New data from home real estate site Zillow says outdoor fixtures and landscaping  such as an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, or an outdoor fireplace can get home sellers as much as 24.5 percent above asking price when they sell their homes. A well-kept lawn and yard is important, as are well-planned landscaping projects.  

These outdoor features can directly increase a home’s value.  That means you could get back your landscaping investment, when you sell, maybe even more..  Outdoor home updates don’t need to break the bank either.  Something as simple as a picket fence, landscape planting or a patio can give home sale prices a small boost.

In the NALP survey, more than half of people said they spend time in their yards at least once a month; almost half say they entertain there as well. So not only could you benefit when you sell, you will have a nicer outdoor space to be in the meantime. 

So if you don't want to get out the mower and rake for your own piece of mind, maybe knowing that a poorly maintained yard could actually lose money when it comes time to sell the house is a motivating factor. 

Remember, you don't have to do the work yourself. Leave a comment or contact us if you need help with your landscape.

Apr 13

What Landscaping Projects Can Make Your Home More Valuable?

By Audrey | Landscape Trends , Spring

You already know that home improvement projects can add to the value of your home and some projects are just for you and won’t add to the resale value of your home.

So, I would suggest that in your own home, you should consider what you would find most useful.  Don’t just install a landscape project because it can add to your resale value.  The market changes quickly and what is a must have this year can be passe by the time you want to sell.  If you chose something you need or want at least you will get the use out of it, until you decide to sell.  If it adds to your resale value, you’re in the bonus round.

Landscaping can turn an ordinary home into an extraordinary property with the right use of design to show off the home and make it an organic part of the landscape.  Imagine Frank Lloyd Wright’s waterfall house, without the water features.  You get the idea.

However, even adding a desirable feature can turn resale value up a notch or two.  But which projects are desirable?

If you are considering a landscape project, you might want to read this list of desirable features as compiled by Zillow, the real estate website.  These are the landscape projects that made the biggest impact on resale value. There are a few surprises.

Zillow identifies the home improvement projects that can help a home get a higher price at sale time, effectively increasing their value, and several outdoor projects were on the list—including some surprising ones.

This list is based on identifying keywords in listing of homes that eventually sold for more than their asking price.  The methodology isn’t perfect, but it gives us an interesting glimpse. It isn’t as if a landscape project will magically transform what your home is worth.

Number one out door project that resulted in a home selling for more than the asking price is an outdoor kitchen: Homes with outdoor kitchens mentioned in their listings sold for 24.5 percent above asking price.

Next most valuable features, in order of value are solar panels, outdoor lighting, an outdoor fireplace or pit, and a rooftop deck or balcony. All were featured in homes that sold for more than 15 percent above ask price.

 Other outdoor features were fire pits, hot tubs, picket fences, and pergolas.

So keep this list in mind while you are planning your outdoor projects this year.  Now these are all additional features that assume the rest of the lawn and landscaping is up to snuff.  Obviously, if your entrance needs help or your plants are overgrown or your lawn a bit of a mess, you need to start there and not with a fire pit if you are hoping to add to your home’s value. Plus these landscaping updates can definitely make for a more comfortable outdoor space whether you are selling or not.

Are considering a landscape project this season? Leave a comment below or contact us for ideas.

home-landscape lawn
Apr 10

6 Steps to Easy Lawn Repair

By Audrey | How to Guides , Spring

Winter Did a Number on Your Lawn.  What Now?

Its spring time, you look outside and see that winter has not been kind to your lawn.  Its matted, has some brown spots, maybe some bare spots, what to do?

It's not hard to fix a damaged lawn. It takes a few tools and a bit of effort but here are the steps that will insure success.

How to Avoid Lawn Problems

The best defense is to keep your lawn healthy by fertilizing and topdressing with organic material.  You can check out our Organic Lawn Care Program here.

Mow your lawn correctly, that is regularly and at a height of about 3 inches, and aerate it periodically to discourage thatch buildup and soil compaction.

Spring time is a great opportunity to rid your landscape of small bare, thin, or weedy patches that occasionally develop in certain areas. And repairing lawn isn't as difficult as it might seem.


A Critical First Step - Start Now

The most important step in lawn restoration is to deal with any problems as soon as possible so the damage doesn't spread. Weeds will rapidly fill in bare lawn areas if you don't fill in  that space promptly with new grass. Before you start, know that lawn repair is a three-part process.

  1. Figure out why it occurred and fix the issue
  2. Decide on how you will deal with the bare patch 
  3. Implement and maintain your solution

Tool List

  1. Rake
  2. Grass seed
  3. Topsoil or compost 
  4. Water

Optional Tools

  • Lawn roller
  • Seed spreader
  • Lawn mower

Step One

Figure out why you have bare patches.

This can be as simple as  road salt, dog urine, something left on the lawn over the winter or something that doesn't seem to have an obvious cause.  Consider if this is something that is an on going problem that could be fixed by doing something differently or is it a systemic problem that is going to keep happening anyway.  As in could you place containers on a hard surface rather than the lawn or do you have bare patches because that is where the snow gets piled because there is no where else for it.  

The reason this matters is because if you can avoid having to patch your lawn each spring, isn't it worth a bit of thought?

Weeds

Step Two

Decide on how you will deal with the bare patch.

Consider replacing lawn areas that continually need to be patched with a perennial or  bed or a mulched or hard surface. While it will cost more than patching, it may solve a continual problem that is more efficient in the long run and certainly more attractive than grass in a problem area.

If you decide to patch you will need to decide on seed or sod.  Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Grass Seed Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to apply
  • Requires little care (depending on weather

Grass Seed Cons

  • Takes time to germinate
  • Takes time to fill in
  • Weeds can get in
  • Eaten by birds

Sod Pros

  • Instant lawn
  • Filled in immediately
  • Healthy strong plants should resist problems once established 

Sod Cons

  • Can be hard to get
  • Need to patch a larger area
  • May not blend in with existing lawn
  • Will need extra watering until established

Step Three

Implement and maintain your solution

Repairing bare patches using seed

To repair lawn patches, you can over seed with new grass seed. In Ontario do this early in the spring, so the cool-season grasses have time to develop strong roots before they have to face summer.

  1. As soon as you can walk on the lawn without leaving foot impressions lightly rake up winter debris and fluff up the grass. Expose bare soil of the repaired lawn area, so the seed will have direct contact with the soil. Remove and discard any poor grass and weeds within the area. Keep the remaining bare soil free of debris.
  2. Use a garden rake to rough up the soil between the grass plants. This, and the stubble of the freshly mown grass, will make a good seedbed for the new seed you're adding to the lawn repair area. Invest as much time and effort in preparing the soil in this small lawn repair area as you would for an entire lawn. Dig in organic matter and granular, slow-acting fertilizer. Rake the soil smooth and level.
  3. Sow seed thickly in the lawn repair area. Use a variety that corresponds to the surrounding grass if possible. Otherwise, use a mixture of grasses such as annual rye grass and fescues. Sow seed at the rate recommended for new lawns and lawn repair. This compensates for reduced germination as some seed falls into existing grass, not on the soil. Roll the lawn repair area lightly or if it is a small area, pat if down with your hands.
  4. Top dress it with topsoil or a layer of compost. Spread a thin layer of topsoil, peat moss or poly spun garden fabric over the lawn repair area that you've just patched with seed. This protects the seed and, later, the sprouts. More importantly, by covering the soil, it reduces moisture loss. A constant supply of moisture is the key to good germination for a repaired lawn.
  5. Water frequently.
  6. Mow the new grass when it reaches 3 inches in height.
Repair bare patches using sod

Laying sod is the quickest and easiest way to patch a dead or damaged lawn area. You can lay it any time during the season. The only factor is how much you will need to water it to compensate for any lack of rain until it is established.

  1. Keep the sod moist until you plant it.
  2. Prepare the soil the same way you would for patching with seed.
  3. Keep the area an inch or so below grade so the new grass will be level with the lawn.
  4. Then cut a piece from the strip of sod to conform to the repair site.
  5. Firm it onto the soil, placing its edges snugly against the surrounding lawn. Walk on it to settle it into place.
  6.  Water deeply and often.

Fixing a Problem Area

There are as many solutions to a problem area as there are problem areas.  Each one has its own opportunities and issues.  Make a list of what the problem actually is.  There is a reason your grass doesn't grow well there.  It could be foot traffic, lack of light, poor soil, a pet's favourite area.  When fixing the grass isn't the answer consider whether the answer is a different plant or a different surface.

  • Is it an area that needs a structure for storage?
  • Would a perennial or other flower bed be attractive during the season and still be able to be a snow holding area in winter?
  • Should the area be mulched or made into a hard surface?
  • Can you be more creative in the use of the area?

If you are in the Smiths Falls, Merrickville and Perth area, we would be pleased to provide a free consultation to discuss how we can help.  You can leave a comment here, schedule an appointment or give us a call

thermometers
Mar 23

Temperature Change Land & Ocean

By Audrey | Environmental News

How ocean and land temperature has changed to 2016

Global warming

Global warming is a long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system, an aspect of climate change shown by temperature measurements and by multiple effects of the warming. Wikipedia

The temperature of the earth is rising and that makes our weather more intense.  Regardless of why you think it is warmer, it is a reality that we have to deal with.  We need to plan and organize our lives to deal with more extreme weather.  That means stronger and wetter storms, hotter and dryer droughts, colder and snowier winters as well as out of season weather.

Mar 13

Spring Garden Checklist

By Audrey | Spring

Spring Cleanup in the garden can be fun and inspirational but it is hard work too, especially if we have been kind of a couch potato over the winter.  So here are some easy to follow steps to save your back and your time by making this process as efficient and pain-free as possible. 

Spring Cleanup Like a Pro

A Free easy to follow Do It Like a Pro Guide to Spring Clean up.

Make a Plan

Yes, I know it sounds pretty basic but in our eagerness to get outside and start moving after a long winter we often forget to plan our attack and end up wasting time, effort and sometimes money.  So make a work plan. 

writing
Naturalized Lawn

Stay Focused

We don’t want to get bogged down right now with all your great ideas and plans for the season; concentrate on cleaning up and getting things ready to grow.  After you can take a look and decide on which of your ideas will make the most sense to implement.

Divide the Work into Manageable Clumps

Break your plan down into manageable bites.  You know the limit of your time, attention and physical effort.  Plan within that.  If it is 15 minutes, then divide the work into sections that can be done in that time.  If you have more time or feel like doing more, you can always do another section or 2.

garden work
rake icon

Get the Right Tools, in Good Repair 

Make sure you have the tools you need to do the work and they are in good condition.  It is so frustrating to be on a roll and find out that someone hid the spade or the fork or the head of the rake is so loose that it is useless.  A trip to the store just means you’ll be distracted and have to push yourself to get back at it. 

Keep Them Sharp

 Tools need to be sharp.  Your hand clippers, spade, shovel, trowel and weed digger need to have a good edge.  Usually, you can do this with a sharpening stone, if you don’t have a grinder.   Just follow the angle that is already on the tool.  There are lots of inexpensive pocket sharpeners to help keep an edge on busy days.  If the edge is too damaged for a hand stone, a grinder is needed to take out nicks or you could consider a replacement. 

Pruners- bypass
whetstone
Blade sharpener

Start in the Planting Beds

It is easier to start cleaning up in your planning beds and throw everything on to the lawn or a tarp.  Consider dividing your yard waste at this point so you don’t have to move it twice.  You will probably have stuff for the composter, garbage and municipal pick up or for transporting to an approved site for yard waste.  Use separate piles for each and keep larger branches in their own pile for ease of collection.  I use tarps for collecting debris on the lawn but some people are happier putting it directly in whatever bag or container your municipality accepts. A tarp is useful to wrap everything up if you have to transport the debris yourself.

Soil on Tarp
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Man digging

Steps in Efficient Spring Clean up

Do them in this order for the most efficient work.

Planting Beds Spring Clean Up Steps

  1. Cut back brown or dead foliage
  2. Rake out debris from all planting beds
  3. ‘Fluff’ the soil gently
    • This means dig the top few inches up with your garden fork and sift gently.
  4. Remove any weeds

  5. Divide and replant perennials as needed.
  6. Edge beds
  7. Fertilize
    • my preference is for blood and bone meal - worked into the soil
    • An organic liquid nutrient is also very beneficial.
  8. Re-mulch
 Garden Fork

Spring Pruning Only if Necessary

  • Pruning for shrub health
    • Broken or crossed branches
    • Water sprouts- branches that grow straight up without branching
    • Branches with too many growing points like clawed finger caused by injudicious previous pruning
  • Thinning or rejuvenation that wasn’t done in the Fall but may be urgent now due to plant size or other garden aesthetics.

NOTE – Pruning of Spring flowering plants or those that flower on last year’s wood (ex; mock orange, viburnum, weigela )will have reduced flowers if you prune now but in some cases it may be necessary.

Grass- care, Naturally

  1. Aerate
  2. De-thatch – gently
  3. Rake out (soil plugs)  and rake up (dead grass)
  4. Choose one of two options depending on the condition of your lawn
    1. Option One :Over-seed and fix bare spots. 
    2. An application of fertilizer specifically formulated for seed and root development is an option.  
    3. Option Twp: Suppress weed seeds by applying corn gluten meal
  5. Fertilization is general, should not start until after the 2nd cut of the season or early June in zone 4 or 5.


Fan Rake

You Can Always Just Rake the Lawn

If you are happy enough with your lawn, you can just rake to remove debris and help the grass stand straight after being flattened by the snow and ice of the winter.  This will let it use the sun's warmth and light to better purpose. You also end up removing some brown dead grass, so your lawn looks greener.