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    Outdoor news - August 30, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Pheasant cover

    BOONE They Gotta Have Cover is a new and catchy way to call attention to what farmers can do to bring back pheasants and other grassland birds.

    Debuting at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Aug. 26-28, the video features three farmers rapping about the cover types theyve planted, then nurtured to shelter and feed pheasant throughout the year.

    Once you hear the lyrics, you wont be able to forget them.

    They gotta have cover! Yes they do, yes they do! or

    Gotta have grass for the pheasants to nest, 10 to 12 inches is what the hens like best.

    Its not as simple as planting a field of brome or switch grass, and watching the birds fly. The DNRs research shows that managed farms with three essential types of habitat produce more birds than unmanaged farms three times as many.

    Whats good for pheasant is good for most grassland birds, from meadowlarks to quail; Henslowe sparrows to bobolinks.

    Since the 1960s, Iowa has lost half the ideal land for grassland birds land in hay and small grains like oats dropping from more than 7 million to 3.4 million acres. As a result, grassland birds are in trouble.

    Gotta have Cover gives farmers a quick tutorial on how to bring the birds back. The video is on the Iowa DNRs pheasant page

    Outdoor news

    It's been a long road this year: Projects have kept drivers detouring, but work is progressing - August 28, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    MUSCATINE, Iowa As schools get back into session, Muscatine's road construction is nearing the beginning of the end for this year.

    Three of the projects that have been under way since the beginning of spring have made significant progress, according to project managers, but there still remains work to be done on all of these.

    Cedar Street

    Work has begun on the third of four stages of the Cedar Street Reconstruction Project, said project manager Bill Haag.

    The first phase, which included Cedar Street from the Parham Street intersection to Stone Brook Drive, began in March and ended in May. It was then that the second phase, including Cedar Street from Houser Street to Imperial Oaks Drive, began. Just as the school year began for nearby Muscatine High School, which has an access road to Cedar Street in that area, the second phase of the constriction had been completed, Haag said.

    The third phase of the Cedar street involves the area between Imperial Oaks and Stone Brook Drive. Earthwork and storm sewers have been completed, but paving for the roadway will probably start within a few weeks. Some utility infrastructure will also have to be repositioned as part of the reconstruction work.

    Haag said the contractors are still looking to complete phase four, a roundabout intersection at Cedar and Logan streets, before Thanksgiving of this year. However, some of the accessory portions of the project, such as new sidewalks, new grass and other items, will likely have to wait until next spring.

    "There's plenty of time to get that done," Haag said.

    Colorado Street

    After lagging somewhat behind schedule for the past couple of months due to inclement weather conditions, project director Jim Edgemond said work on the Colorado Street Reconstruction Project has gotten slightly ahead of schedule. "It's all pretty positive," he said.

    Read the original:
    It's been a long road this year: Projects have kept drivers detouring, but work is progressing

    Lauderdale: Lawn care now - August 25, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    As summer gets ready to move into fall, there are some important lawn-care tasks to continue and new ones to be done.

    We should continue to mow at the proper height depending on grass type. Mow centipede to 1 to 2 inches. Most people mow to 2 inches since home lawns are often too uneven to mow lower without scalping the grass. Since the rule of thumb in mowing grass is to only remove one third of the grass blades, mow when the grass gets 1 inches (for 1 inch mowing) to 3 inches tall (for 2 inch mowing). Make sure to raise the mowing height to 2 inches several weeks before expected frost to prevent winter injury.

    The best mowing height for Bermuda is 1 to 2 inches. Mow the grass before it gets 1 to 3 inches tall. You should always grasscycle by leaving the grass clippings on the lawn. This technique will provide up to 25 percent of the lawns fertilizer needs. Mow St. Augustine to 3 to 4 inches, zoysia to 1 to 2 inches depending on variety and tall fescue to 3 to 4 inches.

    Fertilization is important to have a healthy lawn, but be careful not to overdo it. Between now and 4 to 6 weeks before expected killing frost (mid-September) fertilize warm-season grasses with 1 pound of potassium per 1,000 square feet. One pound of potassium can be applied by using 1 pounds of muriate of potash (0-0-60), 2 pounds of potassium sulfate (0-0-50), or 4 pounds of sul-po-mag (0-0-22) per 1,000 square feet. This potassium application will help prevent damage to warm-season grasses from the stresses of winter and get them off to a good start next spring. This is the way to winterize your warm-season lawn. Do not fertilize any warm season lawn with a high rate of nitrogen containing fertilizer after August.

    Fertilizing at the wrong time and with excess nitrogen is one of the reasons we have so many problems with centipede. If you have already fertilized centipede with a fertilizer containing nitrogen there is no need to do it again. Do not apply nitrogen containing fertilizers to centipede after August. Bermuda can be fertilized in August at the rate of 8 pounds of 12-4-8 or 6 pounds of 16-4-8 per 1,000 square feet. Use half that amount on St. Augustine or zoysia in August. To give Bermuda one final push for good fall growth it can be fertilized at half the August rate in September. Bermuda grass is the only warm-season lawn I would recommend any nitrogen on in September.

    Watering hasnt been needed much this year. About 1 inch of water should be applied when irrigating. The best irrigation timing is the early morning when the grass begins to turn a bluish gray color indicating drought stress. This method conserves the most water.

    Insects are a concern in lawns but rarely a problem. If you have Bermuda grass, be on the lookout for fall armyworms now. They are rarely found in high-maintenance lawns, but where they are found they can do serious damage quickly. Look for discolored areas, large numbers of birds feeding in lawn areas and more closely in the lawn for fecal pellets. These insects are not true worms but caterpillars that can be green, brown or black with a Y-shaped marking on their head.

    Treatment for fall armyworms is only needed if you find an average of 1 per square foot of lawn area. If detected at these levels, lawn insect-control products labeled for home lawns include those with pyrethroids (active ingredients ending in thrin like bifenthrin) or trichlorfon (trade name Dylox and often found in 24 Hour Grub Control Products) can be used following label instructions. Please always follow label instructions for safe handling and application of all pesticides. Do not apply to lawn areas where bees are actively foraging on weed flowers.

    Weeds are always a hot topic. No matter what weeds you have, now is not the best time for post-emergence control. Summer annual weeds (like common lespedeza or crabgrass) are more easily controlled from April to June. Perennial weeds are easier to control from October to November and April to May. Winter annual weeds can be controlled from November to March.

    For prevention of annual bluegrass and winter broad-leaf weeds, a late August to September application of pre-emergence herbicides containing benefin, trifluralin, dithiopyr or pendimethalin can be used. Do not apply a pre-emergence herbicide if you plan on over-seeding in the fall. These products are often sold as crabgrass preventers but are labeled for late summer and fall application for prevention of winter weeds.

    Continue reading here:
    Lauderdale: Lawn care now

    The Voice of British Farming - August 25, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    CFE advice for Grassland Conservation Management 7 Simple Steps for Grassland Farmers.

    Start with

    Identifying the important habitats on your farm

    And then look at how you can:

    Enhance water and soil quality

    Provide a year-round food supply for wildlife.

    On any farm, the steps below complement best practice in soil management, nutrient management (fertilisers and manures) and pesticide use to improve the environment, and most are supported by agrienvironment schemes. There is no blueprint for how to deliver improved environmental management on lowland livestock farms. It needs a tailored approach based on your own soils, landscape and environmental features. Addressing local environmental priorities can improve the benefits of these measures further, e.g. focussing on local populations of declining species or checking if you are within a priority water catchment.

    Generally, wildlife benefits from livestock systems that provide a diverse range of habitats with a variety of vegetation and heights through the season. The ideal includes a mix of long-term permanent grassland and arable crops rotated with temporary grass leys.

    Read the rest here:
    The Voice of British Farming

    Tips for Seeding a Lawn: Spot Care, Overseeding & Lawn … - August 23, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Even in well maintained lawns, spot or general lawn seeding is sometimes needed. Lawns can thin because of weather or as a result of damage caused by insects or grass diseases. Some badly damaged lawns need to be completely "rebuilt" before regular maintenance can do much good.

    There are three general categories of seeding: spot seeding; lawn renovation, and overseeding a lawn; and renovation. What kind is right for growing grass on your lawn depends on the condition of your turf. Spring-Green professionals can help with all of yourlawn seedingquestions and needs.

    Whatever type of seeding is done, there are three important rules to follow when seeding a lawn:

    Tip #1:Choose the lawn seeding system that's right for you and your turf.

    Spot seeding is a quick and easy way to repair things like ruts along driveways, areas worn by foot traffic, and small areas that have died for any reason. When spot seeding a lawn, use a stiff rake or potato hoe to cultivate the soil and break open the surface. Apply seed to the open seedbed and gently tamp down.

    Overseeding a lawnbroadcasts the seed over a large area. This works well when the lawn just needs a general "thickening up." Overseeding can be done along with lawn aeration or by itself, but doesn't work too well when there is a heavy thatch layer.

    Lawn renovation is for lawns that have excessive thatch or are so thin that only a complete rebuild will get the lawn back on its feet. Lawn renovation can be done several ways: old sod can be removed with a sod cutter; the lawn can be de-thatched and seeded; or slice-seeding can be used. Slice-seeding (or verticut seeding) is probably the best for growing grass because it "drills" the seed into the soil without having to remove a large amount of thatch.

    Tip #2: Before you begin seeding a lawn, consider the current season.

    It's true that seeding can be successful any time of year, but spring and summer lawn seeding require a lot more care and water, and weeds and crabgrass cause a lot more competition. Seeding a lawn in late summer or fall is ideal. Early fall is preferred because seed can germinate faster in the warm soil and continue to establish itself through the cooler weather of fall and winter. There's also more natural water in the fall so less sprinkling is needed.

    Tip #3: Whatever time of year you choose for seeding your lawn, remember to keep the seed moist until you have good germination.

    Tips for Seeding a Lawn: Spot Care, Overseeding & Lawn ...

    2014 U.S. Open seed analysis: Bouchard seeded too high, Azarenka too low - August 23, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    How well did the official ATP and WTA rankings seed the U.S. Open, and where are the biggest imbalances?

    During the last Slam, the general weirdness of grass courts and the transition period between clay and hard season causeda couple of big imbalances in the seeding at Wimbledon. Most of the glaring errors have been ironed out by now, and players' rankings have reverted to where they "should" be, but there are a couple imbalances remaining. Let's see where they are.

    Here are some plots comparing each seeded player'sAB hard-court rank compared to their official tournament seed.

    The top half of the seeds follow the line pretty tightly, so there's not a glaringly easy path into week 2. Stan Wawrinka has probably the easiest path for a breakthrough semi run -- looking at you, Nishikori/Raonic -- but it's still miles more balanced than Wimbledon was at the top this summer.

    The bottom half definitely has its standard flukes, with Joao Sousa taking the crown for most over-seeded player. I had to do a double-take when I saw his ATP ranking:he lost eight straight matches at one point this year, and on his best surface no less. But when he has won, he's managed to win all at once, taking a couple titles and making semifinal runs to balance out the losses. The ATP point system is so top heavy, it's skewed toward the "predictably inconsistent" players who can do really well in certain spots, so winning a tournament once is much better than consistently above-average runs. It's a major reason why the ATP rankings aren't as predictive as they should be.

    I know it's not a popular opinion, but I don't think Eugenie Bouchard has done enough to justify her top-eight ranking to date. I've written about this subject before, and her play since has followed the same pattern, most notably with a first-round loss to sub-100 Shelby Rogers in her home country tournament. Then again, her high ranking comes from the fact that she's done really well at Slams. I'm still on the fence if Slam-specific over-performance is a repeatable and predictable characteristic (that used to be Sloane Stephens' thing, until it wasn't), so for now, I'm happy to take a little bit of a stance and say Bouchard is over-seeded.

    The bottom half of the draw is more marked by under-seeding than over-seeding. The most over-seeded player is 50th in AB hard ranks, and performance-wise, there's not a huge difference between 32nd and 50th. On the other hand, low-volume players like Victoria Azarenka and Venus Williams (still under-seeded, even after a finals run in Montreal) lurk as dangerous land mines, and just generally under-seeded players like Caroline Wozniacki and Ekaterina Makarova are right there as well. The women's side might have all of its best matchups in the fourth round this year.

    Read more from the original source:
    2014 U.S. Open seed analysis: Bouchard seeded too high, Azarenka too low

    At Home Living: Know when it's time to fix your lawn - August 23, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    If it aint broke, dont fix it. At what point do you determine that your lawn is broke and needs fixin? There is a general rule of thumb that if 50% of the lawn is in good condition then work on improving it by killing weeds and overseeding with K-State recommended turf grass seed. If less than 50% is in good condition it may be time to fix whats broke.

    Fixin your lawn will take serious commitment. Timing is critical and all actions needed should not be attempted in one weekend. A successful new lawn requires careful planning and frequent attention until establishment, but the results should be well worth the effort.

    September is the best time to seed (or overseed) a lawn. The soil is warm and seeds germinate very quickly allowing time for good root development before winter. Plus, there is less weed competition than in spring. October 15th is generally considered the last day for planting a lawn in the fall.

    In the past the popular seed mix was K-31.While it was very hardy it had the appearance of pasture grasses and an unacceptable level of weed and other seed. A much better choice for our area is a tall fescue blend. Find these at your local nurseries and garden stores. They are blends using K-State recommendations for varieties that grow best in our area. Be careful if buying pre-packaged blends from the large convenience stores. They often have an unacceptable level of weed and other seed. If you try to save money on seed you will be spending it on weed killer later and still not have a quality lawn.

    Steps for renovation

    1. Take a soil test. This will determine if any essential nutrients are deficient. Call the Extension Office for directions. (785) 232-0062.

    2. Kill existing vegetation. (If you are overseeding use Trimec, Weed-Out, Weed-B-Gon, or Weed-B-Gon Max plus Crabgrass killer, and similar products to kill broadleaf weeds only.) Use Round-Up to kill ALL weeds and grass in the area chosen for renovation. Do this at least 2 weeks before planting new seed. Shortening this time will result in plants not being fully killed. Tilling too soon will only cause perennials to regenerate. (Wait one month if overseeding.)

    3. Grade soil surface so it drains water away from the house and blends into the surrounding terrain. Avoid adding or removing soil around trees. Remove any dead plant material.

    4. Amend soil. Add compost and fertilizer as recommended by the soil test. Till 10-12 inches deep or as deep as possible. This should be done several weeks before planting allowing time for soil to settle. Avoid over-tilling that results in the soil being beaten to the consistency of flour.

    5. Hand rake for the final phase making it smooth to mow or walk on.

    Continued here:
    At Home Living: Know when it's time to fix your lawn

    Andy Murray suffers brutal draw for US Open with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic standing in his path - August 22, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The practice set was hard-fought, and when Djokovic fell behind in the tie-break he signalled his commitment by hurling his racket to the ground and walloping a ball out of the stadium (or as near as you can get in this cavernous place). The mini-tantrum seemed to revive him and he promptly reeled off six straight points to finish the contest and underline Murrays recent problems in closing out winning positions.

    From Murrays perspective, even to reach the second week would be a respectable achievement. He opens against Robin Haase, the talented Dutchman who gave him a real scare in the second round of the 2011 US Open.

    If he gets through that one, his most likely opponents would be Radek Stepanek, who beat him at Queens a couple of months ago, in the second round, followed by possible meetings with Verdasco and Tsonga.

    Of course, draws rarely pan out the way they look on paper, but there is no doubt that Murrays quarter of the field is the spikiest on show. By contrast, the two Swiss masters Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka can thank the US Opens computers for spitting out some comfortable opponents in the early rounds.

    On the womens side, Heather Watson should be pleased to have drawn Romanias Sorana Cirstea, who started the year just outside the top 20 but now stands at No81. If Watson wins that one, she could play Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard in what would be a fascinating second-round match-up, especially as Bouchard has also struggled for form since the grass-court season.

    Britains No2, Johanna Konta, also has a winnable tie against Shahar Peer, of Israel, who stands 44 places below her on the ladder at No155. The most enticing first-round match in the tournament, though, must be the one between defending champion Serena Williams and the gifted and stylish 18-year-old Taylor Townsend.

    Williams has rediscovered her form since the bizarre episode at Wimbledon when she walked onto court in what looked like a hypnotic trance, and could not even catch the balls when they were passed to her, let alone hit them across the net. Asked about the mystery on Thursday, she was typically enigmatic. I worked really hard before Wimbledon, Williams said, but it just didnt transpire there.

    Read more here:
    Andy Murray suffers brutal draw for US Open with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic standing in his path

    Fall Seeding - August 21, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Garden Gleanings by Bob Hatton

    I was talking to a friend a week or so ago and he said he was getting ready to seed some bare areas of his fescue lawn. I urged him to wait a bit. Late summer to early fall is the best time to seed or reseed your lawn if you have one of the cool season grasses such as tall fescue, ryegrass or bluegrass. These grasses germinate best at 60 - 85. It follows that laying sod of cool season grasses is also best done in the late summer to early fall. If seeds germinate too early, it is very difficult to keep the roots damp enough to prevent their dying while not over watering which prevents growth as well as the possibility of killing them by depriving them of air. Once the weather cools and is more moderate, any abnormally hot spells can be dealt with at the time. Once the grass becomes established, the roots will continue to grow through fall and into winter until it becomes too cold. Whether using seed or sod, good soil preparation is essential for best results. Debris and stones should be removed. In our heavy clay soils, organic matter such as composted manure can be added to the top 4 to 6 inches of the seedbed to provide better soil for the new grass roots. Even when laying sod, clay soil may be resistant to the penetration of grass roots which have been growing in good soil. It may also result in water drainage problems. Proper grading is also important to avoid low areas that will tend to hold water too long. I am as guilty as anyone is when it comes to proper soil preparation in my lawn and gardens. I am impatient and this work is not fun. But, just as a good paint job begins with good surface preparation, good soil preparation is also required for the best success when planting anything in the lawn or garden.

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    Fall Seeding

    How to turn a wasteland into verdant golfing greens - August 20, 2014 by Mr HomeBuilder

    When the ice and snow finally melted at the London Hunt and Country Club after the longest and coldest winter the area had suffered in decades, golf course superintendent Jayson Griffiths stood before a wasteland.

    To look around today at the site of this weeks Canadian Pacific Womens Open, theres no trace of the nightmare Griffiths and his grounds crew faced just five months before hosting the worlds best female golfers. The unrelenting Ontario winter put this course and hundreds of others under dense ice and heavy snow for about three months with no relief, suffocating the grasses and killing off three of their four acres of greens. With time ticking ahead of the August arrival of the LPGA, London Hunts crew had to breathe life into the barren, desert-like greens and bring them back to their vibrant, carpet-like championship form.

    Griffiths, like many golf-course superintendents in Southern Ontario, began to suspect a particularly brutal and problematic winter was ahead when October was cold with little sunshine and leaves were staying on the trees far longer than usual. Then snow walloped London, Ont., in late November. Then, while other parts of Ontario suffered a catastrophic late December ice storm, London got heavy rain and snow, which melted but froze when temperatures plummeted dramatically as the calendar turned. Thick ice covered the golf course and didnt leave until late March.

    On the greens, it was carnage: No sign of life, absolutely devastating. Ask any superintendent in the northeast, and theyll tell you it was the most devastating winter weve seen in generations, said 42-year-old Griffiths, who has been working on golf courses since he was 15. The grass on our greens was a species called poa annua, which is found on older golf courses, and it doesnt like extreme temperatures or ice cover. Anything over 30 days of ice is a ticking clock.

    Moving that much ice and snow from the massive greens in the dead of winter would have been nearly impossible, not to mention it would have further exposed the grass to the extreme cold.

    So you bide your time and keep taking plugs of grass to check the health, said Griffiths. We knew as the clock kept ticking, the situation was really bad.

    What they saw in spring was a far cry from the immaculate 7,200-yard championship course that has hosted numerous major tournaments since it was designed in 1959, including Canadian Opens for men and women. There was some damage to the fairways, but that was the least of their problems. Two-thirds of the greens suffered severely many of those with more than 90 per cent brown dead space. Only two greens had less than 10 per cent damage.

    They held a town hall to discuss with the clubs members play on the greens would have to be suspended, which would mean temporary greens tacked onto fairways and late openings to the golf season. Griffiths kept a detailed blog, filled with photos, to keep club membership and the LPGAs organizers updated as they dove into their recovery plan.

    Griffiths said resodding would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars sod was nearly impossible to find, anyway, with so many North American golf courses recovering from catastrophic winterkill. So they opted to reseed with bent grass, a hardier species in times of extreme weather. Seeding would cost just a few thousand dollars but required a highly detailed plan.

    They chose to seed in late April, but there were challenges to overcome. The spring was colder than usual, it was windy and there was still frost underground from the long winter, which meant the course irrigation system wasnt ready yet. So they seeded strategically, pressed the seeds underground with rollers, and covered all the greens with perforated plastic blankets spanning about 10,000 feet each to simulate the warmer temperatures Mother Nature wasnt yet providing. They crossed their fingers for just enough rain until they could get their sprinklers going.

    Excerpt from:
    How to turn a wasteland into verdant golfing greens

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