by admin | 08/17/2015 | 6:06 PM

How to Get More Game Out of your Turf

Abby Wambach, co-captain of the World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer team, recently continued voicing her perspective on the importance of providing natural turf playing fields for soccer players of all levels and ages. As a natural grass advocate and maintenance advisor, I am excited to see natural grass fields come into the forefront of the conversation.

Healthy turf is one part of sports that doesn’t get a lot of game time. There may be some misconceptions out there about natural grass. For instance, you might think that natural grass athletic fields are expensive to maintain and can’t take a lot of use. In fact, natural grass fields cost less to build and maintain than synthetic turf; and with the proper maintenance, they cannot only take more use, they provide a safer and better playing experience for our athletes.

Professionals like me have dedicated our careers to learning about natural grass field maintenance and we are passionate about sharing our knowledge with others. Whether you’re a professional athletic field groundskeeper, or you want to learn about how to maintain the field in your high school or local park, here are some ways to care for grass to keep the game going, longer:

  • Technology Is On Our Side – Innovation in this space is really exciting. We are doing things that were considered impossible even two years ago! There are new varieties of grass available today that can take twice as much play as older varieties, with the same maintenance and play conditions. Being open to doing things differently and exploring the new developments out there can really make a big difference.
  • Regular Aeration and Cultivation for Softer, More Playable Fields – Water and air are important for the health of your soil. Increasing the number of times a field is aerated softens the soil so grass can grow, and it also makes the ground softer, so when an athlete hits the field, it’s safer. Softer fields are also better at letting water in, decreasing rainouts.
  • Proper Maintenance Gets You More Game – Use the proper fertilizer and pesticide solutions to keep your grass healthy. With proper use, the technology we have today can produce thicker strands of grass with fewer weeds. Pest control solutions can solve or prevent specific problems. A healthy plant will suffer less from heavy use so it doesn’t require as much to recover, so our athletes can continue to get more game time.

Grass can take a lot more traffic than we give it credit for. Using better technology, creative thinking, and maintaining our fields properly keeps them green and healthy, and keeps the fun going for our athletes.

This is a guest post written by Jerad Minnick. Minnick is a natural grass sport field advisor and agronomist. He is currently the Lead Advisor of the Natural Grass Advisory Group.

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by admin | 08/11/2015 | 4:04 PM

Salem Boys & Girls Club Members Learn About Honeybees, Create Pollinator Habitats

Members of the Salem, Ore., Boys & Girls Club learn to BEE Responsible!

Members of the Salem, Ore., Boys & Girls Club learn to BEE Responsible!

This week RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)® joined forces once again with Boys & Girls Club members in Salem to better understand the delicate balance of the ecosystem in which people live, and the impact that honeybees along with invasive plants and insects have on that balance.

The club members were also able to take action toward promoting pollinator health by creating habitats among the clubs’ outdoor spaces. The habitat project included planting pollinator-friendly flowers, provided by RISE, to give each outdoor space a fresh look and enable more forage for pollinators. The activity gave club members the opportunity to learn more about maintaining outdoor spaces and the relationship between native and invasive species. Boys & Girls Club members took ownership of the maintenance and beautification of their club by participating in the landscaping efforts.

Establishing pollinator habitats by planting forage for honeybees was one of many activities club members were able to participate in. In addition to learning about ecosystems and planting, a special appearance was made by the “Super Bee” mascot, who taught members how to promote pollinator health and understand the importance of providing pollinators a diverse range of foraging options.  Members were also able to watch a video from a real beekeeper about the role honeybees and beekeepers play in protecting our environment.

RISE also offered ways club members and others can continue to promote pollinator health at their homes and throughout their communities with BEE Responsible tips:

  • Create a bee hotel or nest box and a water feeder with a wet surface made of sand, soil or brick to contribute to sustaining life processes.
  • Plant native flora. Growing native flowers and plants will adapt better to where you live and provide a familiar food source to local pollinators.
  • Welcome pollinators to your backyard by choosing pollinator-friendly plants. Bees prefer blue, yellow, or bright white flowers that have a large landing surface and shallow shape.
  • Plant generously. A large amount of flowers is more attractive to pollinators than single plants.
  • Increase flower space and plant species diversity by planting gardens, fruit-bearing trees, hedgerows, and flowering shrubs.  Planting a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the growing season provides continual pollinating opportunities.

For more information, visit, join in the conversation using the hashtag #BeeResponsible, or follow us on Twitter @DebugtheMyths or on Facebook at

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by admin | 07/28/2015 | 4:04 PM

Real Grass for the Win

Still fresh from the exhilaration of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team Women’s World Cup win, it’s easy to look back and think only of the highlights. The incredible saves, that amazing goal from midfield, those last few seconds when you were sure the team won—those are definitely moments to remember. But we shouldn’t forget about other things that impacted the journey to becoming World Champions.

Along with the excitement leading up to the Women’s World Cup, there was a lot of discussion about the importance of playing on natural turf. This is something many people had never given much thought to, but it makes a big difference – not just for world-class athletes, but also for athletes of any age and ability playing at school, at the park, or at home. Here’s why:

  1. Natural Turf Means Safer Athletes – Well-maintained playgrounds and athletic fields provide a safer landing surface with more cushion for anyone who plays field sports.
  2. Real Grass Changes the Game The feel of the surface is important for all athletes, especially soccer players. Artificial turf alters the speed and quality of play, impacting every aspect of the game.
  3. Less Impact, More Play – Natural grass also creates softer, cooler fields with less pounding and impact on muscles and joints, making it easier and safer on the athletes.

While artificial turf was the surface the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team played on in the World Cup, earlier competitions and practice on natural turf helped reduce injuries prior to the games, setting them up for success in the long run. Whether you’re a professional athlete, or you just want to maintain a great lawn for your kids to play on, there are significant benefits to natural turf. Here are some ways to keep your field game-ready:

  1. Healthy Athletes Need a Healthy Field – Grass needs certain nutrients so it can grow well. Proper fertilization is important to keep grass healthy, so nourish your grass using products formulated for your region to keep it in tip top shape—just like the athletes who will play on it!
  2. An Integrated Plan is Key – Invasive weeds and insects like grubs can infest and destroy playing fields and potentially impact the health and safety of athletes, if not treated.  An integrated pest management (IPM) approach is important to identify, monitor and, as needed, control weeds, insects and diseases that harm grass.
  3. Your Lawn Has Specific Needs – Each field has its own needs, which can vary with region, soil type, weather patterns, field use, and more. With proper maintenance, natural grass fields do not have a fixed life and can be used for more than 20 years without replacement.

We should celebrate athletes and their abilities, not just by cheering them on, but also by providing them with a safe and well-maintained playing surface. Natural grass keeps the game we love more fun, and the athletes we love, safe.

Follow us on Twitter using #BackyardBoss to learn more about the benefits of natural turf.

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by admin | 07/28/2015 | 12:12 PM

For the Love of the Game

Abby Wambach on the set at Red Bull Arena talking natural turf

Abby Wambach on the set with RISE at Red Bull Arena talking natural turf

I was four years old when I first started playing soccer. Back then, I never thought it would be a career. I couldn’t imagine the sport would take me to see the world, or that I would represent my country on the United States women’s team. Way back then, it was all about the thrill of running on the grass with my friends, brothers and sisters, connecting with the ball, and knowing exactly where it would go. It was all about me, the ball, and my love for the game.

Now, many years and many, many games later, that’s still what it’s about for me. I still get that same thrill. Every time I’m on the field, I want to give my all and make it a good game. And of course, I want to win.

When I’m on the field playing professionally, I’m aware of everything happening around me, from the speed of other players on the field, to the way my shoes feel as I’m running, to the angle of the sun — all of these things play a part in my performance. Natural grass is a big part of my performance because I trust that I can play hard, and not worry about injuries. Real turf is softer and cooler, and it plays much differently than artificial turf.

The game of soccer has changed my life, and as I think about the future of the sport, I want to do my part to encourage the next generation of soccer players. I want future players to have that same carefree feeling I had when I first started playing. I want them to feel the same thrill — when you’re on the field, you can be fearless and give your all.

When RISE approached me to partner with them, I was excited about having another opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of real turf for professional athletes, but most importantly for kids who are just starting to fall in love with the game. Because when it comes down to it, no matter where you’re playing, whether it be on the world stage or your backyard, it’s all about you, the ball and the field you’re on. And when all those things come together in the right way, it’s a beautiful thing.

Interested in learning more about real, well-maintained turf? Click here.

This is a guest post written by Abby Wambach, veteran captain and forward for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT), 2015 World Cup Champions. Thoughts in this post do not represent the USWNT.

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by admin | 06/24/2015 | 4:04 PM

Summer has arrived, and so have the Mosquitoes

Welcoming the first official day of summer means welcoming more time in the fresh air and sunshine. But it also means a greater chance of itchy, and potentially dangerous, mosquito bites.

Mosquito bites can be a serious threat to public health. According to the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA), more than one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year. Some of these diseases include malaria, chikungunya, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and even heart worm in dogs.

“Taking advantage of opportunities to be active outdoors this summer promotes overall good health; but we all must take steps to proactively protect our family and community from insects like mosquitoes that carry disease,” said Karen Reardon, vice president of public affairs for Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). “Inspecting your yard and taking simple measures now will help control mosquito populations throughout the season.”

The most effective way to avoid contracting any mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent mosquito bites. RISE created the following checklist to help homeowners prevent and manage mosquitoes this summer:

  • Put up personal barriers. Wear light-colored clothing and cover up with long sleeves and pants, especially during dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Apply mosquito-specific defenses. Be sure to apply insect repellent, like DEET, on exposed skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a variety of safe and effective repellents for you and your family.
  • Reduce the population. Eliminate sources of standing water, such as old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, bottles, clogged rain gutters, birdbaths, pet bowls, flowerpot saucers, and plastic wading pools, which attract mosquitoes and allow them to breed.
  • Maintain your lawn. Fill in or drain low places in your yard (e.g., puddles, ruts, hollow stumps), and keep grass cut short and shrubbery well-trimmed to eliminate harborage for mosquitoes and other potentially harmful pests. When necessary, treat your yard with EPA-approved mosquito control products.
  • Protect your home. Mosquitoes will make their way through the smallest openings, flying right into your home. Make sure window and door screens are intact and repair leaky faucets inside and out.

Learn more about how to prevent pests inside and outside your home by visiting and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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by admin | 06/02/2015 | 2:02 PM

Aaron Hobbs Emphasizes Complexity of Pollinator Health on NPR’s To the Point

The May 29 To the Point program on KCRW 89.9 with guest host Barbara Bogaev focused on the decline of honeybee populations across the United States. RISE president Aaron Hobbs was invited as a panelist on the program, “The Mysteriously Disappearing Honeybees,”   where he discussed the complexity of pollinator health alongside other panel members:

  • Bryan Walsh, foreign editor and former environmental reporter for TIME
  • Lori Ann Burd, environmental health program director for the Center for Biological Diversity
  • Claire Kremen, professor at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Michele Colopy, program director for the Pollinator Stewardship Council

Bogaev called on Walsh to open the show. He shed light on the problem of honey bee die off and pointed to multiple theories as to why populations are declining. These included:

  • The impact of Varroa mites
  • Loss of habitat due to monoculture crop planting
  • Pesticide use
  • Transportation – particularly in the case of commercial honey bees.

Bogaev narrowed in on the use of pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, and called on other panelists to weigh in on their use and impact on pollinator populations.

Burd expressed discontent with the use of these pesticides, to which Hobbs quickly reiterated that no one speculated cause of pollinator decline can be solely blamed for the complex issue.

This theme carried throughout his contributions to the program as Hobbs honed in on the need to acknowledge the complicatedness of pollinator health, discrediting those who point at just one concern as the sole cause of declining bee populations.

“The issue with pollinators is very complex. It’s unfortunate that this very important discussion and complex topic has been distracted by a focus on just one aspect of pollinator health,” Hobbs said.

Burd referenced European pesticide bans as an example of proactive addressing of the pollinator problem, but Hobbs quickly noted that there is no confirmation that this approach has made a difference.

“The science is still out,” Hobbs said. “France banned the use of neonicotinoid products in 1999 and there has been no statistical improvement in honey bee populations in that time.”

Regardless of the differing viewpoints among panelists, Hobbs indicated that a collective effort must be made to successfully address the problem of pollinator decline.

“We’re all going to have to work together to find solutions,” he said.

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by admin | 05/13/2015 | 5:05 PM

Guest Post: Organic products are not always what they seem. Education is key

With so much information circulating on the Internet, it’s hard to discern between facts and opinions and credible and non-credible sources, especially when it comes to pesticide products and their use. And sometimes, seemingly credible sources and studies aren’t always that.  On top of that, it seems fashionable to label lawn care operators – once touted as stewards of the environment –as polluters of the earth.

Lawn care operators support the continued development and use of new products and solutions – organic or synthetic. But a lot of current conversation points to organic product methods as the best for the environment, applicators, and public health, and it’s important to realize organics aren’t always what they seem.

Myth #1: Organic or natural equals safe or good for the environment.

Organic pesticides are not always safer or better for the environment. They can be used safely, with the right training and education—but used in high concentrations needed to be effective for pest or weed control, they can be toxic. For example- Acetic acid (better known as vinegar) in a high enough concentration can draw the moisture out weeds, killing the plants. It’s non-selective, which means it could kill any plants that it comes in contact with – even your desirable flowers. More importantly, in such high concentrations, acetic acid can cause burns or could even be fatal if swallowed.

Myth #2: Applicators who use organic products care more for the environment.

There’s a public disconnect in understanding what applicators do regardless of whether they follow organic or conventional application methods. There’s not so much of a difference in what we do as to what tools we choose to use. Lawn care professionals, whether we use a combination of pesticide products or choose only organic options, all have the same goal in mind – to positively impact how we grow and maintain healthy lawns in environmentally-friendly ways.  Most of us practice an integrated pest management (IPM) approach, which means we use the best treatment or prevention solution available – organic, conventional, or a solution that doesn’t require any products at all.

Myth #3: Pesticides are used extensively in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.

With a plan for identifying, monitoring and as much as possible, preventing problems, IPM is our first line of defense in protecting against plant disease, insects, rodents, and noxious weeds. Controlling these hazards –grubs, ticks, mosquitos, poison ivy, etc. – and preventing them from reaching hazardous levels is important to the health of families, pets, and communities. Pesticides are just one tool within the IPM toolbox.  At times we have to combine multiple methods – mechanical, biological, etc. to control a particular problem, but we are trained to evaluate the problem and determine the best treatment option prior to application.

Myth #4: Pesticide applicators only care about their bottom line.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s our job as lawn care operators to be solution providers for our customers. Keeping them satisfied, safe, and healthy keeps us in business. It’s in our best interest (and better for our bottom line) to use products efficiently and effectively.  We are trained to evaluate problems and use spot applications that target specific problems and reduce exposure to off-target organizations. Today, EPA-approved pesticides are more technologically advanced and are safer than past product iterations, when applied according to label.

At the end of the day, safety is our top priority. Regardless of what type of product you choose to use—synthetic or natural—applying according to the label is key.

As a homeowner, try your best understand the pest or weed problems you face and the information that’s available. Ask questions and consult your local lawn care operator or extension agency on ways to safely and effectively treat the issues.

This is a guest post written by Eric Wegner, president and co-owner of Complete Lawn Care, Inc.

As President and Co-owner of Complete Lawn Care, Inc., Eric Wenger has worked in the lawn care and landscaping industry for more than three decades and is an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist, a Montgomery County Master Gardener, and a member of The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS).

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by admin | 05/07/2015 | 12:12 PM

Bite Back: Learn to Prevent Tick Bites

(c) Lezh -

(c) Lezh -

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, the perfect time to revisit the cause, prevalence and prevention steps of the devastating disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year, making it the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the US.

As the warmer months coax us outside, reducing the risk of tick bites is essential to protecting your family from Lyme disease and its potential long-term, devastating effects.

Lyme disease can cause facial or Bell’s palsy, severe headaches, neck stiffness, and pain and swelling in large joints. However, it’s difficult to diagnose, as symptoms can be attributed to other health problems. Left untreated, approximately 60 percent of Lyme disease sufferers experience arthritis, while five percent develop chronic neurological challenges months or years after the infection.

“Prevention starts with awareness,” says Karen Reardon, vice president, public affairs for Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). “Being proactive and careful during time spent outside and with pets can have a significant impact on avoiding encounters with an infected tick.”

Enjoy the outdoors this summer, tick-free, by taking these simple steps to reduce your exposure:

For People

  • Avoid wooded areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Apply repellent to exposed skin and clothing before outdoor activities.
  • Bathe or shower right after spending time outdoors and conduct a full-body tick check. Use a mirror to see hard to reach places such as the under arms, belly button, scalp, and behind the knees.
  • Look for a red, expanding rash that may result in a “bulls-eye” appearance.

For Pets

  • Check pets for ticks daily and remove them as soon as possible.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventatives on your pet.
  • Watch pets closely for changes in behavior or appetite. This may indicate Lyme disease infection.

In Your Yard

  • Place a wood chip or gravel barrier between your lawn, patio, and play equipment and any wooded areas. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  • Keep playground equipment and patios away from yard edges and trees. Place them in sunny locations, if possible.
  • Pest control products can help protect your family from tick bites and should be applied carefully and according to the label. Consult a professional if you have questions.

This season, take charge of your backyard and learn how to protect your family from ticks and other hazardous pests and weeds. Get more tips to become a “backyard boss” by visiting

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by admin | 04/10/2015 | 2:02 PM

Harsh Winter Offers No Relief from Ticks

If the record snow and cold this winter ‘tick’ed you off, we have more bad news for you. The freezing temperatures and constant snow didn’t put a dent in the population of ticks – or the diseases they carry.

In fact, as you’re starting to get out-and-about to enjoy the warmer weather, ticks are waking up too. And they’re hungry – very hungry – and eager to attach themselves to you or your pets.

Spread to humans via a bite from an infected tick, Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Symptoms can masquerade as those of the flu or be hardly noticeable at all, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year, making it the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the US.

Even celebrities aren’t immune to tick bites. Here are a few of the famous names that have been touched by Lyme disease:

  • Avril Lavigne: The singer recently announced she was infected with Lyme after being bitten by a tick last spring.  “It felt like having all your life sucked out of you,” the pop star said in her recent interview with People Magazine.
  • George W. Bush: Many diagnosed with Lyme realize it after developing a rash in the shape of a bulls-eye — which is how former President George W. Bush realized he was infected in 2007.
  • Alec Baldwin: The actor hasn’t been especially public about his having Lyme disease, but he did tell The New York Times in 2011 that he has had chronic Lyme disease: “At the same time of year, I get really tired.”
  • Yolanda Foster: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012 and uses her fame to raise awareness for the illness. In a recent Instagram photo, she included a heartfelt caption to her followers: “I am going to find my way out of this maze and find a cure for not only myself but for all my fellow Lymies.”

Prevention of Lyme disease starts by reducing your exposure, follow these helpful tips on how to prevent contact with ticks:

  • Bathe or shower right after spending time outdoors and conduct a full-body tick check using a mirror to see hard to reach places such as the under arms, belly button, behind the knees and on the scalp.
  • Avoid wooded and busy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and apply repellent before participating in outdoor activities.
  • Check your pets for ticks daily and remove them as soon as possible if you see one.
  • Protect your pets by reaching out to your local veterinarian. They usually offer a variety of products for protecting animals from tick-borne diseases. Pets can carry ticks inside homes as they hide in their fur.
  • Place a barrier of wood chips or gravel between your lawn, patio, and play equipment and any wooded areas. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Consult a professional to spray your yard perimeter to reduce tick populations.

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by admin | 03/04/2015 | 3:03 PM

Create a Healthy Ecosystem in Your Own Yard

This spring season, help promote a healthy ecosystem by learning to identify and control damaging plants and insects in your yard. Information about common invasive species and backyard invaders is now being offered by Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE):

Invasive Plants

Invasive weeds can out-compete native species, changing the local ecosystem. Many varieties, first introduced as flora to plant in gardens, can be confused with similar, native varieties. Here are two common damaging ones to watch out for:

  • Purple Loosestrife, native to Europe and Asia, is found in most states. One plant can produce more than two million seeds annually.
  • Native to China, the Tree-of-Heaven was widely planted as an ornamental plant for many years and is often confused with other trees having similar leaves, such as black walnut, butternut, and most sumac.

Invasive Insects

Invasive insects can also have a severe negative impact on native species by out-competing them for food and resources. Many also cause and carry disease and prey on native species. Two common ones to look out for include:

  • Emerald Ash Borer, native to Asia, is prominently found across the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeastern United States. The larvae do the most damage, killing ash trees by feeding on the inner bark.
  • Zebra Mussel, native to lakes in southern Russia, is found in hundreds of waterways throughout the United States. The species commonly clog water intakes, damage boats, and can cause cuts and scrapes if they grow on rocks, swim rafts, and ladders.

Backyard Pests

Did you know native plants and insects can cause damage too?

  • Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Left untreated, Lyme disease infects the joints, heart, and nervous system. After time spent outdoors, check for ticks, especially in and around your ears, inside your belly button, behind your knees, around your waist, on your scalp, and in your hair.
  • Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus. While most people may show few symptoms, 20 percent of people develop a fever along with headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Follow the “five Ds” to protect yourself: Drain standing water; Stay indoors at Dusk and Dawn; Dress in long sleeves and pants; and use DEET-based mosquito repellent.
  • Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can lurk in backyards. Almost 85 percent of people develop a rash when they come into contact with these weeds. Control poisonous weeds long-term by carefully digging out the plants while wearing waterproof gloves or treating with a pesticide.

Defend your local ecosystem by identifying exotic plants in your garden or yard. Spot invasive weeds and insects in your area? Let your county extension office know, which may have a monitoring and management program in place.

By being aware of invasive species and other pests in your area, you can help support native species and a healthy ecosystem in your own backyard and neighborhood.

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