Now Hiring!

The Greenscape Geeks, LLC is hiring for one seasonal full-time position and multiple part-time contract positions. Hours will start In March or April (weather-dependent). The full-time position will be 32 to 40 hours per week based on need and weather, with a possible drop to part-time during the summer. Must be willing to be flexible with daily scheduling. Pay is $10 to $13 per hour depending on experience.

Experience or some schooling in landscaping, environmental field, or related field preferred, but not required. Passion for changing the way we manage our landscapes to protect the environment is a must! Must also be able to lift heavy weights and work a full day in rain, heat or frigid temps while keeping a good attitude and staying focused on job quality. Interns and other college students welcome to apply.

We specialize in native plant landscaping and design, custom-built raised garden beds and composters, urban farm and prairie installations, and non-chemical turf maintenance. We also conduct spring and fall clean-ups, tree and shrub pruning, some hardscaping and more.

Send resumes and cover letters to info@greenscapegals.com.

Maintaining your lawn the sustainable way

by Lanette Erby

After years of living in dormitories, apartments and rental units, new homeowners often struggle with the proper way to care for their lawn. My personal preference is to convert the sunniest areas for vegetables, fruits and herbs, while also converting as much turf as possible to native perennial flower gardens to draw good insects and birds that help reduce pests in your food gardens. That being said, it’s also nice having a bit of soft grass on which you can lay down a blanket and read, or put a fire pit in the middle of for those cool autumn nights with good beer and good friends. And of course I want that turf to be as healthy and weed free as possible without spending a lot of money or using chemicals that will harm my dog, the environment, and the food we eat from our little urban farm.

Some lawn issues in which homeowners make investments to fix are weeds, insects, fungus, thatch and drought damage. Fortunately, most of these problems can be halted before they even start. Improper mowing encourages weeds like dandelion, crabgrass and purslane to spring up seemingly overnight.  Over-fertilization and over-watering cause insects, fungus, thatch, and weakness to drought conditions.

Chemicals that harm the environment and are unsafe for pets, children and food gardens are utilized as fixes to most of these issues, but these “solutions” only provide short-term benefits that often do more damage to your lawn in the long run. For example, many fertilization companies will come out six or seven times a season to fertilize. Fertilization encourages a fast leafy top-growth without encouraging root growth. This promotes root growth near the soil surface, which causes thatch. Thatch is a primary food source for white grubs. Furthermore, your lawn may be nice and green after all this fertilization, but when drought hits, your roots may not be healthy enough for your turf to survive the stress, which means you’ll have to spend even more loot re-seeding bare spots come fall.

Following are instructions for managing your turf for a healthy lawn all year round without the use of harmful products and without putting a big dent in your wallet.

Resource:
Managing Turf Pests: White Grubs. Purdue University Turfgrass Program. http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/factsheet/2010/062010_grubs.html
Turf 101: Thatch. Purdue University Turfgrass Program. http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/tips/2003/thatch514.htm

The Mower’s Mantra: Mow high, mow often, keep blade sharp, leave clippings
Mow grass shoots no shorter than 3″, but preferably 3” to 3.5″. This long growth shades out seeds of common annual weeds, like crabgrass, on the soil surface. Also, every time you mow, it’s like pruning your plants, so cutting some off the top encourages deep root growth. Mowing with a dull blade can leave ragged cuts that stunt your turf’s ability to collect nutrients from the sun. Finally, leaving your clippings does not cause thatch! It actually provides organic material and nitrogen to your soil and feeds your grass. Over-fertilization and over-watering cause thatch. We can’t stress this enough.

Resource:
Mowing, Dethatching, Aerifying and Rolling Turf. Purdue University Turfgrass Program. http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-8-W.pdf

The Water Mantra: Infrequently, Deeply, and in the dark
Each lawn is different in each season. Watering should not be done on a set schedule, but rather should vary with the season, soil type, grass type and slope of the lawn. The general guideline for water is 1 inch to 1.5 inches each week, but is only necessary during the dry summer months. All of this water should be applied in one day around 4 a.m. to avoid immediate evaporation, but evenings are also good if you don’t want to buy a timer or fancy irrigation system. The deep watering encourages deep root growth; whereas, a lawn watered every day for 20 minutes encourages roots to grow closer to the surface where the water is. This surface root growth eventually becomes a thick layer of thatch that draws in white grubs and can cost hundreds of dollars to remove and treat. To determine how long to run your sprinkler, place a bucket on your lawn during watering and time how long it takes for the bucket to collect 1” of water. Want to save money on water? It’s technically not necessary to water your lawn at all. Your turf may turn brown in August, but it is only dormant and will return when the rain does as long as you have practiced building strong roots.

Resource:
Irrigation Practices for Homelawns. Purdue Universtiy Turfgrass Program. http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-7-W.pdf

The Fertilizer Mantra: Don’t listen to anyone that tells you your lawn needs fertilized six times
Even turfgrass scientists and master gardeners recommend only four applications, and a total of 4 pounds of nitrogen annually for a high maintenance lawn. We Gals recommend two applications of 2 pounds of nitrogen of corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal (CGM) was patented by Iowa State University in 1991 and is a by-product of the corn wet milling process. Studies show that applying CGM at this rate and timed appropriately, once in spring and once in fall, will act as a pre-emergent herbicide to control unwanted weeds. It is safe for pets, garden vegetables, and the environment. This fertilization does not account for the phosphate and potassium your lawn may need, but adequate amounts of these nutrients are usually already present in the soil. A quick field soil test by the Greenscape Gals can determine the additional nutrients that may need applied. It is important to note that CGM alone does not provide the same quick weed control that chemical pre-emergents will provide, but when combined with proper mowing and watering, you can absolutely have a weed-free lawn within a couple years of adopting these organic approaches. Besides, not only is clover a nitrogen fixer desirable in small amounts on your lawn, but what’s a few weeds here and there while you patiently not poison your turf to beautification?

Resource:
Fertilizing Established Lawns. Purdue University Turfgrass Program. http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-22-W.pdf
Corn Gluten Meal Research. Iowa State University Department of  Horticulture. http://www.hort.iastate.edu/research/gluten

These are the very important basics of turf maintenance, but if you want additional advice or have questions, call 317-801-5833 or email l.erby@greenscapegals.com. Lanette not only gets master gardener volunteer hours for offering free education,  but we also get the satisfaction of knowing that we helped at least one person to care for their lawn the pet-friendly and environmentally-safe way.

Papa Roux: Po-Boys and Cajun Food

by Lanette Erby

Before visiting Papa Roux for the first time on June 18, I’d already eaten their food via food truck, sliders at Ball & Biscuit on Mass Ave., and the leftovers Nick would bring home from his lunch hour at Indy Urban Acres Organic Farm. Those farm boys know all the hot spots to eat on the east side. We’ll eventually review them all. Anyway, none of this primary enjoyment of their food prepared me for the experience of eating at Papa Roux on 10th and Post.

As you walk in to what first appears a dark and dingy back-alley scene, you realize the graffiti on the walls was crafted by patrons writing praise to the tiny restaurant. After mistakenly ordering at the counter, we sat down with our free iced tea – perfectly mildly sweetened for me and unsweetened for Stephanie – to wait for our catfish po-boys. It’s interesting to note that Stephanie occasionally makes exceptions to her vegetarianism for “happy” wildlife, so I am legitimately surprised when we both choose the same fare at a particular place.

When we sat and had time to survey the situation, we noticed a couple of kids coloring the walls while their mother ate in peace and quiet. Anyone with kids will appreciate the wall-art amenity. We also realized there is a convenient cue card system for signaling the very pleasant serving staff so that they’re not always in your face. Not only that, but they will bring you all the free sides and tea you can eat and drink throughout your entire meal. What?! Trying not to be greedy because we like small businesses to succeed, we ordered only the bread pudding and the mushroom etouffee. Yeah, I totally tipped up that bowl and drank the sweet juice at the bottom of my bread pudding. As for the mushroom etouffee, I still think they accidentally gave us the spicy garlic. I saw no hint of mushroom pieces and only really tasted garlic. Meh, maybe Yats has spoiled me. I would certainly never presume to be an expert on cajun food, and besides, no one can complain about free food, especially when more can be ordered at no additional cost. I didn’t order more for fear I couldn’t eat my po-boy, though. I was absolutely right. The sandwiches were giant, crispy, juicy and delicious. Both of us were only able to eat half, but I was happy to bring the rest home and bake it up in the oven for dinner. Papa Roux states that you can split sandwiches with someone else, but I feel that’s bad etiquette if you’re both eating free sides and drinking free tea. We all have to do what we can to make sure the small businesses we love stay in business. And we definitely love Papa Roux.

Our meal total was about $22. We left a tip on our credit card when we ordered and then scrounged up as much cash from the truck as we could ($1.20) to tip the server we didn’t realize we would have. We promised to double-tip next time. And there will be a next time. Thanks, Papa Roux!

Under Construction

Our Web site is under construction, but we are open for business! We will be updating daily, so feel free to browse, but it will get better. We specialize in organic lawn maintenance including weekly mowing and trimming services, native plant landscaping that supports local wildlife, vegetable and herb garden installation and consulting, raised bed construction, and container gardens. We also do garden clean-up, mulching, soil amendment, lawn rejuvenation, sod installation, and simple hardscaping primarily with re-purposed materials.

Call or text 317-801-5833, email greenscape.gals@gmail.com or fill out an estimate request form to set up an appointment for a free estimate. Also, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! Thank you for visiting!

Warmest regards,
Stephanie & Lanette

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