Bay Weekly’s 2011 Spring Home and Garden Guide

Mother Nature may be sending us a message that our continued enjoyment of her earthly garden is contingent on our good behavior.
    When the message of climate change is written in the language of melting ice caps and glaciers, some among us scoff and say Not us! We didn’t do it.
    So she repeats her message in clearer terms.
    Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis. Including a half dozen or so nuclear reactors adds italics to her message. Now she’s speaking in the language of God in the Old Testament.
    Maybe it’s time to listen and to choose our actions by their consequences. As citizens of our big, rich nation, we’ve been able to buy the comforts of modern living without much attention to their larger costs.
    Enough! That’s Mother Nature’s word to each one of us. Now is the time to take responsibility for how we generate energy, manage our waste and treat our own personal shares of her earthly garden.
    On all three fronts, this year’s Home and Garden Guide will make it easy for you. I promise. Because this Guide is very special in three ways.
    Bay Weekly’s Home and Garden Guide won’t settle the argument of whether fossil or nuclear fuel gives us safer, more efficient and more reliable energy for the century and the long term. It won’t end the debate over wind, either.
    But it will guide you to local contractors who can help you take small steps over to the sunny side of the street, contractors who can help you make best use of the energy you buy off the grid by improving your home’s energy efficiency.
    Every step we take — even manageable ones like well-set highly efficient windows and doors or a solar water heater — makes us part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
    Second, the Home and Garden Guide inserted in this week’s paper introduces you to local businesses that not only help us manage our waste but also make good behavior rewarding. I love the creativity of old-to-new entrepreneurs who make reusing, recycling and repurposing trendy.
    As its third special feature, Bay Weekly’s 2011 Spring Home and Garden Guide teaches you the right way to care for your personal share of Mother Nature’s earthly garden. We live in the age of information, but many of our actions are based on misinformation or ignorance.
    The Bay Gardener, Dr. Frank Gouin, knows the truth.
    You will too, as you read his words on the four big lawn and garden jobs of spring: pruning, planting, mulching and caring for our lawns.
    How we use fertilizer is such a big deal for Chesapeake Bay that both Congress and the Maryland General Assembly are talking seriously about regulating it. No wonder. Turf grass — manicured areas like lawns and golf courses — is Maryland’s largest crop, covering an estimated 1.3 million acres. Home lawns make up more than 86 percent of that turf, according to Environment Maryland.
    A bill advancing in the Assembly — which ends April 11 — would ban phosphorus from fertilizers labeled for established lawns, requiring that those fertilizers contain more Bay-friendly forms of nitrogen (so-called “slow-release” nitrogen) and ensuring that professionals apply less fertilizer at the start.
    Read what the Bay Gardener has to say in these pages, and you’ll know those are smart steps. Follow his advice, and you’ll grow a lawn that’s greener in every sense.
    For all those reasons, this year’s Home and Garden Guide is approved by Mother Nature.