We need to tuck our lawns in for their long winter’s nap so that they will wake up lush and healthy in the spring. While we are doing that, we can also do right by our planet by employing eco-friendly methods and products. The following tips ensure that our lawns bounce back with the least possible damage to the environment.
Clear Up the Lawn
Rake up the leaves and add them to your compost pile. If left on the grass, they prevent sunlight from reaching the grass and allow patches of mold to settle in. The dead leaves also adversely affect water quality. The phosphorus and nitrogen run off, feed algae that kill fish and contaminate our water.
For the same reasons, it’s not okay to let leaves go down storm drains. Those nutrients go right to the nearest body of water. You might as well dump a chemical fertilizer directly into the river.
Dethatch and Aerate
Thatch is that layer of shoots, stems, and roots on the surface of the soil. It prevents the grass roots from getting the water and nutrients they need for the winter. You may be able to rake the thatch up with a garden rake. If it’s especially thick, use a thatch rake or a vertical mower. The good part of thatch is it makes for more material for your compost pile.
Aerate a lawn that had too much traffic in the summer, is now compacted and, like the thatch, is creating a barrier between nutrients and grass roots. Punch plugs of soil from your lawn with a tined garden rake or a rented self-powered aerator.
Dig up invasive weeds completely, or else they will sprout again in the spring. Don’t add them to the compost pile like they are or they will grow and spread. You first have to “cook” them to death, or practice hot composting. Seal them in a black plastic bag and put the bag in a sunny spot off by itself. In a couple of months, you will see that the weeds are mere vestiges of their former selves, and you can toss them into your compost pile.
Note: Most chemical herbicides are toxic to animals and the environment in general.
This tip is region-specific. If you live in a warm region, overseed with cool-season grassseed, such as Kentucky bluegrass or perennial ryegrass. As the warm-season grass types go dormant, the cool-season grasses will keep your lawn green throughout the winter. In the cooler regions, overseeding prevents weeds from attacking. Thin lawns are open invitations to invaders such as crabgrass and dandelions.
Tend to Your Compost
Material composted over the summer should be ready. Use that “black gold” that is brimming with nutrients to amend deficient soils or improve the fertility of your lawn. The compost gives your lawn a jump-start for the springtime.
For new compost, add a layer of straw or leaves. It needs to be alive and active even in winter, and the additional layer keeps up the internal temperature. Do not put any diseased or insect-infected plants into your compost pile, or else you’ll be returning the diseases and pests to the soil in the spring. Destroy the plants instead.
Redding is an absolute bullseye for outdoors adventure. This Northern California city is surrounded by seven National Forests and is about an hour’s drive from Lassen Volcanic National Park. The Sacramento River flows through the city and the Cascade Range foothills provide the beginnings of a mountainous landscape that extends north to Canada. Redding is more than just an adventure hub though, as hiking, biking, and paddling are all accessible in-town. Looking for something more exotic? Explore geothermal features, caves, and rock climbing, or simply enjoy the friendly vibe in-town. There’s something for every adventure style from technical, hardcore pursuits to letting the kiddos rip it up in the Junior Bike Park.
1. A Wealth of Trails
Redding boasts over 225 miles of multi-use trails within a 15-mile radius. It’s no coincidence that the American Trails Association calls the city home. All trails are free to the public and the majority of them are dog-friendly (and plenty are horse-friendly as well). Whether cycling along paved trails like the Sundial Bridge or hitting sweet singletrack at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, bikers have a full range of options. Of course, there are plenty of hiking trails as well, designed to maximize vantage points of deep pine forests, rolling rivers, and the surrounding foothills. And it’s only a short drive east of Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park, where trails explore boiling mudpots and steaming pools heated from magma deep below the Earth’s crust.
For the more daring enthusiasts, Redding also has an extra 200+ miles of trails for Off-Highway Vehicles in the Chappie Shasta OHV Area, giving motorcyclists, all-terrain vehicle and four-wheel drivers the challenge of shredding the rolling and brushy hills with views of Shasta Lake, Shasta Dam and the Sacramento River.
2. More Adventure, Fewer Crowds
UpStateCA has all the natural beauty the Golden State is known for—minus the frustrating traffic snarls, chaotic cities, and urban attitude famously generated from the southern half of the state. The Shasta Cascade region comprises 20 percent of California’s land mass but a mere 2 percent of the population. The upshot is that there is more wilderness and less bustle. The expanse and variety of adventure potential in UpStateCA means outdoors enthusiasts organically spread out, giving more room for nature’s authentic tranquility.
3. So Many Waterfalls
What do you get when you combine volcanic topographic with a water-rich region that includes California’s longest river and largest lake? Waterfalls! Between Redding and Mount Shasta are dozens of pristine, rushing cascades and many of them are family-friendly outings. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is a marquee area for waterfalls hikes, so much so that the National Park Service has a webpage dedicated to visiting them all with their “Waterfall Challenge and Passport” program. The region is home to many different types of falls, from rushing vertical veils over 100-feet tall to less-urgent, moss-covered walls graced by misty forks that feed placid pools. Plus, Burney Falls in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is an UpStateCA icon that you can’t pass up.
4. World-Class Fishing
Anglers from all over the country come to Redding, particularly for its trout-filled waters. In fact, Forbes named the city of the top 10 trout fishing towns in North America. The Lower Sacramento River features California’s top trout fishing, with some of the world’s most powerful rainbow trout to put your skills to the test. It benefits from extracting colder water from the depths of Shasta Lake, which helps it maintain the cool water temperature that allows rainbow trout to feed and grow year-round. You’ll find rainbows an average of 16 inches long there, with 20-inchers common.
Excellent fishing is also found on the McCloud River (known for its leaping rainbows), Hat Creek, Fall River, Manzanita Lake, and the Trinity River. Redding’s iconic Sundial Bridge was built with the salmon spawn in mind—it was built as a suspension bridge to preserve their natural habitat underneath. All of these rivers are not only great, but they’re convenient—you can fish year-round and all of these choices are easily accessible just a short drive from town. For more information, check out The Fly Shop, the largest fly fishing specialty shop in the country. The 40-year-old business is a Redding landmark, and it can provide you with guide services and instruction as well as any gear you could need.
5. Dog-Friendly by Design
Dogtrekker.com has named Redding one of the top pooch-friendly adventure destinations in America. For those who loathe the concept of leaving their dogs behind, Redding is the perfect getaway. There are hundreds of miles of dog-friendly trails, including many to the aforementioned waterfalls, and there are even dog-friendly houseboats you can rent to share a few days on the water with man’s best friend. Dog-friendly lodging and restaurants abound and there are several enclosed dog parks as well.
6. Year-Round & Winter Fun
Access to the Mount Shasta region means the fun goes on year-round. Mt. Shasta Ski Park has 435 acres of ski and snowboard fun (and in the summer, the mountain has downhill and cross-country mountain bike trails). The Mt. Shasta Nordic Ski Center has 15 miles of groomed trails plus plenty more backcountry tracks to enjoy. Snowmobiling is a popular pursuit through the many forest roads that transform into perfect sub-alpine touring grounds. And if you’ve never snowshoed across a volcano, you get to do just that at Lassen Volcanic National Park! Free ranger-led tours are offered on Saturday’s from January through March and provide the snowshoes for only a $1 donation.
7. Great Food, Drink, & Lodging
Eventually, you’ll need to find your way back to civilization for a warm shower, a cold beer and a comfy hotel bed. Redding features a range of cuisine from high-end seafood to laid-back brewpubs. There are plenty of locally operated restaurants and yes, many of them are dog-friendly. Stay in-town at a hotel or ramble out to one of the many clean, well-maintained RV parks.
Redding is truly the epicenter of outdoors adventure—it has some of the very best California wilderness, with the added benefit of more than 300 sunny days per year, laying claim as the sunniest city in the Golden State. Mountain hikes, vast freshwater lakes, craggy foothills, vanilla-scented pine forests, and the timeless Sacramento River add up to an outdoor playground where the only limit is your imagination.
Written by Ry Glover for RootsRated Media in partnership with Redding CVB.