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Major League Lawn Care: An Inside Look at Maintaining Championship Caliber Turf | April 19, 2016

Major League Lawn Care: An Inside Look at Maintaining Championship Caliber Turf

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Citizen's Bank Park

Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Spring and Baseball in America

One of the most uniquely American springtime events is the return of the national pastime, baseball. Each spring, big league clubs trek to Florida or Arizona for Spring Training, youngsters register for little league and fans optimistically await the start of a new season, knowing that their team, for at least Opening Day, is in first place.

The image of a vibrant, green baseball field is a welcome reminder that the weather is improving and summer is just around the corner – but this iconic image does not manifest itself without effort. Across the country, well before seasons shift and temperatures rise, city park landscapers, schoolyard staff and major league grounds crews alike prep the green fields we know and love. Recently, We Seed America spoke with Jeff Wright, head groundskeeper for the National League’s Philadelphia Phillies, to learn what goes into creating and maintaining the iconic symbol that is the baseball diamond.

Becoming a Major League Groundskeeper

Jeff Wright is no stranger to baseball fields, having been with the Phillies organization since 1986. Back then, he worked part time as a “day of game” groundskeeper with ambitions to one day join the team as a graphic design artist. As time passed, Wright’s prowess maintaining the field and love for working outdoors helped him become something more of a grounds keeping artist, and he has worked full time on the Phillies’ grounds crew since 1990.

Beyond the basics of keeping the grass green and making sure the infield dirt is just right, there is a lot Jeff and his team must do to ensure the field it in tip top condition for game day. For example, certain varieties of grass may make the baseball roll too slow or too fast, and special decorations may be in order for postseason or World Series play. Maintaining a Major League playing field is a year long endeavor, and the challenge of keeping the field at Citizens Bank Park “the best there is in baseball” is something Jeff’s team strives for.

Major League Lawn Care

Getting a field into form for Opening Day begins with winterization steps taken just after the previous season ends, and does not look dissimilar from what is often recommended for homeowners’ lawns. According to Jeff, field winterization “might be somewhat a challenge in Philadelphia with the colder climate, but we overseed in the fall, put down our fertilizers and hope for the best.” Jeff noted there had been a few instances where particularly harsh conditions necessitated the use of winter blankets, but usually overseeding does the trick.

After winter comes Spring Training. Efforts to ready the Phillies’ facility in Clearwater, Florida begin in earnest in January and last throughout February. The impressive baseball complex includes 4 fields and over 20 pitching mounds, and requires a true group effort to maintain Major League standards.

Once the regular baseball season begins, ongoing maintenance becomes important, and this goes far beyond ensuring the grass is vibrantly green. Performance optimization is a chief concern, and feedback on the turf comes from players and coaches alike. Previously, Riviera Bermudagrass was used at Citizens Bank Park, but after hearing from players that this variety made the surface too quick, the grounds crew switched over to Kentucky bluegrass, which can be grown at a higher height than Bermudagrass and helps the game be played a little slower. Facing these sorts of challenges is something Jeff enjoys, and he is always looking for ways the turf can be optimized for performance.

Winning It All

Maintaining a major league-caliber playing surface is key to sustaining a high level of baseball prowess, which is why Jeff selected the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship as his favorite moment as an MLB groundskeeper. According to Jeff, when the final out was made to clinch the victory, the scene on the field was “total euphoria” as players, coaches and the grounds crew all celebrated the accomplishment as one. After all, winning a championship in professional sports takes dedication at all levels, which is why Jeff and his crew were rewarded with their very own World Series championship rings, a fitting reward for countless hours of hard work and dedication.

http://weseedamerica.com/major-league-lawncare-maintaining-championship-caliber-turf/

April is National Lawn Care Month: 7 simple steps for summer lawn prep | April 5, 2016

April is National Lawn Care Month: 7 simple steps for summer lawn prep

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Outdoors Barbeque

If you’re a part of the nearly 90 percent of Americans who believe it’s important to have a well-maintained yard, you and your backyard will appreciate these seven simple steps for tending to your natural turf lawn with minimal effort.

According to Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers and academics, investing a little repair time in early spring and a small amount of maintenance time in summer will pay off with a lush lawn ready for all your summer activities.

1. Test your soil. Good soil is one of the essentials of a healthy lawn. A soil test is simple, inexpensive and provides valuable information about current pH levels. Simple amendments like lime or sulfur can be added to neutralize overly acidic or alkaline soil and help grass thrive. Find a soil test kit at a local garden store or make your own using common household items.

2. Aerate. Older or heavily trafficked lawns can suffer from soil compaction. A core aerator with hollow tines will pull small plugs of soil out of the ground, allowing increased movement of water, nutrients and oxygen. Aeration can also increase the soil contact with new seeds and promote new growth. You can rent an aerator or hire a professional to do the work for you.

3. Seed. According to Grass Seed USA, the ideal lawn planting season is April through the mid-to-end of October, depending on where you live. Turf specialists at a garden store or local university extension office can help select the right seed for your area and usage, pointing you toward the seed closest to existing grass or suggesting alternatives for problem areas. After seeding, water lightly but regularly, keeping the reseeded areas damp until the new grass grows in.

4. Control weeds. Healthy lawns essentially control weeds by squeezing them out. However, if crabgrass or dandelions invade, herbicides may help. Consult a garden specialist about which herbicide is right for your lawn and how to use it. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring before weed grass emerges can reduce problems down the line. If you’ve applied seed, keep in mind herbicides can kill it, so use a product that will not affect new growth. For dandelions, digging them up is often effective, but a broadleaf herbicide may be applied.

5. Water as needed. On average, a lawn needs about 1 inch of water per week, from rainfall or irrigation. Letting the lawn dry out completely between waterings will encourage the grass to grow stronger, deeper roots as it searches for water deeper in the soil. Put a rain gauge on your porch to measure rainfall; skip the watering and save your irrigation money if you receive 1 inch of rain in a week.

6. Fertilize naturally. Don’t break your back trying to bag lawn clippings. If you mow frequently (about once a week during the growing season) and don’t remove too much height (only one-third of the blade), you can leave the grass clippings on the lawn. They contain the same nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as commercial fertilizer – and they’re free.

7. Mow to the right height. Wait until your grass is 3 inches tall before mowing and then cut it to 2 inches in height. By only trimming one-third of the blade length, you will avoid stressing the grass while leaving enough leaf to protect the roots from the sun — helping you create a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant lawn.

A lawn doesn’t need constant pampering. Summer lawn prep can be quick and easy, and the reward is a beautiful, environmentally-friendly setting for outdoor activities of many kinds. So, fire up the grill, hang up the hammock and get busy enjoying your personal great, grassy outdoors

http://weseedamerica.com/april-is-national-lawn-care-month-7-simple-steps-for-summer-lawn-prep/

The Unsung Heroes of the College Football Playoff National Championship | January 11, 2016

The Unsung Heroes of the College Football Playoff National Championship

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Each year, as summer turns to fall and students make their way back to the dorms, members of elite teams train for endless hours on grass fields to achieve ultimate success. Today, on the date of the College Football Playoff National Championship, months of hard work culminates in a dazzling display of determination, grit and skill.

Oh, you thought we were talking about football? While gridiron warriors deserve their due respect, We Seed America aims to highlight some of the unsung heroes of college football: the marching bands. Read on to learn more about the national title-contending musical units of the University of Alabama and Clemson University.

Can’t get enough of the marching bands? Follow the Million Dollar Band or Tiger Band on Twitter, and make sure to vote in the We Seed America Twitter poll to name your favorite band of the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship.

Million Dollar Band University of Alabama

University of Alabama Million Dollar Band

Formed in 1912, the “Million Dollar Band” of Tuscaloosa is quite used to the big stage. The University of Alabama has won an NCAA record 10 national championships, giving the band multiple opportunities to shine when it matters most. When the band is not playing the school’s fight song Yea Alabama, they are often performing epic half time shows on the natural grass of Bryant-Denny Stadium, which seats over 100,000 spectators. Check out a recent performance in the video below, as the Million Dollar Band filled up AT&T Stadium with dynamic sounds in front of a national audience.

Clemson Tiger band

Clemson University Tiger Band

Formerly a military university, Clemson opened up its doors to the public in 1955, and at that time formally introduced the Tiger Band. While Clemson is behind Alabama in terms of college football championships, the Tiger Band has nonetheless proven to be as formidable a unit as the Million Dollar Band. Between the spirited renditions of the school’s fight song, Tiger Rag, and some of the most unique formations of any band out there, the Tiger Band is ready to display its prowess on the big stage of the College Football Playoff National Championship. Watch below as the 2013 Tiger Band delivered its fabled “Video Game Show.”

http://weseedamerica.com/the-unsung-heroes-of-the-college-football-playoff-national-championship-marching-bands/

Nominate A Veteran To Win A Snapper Lawn Mower From Grass Seed USA | November 9, 2015

Nominate A Veteran To Win A Snapper Lawn Mower From Grass Seed USA

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Caption image_offerpop app_2015_reduced size

Grass Seed USA to donate $1 to veterans’ affairs organizations for each new like on Facebook or follower on Twitter during November

SALEM, Ore. – Nov. 3, 2015 – The fourth annual Operation Home Turf veteran appreciation program is underway and looking for deserving men and women in uniform, past and present, to receive a new Snapper lawn mower courtesy of Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers. During the campaign, Grass Seed USA will also donate $1 for each new like on its We Seed America Facebook page or new follower on Twitter (@weseedamerica) to veterans’ affairs organizations, up to $1,000.

“Through the Operation Home Turf campaign, we are pleased to again show our appreciation for veterans’ sacrifice and dedication, in our own unique way,” said Bryan Ostlund, Grass Seed USA executive director. “U.S. service members often spend long periods of time away from home in service of our nation, so when they are home, we want to help them create a relaxing space they can enjoy and share.”

Nominate a Veteran:

  • Visit Grass Seed USA on Facebook at http://bit.ly/1KU5Iat and like the page.
  • In a few words, describe your nominee and why he or she deserves recognition. Nominations will be accepted from Nov. 3 through Nov. 30.
  • Winners will be randomly selected, then announced the week of December 7 on Grass Seed USA’s Facebook page.

Grass Seed USA will select and ship a new, Snapper SP Series Self-Propelled Lawn Mower to each of the three winning veterans. In the event that a Snapper SP Series Self-Propelled Lawn Mower is not available, Grass Seed USA will select a similar mower to fulfill the award.

Selected winners’ current or past service in the U.S. military will be subject to verification.

http://weseedamerica.com/nominate-a-veteran-to-win-a-snapper-lawn-mower-from-grass-seed-usa/

MLB’s Top Turfs: Which 2015 Playoff Contender Has the Best Grass? | October 5, 2015

MLB’s Top Turfs: Which 2015 Playoff Contender Has the Best Grass?

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After a grueling 162 game season, the 2015 Major League Baseball playoffs are finally here, which means it’s time we rank the contenders on the criteria that really matter.

  • Wins Above Replacement (WAR)
  • Run Differential 
  • Top Pitching Staff
  • Win-Loss Record
  • Best Turf Design and Field Experience 

That’s right. Forget advanced metrics and runs batted in, the real battle this postseason will be waged by MLB grounds crews as they bring out the best green grass has to offer. Without further ado, here is We Seed America’s definitive and totally subjective ranking of 2015 MLB playoff teams’ turf. Want to add your opinion? Vote on who you think has the best field in all of baseball!

rogers centre

10. Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays might be the best team in baseball, having hit more home runs than anyone in the sport. One thing they haven’t hit out of the park, however, is the Rogers Centre playing field, as they are the only playoff team with an artificial playing surface. But don’t worry, Blue Jays fans: the migration to natural grass turf is underway.

Ballpark_in_Arlington_May_2009

9. Texas Rangers: The Rangers are an unlikely postseason team, having benefited from mid-season trades that solidified their roster. One thing that’s always been solid for Texas is beautiful Globe Life Park, which features lovely greens accented by intricate patterns across the turf.

Dodger_Stadium

8. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers feature Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, an all-time pitching duo that helped the team capture the 2015 National League West title. Meanwhile, Dodgers Stadium remains as classic as ever, and the grounds crew does a nice job maintaining the local greens with solid checkerboard patterns.

Yankee_Stadium_upper_deck_2010

7. New York Yankees: The venerable Yankees have enjoyed a positive comeback season, led by a group of wily veterans. On the grass, Yankees Stadium is as venerable as ever. The most iconic home field in all of sports features solid turf work and historic Monument Park in center field.

Citi_Field,_June_2_2012

6. New York Mets: The Mets are led by what is arguably the best pitching staff in baseball, including 23 year old phenom Noah “Thor” Syndergaard. Thus, it makes sense the grounds crew in Queens does a landscaping job worthy of a hammer-wielding god. The Mets receive bonus points for the unique “Home Run Apple” at Citi Field.

Kauffman_Stadium

5. Kansas City Royals: The Royals won America’s hearts last season as they captured the American League pennant and came *this close* to taking the 2014 World Series. Kansas City continues to play in style at Kauffman Stadium this year, where outfield waterfalls complement the grounds crew’s great work on the diamond.

Champs_central_du_Wrigley_Field

4. Chicago Cubs: Chicago’s exciting, young Cubs hope to reverse the team’s infamous title curse this year while playing on the always beautiful Wrigley Stadium field. Dating back more than a century, Wrigley Field, its turf and the ivy outfield wall are recognized by baseball enthusiasts across the globe.

PNC_Park,_Home_of_Pittsburgh_Pirates

hedge

3. Pittsburgh Pirates: Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen may have removed his magnificent dreadlocks, but the Pirates aren’t likely to remove the near-perfect turf at PNC Park anytime soon. This grass field is accented by the gorgeous Pittsburgh skyline and the unique “Pirates” outfield hedge. C’est magnifique!

Minute_Maid_Park

tals hill

2. Houston Astros: As the Astros prepare to face the Yankees in the American League Wild Card game, we are not-so-secretly rooting for a victory by the young team, primarily so we can get a closer look at the unique dimensions of Minute Maid Park, which features the only grass hill in all of the bigs.

busch

carpenter

1. St. Louis Cardinals: Despite a slew of injuries, the Cards managed to finish the season with MLB’s best record. But what really sets them apart in this competition is the magnificent homage to local Gateway Arch in center field of Busch Stadium. To say it’s a masterpiece would be an understatement.

Vote now to tell us who YOU think should be ranked #1!

http://weseedamerica.com/major-league-baseball-top-turfs-fields-ranking-the-2015-playoff-contenders/

Bill Nye Explains Environmental Benefits of Grass | September 24, 2015

Bill Nye Explains Environmental Benefits of Grass

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Blast from the past!

We stumbled across this grass-tastic Bill Nye the Science Guy segment from 1993. During this episode, themed “Plants,” he covered a car with a layer of grass to communicate the benefits turf grass has on the environment and ecosystems. Check out the clip here:

If you’re interested to learn more about the environmental benefits of grass, read our recent blog post about the 5 top reasons to love your lawn.

http://weseedamerica.com/bill-nye-and-the-benefits-of-grass/

Fall Lawn Care Essentials: 5 Easy Steps to Take in September | September 3, 2015

Fall Lawn Care Essentials: 5 Easy Steps to Take in September

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Fall Lawn Care Essentials: 5 Easy Steps to Take in September

Grass Seed USA shares tips on how to prep your lawn for winter

SALEM, Ore. – Sept. 2, 2015 – Winter is coming, so it’s time to start thinking about how to ensure your lawn is prepped and ready for the colder months ahead. Lawn care begins to change in the fall as your lawn tries to take in as much nutrients and moisture as it can. Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists, shares a few simple steps to ensure you have a healthy lawn come spring.

“September is the best time to prepare your lawn for the dormant winter months,” said Bryan Ostlund, Grass Seed USA executive director. “This time of year, simple lawn care chores such as reseeding, weeding and aerating will help your grass immensely.”

The United States can be roughly divided into three grass-growing zones: Cool Zone, Transition Zone and Warm Zone (see graphic).

USA-Growing-Zones

If you live in the Warm Zone, fall is a time to sit back and enjoy your lawn, as few winterization measures are needed and new warm-season lawns are best planted in the late spring or early summer. One option you may want to consider is overseeding – adding cool-season grass seed over your warm-season turf. The cool-season grass will thrive until the warm-season grass turns green again in the spring, giving you a lush lawn year-round.

Homeowners in the Cool Zone and Transition Zone should take similar steps to prepare their lawns for winter. In these areas, fall is a good time for the following activities:

  • Adding seed to thicken an existing lawn. If your lawn is looking thin, or if you need to fill in some bare patches, now is the time to reseed. Talk to a turf specialist at a garden shop or university extension agent to find out what type of seed is best for your lawn conditions. Spread the seed over your existing lawn and then water lightly and regularly, making sure the reseeded areas stay moist until the new grass grows in. (Transition Zone homeowners with warm-season grasses also have the option of overseeding their lawns to keep them green through the winter.)
  • Dethatching. A certain amount of thatch – the tightly packed layer of organic matter between the grass blades and the soil surface – can benefit your lawn, but if the layer exceeds ½ inch, it can keep moisture and oxygen from reaching the soil and can harbor fungus and insect pests. If your lawn needs to be dethatched, you can rent a vertical mower or hire a professional to do the job for you.
  • Aerating. Older or heavily trafficked lawns can suffer from soil compaction. A core aerator with hollow tines will pull small plugs of soil out of the ground, allowing increased movement of water, nutrients and oxygen into the soil. You can rent an aerator or hire a professional to aerate your lawn for you.
  • Raising your mower blades. Let your grass grow a bit taller in the fall, usually between 1½ and 2½ inches. If you cut it too short, you’ll severely limit its ability to make and store food for growth in the spring. If the grass is too long it can become matted, which leads to problems as well.
  • Winterizing your irrigation system. If you live in an area where the frost level extends below the depth of your irrigation pipes, be sure to shut off the water to the irrigation system and drain all the pipes before the first freeze.

About Grass Seed USA

Grass Seed USA is a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists with a wealth of experience in studying, growing and harvesting grass and grass seed. The coalition seeks to inform and educate residential and commercial customers about the benefits of grass and best practices for responsibly growing and maintaining healthy turf. For more information, visit www.weseedamerica.com, or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

 

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http://weseedamerica.com/fall-lawn-care-essentials-5-easy-steps-to-take-in-september/

#TurfTech 101: Apps to Maintain Your Best Lawn | August 24, 2015

#TurfTech 101: Apps to Maintain Your Best Lawn

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In this day and age there are apps for everything, from social networks to shopping and even bacon-themed alarm clocks. So it makes sense that there are some fantastic lawn care apps out there as well! Whether you like getting your green thumb on or have others take care of your yard,  we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite #TurfTech apps. Have a favorite app that didn’t make the list? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter!

A garden gloved hand manually pulls a weed from the grass with the help of a weed pulling tool.

Productivity Apps

Turfgrass Weeds

  • Platform: Android, iOS
  • Curious as to what the funky looking weed you are dutifully pulling every weekend is? Use the University of Georgia’s Turfgrass Weeds app to help you identify turfgrass weeds of all shapes and sizes! The app functions as a virtual flashcard deck, and was created as a study tool for turf students at the University of Georgia.

Tillers Turf Calculator

  • Platform: Android, iOS
  • Instead of guessing how much sod you need for your lawn, download Tillers Turf Calculator to determine the right amount of turf. This useful app calculates the amount of turf you need even if the area is an irregular shape!  You also have the choice of adding 5% for wastage.

Turfgrass Management

  • Platform: Android, iOS
  • Another great app from the folks in Athens at UGA, Turfgrass Management helps you not only identify weeds but also diseases and insects.  The app contains information on all cool and warm-season turf grasses, so you can determine which grass varieties are best for your location. Turfgrass Management also makes finding turf pest issues very intuitive.

Mowing The Lawn

Lawn Care Services Apps

LawnGuru

  • Platform: iOS
  • Referred to by some as “the Uber of lawn care,” LawnGuru allows users to connect with lawn care professionals and order services on demand. Users can see a satellite image of their home, trace the area to be treated, receive a price based on measurement of the space, and then schedule work!

Plowz & Mowz

  • Platform: Android, iOS
  • Snow Plowing and Lawn Mowing On Demand: Home owners can now outsource their home chores to Plowz and Mowz. This app offers on-demand snow plowing, lawn mowing and leaf removal service— anytime, anywhere. Plowz & Mowz is now available in more than 30 cities across the U.S.

LawnStarter

  • Platform: Android, iOS
  • After downloading the LawnStarter app, users can easily enter their address and immediately get pricing on basic services, such as lawn maintenance, aeration, landscaping and fertilization. Touting their top-notch customer service, LawnStarter says it even removes contractors from their system if they don’t maintain a 4.3/5 customer experience rating.
http://weseedamerica.com/turftech-101-apps-to-maintain-your-best-lawn/

Three Reasons to Play Sports on Natural Grass Turf | June 29, 2015

Three Reasons to Play Sports on Natural Grass Turf

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Dick Allen, former MVP

“If a horse can’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it.”

Dick Allen, former Major League Baseball MVP

Introduction

In 1972, Chicago White Sox first baseman Dick Allen won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award. To many, the honor could be considered the crowning achievement of his career. At We Seed America, we’d like to think the quote Dick offered in 1970 about his preference for playing on natural grass was just as valuable. Why? Because playing sports on natural grass turf provides a host of benefits for those participating in them. Read on to learn three ways playing sports on grass is good for athletes of all ages.

Next

Dick Allen photo by Getty Images

 

http://weseedamerica.com/three-reasons-to-play-sports-on-natural-grass-turf/

5 Unique Lawn Activities for the Family | June 19, 2015

5 Unique Lawn Activities for the Family

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Now that school’s out for the summer, it’s time to take advantage of all the sunny days by crafting fun activities that get everyone outside and staying active. So without further ado, here are 5 fun activities to enjoy your lawn this summer. Enjoy, and make sure to share photos of your activities with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Lawn Tic Tac Toe!

1. Lawn Tic-Tac-Toe: Ruth at Living Well, Spending Less has all the info you need to get 3 X’s or O’s in a row to become the family Tic-Tac-Toe champ!

Lawn Scrabble!

2. Lawn Scrabble: Constantly Lovestruck shows us how to test our brawn and brain with the innovative lawn scrabble. In case you were wondering, “GRASS” is worth 6 points in standard scoring. Lawns? 8.

Backyard Ker-Plunk!

3. Backyard Ker-Plunk: Great for the little ones, enjoying a backyard game of Ker-Plunk is bound to keep everyone entertained and laughing while enjoying a nice lemonade or beer in the backyard. Thanks, Amy at All Parenting!

Lawn Memory!

4. Lawn Memory: Kelly at Studio DIY has everything you need to know to challenge your memory skills right on your own lawn! Difficulty can be adjusted for younger or older kids, or even adults!

Lawn Yahtzee!

5. Lawn Yahtzee: Try to get a royal flush or full house by making these wonderful wooden outdoor lawn dice from The Wood Connection! On top of a great time, you’ll have some great lawn art!

http://weseedamerica.com/5-unique-lawn-activities-for-family/