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Bob shares his thoughts on landscaping and the environment

Ticked Off

As we go outside more often, onto the lawn and into the garden, health reminders about those tiny ticks who can spoil your fun. An April 18th newspaper story by JOE LoTEMPLIO sounded the Spring warning about ticks and Lyme disease. This can be especially important for those of us living in Pennsylvania, since our…

Staying Sharp

Maintaining a sharp lawnmower blade is more important than you think. A clean cut will help your lawn look its best. Key points for proper lawn mowing: Sharpen you rotary mower blade at least once a year, more often if possible. Try not to dull the blade by ‘scalping’ any high soil areas. Use a…

Time to Seed

A more appropriate title would be “Not much time left to seed” if you have a lawn in Pennsylvania, New England, the Midwestern U.S. or Canada. There are basically two times a year that are best for lawn seeding: Spring and Fall. For multiple reasons, I explain why Fall is the best choice on this…

Wrong Tree

Wondering why your tree changed color? A friend recently mentioned that part of his tree was blooming in a different color from the tree he purchased. So what’s up with that? Freak of nature, evolution, or a new discovery perhaps?? Chances are, his case is similar to the photos shared here, of a grafted crabapple…

That Smell

It’s not “that smell” Lynyrd Skynyrd sings about, it’s that funky odor you smell outside on these Spring days. That funky odor caught my nose yesterday while out walking, shortly before I saw the Flowering Pear tree in the above photo. It’s the opposite of that ‘good nose odor’ of Flowering Magnolias, which would also…

Protecting Your Trees

A stringline trimmer aka ‘weed whacker’ can be a tree’s greatest enemy. Just inside that ‘dead looking’ outer bark of a tree trunk is living tissue in need of your protection. Damaging that living tissue can lead to the death of the tree, by opening a pathway to insects and disease. Since Dogwood trees have…

March Gladness

After two terrible months for rooftop solar energy production, it was great to see a $7.29 electric bill for March. On top of frequent and persistent snowfalls keeping our front 18 solar panels covered with snow for the first two months of 2021, solar production is typically lower in the months surrounding the winter solstice…

Fracked in Pennsylvania

Peer reviewed health studies have shown greater health risks for those living within one-mile of a gas well site. Look how close this house is to a well pad! Wastewater impoundments have been an ongoing problem in western Pennsylvania, in fact, I thought they had been banned, until recently seeing this one between Deemston and…

Environmental Destruction 101 = FRACKING

Cut down all the trees, which helps to promote climate change, eliminate wildlife habitat, increase runoff making flooding worse, toxify millions of gallons of water while making some radioactive, pollute the air with methane and diesel truck fumes to haul-in strip mined frac sand from the upper Midwest. And what about health? Read this story…

Backwards Pennsylvania

Backward thinking state senators in Pennsylvania are NOT thinking about a cleaner future for Pennsylvanians… you, your kids, your grandkids. State senators like Gene Yaw(n) are working hard, to keep those of us who live in the Commonwealth, stuck in a ‘fossil-fool past.’ Yaw ignores all the environmental destruction wrought by fracking since 2004, with…

‘Seaspiracy’ Documentary

Wow, talk about an eye-opener! I’ve seen more than my share of videos about the alarming state of Mother Earth when it comes to climate change, but this viral video on Netflix ventures down some new ‘dark alleyways!’ All that plastic polluting our oceans… why are fishing nets being ignored, or omitted, as the number…

Epic Fails in Landscaping

Yep, we’ve all had them… frosted flowers, chewed-up plants, insects gone wild. Sometimes it’s the weather. Like the saucer Magnolia, ready for Spring-glory on Easter, only to have its blossoms wiped-out around April Fools Day… Or the “deer proof” plant. Chewed to shreds by a rabbit, or little critters. Maybe it’s the “hardy” plant. One…

Daffodil Fun for Easter

Ever add food coloring to a vase of daffodils? Re-inventing something we did as kids, in this video… Consider adding your own color and twist! Bob

The Mighty Oak

Memorable trees for generations of wildlife and people WHITE OAK – Quercus alba Easy to identify due to its finger-like lobed leaves and stately growth. Of particular note is the 400-year-old Wye Oak in Maryland which boasts a trunk diameter of 8 feet and a branch spread of 165 feet. Source: Photos of Bob’s Top 10 Majestic…

Clean Air and Pure Water

The man who wrote those words into Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment 50 years ago, has authored a new book, to be released on Earth Day. We just learned of this new book in the PA Environment Digest Blog which included this: It’s a crying shame that Pennsylvania governors, judges and legislators have ignored the full…

Flower Lovers

Some flower lovers have wings, like this Gold Finch! Chickadees are all over those Magnolia flower buds every Spring too. Bob

BEWARE of Poison Hemlock

Poison Hemlock has already sprouted this Spring You may remember the story about Socrates drinking a cup of Poison Hemlock. Yup, same deadly stuff! Just coming into contact with it can cause you problems. More details about POISON HEMLOCK – Conium maculatum: Brought to the US from Europe in the 1800’s. Biennial herb that grows…

Maple Flowers

You say, “WHAT???” Maples don’t flower! Some trees are known for their blossoms, like one of my favorites shown above, the Star Magnolia that was blooming yesterday. Other trees have blossoms that are far less pronounced, even though you’ve probably noticed these “insignificant” blossoms, like the ones on Red Maple offspring seen below. The final…

Timber Wall Revisited

Stopped back yesterday to see a timber wall we built 8 years ago Why? Because there’s been huge interest in the original wall construction video, with nearly 900K views! It’s become the 3rd most popular video on the Bobscaping YouTube channel. You can find the video here: https://youtu.be/Qdtxolo7i78 Of the 48 comments on the video,…

Healthy Home Lawn

Core aerate your lawn while soil moisture levels are still favorable Core aeration is one of the best things you can do for your lawn. Fall is the most common time for aeration, but both Spring and Fall is even better! Here’s a lawn aeration video to get you started: Bob MORE: 10 reasons to…

W&J College Campus Trees

Far different story than the myth about George Washington and the Cherry tree! WASHINGTON, PENNSYLVANIA – Washington & Jefferson College in Washington County has earned renewal of its Level I Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum.  As of April 14, 2020, the W&J Arboretum includes more than 1,100 trees from…

Flower Power

This solar energy “flower” fascinated me the first time I saw it! It gives true meaning to the term “flower power!” The first time we saw it was on the way into a Christmas concert at Trinity High School in Washington, Pennsylvania. The solar flower had already closed its ‘petals’ (12 solar panels) that evening,…

Floppy Ornamental Grass

Out of several ornamental grasses we have, there’s one tall, variegated grass that likes to flop-over in August, right when it’s looking its best. There’s always one in the bunch. Well, in this case, three! This grouping of three ornamental grasses looks fantastic in Spring and early-Summer, only to ‘fall down on the job’ in…

Tree Growing Out Of Your Tree?

What to do when your Dwarf Alberta Spruce shows off its ‘wild side’ The Dwarf Alberta Spruce is very popular in home landscapes, due to its slow, compact, evergreen growth. They don’t require any trimming, are deer resistant, and extremely hardy — except when a spider mite infestation is left unchecked. Technically, this sort of…

Sharpest Tool in the Shed

Digging is hard enough, so why make it even harder with a dull shovel? With the arrival of Spring and a sunny day, I noticed some ‘weekend warriors’ out working in their yards yesterday. Since digging was a big part of my professional life, it got me thinking about garden tools. Are your digging tools…

Spring Maintenance

Happy 1st day of Spring 2021 Winter seemed especially long and dark, so who isn’t eagerly awaiting the first blossoms of Spring? Longer days of sunlight, warming temperatures, and yes, some garden chores to get you out and about. If you left your ornamental grasses alone over the winter months, to brown and scatter about…

Spring Fertilization of Trees and Shrubs

With Spring just days away, it was time to give our trees and shrubs a Spring boost with some organic fertilizer. Giving plants some nutrients ahead of the growing season ensures a good flush of new growth… No pun intended, since Milorganite actually is Milwaukee sewage sludge! Plants love it!! Bob Video from Spring 2018…

Bird Feeder Maintenance

At the end of a brutal winter, we started feeding wild birds again. Prolonged snow cover, not to mention the relentless cold, made it feel like an act of compassion for our feathered friends. It took two trips, and about two hundred dollars or more, to get fully equipped by our new friend Knox, who…

Time to Cutback Shrubs

A YouTube viewer from the state of Indiana recently asked if this was a good time to cutback Burning Bushes that are overtaking his house. YES! Early spring is the best time of year for major cutbacks, since it allows ample growing time for the shrub to put on new growth and “recover.” While early…

Spring Lawn Prep

Persistent snow cover may have allowed Snow Mold to develop on your lawn Once your lawn dries-out a little and has become less muddy, here’s a short 41 second video with my recommendation for treating snow mold: If you have dead spots in your lawn, here is a second video on Spot-Seeding your lawn: In…

Texas Wind Turbines

Some Texas politicians tried to falsely blame wind energy for their major power outage Since the weekend, weather news has been primarily focused on Texas, due to power outages caused by the unusual February ice, snow and cold that has gripped large parts of the United States. Like everything else in recent years, this tragic…

Hunger Games Death Match

Have you competed in the Covid-19 vaccine scheduling game yet? After some friends and neighbors were successful getting their first Covid-19 vaccinations, it was time to “up” our competition level in this vaccination reality game. My injections were already scheduled in a normal fashion, having made both V.A. appointments 3 weeks in advance. I can…

No risk it no biscuit

Coach Bruce Arians takes his quote to Super Bowl LV I became a Pittsburgh Steelers fan at just the right moment in time, 1972. The 70’s brought a storied period of NFL football in Pittsburgh along, when the Steelers won 4 Super Bowls over a short 6 year span (IX, X, XIII, XIV). Fans began…

Elon Musk to Start Fracking?

When did you ever think you would see “Elon Musk” and “fracking” in the same sentence? Well now you have! It caught me by surprise too, even though Elon is known for his lightning quick surprises, ‘coming out of the blue.’ Well go figure, but this is more about ‘going into the blue’ and it…

Dust to Dust

Composting on a human scale A couple years ago, a friend from West Virginia opted to have a green burial. I’d gotten to know Bill through our photography and environmental work on oil and gas issues, aka ‘fracking.’ We also had a shared interest in solar energy, and eventually, even drove the same electric vehicle,…

‘Free Energy’ from the Sun Keeps Getting Cheaper

99.99% Price Drop! From $76 per watt in 1977, the cost of silicon solar cells has fallen to $0.20 per watt in 2020 (full story) With the recent 2-year extension of the US Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for installing residential solar systems, your reasons to add solar energy to your home just keep getting better!…

‘Plum Crazy’ Injection Well Permit

Citizens and environmental groups call on Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf to revoke this permit Injection wells are used by the drilling and fracking industry to dispose of toxic flowback and produced water from oil and gas wells. Huge volumes of this toxic liquid waste return to the surface from Marcellus shale wells, requiring disposal. Radium 226…

Steelers Slip on Stairway to Seven

Near perfect season ends with big bowlful of ‘Dog Pound karma‘ Looking back with true 2020 hindsight, it’s a wonder the Steelers had any football season at all. Training camp at Saint Vincent college – Cancelled. Home games at Heinz Field – Empty seats. Covid-19 had claimed over 370,000 lives in the U.S. by the…

Good News for Solar!

The investment tax credit (ITC) for residential solar installations has been extended 2 years! COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Includes Key Renewable Energy Tax Credits Dec. 28, 2020 -The US stimulus bill passed into law yesterday includes several key extensions and additions to the tax credits available for renewable energy. The bill had been agreed to by…

Making Millions on YouTube

Hall of Fame NFL Coach Jimmy Johnson once said: “Success happens when opportunity meets preparation” In the case of YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, that formula has brought amazing success as told in this story. As I enter my 14th year as a YouTuber, the story about Jimmy held great interest for me. After posting…

Trees & Shrubs for Pennsylvania Wildlife

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is selling bundles of trees and shrubs for a very reasonable price! 2021 Tree Seedlings Index“The Tree Seedlings Index for 2021 has the most variety of tree and shrub species offered by the Game Commission’s Howard Nursery: 9 evergreens, 8 different shrubs and 22 tree species. Tree Seedling Index is now…

Ignoring Gas Patch Kids

School children are ‘Danger Close’ in Burgettstown, Pa. (Republished blog from November 5, 2019) It’s jaw-dropping to see how much infrastructure has been built by the natural gas industry over the past 15 years, all since the first Marcellus Shale well was fracked in Washington County Pa. in 2004. Far beyond the gas well pads…

Unsustainable Energy Waste

EarthWorks just released a new report summarizing the massive volumes of waste generated by fracking in Pennsylvania. (Republished blog from September 12, 2019) The report focuses on 8 years – 2011 through 2018. Unconventional Marcellus shale gas drilling (using high volume, slick water, hydraulic fracturing) has actually been reeking havoc on one-third of Pennsylvania nearly…

Frac Tracers

Baseline Water Testing is Critical to Proving Contamination from Fracking (Republished blog from December 29, 2019) The news out of Wyoming last Monday didn’t surprise anyone, at least not those of us who have closely followed water contamination cases near fracking. We’ve seen too many investigations, and court cases, come and go. Mostly go. Corporations…

It Must Be Something In The Water

Pittsburghers used to say that as a joke, when someone did something weird or out of character. But this situation with water is far beyond a joke, and something still adversely affecting people to this day. Image below: Average Blood Level of Some PFAS after Installing a Water Filtration System Yesterday, this story by Don…

Solar Power with Battery Backup

Since installing our TESLA solar system and Powerwall 2, we’ve avoided 19 power outages! Most recently, our battery backup kept the power on three hours on September 30th, and fifty-five minutes on November 11th. Our past five electric bills have only been $7 to $8 each. So yes, solar works in the Pittsburgh area! Learn…

Code Orange Again in Pennsylvania

Beautiful fall weather in western Pennsylvania has been tainted by four ‘Code Orange’ air alert days in a row. 11-9-20 UPDATE: Four Five air quality alerts in a row! For the fourth day in a row, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection forecasts a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day warning for particulate matter —…

The Fracking Lies

Over a decade ago, when the oil and gas industry began fracking the Marcellus shale in our corner of Pennsylvania, they would often dodge the truth by saying, “Fracking has never contaminated a single water well.” Of course the entire process of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, contaminates not only water wells, but also ground water,…

Drilling Waste Dumped On Pennsylvania Roads

The Pennsylvania oil and gas (O&G) industry is at it again, with help from their friends in Harrisburg. (Updated blog from January 16, 2020) Image: The label on these trucks says “RESIDUAL WASTE” but what does that mean? Pennsylvania GOP Predominately Pa. GOP legislators are trying to pass legislation allowing the O&G industry to resume…

Fracking is Elevating Radioactivity in the Air, Land and Water

“Government Failed You” (Updated blog from December 14, 2019) The team at Public Herald, headed by Joshua B. Pribanic, has done an extraordinary job of shining a spotlight on most of the regulatory “fracking faults” in Pennsylvania, especially ones related to the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). While their factual, in-depth reports aren’t always…

Radioactive Dumps in Pennsylvania From Fracking

Pennsylvania has become a dump for radioactive waste in landfills never designed to hold any toxic waste. Fossil Fuel Polluters and Friends Ramp Up New Attack on Solar Energy in Pa. In 2019, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency issued its recommendation to exempt oil and gas waste from regulation under the Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery…

Back to Frack Beaver Run Reservoir

Even with a history of accidents at wells close to the public water reservoir for 150,000 people, there are new plans to continue drilling and fracking! OVERVIEWAlthough fishing has been banned at Beaver Run Reservoir since 1952, the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County (MAWC) decided to allow Marcellus and Utica Shale gas well drilling on their property next to…

Compressor Station Regrets for Washington County

Dr. McCawley knows compressor stations, Ultra Fine Particles (UFP’s) and their adverse health effects. He’s a health expert and you probably won’t like what he had to say if you live in our tri-state area. (Updated post from November 2019) November 20, 2019 – Yesterday marked the 7th annual “Shale and Public Health” Conference spearheaded…

Woods to Well Pad

How close is 500 feet to drilling and fracking in Pennsylvania? This close! Hard to imagine having a nicely forested area close to your home suddenly destroyed for a huge gravel well pad for industrial activities. So what’s the rub? After all, Pennsylvania requires oil and gas wells to be 500-feet from homes without a…

Shale Gas Drilling and Public Health

Videos of the 2019 “SHALE AND PUBLIC HEALTH” conference have been posted online here for those who weren’t able to attend. (Republished blog from December 5, 2019) The annual conference was presented by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania with funding from the Colcom Foundation and the Heinz Endowments to the League of Women…

Health Jury: Ban Fracking

“If these health effects are not due to fracking, what has changed, we couldn’t think of anything else.” Dr. Brian Schwartz (Republished blog from November 24, 2019) Over the course of several years, I’ve heard Dr. Schwartz speak at the Shale and Public Health conference in Pittsburgh. His research and studies have benefited greatly from…

Pennsylvania’s Grand Fracking Experiment

Earthquake strikes Washington County, Pa. near shale gas drilling for the second time in three years (Republished blog from October 30, 2019) In a county where earthquakes are non-existent to extremely rare, a minor earthquake shook residents 6-1/2 miles south of Washington, Pennsylvania in the early hours of the morning Tuesday October 15, 2019. This…


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