On Gardening: Turn to smartphone for ‘Smart Yard’ advice
by Margaret Lawrence
Special to The Star
Aug 11, 2013 | 4034 views |  0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
How often do I mow my zoysiagrass? When do I prune my azaleas? How do you build a rain barrel?

Answers to these questions and many more can be found in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s new app, Smart Yards.

Kerry Smith, co-coordinator of Extension’s Home Grounds team, says the free application addresses many common garden-related questions.

“Smart Yards is designed to be a comprehensive pocket guide for all your yard work,” said Smith. “The app will answer questions and help you turn your yard into a smart and more sustainable yard.”

County Extension offices in Alabama field more questions related to lawns, gardens and home landscaping than any other subject area.

Extension Director Dr. Gary Lemme says the app expands the system’s outreach capabilities.

“People’s use of mobile technology continues to grow rapidly,” said Lemme. “This app puts the research-based information that Extension provides right in people’s hands. They don’t have to stop working in the yard to go inside and use the computer. They just have to grab their phone and launch the Smart Yards app.”

Tyler Weldon, an outreach coordinator for Extension’s Home Grounds team, led the creation and development of the app.

“We have developed the Smart Yards app for multiple platforms including iPhone, iPad, Windows and Android devices,” he said. “All you need to do is visit your device’s app store, search for Smart Yards and download it. Best of all, the app is free.”

The current version addresses three areas: lawns, pruning and water.

The lawns section offers detailed information and helpful tips on bermuda, centipede, zoysia, St. Augustine and fescue lawns, along with photos and general information on mowing, maintenance, fertilization, weeds and insects.

Smith says that pruning can be one of the more challenging garden chores.

“The pruning section provides information you need to prune in confidence,” she said. “You will find detailed information on when to prune trees and shrubs as well as diagrams to help you make the right cuts.”

The final section of the app addresses water issues in home landscaping, providing extensive information on how individuals can make their yards and gardens more sustainable in regard to water usage and management.

• “Rain Garden” supplies photos and general information of the garden along with detailed information on how to plan, prepare and install your own rain garden.

• “Rain Barrel” describes what a rain barrel is and how to install one. Start saving water by following the steps in this section.

• “Water Quality” includes topics every homeowner should know. This section will help you understand and contribute a positive impact toward non-point source pollution and impervious surfaces.

For users with questions not answered by the app, a link to the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu, is included. There is also a Contact Us link, Weldon added, and upgrades to expand the app’s current content are already in the works.

Margaret Lawrence is a communication specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
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On Gardening: Turn to smartphone for ‘Smart Yard’ advice by Margaret Lawrence
Special to The Star

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