to boston, for a lesson on lawn care

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If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you may remember the big landscaping project of Spring 2010, wherein we ripped apart our backyard, built raised bed gardens, added a retaining wall, and laid down a carpet of beautiful, lush, green sod. Fast forward to mid-summer. Our sod was suffering, and big portions of it were beginning to die. I couldn’t figure out why. We were watering and mowing regularly–what else could the grass possibly need? Around this time, I was pointed in the direction of the Briggs & Stratton YardSmarts website. What I found was a valuable collection of articles, videos, and tips on lawn and garden care. I also happened to find out that Briggs & Stratton was holding a contest to win a valuable prize package that included a brand new lawn mower, a pressure washer, and a trip to Boston for “YardSmarts Bootcamp”, where ten “recruits” would learn all about caring for their lawns under the direction of the Briggs & Stratton Yard Doctor. You can see where this is going. I entered on a whim, not thinking I might actually WIN. Here is what I wrote in my entry:

Barefoot summer bliss on a brand new lawn is what I envisioned when my husband and I added sod to our backyard earlier this year. It’s mid-July, and my dreams are dying along with that expensive lawn. While portions of the lawn are thriving, the rest looks like a critically ill patient in need of a life-saving cure. As if this predicament isn’t enough, the rest of my yard is a mix of planted grass, and mowed weeds in dense shade under a thick canopy of trees–growing conditions that are less than ideal. Doctor, doctor, I’m afraid this homeowner needs some professional help with lawn care–STAT!

The folks at Briggs & Stratton must have appreciated my humor, because a month later, I received a call informing me that I was the “Yard Doctor Pick” for Bootcamp. I couldn’t quite believe it! To make a long story short, this past weekend, I flew to Boston for two days of Bootcamp, plus two extra days to explore and enjoy the city with my hubby. Briggs & Statton covered all of my Bootcamp expenses, from flights to cab rides, to two nights lodging at a top-notch downtown hotel, to many fantastic meals, plus extra Briggs & Stratton swag, and of course there’s the mower and pressure washer that will be arriving any day now. Most notably, Briggs & Stratton provided the opportunity to learn from Trey Rogers, Ph.D, the “lawn geek”, and Susan Gruber, a garden and landscaping expert from Michigan State University. Maybe you’ve never heard of Trey, but chances are, you’ve seen his work. From Olympic fields in Athens and Beijing, to sports arenas, like the Twins Stadium, Trey has had a hand in creating many famous picture-perfect patches of green.

Bootcamp included a hands-on learning experience at a private home where Trey taught us the rules of proper lawn care, as well as the common mistakes many homeowners make. Susan showed us how to prune, transplant, split, and create a garden worth coming home to. We also got a lesson on lawn mower maintenance, and had the opportunity to ask the experts about our own lawn and garden issues. We toured the famous Boston Public Gardens with a local Park Ranger, and ended Bootcamp with a breakfast session that highlighted all the need-to-know info Trey and Susan could cram into a half hour. When it was all said and done, I walked away with a whole new set of skills, an awareness of where I went wrong with our lawn in the first place, and a prescription for making it all better.

One of the things I learned while at Bootcamp is that fall is the best time to work in the yard and garden. I plan on taking full advantage of the beautiful, autumn weather predicted for the next couple weeks to get out there and get busy. Next week, I’ll be sharing some of the valuable tips I learned from Trey and Susan while at bootcamp. In the meantime, if you have a lawn or a garden, I highly recommend a trip to the Briggs & Stratton YardSmarts page. It’s a trusted source, and the resources they have available are fantastic!

So there you have it–the fun and surprising reason I headed to Beantown! However, the trip wasn’t all about lawn care. Tomorrow, I’ll be back with photos from “vacation” portion of our trip, so stay tuned.

Thanks: A huge, huge thanks to the Briggs & Stratton team! Anita, Monica, Terri, Lauren, and Liz, you hosted a first-class weekend, and I am so blessed to have been a part of it. Trey and Susan, thank you for sharing so much knowledge with us, and for never thinking any question was a foolish one.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perk’d by Briggs & Stratton to write this post. I was a legitimate contest winner, and a very thankful one! Any and all information that I post is for the purpose of sharing my experience and/or passing along valuable information to my readers.

  1. Jamie says:

    How fun to win a trip to BOSTON! It’s an amazing city and I’m so happy you & Z got a chance to get away for the weekend. I have the Veggie Tales Pirates song in my head… “and I’ve never been to Boston in the Fall.” How was the fall in Boston ~ looking forward to more pictures!

  2. Rachel says:

    wow so cool, beth! What a unique thing to win…Boston is so beautiful– especially in the fall. Glad you guys got to go!

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