Eco Minute

Producer and Host
Dr. Enid Sisskin received her PhD from Columbia University in Pathobiology. She has worked as an environmental activist for more than 20 years. She is currently on the faculty of the School of Allied Health and Life Sciences at the University of West Florida. She is the creator of the Eco Minute and has produced & hosted the series since 2005. Her interests include continuing to garden despite yearly failures and she continues to work for environmental protection with her husband and children. She is also everyone's favorite Jewish mother and stage manager at RadioLive.

Click on the dates below to listen to each Eco Minute.

To GreenScape your landscape, you need to practice natural lawn care.  Mow frequently when grass is actively growing so that you are only cutting no more than one-third of the height of the grass.

 "Grasscycling," or leaving the clippings on the lawn, doesn't cause thatch build up—and it does make lawns healthier. Soil organisms recycle the clippings into free fertilizer, and you save all the work of bagging.  If you need additional fertilizer, use organic.  Shrink your lawn and use native plants instead. 

To GreenScape your landscape, you need to practice holistic pest management.  Only about 5-15 percent of the bugs in your yard are pests. "Good bugs," like the ground beetle and the green lacewing, help control pests. 

On-going pest problems are a sign that your lawn or garden is not getting what it needs to stay healthy, so correct the underlying problem to reduce the chances of the pests reappearing.  Maintain healthy soil.  Select pest-resistant plants and put them in the sun/shade and soil conditions they like.

To GreenScape your landscape, you need to practice smart watering.

Watering too much or too little can cause plant problems.  Water deeply and infrequently.  Most plants do best if the soil is allowed to partially dry out between waterings.  Vegetables and annuals need water at the first sign of wilting, but perennials need water only if they stay droopy after it cools off in the evening.  Trees and shrubs usually don’t need watering once their roots are fully established, in 2 to 5 years, except in very dry years. 


To GreenScape your landscape, you need to plant right for your site.  You need to know your yard and select plants which will grow well in our area, and fit the amount of sun, type of soil, and water available in your yard.  Think about how big a tree or shrub will be when mature, especially when planting near your house, driveway, or power lines. 

To GreenScape your landscape, you need to build healthy soil.  There are about 4 billion microorganisms in one teaspoon of soil.  Soil creatures keep our landscapes healthy by creating a loose soil structure allowing air, water and plant root growth, by recycling nutrients and making them available to plants, storing water, and protecting plants from some pests and diseases.  Before you fertilize, have your soil tested, you might not need it. 

 According to the EPA, by changing your landscape to a GreenScape, you can save time and money and protect the environment.  You can save time by using plants that need less care, money by eliminating unnecessary watering and chemicals, and the environment by conserving water supplies, decreasing chemical use and runoff that can contaminate drinking water and waterways, and recycling yard waste. 

Depending on where you live, anywhere from 30 - 70% of residential water is used for outdoor use, such as lawn and landscape irrigation. According to the EPA, some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of commercial and residential irrigation water use goes to waste due to evaporation, wind, improper system design, or overwatering.  One way you can prevent that is by changing from lawn sprinklers to a drip irrigation system – which allows the controlled application of water at a very low flow over a prolonged period.

Every time it rains, a valuable resource goes down the drain.  This is the EcoMinute and I’m Carrie Stevenson.  Collecting rainwater from rooftops is an ancient practice, but the use of rain barrels and cisterns has increased in popularity due to recent droughts and a cultural emphasis on being eco-friendly.  Rainwater collected from a roof into a cistern or rain barrel can be used for landscape and garden irrigation or for washing cars or pets.

Jem Sullivan

Did you know that U.S. cities have lost more than 20 percent of their trees in the past 10 years?  This is the EcoMinute and I’m Chip Kirschenfeld. A recent study of over 400 urban areas found a loss of 21 percent of their trees mainly due to urban sprawl, new development, and roadway construction. 

Jem Sullivan

Fertilizing plants is a routine practice in the landscape but it may not always be necessary for all plants.  I’m Beth Boles and this is the EcoMinute. Before adding fertilizer, know the nutrient needs of your specific plants and the plant response you desire. 

If you are happy with the growth of your plants and they look healthy, consider skipping the fertilizer application.    To determine the nutrient levels in your soil and exactly what your plants need, have the soil tested.