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In Bloom: Standards Assist Yard Maintenance and Plant Care during National Garden Month

Across the United States, millions of gardening enthusiasts are beginning to put out their tomato cages and lug bags of mulch from their local garden supply center in anticipation of another season of pruning and planting. In recognition of this yearly ritual, the National Gardening Association marks National Garden Month each April, providing a reminder to all of us about the importance of proper lawn and garden care. With some assistance from voluntary consensus standards, flower beds and vegetable gardens will soon be beautifying yards and providing fresh, healthy food for families nationwide.

While gardening is popular in virtually every region of the U.S., climate, elevation, and other important factors can have a significant impact on what plants home gardeners are able to grow and the ways in which they grow them. For individuals attempting to reseed a lawn, or to cultivate a single type of plant on a sloping surface, such as the side of a small hill, one effective method is hydraulic mulch seeding. In this process, a wet mixture of mulch and seeds is sprayed from a holding tank via a hose, allowing for quick, comprehensive seeding. ASTM D7367-07, Standard Test Method for Determining Water Holding Capacity of Fiber Mulches for Hydraulic Planting, provides a quantitative test method for this process. The standard, which was developed by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and audited designator ASTM International, is not intended to address safety concerns associated with hydraulic planting.

Once your planting is done and your flowers or vegetables have started growing, it's often time to add fertilizer. Some soils lack nitrogen and other essential elements, making the use of fertilizer a must. A standard developed by ANSI-accredited standards developer and organizational member the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), ASAE S281.3 APR1987 (R2009), Capacity Designation for Fertilizer and Pesticide Hoppers and Containers, sets down a uniform method for both calculating and explaining the capacity of fertilizer containers and pesticide hoppers, making it easier to determine if you have a large enough hopper for your gardening needs. Another related standard, NFPA 490-2002, NFPA 490: Code for the Storage of Ammonium Nitrate, 2002 Edition, provides important safety information for the storage of this common fertilizer, which can combust and explode if not handled correctly. This standard, developed by ANSI member and audited designator the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), applies to fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate in the form of prills, grains, flakes, or crystals, as well as nitrous oxide-grade and dynamite-grade ammonium nitrate.

Gardening isn't just about growing things, of course: weeding, pruning, and other lawn and garden maintenance tasks play an important role. ISO 10517:2009, Powered hand-held hedge trimmers - Safety, provides safety recommendations for the use of gas-powered hedge trimmers used to prune hedges, cut back pampas grass, and perform other gardening chores. The standard was developed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 23, Tractors and machinery for agriculture and forestry, Subcommittee (SC) 13, Powered lawn and garden equipment. ANSI holds the secretariat for SC 13, with Peter Tetteroo of the U.S.'s Toro Company serving as its chair. ASABE currently serves as the ANSI-approved U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to SC 13, while ANSI-accredited standards developer and organizational member the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute serves as the U.S. TAG Administrator to TC 23.

Whether you're a skilled horticulturalist or just someone who likes having fresh lettuce to eat during the early summer, standards help to make gardening a safe and effective pastime. For more information about National Garden Month, visit the official website at


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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