The Perfect Pond for You and the Environment

Garden’s say a lot about their owners. You can see a reflection of the owner’s personality in how their garden is presented. If you see a garden that is frequently maintained and full of life and colour it’s more likely that the owner is a keen gardener, or maybe just has the time to dedicate towards the garden’s maintenance. If you see a garden that is lost and overgrown, then a sense of organisation may spring to mind. The overall look of a garden can also determine the way people look at a house as a whole. The garden is a key element in the overall image and it’s vital to make sure your garden gives viewers the message you wish them to receive. There are so many ways in which you can make your garden stand out amongst the rest, and a perfect way is to add features that are different and exciting. Ponds are a traditional feature that have been around for years. Many people look at ponds and instantly say no to the idea simply because they think that they are more trouble than they’re worth. What people don’t realise is that ponds are actually very useful for pest management, wildlife sanctuaries and also just look great in your garden. They’re easy to maintain and cost efficient, too. There are many different types of ponds you can choose from to ensure you get the perfect pond for your garden.

garden pond lush green and beautiful

When deciding on the type of pond you wish to go for, think about whether you want your pond to be in ground, above ground or partly in ground. Your decision should depend entirely on your garden and what will suit it best. If you have children you may also wish to consider an above ground pond, as this eliminates the risk of anybody falling in or going for a quick swim with the fish. Having an above ground pond also enables you to create your own display, you can use coloured tiles to surround the pond bed and grow plants around the area. Alternatively, if you wanted to go for an in ground or partly in ground pond you can consider the way in which you wish to display this, consider how you wish to contain, surround and line the pond. You can always make the decision that suits your garden type. There is no specific choice when it comes to the details of your pond design, which is another reason why they are so great.

Once you’ve decided on the type of pond you wish to go for, how you will line and contain it, and determined the size of the area, this will determine the wildlife that appears. Ponds are vital when it comes to wildlife, and you can guarantee that your pond will become the centre of attention for beautiful creatures like dragonflies, house martens, ducklings, frogs and more. You could have a range of beautiful fish living in your pond, to add a little excitement but also to encourage other wildlife to visit. Ensuring you feed them and maintain the water, keeping fish is a perfect way to make the most out of your pond, plus they’re like extra pets that you can keep checking on and watch, as they grow in your own garden.

When it comes to the maintenance of the pond there is little you need to do. You must ensure you keep on top of the weeds and algae; you will find most animals living in the pond will use these for hiding so be extra careful when weeding or cleaning these plants. You can use a net to remove excessive, such as leaves, dirt and dead flies. Removing the dead flies will however be done for you by certain animals living in or around the pond. For example, dragonflies and house martens will spend their time swooping down and removing the flies from the ponds surface, along with frogs and toads that will clear the water surface of any tasty little flies they can get hold of.

By Nikolaj Potanin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nikolaj Potanin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, you can consider the overall presentation of your pond. The design of a pond is important for both appearance as well as wildlife. Designing your pond to suit your home is key. You can surround your pond with shrubbery and plants to create your own little sanctuary. Growing plants around the pond may also encourage animals to create a new habitat in the plants or water surrounding. Lighting is another great feature to consider, whether you opt for in-water lighting or lights to surround the pond, they will be a huge benefit to both your gardens aesthetic as well as the nature surrounding the pond. When fitting the lights, remember to use a weatherproof junction box to ensure that you have safe fittings and the lights are protected from any weather. Lighting will add a glamorous effect and highlight your new garden feature, making it stand out and look great. Why not add other little items such as gnomes, fairy figures or magical fantasy items. These are a little bit of fun but also add character and excitement to the pond and its surroundings.

Guest blog by Jasmine Smith.


Additional posts from Frogs Are Green on Ponds:







Protect and Save Liberty State Park

When you live in a city like Jersey City, you yearn for some open space. We’re fortunate to have Liberty State Park nearby. A beautiful park where you can ride your bicycle for miles, and see nature all around, as well as majestic views of the Statue of Liberty, skyline of Manhattan, ships coming up and down the Hudson River, and breathe some fresh air.

The park is just behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, and as you ride your bicycle the views continually change, each more breathtaking than the next.

I would hate to see development that doesn’t belong there, ruin such a pristine place.

Please sign the Petition to Save Liberty State Park which will tell Governor Christie that we want our park to stay just as is, so we can continue to enjoy it freely.

Susan Newman in Liberty State Park Bicycle riding

More Details via NY/NJ Baykeeper about Liberty State Park:

The governor’s recent proposals to lease public parkland to private developers for large-scale commercial projects would destroy the beloved park behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.

With public open space already so scarce in one of the nation’s most densely populated regions, we can’t let that happen. For forty years, overwhelming public consensus has consistently rejected exactly these kinds of commercialization and privatization efforts.

There’s a reason LSP is known as “The People’s Park” – we’ve won these battles before, and we can win again. But only with your help.

Please sign the Petition to Save Liberty State Park

#SaveLSP Liberty State park aerial view with Miss Liberty

#SaveLSP – Liberty State Park aerial view with Miss Liberty courtesy of Liberty State Park.



Winners 2015 Kids Art Contest

We want to thank all of the students, parents and teachers that helped make this year’s contest so diverse! It’s always exciting to see artwork from as close as our own Jersey City and New York, and as far away as Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Latvia, China, and many other countries. We want to thank the judges and we applaud them in choosing from a field of exceptional artworks: Sam Skolnik-Mullane, Peter Thorpe, Rachel Rommel, Monique Sarfity, Mark Lerer, Caley Vickerman, Coyote Peterson, and Carmine Tabone.

All winners receive a custom certificate based on how you placed, so email us to receive yours.

And now for the winners… (wait for the page to load)

WINNERS by Age Group and Categories

Winners: Age Group – 3-6 years old

1st Place: Chan Yan Kiu Karstyn, 5 years old, Hong Kong, Arttra

2nd Place: Sophie Wang, 6 years old, Edison, NJ, USA

3rd Place: Kwan Sum Yu Rainie, 4 years old, Hong Kong, Arttra.

Honorable Mention: Sanjay Balaji, 6 years old, Sharron Art Center, NJ, USA

Honorable Mention: Vrishas Bolukonda, 4.6 years old, India
Caption:Help Me, Save Urselves; Think Green, Save Green

Honorable Mention: Soumya Sawant, 5 years old, Sharron Art Center, NJ USA


Winners: Age Group – 7-9 years old

1st Place: Kalisha Athaya Mahira, 7 years old, Indonesia

2nd Place: Worth Lodriga, 7 years old, The Phillipines

3rd Place: Stephanie Wang, 7 years old, New York, USA

Honorable Mention: Jennifer Tian, 9 years old, USA

Honorable Mention: Shristuti Srirapu, 9 years old, India
Caption: Give a helping hand to frogs

Honorable Mention: Angelina Wang, 8 years old, Edison, NJ, USA


Winners: Age Group – 10-12 years old

1st Place: Jonathan Qi, 12 years old, USA

2nd Place: Tanvi Gadre, 12 years old, India

3rd Place: Leon Ma, 10 years old, USA

Honorable Mention: Dhanvi Sayani, 10-12 years old, United Arab Emirates

Honorable Mention: Jason Kong, 10 Years Old, New York, USA

Honorable Mention: Emmi Lomakka, age 10, California, USA


Winners: Age Group 13-17 Years old

1st Place: Raisha Alifia Rahmani, 14 years old, Indonesia

2nd Place: Mohsen Abdalla 17 years old, USA, Jersey City Public Schools, Liberty High School, Art Instructor: Lisa Schwichtenberg

3rd Place: Nicole Padilla 17 years old, USA, NJ, Jersey City Public Schools, Liberty High School, Art Instructor Lisa Schwichtenberg

Honorable Mention: Jeanpierre Roa, 13-17 years, McNair Academic High School, Jersey City, Art Specialist-Scott Mallm

Honorable mention: Eanne Chiang, 14 years old, New Jersey, USA

Honorable Mention: Parth Vora, 13-17 years old, McNair Academic High School, Jersey City, Art Specialist-Scott Mallm


Best Environmental

1st Place: Mohsen Abdalla 17 years old, USA, Jersey City Public Schools, Liberty High School, Art Instructor: Lisa Schwichtenberg

2nd Place: Diego Manosalves 17 years old, USA, NJ, Jersey City Public Schools, Liberty High School, Art Instructor: Lisa Schwichtenberg

3rd Place: Kalisha Athaya Mahira, 7 years old, Malaysia

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Qi, 12 years old, USA

Honorable Mention: Nicole Padilla 17 years old, USA, NJ, Jersey City Public Schools, Liberty High School, Art Instructor Lisa Schwichtenberg


Best Black and White

1st Place: Lee Xin Yee, 11 years old, School: SJKC Sin Min A, Kedah, Malaysia

2nd Place: Zaniab Ali, 12 years old, Diana Gonzalez, Art Specialist MS#4, Jersey City, NJ

3rd Place: Darius Lim Wei Chen, 9 years old, Singapore

Honorable Mention: Parthi Jain, 7 years old, Bahrain


Best 3D Artwork

1st Place: Dhanvi Sayani, 10-12 years old, United Arab Emirates

2nd Place: Paula Nataniela Roba, 15 years old, “Proteus anguinus”

3rd Place: Seth Medina Assisted by Aida, Grade 8, PS#28, Art Teacher: Susan Ferro

Honorable Mention: Toms Laugalis, 11 years old, Latvia, “Tree frog”


Best Typographic

1st Place: Tanvi Gadre, 12 years old, India

2nd Place: Allie Kong, 8 years old, Sharron Art Center, NJ, USA

3rd Place: Ashley Ko, 7-9 years old

Honorable Mention: Manny Alvarez, 14 years old, M.S. #7, JC, NJ, USA

Honorable Mention: Nishi Patel, 12 years old, M.S. #7, Jersey City, NJ, USA, Art Teacher: Mrs. Jimenez

Honorable Mention: Lynn Sun, 7 years old, Edison, NJ, USA


Best Student / Elder Artwork Collaboration

1st Place: Arriana Rock, age 6 and Mallory Rock, age 31, Frederick, CO, USA

2nd Place: Vrishas Bolukonda (4.6 Yr) – Shalini (27 years old), A frog in the wild, India

3rd Place: Arriana Rock, age 6 and Brian Younger (Grandpa), age 65, Frederick, CO, USA


Best of Jersey City

1st Place: Mohsen Abdalla 17 years old, USA, Jersey City Public Schools, Liberty High School, Art Instructor: Lisa Schwichtenberg

2nd Place: Sylvie-Marlene Sobngwi, 13-17 years old, McNair Academic HS, JC, Art Specialist, Scott Mallm

3rd Place: Nicole Padilla 17 years old, USA, NJ, Jersey City Public Schools, Liberty High School, Art Instructor Lisa Schwichtenberg

Honorable Mention: Jeanpierre Roa, 13-17 years old, McNair Academic High School, Jersey City, Art Specialist,Scott Mallm


Best of Hong Kong

1st Place: Lau Wing Sum, 5 Years Old, School of Creativity, Hong Kong, China

2nd Place: Law Hui Laam, 5 Years Old, School of Creativity, Hong Kong, China

3rd Place: Lau Wing Kei Angel, 9 years old, Hong Kong, China

Honorable Mention: Ng Tsz Ying, 5 Years Old, Chong Hok Tong Education Center, Hong Kong, China

Honorable Mention: Bridget Liu,5 Years Old, School of Creativity, Hong Kong, China


How To Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

Teaching your kids about climate change is no easy task. A lot of parents avoid talking about it with their kids because they have no idea how to bring it up. Climate change is also scary, even for adults, so great care needs to be taken when explaining things to your little ones.

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


It’s important that they still get a realistic overview and that you are honest with your children. However, you want to spark their interest in climate change, rather than scare them. They need to know about the problems climate change causes, but you must also find a way of explaining the solutions. They need to feel like they can make a difference.

Our kids and future generations need to be taught about how they can make a difference, and just how crucial their actions will be. Obviously, the depth and complexity of your conversation will depend on the age of your child. As they get older you can discuss the more complex scientific aspects of climate change, but when they are young, you just want to gently make them aware.

There are plenty of interesting ways you can ignite your children’s interest in climate change. Learning about the challenges the world faces doesn’t have to be too serious or boring. Here are some fantastic ways of teaching your kids about climate change.
Make climate change fun with educational games, apps and websites

There are many different tools and resources that have been created specifically for kids who are interested in the environment. Climate change is easily incorporated into lots of great games for kids.

There are entire websites specifically dedicated to teaching kids about climate change, and even some apps that touch on the subject. For example, NASA’s Climate Kids, Tiki The Penguin and The Young People’s Trust for the environment. There are even Apple and Android apps that help teach kids about climate change, such as Painting with Time and Offset.

Show them climate change videos made for kids
A quick search on YouTube will provide you with plenty of videos about the environment for kids. For example, this ‘global warming for kids’ video. Videos like this explain climate change in a way that kids can easily digest and process, and they are also fun to watch. Watch the videos with your kids and then let them ask questions afterwards.

Open their minds on family days out
You can subtly bring up the topic of climate change by going on educational days out. Take your kids to wildlife parks, on nature walks and to museums (such as The Natural History Museum). All these things will get them thinking about the environment and continue their education.

Let them explore climate by through being creative
Set your kids some fun tasks that are loosely related to climate change and the environment. Once they have had an introduction to climate change, get them to try and get their thoughts down on paper. They could write a poem about climate change, or try and paint their own interpretation of climate change. You could also come up with some fun climate change related games that you can play at home as a family.

Help them understand green living
Teaching your children how to live in an eco-friendly way will help enhance their knowledge of climate change. Make sure they know how to recycle and teach them to be aware of how much energy they are using. For example, switching lights off when they are not in use and not using more water than they need.

Let them develop a passion for nature
Your children may naturally become interested in climate change if they develop a passion for nature. If they fall in love with nature and enjoy spending time in the great outdoors then they are more likely to want to help protect our planet. Take your kids out walking, camping and get them involved in gardening.

Buy them books with underlying messages
If your child likes to read then buy them some climate change-related books. For young kids, the topic of climate change can be introduced gently through reading book with underlying messages. Older kids with an interest in the topic can go into much more depth. You can buy them books that teach them about how to protect the environment and that explain the science behind climate change.

The following is a guest post from Edward Woodward. A writer and a blogger at Kedel blog.


America’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States

This post originally appeared on Modernize.com where you can find comprehensive solar information from industry experts. Frogs Are Green has permission to share this.

America's Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States

America’s energy policy has been the subject of much recent debate: From the Pope’s public advocacy of environmental stewardship to the EPA’s toughened regulations on pollution from petroleum refineries, the sources that power our society have rarely been so widely scrutinized. Once regarded as a subject best left to the energy sector, the way we fuel our economy has proven its relevance for all citizens, both in America and across the globe.

For our team at Modernize, this subject seems particularly important. We’re dedicated to providing consumers information and opportunities related to one of clean energy’s most promising technologies: solar panels. Our primary interest is in helping individual readers to find environmentally friendly solar options that generate wallet-friendly savings in the long run.

But we’re also paying attention to how whole swaths of the American energy landscape operate. That’s where our project “America’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States” comes in. If you want to know your state’s energy track record or find out which states are leading (and trailing) the push for renewables, you’re going to want to read what comes next.

Our Methodology

For this project, we went straight to the most authoritative source available on America’s energy realities. We gathered data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the federal agency responsible for tracking stats related to America’s energy production and consumption. Lucky for us, they’ve got data dating back to 1960 and as recent as 2013, so we took the long view on each state’s energy legacy. Our work engaged a range of subjects, from total energy production from renewable sources to carbon dioxide emissions over time. Take a look at what we found out:

Not Everything is Bigger in Texas…

Total Renewable Energy Production by State 1960-2013Let’s get something straight: “Renewable” energy sources run the gamut from hydropower to wind, solar, and more. The EIA includes biofuels, such as ethanol, in this category as well. That means that virtually any state can tap into renewables, though some types are more readily utilized in certain natural environments (for instance, the Midwest makes good use of its wind). But that also means oil- and coal-rich states like Texas and West Virginia have historically focused their efforts on sourcing energy from “fossil” fuels, so their output from renewables is relatively paltry.

To see each state’s exact numbers, check out the interactive map below:

And here are the top 10 producers of total energy from renewables:

Top 10 by Total Renewable Energy Production

Maybe Washington, California, and Oregon come as no surprise – we associate them with environmental concern and the geographical variety to embrace multiple renewable technologies simultaneously. But the rest of the states that top the renewables ranking embody a striking mix of size, population, political preference, and socioeconomic standing. If this ranking indicates anything, it’s that success with renewables is possible in any combination of circumstances.

Power Percentages

Now we know the score when it comes to the total volume of energy produced from renewables by state. But some states produce plenty of both, while others have pristine clean-energy records but fall short of the top 10 because their total production is too small to compete. So we also looked at how much of each state’s total energy production renewables account for – call these our Percentage Power Rankings:

Top 10 by Renewable Energy Percentage

Yes, you read that right: Rhode Island, Idaho, Hawaii, Delaware, and D.C. produce virtually all of their energy from renewable sources. Sure, that might be different if these states had been dealt a different hand in the distribution of natural resources (no one’s begging to drill outside Newport), but we can appreciate their commitment to renewable energy all the same. After all, necessity is the mother of invention – and as time goes on, more and more states may find themselves in need.

America's Dirtiest Energy States

Then there’s the cohort above, all of whom derived less than 2.5% of all the energy they produce from renewable sources from 1960–2013. The difference in reliance on renewables couldn’t be starker: Wyoming’s renewable portfolio accounts for roughly one in every 250 BTUs (British Thermal Units – oddly, no longer commonly used in the U.K.) that the state produces. Many of the constituents of this dirtiest energy ranking are too rich in coal and oil to need much in the way of renewable alternatives – but that doesn’t mean they won’t adopt more sustainable technologies in the coming years.

Pollution and Solutions

Perhaps the most concerning byproduct of fossil fuel energy production is pollution. That term covers many kinds of potentially harmful emissions, but the best-known variety is carbon dioxide. The EIA offers carbon dioxide data from 1990–2012, so we’ve tracked the worst emissions offenders over that time:

Top 10 CO2 Emitters by State

Predictably, Texas is at the top – but what about California or New York? Why do states that ranked high in renewable energy production make the list? The answer is simple: Carbon dioxide emissions aren’t just a function of energy production. It’s no accident that the top-ranked states are almost all quite populous; the more people, the more energy they consume. That translates to emissions resulting from cars, heat, and other comforts modern Americans depend upon in daily life. But don’t think emissions are an intransigent evil: Some states are making great strides.

10 Most Improved CO2 Emitters since 1990

Let’s take a moment to commend these states for what they’ve accomplished in just 22 years. New York, Michigan, and Ohio are particularly exciting cases, demonstrating that even states closely associated with major industry can reduce emissions substantially. Additionally, some of the states that ranked high in the percentage of energy generated from renewables appear on this list, making it clear that improvement can always be a priority, whatever you accomplish for the environment.

Speaking of improvement, let’s remember that your own home can contribute to the pursuit of new, clean technologies, no matter which state you live in. Whether it’s turning off the light when you walk out of a room or researching solar options that will also create savings, you can do a lot to promote a cleaner energy world. Who knows? If you and enough of your neighbors make the right choices, your state might just jump up on our cleanest states ranking!



Green Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Germ-Free

Guest blog by Bryn Huntpalmer

Going green and eliminating germs is easier said than done, and you’re not alone if you feel like the majority of kitchen cleaners on store shelves contain harsh chemicals that are anything but environmentally-friendly. A few years ago, I decided to ditch the bleach and keep my kitchen clean with all-natural cleaners, and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s how to do it:


Clean with Natural or Non-toxic Cleaning Materials

Dishes, countertops, appliances, and any place that has seen a piece of raw meat needs cleaning and disinfecting. You can use natural materials to create cleaning products for any situation.

The basic ingredients for almost any type of non-toxic disinfectant are:

  • Vinegar
  • Lemon
  • Baking Soda
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Tea Tree, Orange, and Neem Oils
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract

Clean the refrigerator and countertops with baking soda. About a quart of warm water and a couple tablespoons of baking soda will give you a solution you can use to effectively clean quite a few things. Baking soda is actually a versatile substance. You can also use it to make a paste that can lift stains off cups and pans. Even better, when you’re done with the baking soda, you can pour it down the kitchen drain. It can help to get rid of and keep away bad drain odors.

Let your disposal unit grind down a lemon. Really, you can use any kind of citrus rind or peel to freshen the unit. You can also throw in some vinegar or baking soda (or both). Tossing in a few ice cubes can also help knock some debris off the disposal’s blade.

Add vinegar to the dish soap. You don’t need that fancy, overpriced dish soap. Get the cheapest brand you can find and simply add in a little vinegar (the ratio should be 10:1, with that smallest amount being vinegar). Vinegar cuts grease. And that’s just one of the things it does. Vinegar is really a miracle cleaner for your kitchen. For instance, you can clean your kitchen windows with vinegar. Just mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

Clean and freshen food prep areas. In a spray bottle, combine half a cup of white vinegar, 3 cups of water, and 10 drops of tea tree oil. Use this mixture to clean cutting boards, sinks, countertops, and other hard surfaces.

With these basic ingredients, there are almost an unlimited number of cleaning and disinfecting solutions you can make. You can use them in every part of your kitchen and all over the house. Just search for cleaning recipes involving any one of the listed things.

Even the solutions listed here aren’t the only way to accomplish any particular task. By cutting out the use of hazardous, chemical-based cleaners, you will make your kitchen clean, safe, and definitely green.

For more home tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com.