Robin Trott, U of M Extension Educator
If you are a gardener or are interested in lawns and landscapes, local foods, fruits and vegetables, water quality, invasive species, integrated pest management or trees and flowers, we want to hear from you.
Spring is officially here. Snow is melting, and our lawns are reappearing. However, you may find some surprises in your lawn as the snow recedes. First instinct may be to take advantage of the warm spring days and start your yard work, but doing work too early could cause more harm than good. Lawn care should not begin until the ground has firmed up and the soil is no longer cold and muddy. Raking too early may cause damage in two ways: the first is by uprooting many healthy grass plants, and the second is compacting the soil simply by walking on it.
Flowers add so much variety to the landscape, and come in so many beautiful colors, it is sometimes hard to decide what to grow. Do you want annuals or perennials? A particular color scheme or a patchwork of color? Too many choices, too little time; yet there's always room for one more! Peonies are one of our best flowering herbaceous perennials. They typically come in red, maroon, pink, white, coral and yellow, and grow three- to four-feet tall with a round shape and lustrous, dark green foliage.
What are nature-loving gardeners to do when voles, woodchucks, squirrels, gophers, rabbits, moles and other furry little mammals wreak havoc in our gardens? Start by identifying the creature that is causing the damage and then learn a little about the habits of that animal. This knowledge is essential for putting together an effective solution. Make your garden less attractive to wildlife by eliminating hiding or nesting areas, such as brush piles and tall grass. Seal off access to crawl spaces beneath your porch or deck.
Native plants are increasingly used for gardening, landscaping, and restoring and reclaiming native plant communities. They can provide natural beauty, cost-effective landscaping alternatives, environmental services, and habitat for wildlife. Native plants work well for many landscaping and wildlife habitat plantings, because once established they seldom need watering, mulching, protection from frost or continuous mowing. Native plants produce nectar, pollen, and seeds that serve as food for native birds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife.
Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and although chocolate is a great gift, flowers are just as enjoyable, don't add calories and may last longer. If your Valentine gives you fresh-cut flowers, you will want to keep them beautiful for as long as possible. The lifespan of flowers is most affected by lack of water for the stem, foliage and flowers. Loss of water may occur due to low humidity, high temperature and air circulation. The end of the stem can also become plugged with air or bacteria, preventing enough water from being taken up by the stem to supply the top.
Is it time to prune? How should I prune? What should I prune? So many questions surround the task of landscape pruning. For many trees and shrubs late winter-early spring is the perfect time to prune them, but this isn't the time for all species.
Mother Nature has provided us with a blanket of beautiful white snow, but something breaking up that monotone color pallet is lingering winter berries from some of the trees, shrubs and vines in our landscape.
As we finish cleaning up all the wrapping paper, send visiting family on their way and begin to put away the Christmas decorations, it is important to know all your options for disposing of your real Christmas tree. One option would be to simply put the tree outside once it is undecorated and all the hooks, lights and tinsel are removed. This provides a bird sanctuary, especially for those of you who have bird feeders in the area. The tree itself can become a bird feeder by placing fresh orange slices or strings of popcorn on the branches.
Decorating for the winter season can go in many different directions: blown-up snowmen, holiday lights, garland, wreaths and more. One option is using what is called NTFP, or non-timber forest products. Mother Nature provides so many beautiful items that can be harvested and used in our outdoor and indoor décor. The list of NTFP will vary depending on the availability and natural living things in your area.