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Archives for May 6, 2013

Home, Garden show gives tips to fix up home

ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Part of spring cleaning is finding ways to spruce up a home.

Exhibitors at the Home and Garden show at the Onalaska Omni Center hoped to help with just that.

The three-day expo presented ideas for fixing, remodeling and landscaping a home, with some of this year’s exhibits focused on ways to make the home more energy efficient.

“Whether it’s in remodeling their home or just doing some landscaping, maybe they’re just looking to find things that will make it more energy efficient, it’s a great place to come find some professionals to help you through whatever project you have going on now or in the future,” said Justin Snyder, chair of the Home and Garden Show.

The show – hosted by the La Crosse Area Business Association – ended Sunday afternoon.

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Downtown: Bold ideas for Concord’s backside

A “Hollywood-like” sign that says “Concord.” A bridge across Interstate 93 and the Merrimack River that connects downtown with the Gully Hill conservation land. A replica of the Old Man of the Mountain, made from recycled material and displayed as public art.

These ideas were among those brainstormed last week to improve the backside of Concord. More than 50 people attended the charrette, hosted by the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.

The result: A long list of creative ways to improve the city’s appearance, add public art or guide visitors to Concord’s best attractions. Some of them could come to fruition as the “Concord’s New Front Door” initiative moves forward.

Participants agreed that motorists passing by on I-93 don’t necessarily learn what downtown Concord has to offer. Once visitors get off the highway, it isn’t always clear how to reach downtown attractions.

“We could make a better impression than we do,” Chris Carley told those

assembled at the Grappone Conference Center on Wednesday night.

Carley, a local architect, is leading the initiative. No ideas were ruled out at last week’s meeting; Carley said he’s still “digesting” the information. His committee will meet this week to organize the ideas and choose some to present at a second meeting.

“People can have a chance to critique and compare,” he said. “And generally, we can get an impression of what ideas seem to be appealing, and what don’t.”

At the beginning of the meeting, City Planner Gloria McPherson provided a series of photos for “inspiration.” After seeing cities around the world, participants went to work in five small groups, scribbling ideas on large sheets of paper and drawing plans on a map of Concord.

They wanted archways to bring people into the downtown area, signs informing visitors of Concord’s attractions and flags or banners near exits 13 and 14. One group decided Concord lacked a “unifying theme.”

Some ideas were bold, such as rebuilding the old Boston Main Railroad Station. One group suggested building a canal to channel the Merrimack River into Terrill Park near Exit 13. That design has similarities to a 1996 study that proposed a canal on Storrs Street. McPherson presented images from that study at the start of last week’s event.

Other proposals focused on public art: Paint a mural on the back of the Capitol Shopping Center, or paint bright colors on the unsightly power substation behind the Ralph Pill Marketplace building.

Each of the five small groups suggested a focus on landscaping. The city could quickly improve its appearance from the highway with flowers or trees, they agreed. One group sketched a redesigned bridge connecting Exit 14 with Main Street. It had a green median strip and fewer traffic lanes.

Moving forward, Concord’s New Front Door will also have to coordinate with property owners and city officials.

Carley said the group’s next meeting isn’t scheduled yet, but he’s hoping to present ideas and receive feedback later this month or early in June.

Coffee in Chichester

Custom Kups has a new location.

Owner Tabatha Tobey is closing her North Main Street storefront May 25 and will reopen at the Chichester Commons shopping plaza on Route 4.

The North Main Street shop opened in 2011 to sell K-cups, or single-serve pods of coffee and teas for Keurig machines.

Tobey announced last month that she’s leaving Main Street because she isn’t getting enough business. Last week, she said she’s looking forward to the new location and plans to expand her K-cup selection.

There’s plenty of free parking, Tobey added, and she hopes customers will make the trip to her new store at 114 Dover Road.

“We truly value the loyalty that we have gotten over the last two years,” Tobey said.

Cleanup for canines

Robert Forsythe takes his dog to the Concord Dog Park in Terrill Park every day. But he and other dog park users have noticed the area isn’t always clean. So he’s asking other dog owners to join him Saturday to help clean up.

There’s an overflowing trash bin for dog waste, he said, and there is trash in the park and nearby parking lot.

“It’s gotten really messy,” he said.

Forsythe said he’ll bring his dog Mason, a beagle mix, with him. He hopes to meet other people and dogs at the park at 1 p.m.

Bark in the Park

A second event will be held for Concord’s canines on Saturday.

“Bark in the Park” in White Park is a fundraiser to bring a K-9 program to the Concord Police Department. The day will include demonstrations, competitions and educational offerings for dogs and their human companions, organizer Kim Murdoch said in a release.

Tickets will be sold on site for each booth or event, Murdoch said. For $25, dogs and their owners can participate in unlimited activities.

Murdoch is board chairwoman of the Concord Public Safety Foundation, the nonprofit that’s leading the event in hopes of getting a police dog for Concord. The department used to have its own dog, but the program was cut in 2006.

Police Chief John Duval told the Monitor in December that he wasn’t focusing on a police dog program, while Murdoch said she’s been talking with the police about it for several years.

Saturday’s event will be held in White Park from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Awards announced

The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce announced its annual Pinnacle Award winners last week.

Red River Theatres won nonprofit of the year, according to a release from the chamber of commerce. Maria White, executive director of the New Hampshire Red Cross, which is based in Concord, won business leader of the year. Grappone Automotive Group of Bow is the business of the year, while Irish Electric Corp. of Hopkinton is the small business of the year.

The awards will be presented May 24. A volunteer of the year will also be awarded that day, though its recipient will not be revealed until the luncheon event.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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Bloomin’ Zoo Garden fest hands out landscaping ideas


Over a thousand people went to Mesker Park Zoo this weekend for the annual Bloomin’ Zoo Garden festival. 

“Everybody likes to do their own landscape, so we like to give them good options here for in our climate. We’re growing a lot more heat-tolerant plants and it’s great to come out to the zoo and get ideas for your own landscape,” said Paul Bouseman, the Botanical Curator at Mesker Park Zoo. 

This marks the 12th year for the event.

Copyright 2013 WFIE. All rights reserved. 


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MulchWorx dyeing for landscaping season

If you’re ready to spruce up your landscaping with new mulch, one place to consider obtaining it is MulchWorx, 4430 E. Washington Blvd., just east of the Coliseum Boulevard cloverleaf. Its sales lot has mountains of rough mulch waiting to be ground and dyed and huge piles of natural mulch already dyed red, black and brown, ready for spreading.

Customers can pull in for a pickup-, dump truck or trailer load. They can get a couple garbage cans full, or MulchWorx will deliver. Pricing is based on per cubic yard, distance, taxes and prevailing diesel rates.

Until a couple years ago Gary Morrical’s MulchWorx firm was one of nearly 80 firms doing residential and commercial landscaping in the Fort Wayne area. Like most of the others, when mulch was required he purchased it, picked it up from the producer, delivered it to his job site and spread it around trees, bushes and flower beds.

Today his company still does residential and commercial landscaping, design and mowing, but he’s taken it to the next level. Now he’s a mulch manufacturer and mulch distributor throughout the Fort Wayne area, across Indiana and to neighboring states as well.

What makes MulchWorx unique and popular with other landscapers is its two, 50-yard-capacity blower trucks. His three-man crews can blow in more mulch in two hours than it would take a much larger crew pushing wheelbarrows a day or more. According to Tevell Brown, MulchWorx sales manager, “economically it makes sense for them to have us distribute the mulch than to pay a large crew for a whole day. On top of that,” he added, “these specialized trucks can blow sand for beaches, gravel for driveways, compost for gardens and even river rock. They were used once to blow grain into a warehouse in Kansas.”

Morrical, who purchased MulchWorx in 2006 from Eric and Jacy Holsworth (Jacy is now the MulchWorx office manager), had big plans for the firm from the start. “I felt we could grow quicker if we could become manufacturer of the product instead of a purchaser or middle-man. One of the main reasons to start manufacturing was that we already had the blower trucks. Our goal is not to be the biggest, but to be the best in our niche which is quick installation with our blower trucks.

“Hardest part of expanding into manufacturing was raising the capital to purchase the big combination grinder/dying machine, several front-end loaders and finding a suitable property to set up shop. This three-acre lot on East Washington Boulevard, which we got a year-and-a-half ago, is perfect for us,” he added.

“The learning curve on the grinder/dying machine was tricky,” he says, “but we’ve got it down now and have eliminated mistakes we made at the beginning. We buy 50-gallon drums of red, black, brown and dark brown dye by the truck load. Dye is first measured into the machine. Then we feed in rough mulch that is ground to a nice, fine landscaping size and it comes out the other end in rich colors.”

The two big storms last year practically inundated them with downed trees and limbs brought in by city trucks, contractors and individuals. So much arrived that they had to turn trucks away and then quit accepting it altogether in order to remain within fire codes. Crews worked a lot of overtime and used up a lot of diesel fuel to grind incoming logs and make way for more. On the other side of the coin, MulchWorx gained enough wood to last for a long time and produce a lot of mulch. It still accepts already ground material from companies that do clearing work for the power company or residential tree jobs. There is a small fee for dropping off logs.

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Grants Available for Water-Friendly Landscaping Projects

As property owners make plans for their gardens and landscaping this spring, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) is offering a helping hand. The MCWD Cost Share program is offering grants to those who want to help protect clean water by installing raingardens, shoreline or streambank plantings, pervious concrete driveways or other stormwater best management practices (BMPs).

Grants are available to any public or private property located within the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, including residential homes, apartments, businesses, schools or cities. The deadline for most residential projects is May 31.

Polluted stormwater runoff is the biggest threat to water quality across the state and nation. In a natural environment, most rainwater soaks into the ground or is captured by trees or other plants.  

But in developed areas, rainwater runs off roads, parking lots and rooftops and carries dirt, fertilizer, pesticides and other harmful material into lakes, streams and wetlands. The poor water quality that results affects recreation, fish and wildlife, and reduces property values.

“In a sense all landowners have waterfront property, even if they don’t live on a water body,” said Joe Barten, MCWD Cost Share Specialist. “You can do your part to prevent polluted rainwater from entering local lakes and streams. We’re hoping these grants are an incentive to take action.”

The MCWD’s Cost Share programs help property owners make improvements that prevent runoff from occurring. Raingardens are bowl-shaped gardens that collect rainwater and infiltrate it into the ground. Because they typically involve native plants, they require minimal maintenance and beautify the landscape. Pervious pavement allows rainwater to pass through the material and into a drainage system below.

Native shoreline/streambank plantings filter and absorb polluted runoff, prevent erosion by anchoring the soil, deter geese and enhance your yard’s appearance.

The grants can pay for up to 50 percent of these projects, with certain funding limits.

To learn more about the options or to apply for a grant, visit or contact MCWD Cost Share Specialist Joe Barten at 952-641-4523 or

Headquartered in Deephaven, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District covers approximately 181 square miles, including Minnehaha Creek, Lake Minnetonka, the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and Minnehaha Falls.

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Sustainable landscaping is eco-friendly and less work

Landscaping provides people with a huge array of benefits from shade to rainwater absorption to the prevention of soil erosion and beautification.

But it delivers the maximum number of benefits to humankind and the planet when it is designed in such a way that it works with nature, instead of against it.

“It is a big waste when we spend lots of time, effort and money to keep something alive and then it dies anyway,” explained Mike Curry, adjunct professor with the horticulture department at the College of DuPage.

“We lose the potential for ecosystem and other benefits from landscaping when it does not grow to the correct size or does not survive at all,” he said. “That is why those of us invested in sustainable landscaping believe in putting the right plant in the right place so that no one has to put lots of energy, effort and inputs like water, fertilizer and insecticides into keeping it alive.”

Over the past five years, interest in creating landscaping that does not harm the environment or that enhances it by helping the ground absorb rainwater has skyrocketed among members of the public and landscape professionals, according to Curry.

Curry teaches his students at the College of DuPage about sustainable landscape techniques ranging from the use of rain gardens and rain barrels, to green infrastructure design, the use of permeable pavers, bio-retention design, construction of green roofs and beyond.

“The state of the landscaping industry has changed dramatically since I studied plant horticulture as an undergraduate in the 1970s,” he stated. “We knew then that much of what we were doing was detrimental to the environment, but there weren’t a lot of options. Since then, the manufacturers have been coming out with more products that allow us to create and maintain sustainable landscapes. That has made a huge difference in the industry.”

Curry should know. He also works in sales and marketing at Midwest Trading Horticultural Supplies of St. Charles and Virgil, which is a horticultural hardgoods supplier that specializes in “non-plant” landscape supplies, such as mulches, composts, structural soil, nursery containers, aquatic supplies, tools and growing media for landscapes, nurseries and rooftops.

Curry also is president-elect of the Midwest Ecological Landscape Alliance (MELA), a movement dedicated to creating, restoring and preserving sustainable landscapes through education, collaboration and networking. Its vision is to transform the green industry so that sustainable design, materials and methods are the professional standard.

Today, homeowners and those who manage large commercial properties can purchase irrigation controllers with smart technology tied to a weather station so that sprinklers do not go off when Mother Nature has already supplied needed moisture.

In addition, nutrient levels in fertilizers have been reduced so that they don’t run off lawns and into estuaries, fostering the growth of algae which smothers fish. Curry even instructs his students to do soil tests before putting chemicals on a property so that they can potentially cut back on the chemicals used.

“Everything in the ecosystem is tied together,” Curry explained. “You want to minimize the fossil fuels used for landscape maintenance, as well as the labor, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and even water that you use.”

Stormwater should be managed on your property, as well, Curry advised. It should be encouraged to penetrate the ground through rain gardens and permeable pavers, to recharge the water table, instead of diverting it into storm sewers.

“Using plants that are native to this area in your landscape also helps this process because they have deep root systems which help open the ground for more water penetration,” he said.

Keep in mind, he added, that many perennials naturally tend to grow in groupings or communities and therefore, survive better that way. So those who are planting perennials should try to imitate nature and plant their perennials in this same kind of grouping, wherever possible.

Jean Bragdon, operations manager of Lurvey’s Garden Center in Des Plaines, offers a great variety of the plants Curry advocates using, many of which are either native to the Chicago area or are well-suited to our climate and need little tending.

“We are not here to change people’s thinking about their landscaping, but we will help them be responsible and green if they choose to be,” Bragdon, a past president of MELA, explained.

To assist homeowners, Lurvey’s offers handouts and website information ( about suggested plants for different situations, those that “like wet feet,” for instance, versus those that are drought-tolerant.

They also sell many green products ranging from fertilizers that are pet and child-safe, to pavers made of 75 percent reclaimed materials, to tree gators which gather rain water and use it later to water the tree.

“We don’t install these products but offer them to those who want to do it themselves or hire a contractor to do it for them,” Bragdon said. “We tell our customers to look at the whole picture, study the products and plants available and then make their plans.”

She suggests that wise homeowners who cannot afford to execute an entire plan at once plant trees and other large items first, so they can begin to grow and shade their house. Then they should progressively add in the smaller items until the entire plan has been installed.

And if they think that native plants look too weedy for their tastes, consider the many other plants available which are well adapted to the Chicago area and don’t need much attention, such as like Knock Out roses and hydrangeas.

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Gardening Tips, River Cleanup and More: Local Voices


A little bit of New Orleans in Oak Park: Apartment gardening can be so challenging. Sadly we have almost no gardening space. Happily, we do have a small front terrace and a balcony in the back of our second story apartment perfect for my little New Orleans fix up! 

Vehicle sticker sales begin in May: Every Oak Park resident who owns or leases a vehicle is required to purchase and display a Village sticker annually by July 15. Anyone who misses the deadline must pay a $20 late fee in addition to the cost of the sticker.

Grow Your Garden, Not Your Pain: When people think of strenuous physical activity, they likely think of hitting the gym, running a few miles, playing a pickup game of their favorite sport. They likely don’t think of landscaping, planting, weeding and all other parts of the gardening world. And although gardening may be no half marathon or championship game, it can certainly take a physical toll on your body.

BHG/Gloor Realty Condo Extravaganza!: Shamar Lott Milos Kaplarevic are the winners of the April 17th Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gloor Realty Condo Extravaganza Open House. They visited 3 of the 9 condos open. 

Broker Associates at RE/MAX in the Village, Realtors, Oak Park, Saluted for 2012 Success: Broker associates at RE/MAX in the Village, Realtors, 189 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, Ill., recently received special recognition from the RE/MAX Northern Illinois region for their sales success in 2012.  They have been named to membership in one of five honorary clubs, each recognizing an important level of achievement in sales production.

2013 Des Plaines River Clean Up: We had another successful Des Plaines River Clean Up this year.  Thanks to our 60 volunteers we cleaned up 180 pounds of trash!

Oak Park Resident To Be Honored By Voices Against Brain Cancer: This year’s honorees have been chosen for their continued efforts to help raise brain cancer and brain tumor awareness – among them is Oak Park resident Dr. William Barrows. He and his wife Donna are long standing members of the suburban Illinois community. They have three adult sons. Now at age 59, Bill has practiced pediatrics in Chicago for 30 years. Bill was diagnosed with brain cancer in August, 2011. 

Are you interested in sharing your knowledge, community news, organization updates accomplishments, advice, photo galleries, or anything else with our Patch readers? It’s free and simple to post in Patch Local Voices here: Forest Park / Oak Park-River Forest. (Posts can also be cross-published to both sites.)

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Home & Garden: Tips for making dishwasher, drain work betterPublished May 5 …

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Lawn and garden tips from Home Depot – WLUK Fox 11

TOWN OF HARRISON – The birds are chirping, the grass is green and many people are thinking of lawn and garden care!

FOX 11’s Emily Deem spent Sunday morning outside doing some yard work!

Mike Hesler with The Home Depot joined Emily on Good Day Wisconsin to share some great lawn and garden tips.

To find a Home Depot store near you click here.

Click on the video to the left for Emily’s Good Day Wisconsin lives.

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Made in the shade (or sun): Green Scene garden designs use hostas, low-water …

Many plants went into winter feeling the stress of drought conditions. In spite of late-season waterings, chanted incantations (“live, live, live!”) and crossed fingers, warmer weather has revealed some winter kill or damage to perennials, shrubs and trees, especially arborvitae. And I’m still cursing the bunnies who chomped two new spireas into toothpicks.

Hostas, though, just keep coming back. Like lilac bushes, you can’t kill ’em with a stick. These herbaceous perennials are highly prized for their foliage, the sheer number of color, leaf shape and texture variations, and low-maintenance behavior.

Nine new varieties will be available at Green Scene’s 37th annual Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in the garden building on the National Cattle Congress grounds. They include “Afterglow” featuring large heart-shaped leaves with wide yellow margins in an upright mound; “Andrew,” a unique tri-color hosta with puckered, folded and ruffled leaves; and “Golden Needles,” a mini with yellow leaves streaked in green.

At least 30 named varieties (and countless bags o’nameless hostas) will be sold at the sale, making choices tough. Green Scene has made it easier with a hosta-filled shade garden design. In addition, members have created a low-water garden design for plants better able to handle drought. All varieties will be at the plant sale.

Hosta-filled Shade Garden (newer varieties)

A. Astilbe “Sprite” — Dwarf, shell pink plumes

B. Hosta “Ice Follies” — Dark green, creamy-white margins

C. Hosta “First Frost” — Blue-green, gold margin that turns white

D. Hosta “Dreamweaver” — Corrugated leaves, contrasting white centers

E. Hosta “Captain Kirk” — Splashy gold, green edges

F. Hosta “Devil’s Advocate” — Heart-shaped, tall and upright

Note: Plant in multiples to fill space.

Hosta-filled Shade Garden

(traditional varieties)

A. Heuchera “Palace Purple” — Purple-leafed coral bells

B. Hosta “Antioch” — Green white margins

C. Hosta “Halcyon” — Among best blue hosta cultivars

D. Hosta “Tokudama Aureonebulosa” — Chartreuse in spring, blue-green margin

E. Hosta “Paul’s Glory” — Blue-green margins, chartreuse centers

F. Hosta “Undulata” — Wavy leaves, twisted at the tips.

Note: Plant in multiples to fill space.

Low-Water Garden

A. Snow-in-summer

B. Ice Plant “Fire Spinner”

C. Sedum “Autumn Joy”

D. Miscanthus sinensis “Morning Light”

E. Liatrus “Squarrosa”

F. Ratibida or Mexican Hat, red variety

G. Gaillardia “Arizona Apricot”

H. Geum “Prairie Smoke”

I. Lady’s mantle

J. Dead Nettle “Chequers”

K. Penstemon “Silverton”

L. Sedum “Frosty Morn”

M. Coneflower “Pow Wow Wild Berry”

N. Aster “Woods ink”

0. Lamb’s ear “Fuzzy Wuzzy”

Note: Plant in multiples to fill space

Hosta tips

— Hostas grow in well-drained, average soil enriched with organic matter.

— Apply a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer at half the rate in spring. Stop fertilizing after mid-summer or growth will be soft and vulnerable to disease, slugs and snails.

— Water an inch per week, more if the weather is scorching, at base and around plants.

— Plant, transplant or divide in early fall or spring before leaves unfold. Keep plant and roots moist. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 1 1/2 times as wide as its diameter. The crown should be planted at soil level. Water at least 1 gallon a day until plants are established.

Tips for low-water gardening

— Choose drought-tolerant and/or native plants that thrive in low-water conditions.

— Water until plants are established for first two years. Eventually plants can rely on rainfall, with supplemental watering as needed.

— Incorporate organic matter into soil for water retention. Water deeply and infrequently to force plants to root deeply.

— Mulch with a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch.

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