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Archives for April 22, 2014

Rhyl: A masterplan to rejuvenate the seaside resort


A national fast food chain, bike hire shop, cafe, hotel and family pub are all getting set to come to Rhyl as a masterplan for the resort begins to take shape.

A proposal for a kite surfing school has also got the go-ahead and virtual designs have been unveiled for a new community green space.

Hundreds of jobs and training opportunities are expected to be created as part of the Rhyl Going Forward Programme.

Here we highlight 12 key regeneration plans for the town.

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1 Sun Centre

Closure-hit Rhyl Sun Centre was handed back to Denbighshire Council earlier this year after operators Clwyd Leisure went bust.

Since then, discussions have been held regarding the future of the iconic attraction and whether it could be reinstated as a water facility.

In recent weeks, council officers have met with developers who are keen to transform it into an indoor adventure activity centre.

Water park magnate and multimillionaire Mo Chaudry also visited the site along with his operational team to see if it is saveable, concluding that there was “no reason why the Sun Centre can’t be brought into the 21st century”.

Denbighshire Council say they are open to negotiations with interested parties. The local authority had initially intended to demolish it to make way for a multi-million pound aquatic centre further along the promenade.

At this stage, officers say they will consider a business case for both development opportunities.

2 Honey Club site

The former Honey Club has been demolished and a wrecking ball is set to swing into action on the burnt-out arcade next door to make way for a new 70-bedroom hotel and restaurant.

The council is working on the scheme with development partner Chesham Estates, and hotel chain Premier Inn are earmarked for the site – subject to contract.

Designs have already been drawn up and include a Brewers Fayre restaurant taking up the entire ground floor. The plans are expected to be submitted by the end of May with a view to construction starting this summer.

The move will create local jobs and training opportunities.

3 Leisure Zone

Authorisation has been granted for council officers to conduct an expression of interest exercise for the facilities along the Rhyl coastal strip, including the Children’s Village and Sky Tower.

Further talks about the proposed aquatic centre, earmarked for the existing skate park site on West Parade, will also happen during the summer with ideas for a 50 metre Olympic-sized pool ditched in favour of a 25m pool.

There are still aspirations to retain the Sky Tower and find alternative uses for it. Ideas already put forward include turning it into an “adrenaline ride”, an “interactive urban art feature” or a climbing tower.

National food chains are also being approached to take up occupancy at the Children’s Village.

Earlier this year, Tom Booty, Denbighshire Council’s economic and business development manager, said: “The council doesn’t have the money to build a new aquatic centre. But we are going to have discussions with the Welsh Government to see what level they might able to support that proposal. We are also going out to the market on a wider offer that will include the Children’s Village to see whether there’s some kind of partnership agreement we can get into with the private sector.”

4 West Residential Area

All eyesores and single bedsits have now been acquired by compulsory purchase order to make way for a £1.5m community green space. More than 40 buildings and houses of multiple occupation on Aquarium Street and Gronant Street have been knocked down and new family housing has been developed under the partnership between the council, Welsh Government, and Clwyd Alyn Housing Association.

The scheme, which has been referred to as a “neighbourhood park”, will be multifunctional, incorporating hard and soft landscaping, street furniture, lighting and CCTV.

Demolition of the green space area will be completed by the end of this month with bulldozing of the surrounding areas set to be finished by mid-May. The final submission for the construction of the green space is with the planning department, with a decision expected next month.

Subject to approval, construction of the park is set to start in July with a view to finishing the project by March next year, making an “informal space” where community events will be held.

Aquarium Street and Gronant Street will become one-way around the 100m long and 50m wide park.

More than 100 residents have been re-homed within the West Rhyl area, and historic properties or those located within conservation areas have been transformed into family homes.

The overall redevelopment scheme for West Rhyl has benefited from £23m worth of public investment.

Meanwhile, the vacant site on the corner of John Street and West Parade, which is owned by the Welsh Government, is up for offer and expressions of interest are to be requested at the end of this month.

Potential investors are being invited to submit proposals by June/July for a mixed use development which could include offices, retail or housing.

5 Marine Lake

A leisure operator pulled the plug on proposals for a cable-ski attraction on Marine Lake but planning consent still remains.

It is hoped the man-made reservoir will create more “open-air experiences” for tourists and clubs, and there has been interest in resurrecting the idea to tow wakeboarders and water skiers.

The swimming leg of Denbighshire’s first triathlon event was held at the lake last year and a second event will take place this summer.

6 Ocean Plaza

Twice-downsized plans for the derelict Ocean Plaza funfair site went on display in February. Scarborough Development Group have submitted an outline planning application with a revised retail and restaurant proposal.

Reasons cited by the company for the scale-back included the failure to reach an agreement with Denbighshire Council over the land transfer, as well as flooding issues that prevented them from building houses there as planned.

So what started out as an £85m plan in 2010 has since plummeted to £30m, with the new offer including a hotel, cafe, restaurant, pub, supermarket and shops – creating around 300 jobs. The plan also removes a chunk of land that was the former council car park site.

The commercial element of the plan is the same as it was in 2012 – a pub, 60-bed hotel, food retail and non-food retail. Retailers haven’t yet given any guarantees and won’t do so without valid planning permission, but developers say the pub and hotel operator are still on board.

If plans are approved, it is unlikely work will start this year due to lengthy planning and legal processes.

Rhyl funfair was demolished to make way for Ocean Plaza in 2007 but the site has lain empty ever since.

Meanwhile, Denbighshire Council have taken back the car park which is now open and free to visitors of the nearby harbour.

7 Foryd Harbour

Pont y Ddraig, the bridge which spans 80m over the River Clwyd, is now operational, linking to a network of new walking and cycling routes between Rhyl’s regeneration area and Kinmel Bay. Part of the £10m harbour regeneration plan, the new quayside building is about to be handed over to Better Bikes bike hire and cafe company Co-options. The facilities are set to be open in time for the Queen’s Baton Relay event at the end of May.

The development also incorporates a public square creating a “hub” for the harbour, surrounding dunes and beach areas as well as new quay walls with pontoon facilities and a full size slipway, together with a mooring pontoon in the channel for an additional 10 boats.

Pont y Ddraig (Dragon’s Bridge) closes the gap on 15 miles of traffic-free cycling across Conwy and Denbighshire. Earlier this year, work was delayed after 200m of copper cable was stolen from the site.#

8 Coastal defences

Coastal defence works have been carried out east of the harbour on the Denbighshire side of the river and a further phase of works is expected to take place towards Drift Park.

Construction is set to begin later this year and when finished will make the promenade area wider.

9 Hovercraft plans

Meanwhile, council officers have been in discussions with two interested parties keen to operate a hovercraft service linking Rhyl to the Wirral and Liverpool. Coastal team leader Mark Dixon said: “We have all the licences in place if either company wants to operate. We are waiting to hear from them but we are ready and willing to accommodate them.”

10 Kite surfing school

Elsewhere along the promenade, plans have been approved to transform a toilet block into a kite surfing school.

The loos to the rear of an ice cream kiosk on East Parade will become an office as well as training, changing and drying facilities for the town’s Pro-Kite Surfing School and Club.

11 Gateway to Rhyl

And the gateway into Rhyl via the train and bus stations has also seen improvement with the train station itself set for a facelift with an improved waiting area and toilets. 

Nearby, the derelict Bee and Station Hotel has been transformed into offices and is also home to a LEGO Education Innovation Studio which teaches children technology, maths and engineering skills.

Talks are also in place with a national fast food chain to take over the former Costigan’s bar.

12 Rhyl High Street

In the High Street, plans are in the pipeline to make environmental improvements for pedestrians. Schemes are in place to encourage young people to open businesses in light of high street names MS and Next moving out of the town. A footfall camera outside PoundLand recorded a 35% increase on last year.

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UC Merced celebrates conservation on Earth Day – Merced Sun

Whether it’s starting a composting pile in the backyard, thinking up ways to recycle or cutting back on watering the lawn, there is no shortage of ways for residents to participate in Earth Day.

Earth Day is essentially a celebration of the planet that highlights ways to treat it better.

UC Merced’s Earth Day events, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the 5200 Lake Road campus, is one place to find some ideas.

Composting, for example, might sound like a complicated process, but each homeowner can decide how much he or she wants to do, said Matt Hirota, waste reduction and recycle coordinator for the university.

Hirota is known as the “go-to guy” for conservation at UC Merced. About half of the university’s waste is compostible, Hirota said. City residents can make it as easy or intricate as they like.

Composting can include worms that break down food waste or can be as simple as a pile of grass and leaves. For more on composting, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website,

UC Merced’s Earth Day is aimed primarily at students, but Merced residents are welcome. The day offers a carnival-like atmosphere, along with important conservation information and tips.

Some of those tips will include simple changes that can help conserve water. David Doll, a farm adviser from the University of California Cooperative Extension, said reducing the amount of time a lawn is watered is a start. The greatest water savings will come from residents fixing broken sprinklers and assessing if they allow their sprinklers to run too long, he said.

Doll, who specializes in master gardening, said grass can use more water than most agricultural crops in a year, including almonds, walnuts and tomatoes. That is mainly because grass is photosynthesizing all year.

Lawns can withstand the water reduction and stay green, Doll said, and generally need just five to 15 minutes of sprinkling. Most people water excessively, he added, and any water that runs into the gutter is wasted.

A simple test for excessive watering, he said, is pinching soil between the thumb and index finger. If the dirt crumbles and falls away, it needs water, but if it forms into a ribbon one-inch wide or longer, it can go another day or two without water.

Doll also recommended residents consider xeriscaping, a type of landscaping that uses little or no water. He said xeriscaping is not “all or nothing,” that residents can take on as little or as much of the yard as they like.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or

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Learn About Landscaping With Native Plants at LBIF Science Saturday

For those replanting after Superstorm Sandy or seeking ideas for a more sustainable landscape, hardy indigenous plants are a great idea. On April 26, learn more about natives at this season’s last Science Saturday lecture, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences.

Karen Walzer, public outreach coordinator for the Barnegat Bay Partnership, will discuss “the advantages of these beautiful, easy-care plants; how they are used in both formal and informal landscapes; and where to find local suppliers,” as LBIF Public Programs Coordinator Amy Carreño explained.

In addition, said Carreño, Walzer will explain how native plants can help filter pollutants from our water and improve water quality in the Barnegat Bay.”

Admission is free for Foundation members. A $5 donation per person is requested from all other attendees.

Breakfast will be provided by Little Bite of Italy in Surf City.

For more information, call 609-494-1241 or visit —J.K.-H.

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The Natural Gardener

For Silver Spring’s Edamarie Mattei, a landscaping career developed…well, organically

Photo by Erick Gibson

(page 1 of 3)

Follow the gravel path that winds among native perennials in garden designer Edamarie Mattei’s Silver Spring backyard, past the berm of a rain garden and toward a patio table sheltered by a screened pergola hung with tiny lights. That’s where you’ll find Mattei and her husband, Kris Colby, and their three children eating dinner most summer evenings, dining on vegetables grown in raised beds that cover what once was a driveway.

The yard symbolizes Mattei’s definition of a successful garden: a place where you want to spend as much time as possible. “It’s what makes you care about the environment and notice the world around you,” says Mattei, who owns Backyard Bounty, an organic garden and land care business.

A high school English teacher for nine years, Mattei, 47, switched careers and established her business in 2009, after installing a garden for an acquaintance who admired her backyard.

Mattei partnered with an established landscape architect for her first professional project, but soon realized that she wanted to pursue her own vision of emphasizing native plants and avoiding invasive species, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

“That idea became more and more powerful to me: to do gardens the way you plant vegetables—by taking care of the soil,” she says.

It’s an idea that’s ripe in Montgomery County, once a bastion of chemically treated, “mow-and-blow” yards. The county now certifies organic landscapers and offers tax credits to homeowners who plant runoff-absorbing rain gardens that protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Mattei says she’s “excited to be helping county residents create gardens that do good while looking good [by] recharging groundwater, keeping pollutants out of streams, building habitats that preserve the diversity in our ecosystems, and conserving energy and limited natural resources.” And, she says, “I feel really lucky to be able to do what I love for a living.”

Growing up in suburban New Jersey in the 1970s, Mattei says she didn’t pay much attention to the clipped lawns and tidy flower beds that formed the backdrop to her childhood. “I did what suburban kids do—played soccer and prepared to go to college,” she says. She attended Georgetown University, majored in English and became a high school English teacher in the South Bronx.

Mattei gained a newfound appreciation for outdoor pleasures after moving from New York City to the East Bay of San Francisco with her husband in 1990. She loved to cook, so northern California’s food culture was a revelation. Shopping for fresh, local produce at farmers markets, she says she realized that “getting organic spring mix lettuce that had just been cut was completely different from the lettuce in a box from Whole Foods.”

When the couple returned to the East Coast nearly 20 years ago, “farmers markets didn’t exist here on the scale they do now,” she says. “I started gardening because I wanted to have that food.”

Having taken time off from teaching to raise her family, Mattei discovered that gardening was a great activity to do with young children. And she found that she enjoyed digging in the dirt and watching plants grow as much as they did. She began to study gardening as a teacher and bookworm would: first by reading everything she could find on the subject, and then by taking horticulture and design courses, eventually becoming a master gardener through a program offered by the University of Maryland Extension.

Backyard Bounty’s signature potager—a kitchen garden that’s a mix of vegetables, herbs and flowers—reflects Mattei’s memories of the urban garden planted by her Italian immigrant grandparents. But many of the firm’s projects also tap into Mattei’s knowledge of water management, native plants and organic methods. Her team has grown to include two other garden designers, a stonemason and three to six seasonal gardeners who install and maintain about 25 garden projects a year.  

Mattei’s landscapes tend to be textured, with meandering paths and shady nooks, providing even small yards with depth, variety and surprise. She emphasizes that a garden needn’t be unruly to be organic. “It can be simple or traditional-looking, but with a better sense of stewardship,” she says. “For example, if a client tells me they love burning bushes, which unfortunately are terribly invasive, I’d suggest aronia, or chokeberry, that’s native to our area with beautiful fall colors and a berry that’s good for our local wildlife.”

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Ground Works to start teaching garden

My gardening expertise depends heavily on folklore. Such as:

Plant your potatoes on Good Friday.

Don’t move flowers outside until after Mother’s Day.

Spread fertilizer when the lilacs bloom.

Some of it may be valid. Some of it, well, not so much. Nonetheless, I thought of such sayings over the weekend when the weather was beautiful and raking old, dead leaves from the backyard wasn’t satisfying.

Also, I had Ground Works’ newest project on my mind, one that requires a lot of collaboration. Last week, the Sioux Falls Parks Recreation Board approved the establishment of a teaching garden at the Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum.

The project will be announced officially Wednesday night at a fundraiser at Landscape Garden Center on Wednesday.

“Eighteen months ago we approached the Arboretum education committee with the broad idea of an arboretum teaching garden and demonstration center, which would allow space for (South Dakota State University) Extension, Ground Works and others to provide training to teachers, the community, educators and environmental educators in how we access that teaching garden as an outdoor classroom … and how we make this work at the actual school site,” says the Rev. Tim Olsen, Ground Works’ executive director.

The proposal was finetuned as it made its way through channels, and a teaching garden leadership team established itself, with representatives from Sioux Falls Parks Recreation, several Minnehaha County master gardeners, an elementary school teach, two representatives from Koch Hazard Architects and Lance Meyerink from Groundwater Inc.

It was Meyerink, a landscaper, who suggested that a rain water harvest system could be established, using precipitation collected on the raised-bed gardens. Koch Hazard agreed to make the teaching garden its office project, with employees taking afternoons to help.

“One of the most important things for us is how do we help our classroom teachers learn how to access the gardens and make it a useful tool for their gardens,” Olsen says.

That is particularly important because the number of schools hosting gardens is growing steadily. Chris Zdorovtsov a community development field specialist with Extenson, could not put a number on how many schools have gardens but says it is growing steadily.

Ground Works itself is working with two elementary schools in Sioux Falls, Lennox, Dell Rapids and Knollwood Heights in Rapid City.

“O’Gorman Junior High has something ready,” Zdorovtsov says. “Baltic is starting, Brookings is starting. As far as the total number, the list is big.”

Lessons learning in a teaching garden extend much further than people might expect, says Cindi Heidelberger Larson, Ground Works’ director of communication and marketing.

“We asked a music teacher, can you draw parallels to art or music, and he said, ‘Teamwork, and the listening and the leadership that has to take place in constructing this. There’s one basic sheet of instructions, and that’s it. You have to work together to solve the problem,'” Heidelberger Larson says.

This summer the teaching garden will start small, but organizers already are thinking big for future years. Spring is an appropriate time to dream those dreams. Spring also, as perennials emerge from the soil and trees leaf out, is an appropriate time to look to the future.

“It’s not just about growing gardens, it’s about planting sustainable hope,” Heidelberger Larson says. “It’s sustainable hope in the lives of students. We’re giving something back to the future.”

Reach Jill Callison at 331-2307 or

If you go


Growing Hope 2014, presented by Ground Works, a grassroote community development nonprofit


6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday


Landscape Garden Center’s greenhouse, 7201 S. Minnesota Ave.


Free fundraising event for Ground Works and its network schools. Meal and program provided by Ground Works donors and sponsors.


GroundWorksMidwest on Facebook


Call Cindy Heidelberger Larson at 275-9159 or 201-5549 or email

Article source:

Gardening tips from Sprouts Greenhouse: Time for Spring clean-up

(Lander, Wyo.) – Are you anxious to get some color in your pots and beds? If the thought of spring storms has held you back, here’s good news: there are hardy flowers that can tolerate modest frost and snow!

Pansies, snapdragons, dianthus, nemesia and salvia can, if acclimated, survive temperatures dropping to 22 degrees. Have a handy means of covering them the first few nights outside if the forecast is for below freezing temperatures, or for any hefty spring storms that might lurk in our future. It is after all Wyoming, where spring temperatures can swing 50 degrees in less than 24 hours!


There are more annuals to fill out your pots or beds that aren’t quite as hardy, but do tolerate a light frost: petunias, bacopa, osteo’s, and million bells (a.k.a. callies or alohas). With this spread of plants, you can create combinations with a wide variety of colors, heights, textures, and growth patterns.

Want to add more color still? Geraniums can take a very light frost, so if you’re including those in your pots or beds, make sure you have an easy way to cover and protect them against spring’s crazy weather.

Plants to avoid until danger of frost has passed include heat and sun loving flowers like zinnias, marigolds, and moss roses. Hmm, it makes sense that full sun plants don’t do well with sub-freezing temperatures.

There’s no need to purchase new potting soil for your pots each year. Amend it with compost or manure, and add in a hefty dose of time-released fertilizer when you plant, and your plants will be healthy and happy. If the soil has dried out, dump it into a wheelbarrow, break up the clumps, slowly add water until all of the soil is moist. Another soil-saving tip is to place plastic bottles in the bottom to lessen he need for soil, and to make the pot lighter and easier to move. Roots of annuals on reach just a few inches deep, so no need to fill a 14” pot with soil. Yup, it’s odd for a garden center to tell you to not to buy stuff, but the truth is that soil can be reused for quite some time.

sedum_before sedum_after

Now is a good time to trim back perennials. For ground hugging plants like sedum, meadow sage, perennial geraniums and the like, cut old flower stalks back to just above the new green growth. Thicker and woodier stalks will need to be snipped, while thinner stalks can be gently pulled by hand. Last year’s growth around irises and day lilies can also be cleaned up by hand.

Most perennials will show new growth by now, but not all. Plants like Russian sage are notorious late bloomers so wait a couple of weeks before cutting that back. When you do trim, cut back to green bud growth which could be as high as 8” on last year’s stalks. Decorative grasses are also cut 6-8” above the soil surface. Close cropping of grasses can kill the plant.


If you need one last bit of motivation to clean up the yard, Lander’s citywide clean up begins tomorrow! Pick up for north side will be Monday, April 21st while south side pick up is Tuesday, April 22nd. Items for pick up must be on the curb, properly prepared: tree limbs must be no longer than 4’ and bundled together no more than 1’ in diameter. All leaves and plant debris must be bagged. Pick up will take place between 7 am and 3 pm.

We at Sprouts love growing plants, and want to share our love of gardening with you. We hope that these tips help you learn, solve problems, and grow. Our intention is to address basic issues, and provide references for additional information.

You can expect a new tip from us each week on! We don’t intend for the tips to be the end-all, be-all of the gardening world.

8591 Wyoming 789, Lander, WY 82520

(307) 332-3572.



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Tips for a Bountiful Backyard Garden

Tips for a Bountiful Backyard Garden

Tips for a Bountiful Backyard Garden

Hispanic mother and son gardening

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014 10:00 pm

Updated: 12:33 am, Mon Apr 21, 2014.

Tips for a Bountiful Backyard Garden

(Family Features) The benefits of having your own backyard vegetable garden are plentiful, and can include significant lifestyle impacts, such as healthier eating habits, money saving perks and more.

A Relaxing, Healthful Hobby

Looking for a hobby that allows you to contribute to the health of your family? Take up gardening. Beyond producing nutritious foods, it can help you teach your family about local agriculture, all while basking in the tranquility of the great outdoors. Though starting your own home garden can be intimidating, there are a few simple steps to get you started. Once developed, it can yield fruits and vegetables from early spring and into the fall.

1) Do Some Research

Find out what vegetables grow best in your area and when is the right time to plant and harvest. Many local university extension programs have this information readily available online. For each plant, consider the amount of water needed, how much sunlight is required and if it should be started from seed or a transplanted seedling.

2) Choose a Good Spot

Keep in mind vegetables need at least six hours of sun each day, so plant away from the shade of buildings, trees and shrubs. Planting close to your house may make you more likely to bring your harvest right into your kitchen, and will help you remember to weed and water. Including rain and irrigation, your garden needs at least one inch of water per week. Make sure you can easily access a water supply nearby. Some products, such as an Ames NeverLeak hose reel, provide convenient hose storage and can easily reach all parts of your yard. Be sure to choose a level area of your yard so when watering it will not pool in lower areas.

3) Clear the Area

Use your garden hose or a string to mark the area for proper placement of your garden. Use a sod lifter or garden spade, keeping the area level and removing as little topsoil as possible. Next, use a round point shovel, such as the True Temper True American Round-Point Shovel, to dig into the soil about 12 inches, breaking it up and removing clumps. To encourage proper drainage and escape light freezes in early spring and fall, construct a raised bed by creating a border with wood slats and filling in with soil. 

4) Prepare the Soil

Use a rake to create a smooth finish and remove debris or stones on the surface. You may want to add manure, compost or soil additives to provide additional nutrients in the soil.

5) Plant Your Seeds

Determine if you will be starting your plants from seeds or transplanting small seedlings. Be sure to research how much room each plant will need and plot the layout of your garden. Dig V-shaped furrows using a warren hoe or the edge of a garden hoe. Carefully distribute the seeds in the furrows evenly and in accordance with the instructions on the seed packet. Cover the seeds and pat down gently, then water thoroughly. 

Use this information for a fruitful harvest this gardening season. For more tips, visit or

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Mother and Son)


Sunday, April 20, 2014 10:00 pm.

Updated: 12:33 am.

Article source:

5 Pet-friendly Gardening Tips

As the warmth of the season beckons us outdoors, many pet and plant lovers are caught in the crossroads — is it possible to intertwine a love for nature while meeting the needs of our beloved domestics? The short answer is yes — with a little bit of ingenuity! Here are spring’s top tips for gardening pet lovers.

1) Pet owners should choose fertilizers and mulches cautiously. Shop for organic, pet-friendly fertilizers and soil amendments. Be aware that many environmentally friendly fertilizers contain fish byproducts, blood meal and ground poultry feathers. These ingredients are very appealing to many dogs and may cause digestive upset if eaten in quantity. If possible, keep your pets away from newly fertilized beds and lawns until the product has dissolved. Alternatively, consider liquid fertilizers. When buying mulch, avoid cocoa mulch. It is toxic to pets and lethal if ingested in quantity. Choose root mulch, wood bark or gravel instead. My favorite? Pine bark mulch, in any form.

2) If you have a dog, consider his essential “dogness” — dogs like to course the perimeters of their territory, aka your yard. If your plantings run up to the edges of your property, they’re likely to get trampled. To prevent this frustration, keep or create an 18- to 36-inch pathway around the boundary of your property, especially if you plan to erect fencing.

3) Speaking of fencing, many dogs get quite frustrated when they can’t see out of their property to identify noises and passersby, which leads to digging and/or frustration barking. Often, dogs destroy garden beds or bark themselves into frenzy out of frustration and boredom.

If your containment system blocks your dog’s vision, consider a transparent window erected at eye level (your dog’s, that is). I use a PetPeek, which the kids love, too. A little porthole into the world outside and a non-planted path around the perimeter can keep everyone on the same page, landscape-wise.

4) Ever notice that your dog excavates your plantings days after you tucked them into the earth? Though maddening, your dog has paid you a high compliment. Ever mindful of your activities, he’s watching each handful of dirt you unearth. If he sees you gardening, he will soon mimic your technique.

As you begin to shape good canine garden habits, keep your dog inside while you tend your plants.

5) If your dog enjoys digging, he will likely always relish the feeling of the earth on his paws. If this is the case, you’ll need to provide a dog-friendly digging pit — a small area (think sandbox) filled with sand, dirt and/or pine mulch where you encourage him to “Go dig!” Do this during playtime to encourage his enthusiasm. If he stares at the digging pit and gives you the “huh?” face, try burying a bone, toy or treat and, if necessary, get down on your knees and dig with him!


It can be a little tricky to keep dogs out of garden beds. Take a few minutes to consider why your dog enters your planting area in the first place. Is he mimicking you? You’ll need to be more discrete when planting and pruning. Is it to eliminate or mark? That solution can be fairly simple, though it may take a week or two. Start by giving your dog his own area away from your tomatoes and prized tulips. Center his new elimination area around a physical structure or tree, or erect a decorative stone or even a faux fire hydrant. Take your dog to the new area on leash in the morning or when you take him out after a separation. Wait to offer your hugs and greetings until after he’s gone potty, and discourage your dog from going near your beds by calmly redirecting him on a long line should he venture near.

My last suggestion is to remember that your dog is as ecstatic about the spring thaw as you are. He is equally excited to get outside, stretch his legs and bask in the sun. As far as pets and plants go, play with your dog first to tire him out, and garden during your dog’s nap times.

Next article on gardening will cover boundary training — a creative, non-threatening technique to keep your pet out of the garden once and for all!

Article source:

Stormwater management tips (Garden Talk) – The Birmingham News

By Bethany A. O’Rear

Q. I am hearing
more and more about stormwater runoff and how it affects our environment. Considering the large amount of rain that we
have received in the last few weeks, I am earnestly trying to figure out how I
can reduce the amount of water leaving my landscape. Can you provide some tips?

A. Great
question!! The manner in which we manage
our properties directly affects our waterways – positively or negatively.

In natural areas
such as forests, heavy rains seep into the soil. However, in human-built
landscapes, water often runs from impervious surfaces such as roofs, walks, and
drives directly into our waterways. This “stormwater” can significantly impact
our watersheds – surface water such as rivers and lakes, and groundwater from
which many of us get our drinking water.

This impact on our
watershed is often undesirable.
Stormwater can cause severe damage as it flows overland; often causing
flooding and stream bank erosion. Water that does not have time to percolate
into natural areas can wash excessive sediments into rivers and streams. Muddy
water is not a suitable habitat for many of our native plants and fish, giving
room for invasive species to thrive. Excessive water flowing across our
landscapes can wash harmful chemicals and other materials into our water
systems. Fertilizers and pesticides, especially when used incorrectly, can be
flushed into rivers and streams, many of which serve as a source for drinking

To minimize such
negative impacts of your landscape on our watersheds, consider these practices
before applying pesticides to your landscape.

  • Put the right
    plant in the right place. Healthy, stress-free plants suffer less from pests.
  • Identify the plant first.  Be aware of its normal, healthy appearance.
  • Identify the pest
    second. Not all suspicious characters cause problems.
  • Read and abide by the pesticide label.  THE LABEL IS THE LAW.
  • Avoid having
    leftover chemicals. When choosing chemical controls, buy and mix only what you
  • More is not better.  Use the lowest labeled concentration rate that will get the job done.
  • Protect beneficial
    creatures. Spot treat the pest and avoid broadcast applications of pesticide.
  • Follow the label
    instructions for disposal. Do not put unused pesticides in household garbage

Here are some
additional changes to the landscape that will help reduce the adverse effects
of stormwater runoff.

–Drip line infiltration
trench. This is simply a trench, about 18-inches wide and about 8-inches deep,
with crushed stone of various sizes in layers, under the roof drip line. It
captures heavy roof runoff, allowing it to seep into the soil naturally. It
works best in sandy or well-drained soils; otherwise you may need to install a
perforated PVC pipe as well in the trench.

walkways and patios. Leave a small space between bricks, flagstones, or other
pavers. Water can soak between pavers into a stone reservoir underneath. You
can find pervious pavers for driveways, as well.

–Rain barrels.
Place these large drums, often plastic and 55-gallon capacity or similar, under
downspouts to collect water for later use in watering plants. Make sure and
empty between rains to ensure there is enough space to capture runoff from
large storms. Cisterns are larger capacity versions.

–Rain gardens.
These bowl-shaped gardens utilize soil, mulch, and plants to absorb runoff and
allow it to then seep into the soil naturally. When making your selections, do
a little research to find plants that will handle dry periods as well as
standing in water for a short amount of time.

–Water bar. If you
have a moderately steep path, drive, or walk, consider adding one of these.
Bury a 6- or 8-inch wide rot-resistant timber across the path at an angle, with
a trench of similar depth on the upward side, lined with geotextile (like weed
barrier) fabric and filled with crushed stone. As water flows down the slope it
will soak into the trench, then the timber directs it to the side where it can

I hope these tips are helpful.  Happy Gardening!

Garden Talk is
written by Bethany A. O’Rear of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, C.
Beaty Hanna Horticulture Environmental Center, which is based at the
Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This column includes research-based information
from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama AM
University and Auburn University. Email questions to Bethany at or call 205 879-6964 x15. Learn more
about what is going on in Jefferson County by visiting the ACES website, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @acesedu

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Backyard Orchards Offers Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Landscape Design

David Myers of Backyard Orchards and David of Jami' Mosque pose in front of a newly planted pear tree in Buffalo's East Side.

David Myers of Backyard Orchards and David of Jami’ Mosque pose in front of a newly planted pear tree in Buffalo’s East Side.

Just in time for the growing season, a start-up landscaping business is sprouting in Buffalo with a new focus – sustainable garden design rooted in ecology. Backyard Orchards Landscape Design, owned and operated by David Myers, strives to design and create gardens that “not only sustainably support our lives, but also play an integral role in our region’s ecosystem.”

As an artist and holder of a fine arts degree, Myers certainly has an appreciation for the role of landscape design as a tool for aesthetic improvement. However, his goal is to create landscapes and gardens that not only look beautiful, but also contribute to the well-being of the environment and the owner. “All we have to do is tweak the old model of home landscaping a little bit and create resource-making landscapes instead of resource-wasting landscapes,” Myers said.

Myers studied fine art at Rochester Institute of Technology and would spend his summers in college doing landscaping work to make ends meet. “I gradually started looking at landscape as an artist’s medium,” he said, “so then I decided to study landscape architecture in grad school.” He took a summer program at Harvard’s graduate school of design and pursued his masters in landscape architecture at SUNY College of Environmental Science Forestry.

“Obviously in grad school I learned a lot about humans’ interaction to the built environment and the landscape and how much of an effect we have on the environment, but also how much of an effect the environment has on us – both good and bad,” Myers said. “The last step was working on big fancy landscape architecture projects and realizing that there’s too much bureaucracy and politics involved. It’s nice to work on big fancy projects, but at the end of the day everybody has a front or backyard and there’s thousands and thousands of homes in Western New York that have all this space that could be used to help the health of the environment and our own health.”blueprint for landscape

Backyard Orchards’ services range from simple seasonal yard clean-ups to full scale landscape design work. Their focus remains on each individual client and what will suit their needs and that of their landscape. “Some people just want low maintenance gardens they don’t have to worry about,” Myers said. “Others maybe want to create a fruit or vegetable garden for their church or community. Each one fits that property owner’s lifestyle and that’s what efficient gardening is all about.”

Through his work with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, Myers has also become experienced in habitat restoration. “That really made me value picking the right plants and the right elements for a landscape to get the greatest benefit for humans and for animals on a restricted budget,” he said. Now he hopes to educate homeowners on proper plant selection and how to attract pollinators to their gardens. “A lot of plants that run-of-the-mill landscapers pick are not native to this area. Beautiful birds and butterflies don’t recognize them as food or shelter sources, and even though it’s green, you’re actually creating a barren landscape without life,” he said. “Some simple things you can do is choose different plants that attract birds and butterflies – not in a messy way, but in a way that’s entertaining to you and your family and is beneficial to the neighborhood.”

Myers’ work in the cokids plantingmmunity has him looking forward to doing more projects that will help improve the look and quality of life in Buffalo’s neighborhoods. He has previously worked with Groundwork Buffalo on designing a community garden for a summer day camp at the African American Cultural Center. Myers also organized a tree donation drive at the Universal School on Genesee Street, where families donated fruit trees and he worked with a group of 7th and 8th graders on planting cherries, peaches and apples. “Almost immediately on this formerly rough landscape, all of a sudden more kids came and played basketball and more birds came and landed on the trees,” Myers said. “A little really went a long way.”

Backyard Orchards has already begun working with clients on spring cleanups and garden design. The company is also collaborating with Michigan-Riley Farm and Artfarms on a landscape plan for the corner of Michigan Avenue and Laurel Street. Myers also hopes to offer zero-emissions lawnmowing as a service in the future and will be spending 10 days at the Whole Systems Design Research Farm in Vermont this summer to study permaculture. To contact the company about consultations or services, call Myers at (716) 984-4164 or email To learn more about their mission and services, visit the website at or Facebook page.

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