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Archives for July 27, 2014

Recycling and composting: Alan’s tips on how to save money gardening

Composting lets you recycle all sorts: grass clippings, soft hedge trimmings, annual weeds, old bedding plants, used potting compost from your containers, excess pondweed that you remove in summer, plus all your fruit and veg waste from the kitchen, paper from your home-office shredder, straw from the hen coop and litter from the hutches of vegetarian pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs.

To turn all this into well-rotted organic matter, add material in layers no more than six inches deep, press down and dampen thoroughly. When your compost container is almost full, cover the top with a layer of soil then leave it alone. After six months, it will have rotted down into a rich, crumbly, nutrient-rich material that looks like a cross between good topsoil and manure. Do this once and you’ll be horrified that you ever threw such good stuff away.

Once you adopt the thrifty gardening mind-set, you’ll find all sorts of opportunities for saving. Taken over the year, they’ll add up to a useful chunk of cash. If you’re saving up for something special, set aside cash to the value of what you didn’t buy because you re-used or recycled and you’ll be amazed how much it comes to. Flower pots, seed trays and plastic plant labels are things that often get thrown away and replaced when the old ones could quite easily be cleaned and re-used, many times over.

A bucket of warm, soapy water and an old washing-up brush is ideal for cleaning pots and trays – along with the multiple cell packs that a lot of young plants are sold in nowadays – while plant labels clean up best with a ball of wire wool dipped in washing-up liquid (use a soft 2B pencil for writing plant names and they clean off very easily).

If you need more plastic pots, look around for freebies because you sometimes find nurseries, florists and similar places have boxes full of good second-hand ones to give away. Alternatively, you could fall back on old yoghurt pots and similar used food containers salvaged from the kitchen, which would normally go to landfill sites (just make a drainage hole in the base).

The plastic trays that the supermarkets use as packaging for certain kinds of veg are excellent for catching drips from small pots on your windowsills, when you’re using them for propagating. So get into the habit of cleaning them when you’re washing up and saving them. Store them in the garage or shed in plastic carrier bags with the handles tied to stop dirt getting in, so they are all ready when you need them.

Any time you feel the urge to buy something new for the garden, see what you’ve already got lying about that you can recycle on the spot. Old garden furniture can be easily restored and given a new set of cushions or covers (from the giant DIY “sheds”) and timber benches can be treated with wood preservative (available in coloured or natural wood shades), with any rotten slats replaced to make them as good as new for next to nothing.

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Transplanting Tips For Your Garden


Transplanting Tips For Your Garden

The first basic fact that needs to be understood is that for most plants, transplanting is mostly effective during the months of spring. While it is an established fact that spring is the best season for trees and shrubs to be transplanted, it must be done while the plant is asleep. Essential nutrients that were fed to the plant in the greenhouse will be preserved when the plant is transplanted outdoors provided the tree or the shrub in question is transplanted when asleep.

While transplanting the plant, you must be doubly sure as far as preventing any form of air pockets near the roots. The presence of air pockets can ruin the entire procedure. Besides, make sure you dig a ball of earth. Following the 12 inches of digging for 1 inch of the stem calliper is the most widely accepted rule in this regard.

Another important thing that needs to be kept in mind is that while transplanting, make sure you cut some roots, especially those that are uneven. If some roots aren’t cut, the uneven roots, they will interfere with the normal absorption of soil and water.

These are the most basic tips you can remember while trasnplanting shrubs and trees in your garden.
Transplanting is the term used to describe the moving of a plant from one location to another. This mostly concerns planting a seed indoors, maybe in a green house and then shifting the plant outdoors once it comes of a particular age. Transplanting can prove to have scores of benefits if the right techniques are employed in carrying out the procedure. In this article, we look at some basic transplanting tips for your garden. Read on to know more…

The first basic fact that needs to be understood is that for most plants, transplanting is mostly effective during the months of spring. While it is an established fact that spring is the best season for trees and shrubs to be transplanted, it must be done while the plant is asleep. Essential nutrients that were fed to the plant in the greenhouse will be preserved when the plant is transplanted outdoors provided the tree or the shrub in question is transplanted when asleep.

While transplanting the plant, you must be doubly sure as far as preventing any form of air pockets near the roots. The presence of air pockets can ruin the entire procedure. Besides, make sure you dig a ball of earth. Following the 12 inches of digging for 1 inch of the stem calliper is the most widely accepted rule in this regard.

Another important thing that needs to be kept in mind is that while transplanting, make sure you cut some roots, especially those that are uneven. If some roots aren’t cut, the uneven roots, they will interfere with the normal absorption of soil and water.

These are the most basic tips you can remember while transplanting shrubs and trees in your garden.

Article source:

Tips To Grow Wild Flowers In Your Garden


Tips To Grow Wild Flowers In Your Garden

First, while dealing with wild flowers, it is essential to determine the type of environment that they’d thrive in. Wild flowers need a large area of space and require a minimum of 7 hours of sunshine every day. Second, and most importantly, they need to be grown in soil that is well drained. Heavily packed soil cannot breed wild flowers at any cost.

For wild flowers, the soil should be rich in nutrients in order to ensure laudable growth and prevent the growth of weeds. Sometimes, wild flowers can themselves help in eradicating growth of weeds. This can happen provided the soil is rich in nutrients required by wild flowers and the soil is well drained.

Next is creating the soil bed. This part forms the most important step in growing wild flowers. The soil must be tilled or raked to about 1 or 2 cms. If you intend to plant wild flowers in a particular location in your garden, remember to not allow them to come in close contact with other crops.

Next is the weather. Wild Flowers usually like it when the soil is warm. So the best time to plant them would be in the months of spring. While removing other plants in order to plant wild flowers in a particular location, make sure you spray Roundup so that existing roots in the soil are destroyed and wild flowers can make full use of the soil in the location where you intend to plant them.

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Gardening: Take a stroll through the gardens of history

There is a well-known saying about history that goes something like “you have to know where you’ve been to know where you are going”.

This is as true of garden design as it is of any other branch of history. Ten years ago seven gardens were created here at Harlow Carr to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the society in 2004.

In those ten years, since 2004, the gardens have been a hugely popular visitor attraction, whatever time of year there is always something of interest.

Four gardens are particularly popular, the first shows the typical style of garden design dream team; architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and the plantswoman and artist Gertrude Jekyll. Lutyens was an expert at creating crisp formal garden spaces with steps, sunken areas, formal vistas and often included water features. In our Edwardian garden the sunken pond terrace is linked by steps to the formal pathway past skilful herbaceous borders to a wildflower meadow on one side and a nut walk on the other.

The next garden is the 1950s Festival of Britain Garden. Most remember fifties gardens as crazy paving, lots of roses and colourful summer bedding but this garden takes its cue from the 1951 Festival of Britain site at the South Bank of the Thames in London, where the modern concrete and glass architecture of the Festival Hall was the backdrop.

Our garden is based on the design used by Christopher Tunnard for the garden at Bentley Wood the home of the modern architect Serge Chermayeff. The design is minimal and pared back, has modern sculpture on display and also frames nature in the birch copse beyond. Innovative wire supports are used for climbing plants highlighting the technological spirit of the age.

The 70s Garden, is loosely based on the garden design style promoted by the garden designer John Brookes in his ground breaking 1969 book, The Room Outside.

Out goes the high maintenance lawn, in comes patio gardening with water features, low- maintenance ground cover plantings and a modern garden style with plants that remind you of those Mediterranean package holidays; a garden to relax and entertain in with minimal gardening effort.

The fourth is the Contemporary Garden. Technically this is a 21st century garden but the design by the Irish designer Diarmuid Gavin in 2004 is typical of his late 20th century work. His brief was to show what could be done in an average sized suburban garden.

Crossing a small courtyard you enter a cedar and steel elliptical secret garden with lush plantings leading to a sunken steel and glass garden room under the canopy of a golden Indian bean tree, all set off with a bold use of colour on the outside walls, just for the fun of it!

Article source:

Glowing recommendations for outdoor lighting

Glowing recommendations for outdoor lighting

Glowing recommendations for outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting can have a dramatic impact on landscaping. Some outdoor lighting options include, clockwise from top left, Pottery Barn’s cafe string lights, World Market’s Edison-style string lights, Luna Bazaar’s white organza string lights and Bocci’s cast-blown glass outdoor pendant. Handout photos

Glowing recommendations for outdoor lighting

Glowing recommendations for outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting options include, clockwise from top left, Design Within Reach’s pendant barn lamp, Lakehouse wall-mount lantern, Soji’s hanging solar lantern and the Superior Moravian Star. Handout photos

Glowing recommendations for outdoor lighting

Glowing recommendations for outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting can have a dramatic impact on landscaping. Some outdoor lighting options include, from left, Kichler’s copper path lights, Terrain’s copper Mansard lanterns, NotNeutral’s Season metal lantern, Plow Hearth’s Old Brooke light and Kichler’s cast-brass deck light. Handout photos

Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2014 7:00 pm

Glowing recommendations for outdoor lighting

By Lindsey M. Roberts
Special to The Washington Post


Outdoor lighting is often an afterthought in exterior face-lifts and landscape designs, something not remembered until the plants are dug, the deck is built and the house is repainted. If you find yourself in this kind of dark spot, don’t despair: We talked to professionals for some simple ideas that will make a big, bright impact.

First, a few basic rules:

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      Saturday, July 26, 2014 7:00 pm.

      Article source:

      Along for the ride, Westside Parkway turns one

      There are no immediate plans, in a drought and a time of careful financial planning, for lush, more expensive plantings — and eventual connections between Interstate 5, Highway 58 and  Interstate 40 are years, if not decades, away.

      After 51 weeks, however, the nearly six-mile road — Bakersfield’s first new freeway since the 1970s — has had considerable success easing drivers across town in about six minutes and reducing traffic on surface streets.

      “It has done as we intended; it relieves other corridors that are now less congested — Truxtun Avenue, Rosedale Highway and Stockdale Highway among others,” said City Manager Alan Tandy. “It’s been a huge, very, very significant improvement.”

      The city’s last traffic count, done in late 2013, showed 36,560 vehicles use the parkway every day — though Tandy, who uses it several times a day, said he thinks the actual number may now be closer to 40,000.

      That pales in comparison with 24th Street, parts of which are traveled by nearly 60,000 vehicles per day — but the parkway is also credited with reducing the number of drivers on nearby streets.


      Rosedale Highway between Fruitvale Avenue and Mohawk Street saw a 3 percent decrease in vehicles, from 49,500 in 2008 to 47,900 near the end of 2013, according to Traffic Engineer Ryan Starbuck.

      Tandy said he thinks this number may be lower since Mohawk Street was extended to Hageman Road in June.

      Nearly 18 percent fewer drivers use Stockdale Highway west of the Coffee-Gosford roads intersection, which was traveled by nearly 32,000 vehicles per day in April, down from around 39,000 vehicles per day in June 2013.

      Officials also credit the parkway for reducing traffic on Truxtun Avenue, a major east-west thoroughfare, though there’s no traffic count available there.

      “The Truxtun (Avenue) extension used to back up every day,” said Ward 4 Councilman Bob Smith, whose ward includes part of the parkway. “And then when Mohawk opened, it would back up at Mohawk. I think now that they’ve got the lights more synchronized and they’ve timed it, everything flows. Everything seems to be flowing really well.”


      The freeway, most of which is three lanes in either direction, sometimes flows a little too well.

      The Bakersfield Police Department, which patrols the parkway because it has not yet been joined to Highway 58 and transferred to state control, has cited 600 motorists for infractions.

      Of these, 483 were for speeding, according to BPD statistics. Most of these drivers, or 443, were cited for exceeding the parkway’s 65 mile-per-hour speed limit. Two have been cited for driving more than 100 mph.

      “The only thing that really strikes me as high on this whole thing is the amount of speeding tickets,” said BPD Det. Louis S. Wood, a department spokesman. “Realistically it’s surprising, but it’s not bad. That’s only taking you to 40 a month and that’s barely over one a day. You know as well as I do there’s more than one person speeding a day on that.”

      Another 57 motorists were cited for more serious offenses. These include 15 non-injury accidents, two injury accidents, 14 traffic license violations, 11 vehicles impounded, and four misdemeanor hit-and-run accidents. The parkway has also yielded two driving under the influence citations.


      Technically, Westside Parkway, which cost $147.9 million in construction and construction management costs, plus $23.9 million in design and environmental costs isn’t finished yet. Phase 6C, a two-mile final segment immediately west, will extend the parkway from Allen Road to the intersection of Stockdale Highway and Heath Road. It’s under construction and expected to open by year’s end.

      The roughly two-mile Centennial Corridor freeway segment east of the parkway has been more controversial. That’s the connection between the parkway and the state-controlled Highway 58.

      Centennial Corridor would displace an estimated 961 people, and require tearing down 200 single-family homes, 110 multiple-family units and 121 commercial and industrial businesses.

      Tandy said more than 100 property owners have expressed interest in selling, and the city has executed agreements with 23, using the early release of more than $180 million in federal funding.

      Caltrans is responding to comments on the environmental impact report on the project, which would run through the heart of the Westpark neighborhood.

      The Westpark Homeowners Association has sued the city, challenging its plan to borrow $240 million to match the Thomas earmarks. Its members view the project, and the parkway, much differently.

      “The end-game, ultimately, is turning Highway 58 into the 40, to turn that into the interstate. This was never about trying to help the congestion or any type of transportation in Bakersfield — this was about transportation through Bakersfield,” said WHOA co-president Marc Caputo. “The greater benefit is for the truckers who are going to be driving through Bakersfield splitting our neighborhood. They’re going to be bringing that pollution into Bakersfield.”

      Ward 2 Councilman Terry Maxwell said he liked transportation plans the city contemplated in the early 2000s — but thought a cheaper, more straightforward fix would have been to simply connect Highway 58 to Highway 99, eliminate its dead-end at South Real Road, and widen Highway 99 to six lanes in either direction between Highway 58 and 7th Standard Road.

      “To me, that would have been the way to do the regional thing they wanted without having to take any homes,” Maxwell said, adding he’s still “waiting to see my first 18-wheeler” on the parkway.

      Ward 5 Councilman Harold Hanson takes a different view.

      “If the city or the county or the state, the federal government, wants my house they can have it, because there’s no way you’re not going to make money on that. When there’s a take by government, financially you’re going to be in good shape,” Hanson said. “It’s going to be a total win. I know Terry (Maxwell) talks about it all the time and he’s got other ideas. I appreciate his point-of-view, but I think it’s the right thing to do.”


      Without Centennial Corridor — and Westside Parkway — local officials said the nation loses the final piece in an east-west highway system and Bakersfield loses the ancillary benefits of being a hub in the country’s interstate commerce network.

      “It will create a missing link, and the public has told us clearly where they want their transportation dollars spent. And they’ve said ‘Fix, finish and maintain what we have.’ This falls into the finish category,” said Ahron Hakimi, executive director of Kern County Council of Governments, which is working with Caltrans, Bakersfield and the County of Kern on Thomas Roads Improvement Program projects.

      “The last phase of Westside Parkway will be to finish that unfinished project and allow east-west movement throughout the county,” Hakimi continued. “It’s not just important to Bakersfield, but it’s of regional, inter-regional and national significance. (Highway) 58 is a natural extension of I-40.”

      That vision helped Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield secure $630 million in federal earmarks for major highway projects in metropolitan Bakersfield.

      TRIP is named for the now-retired congressman, and includes Centennial Corridor and the parkway, though it was paid for with state, local match and federal money, not TRIP funds.

      Both projects were key to Thomas’s goal of improving intercontinental transportation, according to Christine Cox-Kovacevich, Caltrans’ central region environmental division chief.

      Thomas did not respond to a telephone call requesting comment.

      “The idea behind it with Congress when they gave funding to this particular corridor was to provide connectivity from the I-40 to the I-5. Bakersfield was seen as this hub,” Cox-Kovacevich said. “The goal was to connect this and make it a state highway so it would have a large benefit to inter-regional movement through Bakersfield.”

      Article source:

      Roadside park celebrates city’s Route 66 heritage – Springfield News

      It’s been nearly 90 years since “U.S. 66” was proposed as the name for the Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway. And that proposal happened at Springfield’s Colonial Hotel, once located at Jefferson Avenue and Park Central East, across from Gillioz Theatre where today there is a parking lot.

      The new Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park, on West College Street, between Fort and Broadway avenues, will help celebrate Springfield’s heritage and provide a tourism destination. A groundbreaking took place May 22 and a ribbon-cutting is planned for 7 p.m. Aug. 8 as part of the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival lineup.

      Route 66 went through Springfield along about 12 miles, from Kearney Street to Glenstone Avenue, onto St. Louis Street, through Park Central Square to College Street, then west along what is now Chestnut Expressway.

      Plans for the Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park include incorporating memories of local Route 66 landmarks, sculptures, a filling station replica, a motor court sign replica and a history plaza. The first phase of the park will include the replica of the Red’s Giant Hamburg sign, park driveway and parallel parking, and landscaping and sidewalk improvements along College Street.

      “We’ve had a motel cabin donated,” said Director of Planning Ralph Rognstad.

      The only thing they can use from it is the stone, he said, which they hope to reconstruct as restrooms. A replica gas station would be a welcome station, perhaps with an information kiosk. There’s also a plaza in the plans, Rognstad said.

      The initial streetscape cost $423,000, including $112,000 for utilities, and was paid for using ¼ cent capital improvement sales tax funding. The Red’s Giant Hamburg sign was paid for with donations of more than $15,000 through local crowd funding company

      The estimated cost for the park altogether is about $1 million, according to Rognstad. However, with additional ideas popping up, that could run higher, city leaders say.

      To complete the park and other improvements included in a vision plan, the city must leverage its investment in the project with private donations and other sources of funding. A larger plan to revitalize Historic Route 66 through other parts of Springfield could roll out in phases, as the city gauges interest and potential funding. Under discussion is a capital campaign to leverage sponsorships and donations.

      City spokewoman Cora Scott said there’s a lot of interest in Springfield’s role in the history of Route 66.

      “We have found there is a huge variety of partners, whether that’s business owners located along the route or the History Museum or even the Library District and the CVB who have a vested interest in celebrating that heritage,” Scott said. “So anytime we work on any project related to Route 66, we have not problem getting all those players on board. And they are really excite to help with it.”

      When it comes to funding, “it’s a classic opportunity for a public/private partnership,” City Manager Greg Burris said. “The city’s role is to provide that infrastructure, which we are doing now, and showing the neighborhood that we are investing in that neighborhood and hoping that generates enough of a buzz that we draw businesses to that neighborhood. It’s kind of a rare opportunity where all those things converge in one project. So that’s what makes this one special.”

      After the Grant-to-Kansas Expressway phase, they’ll continue west to Scenic and Chestnut Expressway, in response to citizen requests. Part of the concept includes adding gateways to various sections of the road, for instance, a short wall on either side of College at Grant Avenue and an arching sign over the road at Kansas Expressway. More ideas can be found in planning documents.

      Eventually they hope to tie the park in with the mound in nearby West Meadows.

      “There’s a lot of history in the area and we want to focus the park on Route 66 but the West Meadows area, we want to talk about the history of the railroad; the Fulbright Settlement was there and we found what we think is the original spring,” Rognstad said.

      Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park renderings can be viewed at:

      Article source:

      Lend a hand with the Volunteer Center

      The Volunteer Center of Brown County helps connect people with volunteer opportunities in the area. Following are a sampling of available options. Learn more at

      UW-Extension community gardens are looking for volunteers to till a few of their plots. The Community Gardens Program provides garden space and logistics assistance to Brown County residents to facilitate their access to affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food. This program currently serves 150 community members. To help, call Margaret at (920)391-4660 or email at

      The Bridge-Between Retreat Center needs volunteers to assist with indoor and outdoor activities. Everything from gardening, flower beds, weeding, landscaping, helping to beautify our yard, carpentry, painting and more. Volunteers can also help in fundraising for its Annual Fall Kick-off in September. For more information please contact Diane or Holly at (920) 864-7230 or email

      The Green Bay Area Newcomers and Neighbors, Inc. welcomes, promotes, introduces, and recommends new, existing and prospective residents to the community to business connections and others. Go online to view the volunteer opportunities at Volunteers welcome. Sign up for a specific day or time at or contact Joleen Allard at (920) 468-4289 or”

      • Volunteer drivers are needed by the Brown County Human Services Department Child Protective Services to transport children from foster homes, schools, day care centers to visits with their parent at the agency or other locations. Some foster homes and respite care homes are located out of Brown County. Occasionally, some transports could be to service providers in Milwaukee, Madison or Minneapolis. Volunteers are reimbursed 56 cents per mile round trip for all authorized transports. Volunteers give schedule of availability to the coordinator and will only be called for those days and times. Drivers can pick and choose which trips to accept. Drivers must submit to a background check, have a valid Wisconsin driver’s license, have a reliable vehicle, and possess the recommended $100,000.00 combined single limit auto insurance. Car seats are provided by the department. If interested, contact Glen Tilot at (920) 448-6023 or email at

      Article source:

      Fond du Lac goes wild with Zoopolis tour

      Imagine the joy of sitting in your own backyard oasis filled with trees, colorful waves of dancing wildflowers and bejeweled songbirds showering and bathing in a crystal clear pond, stream or small waterfall. Birdsong fills the cool morning air while newly wakened butterflies dance among the colorful native plants.

      Get ready to explore “Nature in the City” when the 2014 Zoopolis Tour, sponsored by the Fond du Lac County Audubon Society, takes place Aug. 3 in and around Fond du Lac.

      You’ll see many great examples of how to create such a peaceful and wild backyard paradise all on your own. From native plantings and butterfly gardens to rain gardens and wild food sources, you’ll see a wide variety of different ideas you can incorporate into your own yard and garden.

      Highlighting seven private properties that feature landscapes and plantings dedicated to attracting wildlife, the Zoopolis tour aims to show off just what can be done to benefit local wildlife, help endangered species, as well as conserve precious natural resources.

      If you plant it, they will come

      “The idea is to show homeowners and gardeners another alternative to manicured gardens and the use of pesticides,” said Diana Beck, president of the Fond du Lac County Audubon Society.

      “We are also trying to show people examples of birdscaping. If we provide habitat and natural food sources for the birds, other animals also benefit,” she said.

      Visitors to the tour gardens will see many examples of small private yards that promote biodiversity, earth-friendly practices, as well as creating ideal wildlife habitat. You’ll learn ways to create a beautiful, productive backyard oasis right in the heart of your city or town.

      The Zoopolis tour features six gardens in the city of Fond du Lac with an additional home located nearby in Eldorado. This is a self-guided tour and tickets can be purchased at any of the homes featured.

      Wild safari

      The safari begins at the home of Margie and John Winter, Fond du Lac, which sits on the top of the Niagara Escarpment. Here, the Winters solved erosion and runoff problems by creating a spectacular rain garden using native plants and wildflowers. With its outstanding views, this stop features many native trees and shrubs, as well as an organic vegetable garden and educational composting sites to explain how to take advantage of your own homemade compost.

      At the home of Terri and Alan Fuller, a transformed oasis features two beautiful ponds, prairie, butterfly garden and more, all in an enchanting, magical setting. Butterflies, birds and more enjoy the wonderful variety of habitat, food and water sources found here.

      Six years ago, the gardens of RJ Gross and Christine Watts, Fond du Lac, were just asphalt and concrete. Today, a thriving example of natural gardening, as well as conservation techniques, are on display including a 1,000-gallon rain barrel that collects precious rainwater from the roof, straw bale gardening demonstration, grass garden and more. Mostly native trees and shrubs have been installed, all enhanced and complemented by beautiful works of art.

      The prairie garden of Sharon and Cal Lewis sprawls over an acre leading down to the west branch of the river, with more native plantings incorporated in and around the Lewis’ home.

      A working bee hive and backyard chickens are on display at the home of Liz Roy, Fond du Lac. Slowly transforming her property from turf grass to native plantings of dogwood, milkweed, prairie plants and other native wildflowers, you’ll find a perfect example of how to turn your own property into a small haven for wildlife.

      Lessons can be learned from each element in the landscaping and gardens of Julie and David LaBorde. Utilizing tons of rock, the owners have created sheltering crevices for insects and other small wildlife. A backyard gem in the middle of a housing development, the owners feature native plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers to offer habitat and food for wildlife.

      Nearby, in Eldorado, Janet and Frank Johnson have labored over 40 years to transform an open field into a forest of native trees, a woodland garden and more. The owners have planted 55 species of trees, many that produce nuts and berries, to attract local wildlife, as well as many native perennials for pollinating insects and songbirds.

      — Rob Zimmer: 920-419-3734,; on Twitter @YardMD

      IF YOU GO

      What: Zoopolis Tour: Nature in the City

      When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 3

      Tickets: $10 (children under 12 are free); tickets can be purchased at any of the seven featured homes.

      Map: For a tour map and garden previews, visit

      Article source:

      Brave new gardening for brave new climates

      Ripping out the front lawn and its bordering rhododendrons and replacing them with a landscape of native grasses, groundcovers, succulents and rocks once seemed an unfathomable act of defiance. No longer.

      As many parts of the United States grapple with drought and rising water bills, “The thought of an English garden in the Central Valley of California is sheer madness.

      It wasn’t meant to be, and it’s sucking up precious groundwater we need for agriculture,” said Ann Savageau, a design professor at the University of California at Davis, who recently traded in her lush green lawns for a desert look.

      Instead of scoffing, neighbors stopped to ask her landscaper for his business card.

      Other California towns, including Sacramento and Menlo Park, have begun offering rebates to homeowners who remove their lawns.

      Gardeners nationwide are feeling the effects of climate change.

      In the East, and other areas where heavy downpours have become more intense, a sustainable garden might include native grasses and other plants that do well in heavy rain and the dry weather that can follow.

      “Awareness is changing in a way that is here to stay,” said Brian Sullivan, a vice president for landscapes at the New York Botanical Garden. “Yard by yard, region by region, the overall environmental impact of this trend, which I think is very positive, is substantial.”

      Mowing and watering a traditional lawn requires a lot of time, money, water and fertilizers.

      Increasingly, many home gardeners want to focus instead on edible gardens, and rethink the rest of their landscaping in a more environmentally sustainable and low-maintenance way.

      It’s sometimes hard to know where to begin, however, and few people have the funds or time to tackle a total garden makeover all at once.

      Some strategies:

      Take it in steps

      “Transitions should be made at your own pace and you do these things in small steps,” Sullivan said. “Lawn has utility. We play on it, sing on it and look at it. You can still enjoy your lawn, but cut it down by a third or half, or go with groundcovers you can walk on. They’re not the same, but it’s about shifting expectations.”

      Susan Middlefield, horticulture editor for the Vermont-based National Gardening Association, said “less lawn means you’re putting less carbon into the atmosphere. Lawns are fertilizer hogs, and a lot of fertilizer also contributes to oxygen depletion in local waterways.”

      Savageau retained a small circle of lush lawn about 12 feet across for her grandson to play on. It’s surrounded by agave and desert grasses.

      Consider your site

      When taking your yard in a new direction, experts say, the first step is to know your site. Do you have a slope? Is it shady or sunny?

      Plants on the top of an incline will be drier and plants at the bottom will be wetter.

      But when the water dries up, the plants at the bottom need to be fine when it’s dry, too.

      Talk with local experts

      Many arboretums, botanical gardens, native plant societies and local extension services offer brochures, online help, and classes on suitable plants and landscapes for various climates and regions. Many also maintain native plant gardens to inspire home gardeners, and some communities offer incentives to homeowners making the shift toward more sustainable yards.

      Melanie Sifton, vice president of horticulture and facilities at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, suggests that homeowners start with, an interdisciplinary effort toward sustainable gardens led by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden.

      Consider a rain garden

      Rain gardens are “a great idea for any part of the country. … You take out a small area of lawn and make a depression into which you direct the rainwater coming off your roof. Instead of rainwater running down the driveway and overwhelming sewers, it goes into an area planted with occasionally heavy downpours in mind,” explained Middlefield.

      In Vermont, she said, rain gardens often include summersweet, inkberry, shrubby dogwoods and purple coneflower.

      “When there’s a big thunderstorm, you know all that water will be going somewhere useful,” she said.

      The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new rain gardens, planted with varieties of blue star, switch grass and black gum trees, have been successful and provide stunning fall color, Sifton said.

      Where lawns are viable, think sustainable

      “In areas with sufficient water, I’m not anti-lawn,” Sifton said. “Just be aware of water use, use organic fertilizers and aerate the soil a lot.”

      Sustainable lawn varieties being used successfully in New York City include tall fescues mixed with Kentucky bluegrass, she said.


      “Composting yard waste and putting out a bucket for rainwater are huge in their environmental impact, and are both very easy ways to start gardening more sustainably,” Sifton added.

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