Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Posts about Lawn care

One step closer to fresh produce

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten Updated: June 18, 2013 - 8:21 AM

Gardeners, we have liftoff.

I was downright giddy when I checked my garden over the weekend and saw the sunflowers peeking through and realized that the carrot seeds did not get washed away after all. Tomatoes are thriving, the strawberries are coming into their own and my herbs become more fragrant by the day. Alas, the poor peppers are trying to stay strong after it appears rabbits used a fair share of their leaves for a tossed salad. But now that my little gardens look like Fort Knox (thanks, Pa!), I expect them to flourish as well.

But something I didn't expect? Just how happy my little gardens make me. I love checking them to see what's new, I love how they look in the corner of my yard and I love that neighbors stop to talk about what's growing and the curse of rabbits. Gardening gives me a different kind of energy, and it's refreshing.

Even the rest of the yard has benefited from the gardens. After a few lackluster year

A little mulch and some hand-me-down pavers dress up the area formerly known as the garden.

A little mulch and some hand-me-down pavers dress up the area formerly known as the garden.

s, the lilac bushes are in full bloom, not wanting to be outdone by the new kid on the block. The space formerly known as the garden was spruced up with mulch and pots of herbs, making it much more pleasing to sit outside on the patio. We even raked the lawn after mowing, and have vowed to be more committed to trimming.  I'm starting to think about the yard in terms of possibilities, not just a chore. (Because really, who needs more chores?) Even the kids are getting into it, with one daughter eyeing the perfect spot for a flower garden with a bench for reading. The ideas are flowing much quicker than time or money allows.

The key to my success, though, is not only making time for gardening but trying to maintain this momentum. It's easy to get excited when the seeds start to sprout or the first tomatoes start to turn -- I can already taste the BLTs -- and we have fresh strawberries with our homemade ice cream. What will happen when the adrenaline wears off and the weeds start to invade? A couple of years ago I might have been more concerned. This time I'm approaching gardening very differently: It's not what gardening does TO me, it's what gardening does FOR me. Yes, I believe I'm hooked.

When did you become hooked on gardening? Did it take a couple of tries? What does gardening do for you?

 

What this lawn needs is a comb over!

Posted by: Helen Yarmoska Updated: May 22, 2013 - 8:36 AM

My friend Mike and I were talking about his lawn.  He said it was beautiful when he moved in 10 years ago, but since then has become patchy.  They had the lawn aeration done in the Fall… good.  It was raked but not power raked a month ago… good.  Last week before all this rain, they seeded with new top soil and shade grasses… good and good. 

After visiting with him, I went to fill my car up with gas.  The person in line in front of me had two gas tanks and a lawn mower in back.  Hmm, maybe my advice to Mike wasn’t that good.  With gas at $4.39 a gallon maybe he should forget about his lawn. 

If you just don’t use the lawnmower does grass work like a bald man’s

comb over?  Couldn’t you just cover the patches with a few fine blades of grass?  Who cares if the wind blows and suddenly you’re staring at a patch of nothingness.  Is it that embarrassing? 

This high-priced gas is supposed to last until June, by then dandelions and quack grass will move in and no one will notice.  (Is that like a wig for a patchy lawn?)

So, Mike, let the Great Dane romp in the back yard.  Forget about filling in those patchy spots and forget about mowing twice a week.  What do you guys think?  Live and let live?  Go bald or go home?
 

It's watering time!

Posted by: Helen Yarmoska Updated: September 13, 2012 - 8:28 AM

 

If you were one of those folks who let their lawns go dormant over the heat of summer, it’s time to pull out the hoses.  If you don’t provide your lawn with proper moisture now, there may be no turf grass to come back in the Spring.

 

Sam Bauer, Extension Turfgrass Educator for the University of MN Extension, wrote that usual Fall lawn maintenance on drought affected turfgrass may actually do more harm than good.

For example, the usual maintenance right now is to lower your mowing height to prevent snow mold.  However, Sam says to keep the height up right now and mow less to help encourage grass recovery. 

And fertilizer, don’t think about it.  The University of MN has already informed us that the October feeding is no longer recommended. And in drought conditions, any quick release nitrogen flows right into the ecosystem because lawns aren’t growing as quickly and robustly as a ‘usual’ Fall in Minnesota.

So pull out those hoses right now.  Give your trees a drink and give you lawn chance to turn green before it turns white!  Will you do it?

That dreaded chore

Posted by: Mary Jane Smetanka Updated: June 26, 2012 - 10:10 AM

I worked in the yard almost all weekend. I spent hours digging up a garden that had grass in it, trying to untangle the threads of grass roots from among the perennials. I moved heavy rocks. I dug up dozens of plants of that garden Satan, creeping bellflower.
All the while, The Most Dreaded Job lurked: trimming the grass.
It’s silly, I know. I will happily mow the lawn and weed the garden for hours, but the mindless job of pulling out the weed whip stymies me.
I don’t know why I hate it so much. It’s not like when I was a kid and had to kneel on the grass with a hand clipper. The new trimmers don’t even need their cutting lines “bumped,” like my old one did. This machine simply churns away, efficiently slicing the grass away and sending the clippings flying.
So after I mowed, I pulled out the weed whip. For half an hour it sliced and diced. My legs were covered with bits of grass and dirt but I have to admit: the yard looked much better.
I don’t care. I still don’t like it.
Do you have a dreaded chore in the garden?
 

Weeds: Offense or defense?

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: June 25, 2012 - 11:00 AM

 

Weeding isn't the WORST garden chore in the world. It's satisfying to grab a fistul of weed and feel the roots give way -- plus you get the instant gratification of seeing a cleaner, tidier garden.

Grab and pull, grab and pull. Once you get into the rhythm, it's oddly therapeutic.

But after two hours of grabbing and pulling under the hot sun yesterday afternoon, I've had quite enough weed therapy, thank you very much.

The patches I weeded look pretty good, but there are others I never made it to. And the patches I weeded two weeks ago need weeding again, thanks to all our recent rain.

I've been playing defense against weeds. It's time for a stronger offense, I decided. Not chemicals. My garden needs to become naturally less weed-friendly.

So here's my action plan:

Step 1: More perennials, planted more densely. Landscape designer Jamie Durie, who was in town earlier this month, is a fan of this method. "I don't endorse bald spots," he said. "I plant abundantly. I don't even give weeds room to pop up." (http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/157260875.html)

I need more big, hardy perennials like bee balm and ligularia and cardinal flower, that come up reliably and take up a lot of garden space.  

Step 2: Mulch. This one will be a little more tricky to execute, at least in my yard. My biggest weed headache is the area covered with river rock in the front. Whoever installed my landscape, about 20 years ago, apparently laid plastic, then put dirt and the rocks on top. It looked good when we moved in 16 years ago, but every year, more weeds sprout between the rocks. This year, there was more green than gray.  

I'd love to replace the rocks with a thick layer of wood mulch. But removing all those rocks will be such a nightmare that I'm tempted to just put the mulch on top. Anyone out there ever tried that? Or should I resign myself to a weekend of rock removal?

 

 

 

 

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