Yard & Garden

The great Christmas tree debate

Horticulturally-speaking, anything but real evergreens for the holidays would be akin to heresy. They should be drawn, quartered, disemboweled and burned at the stake, in any order. And then fed to the lions. That includes everything from Christmas trees to swags to wreaths and garlands - even those decorations tucked into the table centerpiece for holiday dinners. Thirty to forty ...Read More


Gentlemen, prep your engines for winte­r

Mr. Rogers, my junior high shop ­instructor, would probably be upset over my lack of knowledge of small engines. Sure, I ­remember terms such as piston, oil and carburetor, and know that gasoline makes it all run with a spark plug. In my car, I can put in windshield washer and change a tire if necessary. But that’s the extent of ...Read More


Don’t mourn – fertilize!

Some folks see the death of any plant as a ­funereal experience, lamenting the loss of a plant and the potential end of the world. Some of us say “Ah, such is life.” and then “Wow! I have room to put something else in.” That being said, tree death for the most part is something to mourn. Big old shade ...Read More

White picket fence on lawn

Stop the insanity

Years ago I must have touched a hot stove, as I’ve never touched one since. Many are probably in the same boat, ignoring their parent’s comment “not to do it” but ­learning that we should have listened. Along those lines, Albert Einstein has been credited (though with little actual proof) with the definition of “insanity” as doing the same thing ...Read More


Rain, rain, go away come again in late summer

It’s August, and who knows what the weather will be. June was a soggy mess, though many of the plants loved all the rain, particularly the corn, hostas and trees. Of course, it also brought out the mosquitoes and other little ­biting creatures. That’s why it’s always important to make sure gutters drain, plant saucers and watering cans are emptied ...Read More


Suggestions for what to plant in July

From a gardening standpoint, July is sort of the in-between month where we seem to enjoy the bounties of the month, and not worry about planting anything. July is fresh sweet corn rolled in butter, plump red cherry tomatoes that pop in your mouth, and juicy peaches that ooze liquid down your chin. You can’t get much better than nature’s ...Read More


Watering dos and don’ts

Summer means heat, humidity and maybe the lack of rain. One never knows for sure, though. We could get cool weather and lots of moisture. Fortunately, Illinois hasn’t ­experienced years of severe drought, but if we go through some dry ­conditions, there are some things to remember and things you definitely should not do. The so-called facts and myths. FACTS: ...Read More


How to prune for renewal and rejuvenation

Okay, here’s one last column this year on pruning. If all goes well, everything should have been in full bloom sometime last month or at least by this month. Forsythia, deutzia, lilacs, viburnums and spirea are just some of the many, many flowering shrubs peppering the landscape with colors ranging from white to yellow to orange to red to pinks ...Read More


More on how to properly prune

Continuing last month’s pruning topic, it’s come to my attention that folks are scared of pruning wrong. To that I say, go by the three-beer pruning method. Drink three beers, and then go out and prune, making sure you do NOT use the chainsaw. As you’re pruning, you will realize how fun it is, and you don’t care if you ...Read More


Proper pruning pays

There is nothing worse than a storm wreaking havoc on your trees. It’s enough to make you cry. Several years ago, an ice storm hit my yard, snapping the tops out of the clump birch trees. You could hear the limbs breaking, and it was heart breaking knowing there was nothing to do but wait it out. Fortunately, the trees ...Read More