1. Published

    As we approach fall, the days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are starting to cool off. As this happens, we can start seeing changes in the landscape. Many of our landscape plants are beginning to look a little ragged this time of year. While others, like goldenrod and asters, are in their full glory, and before we know it, trees and shrubs will start displaying their fall colors. While our plants are preparing themselves for winter, so are insects.

  2. Published
    Invite nature into your backyard

    A parent fed up with their child’s persistent use of technology (internet, video games, tablet, you name it!) has decided to pull the plug on their sedentary habits. They strip the devices from their child’s hands and throw them outside and say “Go play!” The child looks around. Before them lays their entire suburban property comprised of lawn. Looking left and right they see their neighbor’s yard, more lawn.

  3. Published

    As we draw nearer to fall, it's time to start thinking about bringing houseplants back indoors for the winter. Many houseplants are native to tropical and subtropical climates and, while they may do great outdoors during the summer, cannot tolerate our cold temperatures. When the thermometer starts to get below 55 °F consistently, it's time to start bringing houseplants back indoors.

  4. Published
    A tale of two articles

    Have you read some of the headlines lately concerning monarch butterflies? “Monarch Butterflies are Thriving!” “Monarch Butterflies are Endangered!” Both these headlines (or something similar) recently saturated newsfeeds for Americans. Considering these stories came out about two weeks apart, what is a person to think? Are monarch butterflies okay? Or are they in peril? As you may have gathered with headlines like this, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

  5. Published

    Spider mites are a common pest on many types of plants. The most commonly encountered species is the twospotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae). While we often think of them attacking houseplants, particularly during the winter months, they can also be a problem on fruits, vegetables, and landscape plants, particularly during hot, dry weather.

  6. Published
    The Big Three Mowing Tips

    Each year I try to write a couple of articles about lawns. Each time I’ve written one of these, I have assumed you, the reader, care about your lawn. Turns out, there are a lot of people who have lawns, that don’t care about having a perfectly manicured turf. You just want to know enough to get by. After all, if it’s green then it’s good! This article is for you. Please note: this information is for cool-season lawns in Illinois.

  7. Published

    Have you ever gone out to pick a peach only to find they have a large brown, mushy spot? Or perhaps you've brought some peaches home from the farmers' market only to have developed these same spots a few days later. The likely culprit is brown rot.

  8. Published
    A local problem with widespread implications

    What is a watershed? No matter where you live, you are in a watershed. All of Illinois, minus that sliver of land bordering Lake Michigan, is in the Mississippi River Watershed. But we can break down this massive watershed into more local streams and rivers. For instance, I grew up in Adams County, Illinois in the Mill Creek watershed. But watersheds can go even smaller. Perhaps one of the most local watersheds is the one over your head – the roof!

  9. Published
    A tale as old as time

    I’ve been there. It is late fall and there is a hard freeze about to hit. A wise gardener once warned leaving a hose connected to a spigot during a hard freeze could lead to disaster! As water freezes it expands and any water trapped in the nozzle or spigot could expand to the point it bursts the solid metal or plastic construction of our treasured watering devices. Or worse! Freezing water could creep back into the house and burst a pipe indoors. Now we’re in big trouble!

  10. Published

    Many years ago, when emerald ash borer (EAB), had just arrived in northern Illinois, a colleague came across a flatbed trailer loaded with cut ash trees at a gas station. At that time Illinois counties confirmed with EAB had a quarantine that restricted moving ash wood outside of the county.

  11. Published

    There are a variety of insects that will feed on squash. One of the more troublesome, and potentially devastating, is the squash vine borer. If you've grown squash and had a runner or two start wilting, there's a good chance you've had an encounter with squash vine borer.

  12. Published

    The summer of 2012 saw my first year as an Extension horticulture educator; it also was one of the driest years on record. Illinois saw massive shortages of rainfall that year- complete with water restrictions, loss of crops, and the demise of many ornamental landscapes. It was a summer that will be remembered. So, what are the best practices for getting your landscape plants through a drought?

  13. Published

    The Fourth of July holiday often includes parades, barbeques, and fireworks. Fireworks often fill the night sky with their colorful, albeit fleeting displays. The fireworks don’t have to be restricted to the Fourth, though. Whether it be their color, flower shape, or name, a number of plants can add some “fireworks” to your landscape to enjoy throughout the growing season.

  14. Published

    Depending on your soil test results; nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are nutrients we supply year after year to our corn crop; however, there is a nutrient we might be overlooking when making fertilizer applications. Sulfur is considered the fourth most important nutrient needed by plants. With a reduction in sulfur emissions from industrial and transportation sources, atmospheric sulfur depositions are much lower which has led to an increase in sulfur deficient corn. It is important to adequately supply crops with sulfur to maintain a high yielding crop.

  15. Published

    Picking a tree for a windbreak is a big decision. A windbreak protects a home from the constant Illinois wind and blowing snow. With this important job, you want the trees that make up your windbreak to be strong and healthy for as long as possible.

    To help in making that decision here are some popular trees used in windbreaks, but not all are considered ideal species up for the task of protecting your home from the elements.

  16. Published

    One of the most exciting times of the year is the first appearance of small flashing yellow lights in the evenings. The arrival of fireflies or lightning bugs, depending on where you’re from, is a sure sign that summer has arrived. Because of their magical displays, fireflies are one of the few insects that people don’t actively try to kill. However, in many places, people are noticing fewer of them than in the past.

  17. Published

    Having a scenic and healthy pond on your property takes a little bit of strategy and time but does not have to be overwhelming.  Spring is a good time to get ahead of growing vegetation or algae before it becomes a nuisance. Here are five tips to keep your pond healthy for fishing, swimming or other recreational activities:

  18. Published

    Hold on to your hats! It is windy here in Illinois. Wind can be destructive to our homes and landscapes, plus it can make being outside miserable. This is why many Illinoisians plant windbreaks around their homes to keep that biting wind from causing a drafty house, prevent drifting snow, and make being outside tolerable.

    Unfortunately, not all goes as planned with windbreaks. Some of these problems can be avoided with proper planning and choosing plant species suited to your location. Following are some tips for windbreaks.

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  20. Published

    With all the rain we have received this spring, you may have noticed some areas in your lawn or fields where water ponds. The rate at which water moves through the soil profile is influenced by pore size in the soil.  When there are issues with poor drainage, soil has smaller pores and holds water for longer periods of time.

    Soil Composition