1. 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

  2. Published

    Our landscapes are more than flowers and trees. Within a natural landscape, you will find multiple layers starting at the ground level and moving all the way up into the canopy of the trees. Wildlife utilizes these layers depending on their needs like nesting and breeding or gathering food. Plants will intermingle creating communities based on the conditions present such as shade, heavy clay soil, or a steep slope. Many of our home landscapes have unique site conditions.

  3. Published

    Our days are getting longer and warmer, and many gardens are awash in color from spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils and tulips. Unfortunately, the blooms will eventually fade, leaving many of us wondering what we can do to help make sure that they are ready to go again next year.

  4. Published

    Now that we are spending more time outside, you might be noticing more and more mounds or ridges of soil popping up in your lawn. There are a few different animals that like to make these mounds, but often the main culprit is the mole.

  5. Published

    In all walks of life there are do’s and don’ts, but in my world of teaching horticulture a very rare word to use is “should.” I don’t like to use the word should. The word “should” tends to turn people off when receiving advice. When people call the Extension office, I make a conscious effort not to “should” all over them.

    However, there are a few rare occasions I do use the term should when it comes to landscaping. Following are a few of those instances.

  6. Published

    Do you have limited space to grow plants outdoors? Or maybe you have an area that could use some color but don’t have anywhere to put plants in the ground. Container gardens may be the solution to your problem.

    Almost anything that you can grow in the garden can also be grown in a container. You just need to provide a few basic needs to your plants – a container, growing media, water, nutrients, and light. When growing plants in a container, here are some things to consider:

  7. Published

    Every year, hummingbirds travel from their winter homes in Central America and Mexico to North America. Hummingbirds are currently making their trip north with an expected arrival to west-central Illinois around April 10 to 20. Knowing when these birds will arrive can help us prepare for their much-awaited arrival.

  8. Published

    Spring has arrived. Signaled by the swooping robins, honking geese, and bustling aisles in the garden centers. A popular spring task is selecting grass seed to help plump up the lawn for the growing season. But what cool-season grass seed should you pick for your yard?

    Timing

    The garden center shelves are bursting with bags of lawn seed, but is it the right time to sow that seed? It doesn’t hurt to overseed in the spring but there are a few reasons why to wait until late summer to early fall.

  9. Published

    Sunflowers (Helianthus annus) are a great addition to the home garden. Not only do they provide colorful flowers, but they can also be a potential food source for people and wildlife. With various shapes, sizes, and bloom colors, sunflowers are an easy plant to incorporate into your landscape.

  10. Published

    When pruning species that bloom on new wood such as panicle and smooth hydrangeas, you can remove as much as one-third to one-half of the total mass of the shrub. Hydrangeas are a popular blooming woody shrub that add attractive foliage and large, striking blossoms to landscapes. An important part to keeping those large blossoms is pruning. If hydrangeas don’t bloom for a season, it is likely due to not enough sun, an early frost, or incorrect pruning.

  11. Published

    Winter is a time for reflection. We often spend more time inside looking outside during the Illinois winter. Perhaps one of the most popular past times for many of us is watching the birds, which often stand in stark contrast to the still winter landscape. It is through this, that I learned something fascinating about the relationship between blue jays and oak trees.

  12. Published

    For many of us, the desire to start gardening gets stronger and stronger as we near spring. Seed starting is a popular way to kick off the gardening season. Despite the advantages and relative ease, there are a few things that can go wrong when you start your own seeds.

  13. Published

    Whether you are a lover of science, nature, data, or all the above; citizen science is a great way for people just like you to participate in scientific processes by collecting data through programs such as  the tracking of native butterfly populations, identifying native plant species and wildlife, monitoring your local streams and rivers, and so much more. Citizen science is a great opportunity to get outside to collect information from your local environment and share it with the scientific community.

  14. Published

    Winter may be an odd time to write about an insect that we only see during the warmer months of the year. Yet, I can’t help but marvel at the architecture of the baldfaced hornet’s nest, which has been revealed in the canopy of trees after leaf drop. This winter I have seen several baldfaced hornet nests in trees. The nest itself is a beautiful oblong structure, that is papery and grayish but if inspected closely it has waves of dark and light colors washing over its surface.

  15. Published

    Garden and seed catalogs have been arriving for a while now. When flipping through catalogs, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices. Unfortunately, you probably don’t have room (or time) to grow everything you see, no matter how amazing it seems. So how should you go about choosing what vegetables to grow this year? 

  16. Published

    Have you ever planted seeds, and nothing sprouted? This could be the result of many different things such as soil moisture, seed viability, soil temperature, planting depth, and many other factors; however, not all seeds are ready to sprout as soon as they are planted in soil. Some seeds require a temperature change to trigger the end of a dormancy (or sleep) period; this process is called stratification.

  17. Published

    When determining what mulch is best for your vegetable garden, you may encounter all manner of solutions online and suggestions from fellow gardeners. But what mulch works the best for growing big tasty veggies while keeping the weeds down. Following are some of the most common mulches used in the vegetable garden listing their pros, cons, and where they are best suited for use in the landscape.

  18. Published

    We often don’t think much about insect pests outside of the occasional pantry pest or accidental invader during the winter months. Despite it being the middle of winter, that doesn’t mean our plants won’t have insect problems. This is particularly true for houseplants, where insect pests often seem to arrive out of nowhere.

  19. Published

    A new year provides the opportunity to try new plants in the garden. With all the plant and seed magazines coming in, it can be difficult to decide on what varieties to pick of your favorite vegetables and flowers. Fortunately, the All American Selections (AAS) is an independent non-profit organization that tests new varieties of plants and awards top performers for their superior performance. Below is some information about this year’s national award-winning varieties that might be of some assistance for your 2022 decisions.

  20. Published

    “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

    This quote, which has likely made it onto posters in classrooms and by the coffee pot in the breakroom, is from philosopher William James.

    A new year is often heralded with a renewed sense of hope. A restart! However, the older I get, I am seeing it more like an “I made it!” moment. Followed quickly by a “Now what?”