1. Published
    Spring lawn care tips

    Our lawns started to grow not too long ago, slowly at first and it has really ramped up in just a couple of weeks. If you have not wandered out in the yard with all the rotten weather that included snow and rain, you’re likely to see that the lawn is due for that first mowing.

  2. Published

    When gardeners talk about tender or warm-loving vegetables, the conversation is not about how caring and affectionate the vegetables are, but how they need warmer air and soil temperatures to get off to a good start.

  3. Published

    Crabgrass may be an annual grassy weed, but it certainly seems to be perennial problem for homeowners. Preventing it every spring can be done, but without knowing more, that becomes the normal expectation and need every year.

  4. Published

    Gardeners have left the warm comfort of the house, and the impacts of winter are very evident as we do that “walk about” the yard and begin to formulate spring gardening plans. Master Gardener Help Desks have been open for a couple of weeks already with a lot of questions.

    Q: I have noticed “runs” in the lawn, focusing near the bird feeder and then going in all directions. What is it?

  5. Published

    Our Master Gardener Help Desks are now open for the season, and visits, phone calls, and emails have started out strong. Here are some of the highlights in the last couple of weeks:

    Weather related to landscape plants

    Q:        Is it too late to prune oaks to help prevent the possible spread of oak wilt?

    A:        Best range is November through February. This keeps us clear of oak wilt season. As of this column, we are really too close to sap flow to risk it.

  6. Published

    It's that time of year. Ready, set… and wait. 

    The winter snows are all gone and recent snows are not going to last long as we have more and more days above freezing temperatures. There is a general feeling that we should be outside doing “something” in the yard. While we continue to experience weather that is warm one day, cold and snowy the next, there are some really basic gardening tasks that can be done. Do these on a dry day or while the ground remains frozen in the early part of the day.

  7. Published

    Every gardener can enjoy spring blooms a little earlier than usual, the trick is to do so indoors. Many of our ornamental flowering trees and shrubs have the 2022 flower buds ready and waiting right now. Typically, our ornamental landscape plants produce the next season’s bloom not too long after they have completed flowering, so a few weeks after blooms fade, those landscape plants are already hard at work producing the next spring’s flower buds.

  8. Published

    The best gardening plans are those that involve family and vegetables that are loved by everyone that seem to magically produce wildly for us with minimal care. As it turns out, how successful we are can depend on the kinds of vegetables we gravitate towards. Growing vegetables that need similar care can make gardening more effective and efficient.

    If you like our cool season vegetables, consider those that are grouped by plant families:

    • Alliums: onion, leek, garlic*

  9. Published
    Dormant oil sprays

    Home orchardists often under value the importance of applying a dormant oil spray to their fruit trees. Dormant oil sprays are typically applied to the point of run off to the branches and trunks of fruit trees to control over wintering adult insects and insect eggs that were laid last summer and fall as a means of lowering the insect pressure early in the season. Dormant oil sprays do not manage insects that are overwintering off your fruit trees or in the soil around your trees. These insects will be managed through yo

  10. Published

    Are you one of those gardeners who always gets the “itch” to start gardening too early each year? Don’t worry. There are some preventative steps to take to delay the early onset of Gardenitis:

  11. Published

    Gardeners grow their houseplants all summer to get them healthy only to see them slowly decline all winter with the hope they are alive come spring. Late fall through December bring some of the lowest light levels into our homes, really limiting the growth of all of our houseplants.

  12. Published

    How do you get a flower garden to be in bloom all summer or even longer? The simple answer is – by planning for it.

  13. Published
    Note: This is the second part of a series on indoor pests. Read part 1 on pantry pests.

    Drain flies and fungus gnats are another couple of household nuisance pests. They can be found any time of the year but may be more noticeable in winter when we are inside a lot more.

  14. Published
    Note: This is the first part of a two-part series on indoor pests. Read part 2 on drain flies and fungus gnats. Finding pantry pests

    While pantry pests generally show up in February and March, University of Illinois Extension is already getting emails and calls.

  15. Published

    January is not too early to start to plan for a new home orchard or to consider replacements for aging fruit trees in an existing home orchard. There are several different kinds of fruit trees to consider, apple, cherry, peach, pear, and plum.

    Since we are in the northern portion of Illinois, apple is likely the main fruit tree grown in back yards because it is the hardiest. For the home orchard, apples are a good starting point. Once you have got a good handle on apples, expanding out to other fruit trees will be easier.

  16. Published

    Now that you have cleared off the coffee table and the kitchen counter from the holiday catalogs, the next pile will be gardening solicitations and more catalogs.  

    Historically, this time of year was when gardeners ordered to get the hard-to-find seeds, perennial plants, and certain varieties of brambles and fruit trees. Given industry trends the last two growing seasons, it is going to be more important than ever to place all your orders as soon as possible.

  17. Published

    Shortly you will begin to see Christmas trees sitting by the curb, waiting for the assigned pick-up date to be collected and mulched. This is one way to be sure your holiday tree gets recycled.

    If you get your tree composted in a community program, don’t forget to take advantage of the composted material later by bringing some back home and using it in your landscape beds. Also, any of those fallen needles inside the home can be added directly to the home compost pile.

  18. Published

    Many of us gave our houseplants a vacation all summer long to recharge and recover from being indoors, yet here we are again dealing with them for the dark days of winter.

  19. Published
    Rabbit damage

    In a typical year, this column in the middle of December would focus on how to deal with wildlife damaging valuable landscape plants. This year, the ground is clear, and lawns are still green. While the weather remains favorable, rabbits will feed on the diversity of plant material in the home landscape, lessening damage to any one plant. They will feed on grass, clover, and other lawn weeds as long as they can. Rabbits also will continue to feed on plants well outside of the landscape, further limiting damage around the home.

  20. Published
    Part of holiday tree history

    Decorating evergreen trees at Christmas is an old German custom that originated in the region along the upper Rhine River. The Christmas tree was first brought to America by Hessian troops during the Revolutionary War and, another early account tells of American soldiers setting up and decorating a tree at the wilderness outpost of Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) in 1804.