1. Published

    The hot, dry weather we have been getting – and will continue to get – changes how we are going to water the home landscape. Best management practices, or BMP, includes more than just watering (but water is so key to plant survival) and more than just your vegetable plants.

    Tips for containers and planters

  2. Published

    Show of hands, please. How many did something to mark National Pollinator Week?

  3. Published

    Master Gardener Help Desk emails have really been different this past two weeks. Our early spring challenges have left and along came the first of our summer concerns in the landscape and vegetable beds. The list turned into more than a column’s worth, so going to hit the big ones this week:

  4. Published

    By mid-June, the spring gardens have either slowed or have finished providing us with all those great colorful flowers, from daffodils to peonies to iris. The same goes for many of our flowering shrubs and trees. Our lawns, with all the rain, are for the most part actively growing and green, but there are some lawns that are beginning to show signs of slowing down for summer.

  5. Published

    If you have not already spotted them, be on the lookout for those bug-eyed insects with their persistent song in the canopies of your landscape. Yep, that’s right, cicadas are among us. In fact, some are even four years ahead of schedule. Learn more about that online in our Home, Yard, and Garden newsletter.

  6. Published

    Homeowners expect so much from shade trees, but those same trees get little care once they get established in the home landscape. Besides getting watered during stressful times, proper mulching can go a long way in the health of the tree.

  7. Published

    Given our milder winter, gardeners may be surprised with the need to do some pruning on shrubs that are typically considered hardy in our area. It is not uncommon to find a bit of winter dieback where last years’ growth was actively growing late in the summer or where we got a bit carried away and fertilized too late in the season. The tips and ends of those branches were not able to harden off in time to survive the winter.

  8. Published

    The Illinois Extension Master Gardener Help Desk email inboxes have been busy since gardening season has arrived. The early season questions have tapered off with a new batch questions, including sowing summer vegetable seeds or getting those tomato and pepper transplants.

  9. Published

    What does our current situation and planting vegetable seeds have in common? Every vegetable seed sown this spring has its own preferred distance from one another.

  10. Published

    Our Illinois weather may “play dirty" starting Friday night, especially in the northern part of the state. Predictions are for below freezing temperatures, which can damage or potentially kill vegetable seedlings, some fruit tree blossom, and tender or warm-loving transplants. Here are some tips to help keep plants safe:

  11. Published

    Most of us are actively cleaning up the perennial beds, vegetable garden, landscape beds and even getting our first lawn mowing out of the way because the whole yard looks better when that’s done. However, not everyone views this time of spring cleaning the same way. Entomologists, for example, are in favor of leaving the overwintering bits up, as many of our insects use that as a means of survival; while plant pathologists view that same garden debris as a source of future disease in your yard.

  12. Published

    There is clearly an uptick in households interested in planting a vegetable garden right now. Seasoned gardeners may be expanding the size of the existing garden or finally trying new (or new-to-them) vegetables that had not won a spot in the garden before. Others are going to be getting started for the first time.

    First time gardeners, this column is for you. There are all sorts of gardening gadgets out there, yet first timers only really need a few basic tools to get the first vegetable garden planted.

    Tools to get started:

    • A garden shovel

  13. Published

    Now is the time to prevent crabgrass so you will not have to see it in the lawn later. Crabgrass like other “weeds” in the landscape is an opportunist. Crabgrass will take advantage of places in the lawn that are thin or have been damaged from the winter, such as the road salt on your parkway.

  14. Published

    The past couple of springs, we have not had the kind of weather for good early season vegetable gardening. This spring has been a lot better with enough drying time to actually get out there and get potato seed pieces in the ground, sow those early rows of spinach and lettuce, and put out cabbage transplants.

  15. Published

    Spring is greening from the ground up. The thunderstorm with lighting last week jump started the lawns and turned them green just about overnight. Still, for some lawns, it may be awhile before you need to bring out the mower.

  16. Published

    Emails to the office this time of year are always a mix of “When can I…?” or “Is it too late already to…?” kinds of questions. Here are three common examples:

    Q: When should I be putting down crabgrass preventer?

  17. Published

    Why not add garden work to your new, and temporary, routine as many of us “sit this thing out” at home? If we hold off getting the garden going just because things are different right now, catching up later will be tough. Besides, getting outdoors in our own yard and spending some time alone is still doing our part.

  18. Published

    We all want to get out in the yard, do something good for the yard, yet there is all this late winter weather hanging on. The cold weather at night, frosty lawns, cold rains during the day or the frost on the ground can keep us from doing the things we want.

    We can do other things besides trying to overseed the lawn, get the garden soil ready for vegetables or work up the ground where the annuals are going. For example, if you bought new flower or vegetable seeds, re-read the packet to be sure when it is time to start them indoors.

  19. Published

    Our plants will break dormancy at different times each spring. This depends on, as you can guess, the kind of weather we have. Besides the warming weather, “chilling hours” influence how soon we see bud swell and blooms.

  20. Published

    University of Illinois Extension and Master Gardener Help Desk phone lines have seen more action recently, especially when it comes to what can be done outside. Here are a few that may ring a bell for many homeowners:

    Q:            I am going to start my own vegetable and flower transplants this year. Can you give me some best practices?