Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sweet Sounds of Springtime!




Although springtime has arrived (on the calendar) in Southeast Wisconsin, many of us still have a considerable amount of snow in our yards… but there is HOPE! While outdoors this past week, I listened for those sweet sounds of springtime and was pleased to hear many of our migratory birds have returned to this area. 

Although our American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is the official State Bird of Wisconsin, many other birds also have made appearances during March.  Who can resist stopping to listen to the definitive warble of a sandhill crane, as it rides the wind currents to return from its winter getaway.  The trill of a redwing blackbird is a welcome sound this time of year, along with that loud-and-clear mating call of the male cardinal.  A variety of feathered friends gather on our feeders, twittering and chirping to one another, enjoying the few rays of sunshine that pierced the clouds, and snitching a seed or two before moving on.

Neighborhood children also provide some welcome sounds of springtime, as they bring out their bicycles for the first time, and giggle with each other as they share silly secrets.   Our longer days will keep grownups outdoors a bit longer too, which means the crackle of backyard campfires, and the sweet sounds of conversations with friends and neighbors.  

As we observe additional bird species arriving from the south, soon we’ll be cleaning out our hummingbird feeders and setting out oranges and grape jam for the orioles.  Enjoy the sweet sounds of springtime… while they last!

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture

 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Must eliminate Garlic Mustard!


"LIVING THE GOOD LIFE IN SHADE"

The Garlic Mustard and Buckthorn Battle continues...
                                                                          (part 2)

 
So how does a homeowner truly rid themselves of Garlic Mustard and Buckthorn?    

The simple and direct answer:    BY REMAINING DILIGENT.

 
Let’s focus on controlling Garlic Mustard.  It is beneficial to know it is a biennial plant.   This means that the first year the plant has leaves only and when the plant returns the second year it has leaves and flowers, and so produces seeds.  From the various articles & research, when dispersed, these seeds may lay dormant in the soil for 7 years or longer.    Thus, our goal is to prioritize getting rid of the second year plants first, BEFORE THEY SET SEED AFTER FLOWERING. 

 
There are two primary methods of removal.     

Using an herbicide with Glysophate, (such as KillzAll and is available in our garden center) or hand pulling the plant.  I have used both methods in our backyard woodland area.   If you don’t mind using an herbicide, the Killzall is easy for large areas infested with Garlic Mustard.    The disadvantage of using this product is that it kills all plants it comes in contact with…thus some of the native plants in our yard were also killed.  The natives may be living among the garlic mustard, whether you see them or not.

 

Hand pulling is better for the environment, but is certainly more time consuming.     I am obsessed with pulling garlic mustard and have hired the neighborhood teenager to help me CONQUER AND DESTROY each year.  In these areas I see native plants now thriving.

 

Please share how you are controlling this annoying plant, and admit if you are as consumed with eradicating it as I am! 

Stay tuned…. Next blog will cover how I’m controlling Buckthorn in our wooded backyard.

 
LoriAnne Haischer
Landscape Designer and Horticulturist
LAMMSCAPES!

Friday, March 15, 2013

"The Unmistakeable Charm of a Melting Snow Bank"

Spring is on the way!

Surely, those of us who reside in Wisconsin can appreciate the charm and peculiar beauty of a melting snow bank in March… it signals the onset of spring!   Melting March snow also improves the water table of our soil and provides moisture for turf grass roots just below the soil surface.  Sadly, much of our melting snow finds its way into the storm sewers, especially if we experience a sudden warming trend.  A gradual thaw is more desirable, which enables most melted snow to seep into the soil slowly and percolate through to soil pore spaces below.

Since we experienced a severe drought last summer, many plantings were already stressed and water starved when winter arrived.  We will continue to witness stressed plantings—trees, shrubs, turf—as we proceed into spring and summer.

As snow continues to melt exposing patches of turf, we may observe the ravages of winter snow-load, as well as fungal diseases like snow mold.   Melting snow banks might also reveal damage caused by “visitors” like deer, rabbits, voles, moles, and other critters which wreak havoc with our landscape.

When all snow banks in your yard have melted, it will be time to determine action required to bring your lawn back to its lush and lovely appearance.  Following are a few tips I’ve learned in turf classes and seminars:

Avoid walking on soggy, saturated turfgrass; compaction is never a good thing and causes damage to soil structure below.

Don’t use a heavy rolling device to “even out” lumpy turf; Kentucky blue grass and other desirables HATE compaction!  Weeds don’t mind compacted soil… rolling your turf grass allows weeds to thrive AND deters grass from thriving/spreading.

If renovation is required (starting over), take this opportunity to sculpt the area properly, recreating swales where appropriate.  Bring in only SCREENED TOPSOIL to spread over planting area. Use a quality blended seed mixture (not just one species); spread area with covering of straw to prevent erosion, and WATER!

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Shady Characters!


LIVING THE GOOD LIFE IN SHADE

The Garlic Mustard and Buckthorn Battle

 Since our home is located at the edge of the woods and we have a view of the woodland area from our family room window, it is my obsession to keep the area free of garlic mustard and buckthorn.  As a landscape designer and horticulturist at LAMMSCAPES!

it is my goal to keep the woodland edge as natural as possible, though I am not a purist with using native plantings.

Several future blogs will touch upon living in a naturally wooded and shaded yard.

 
We have lived in our home for thirteen years, and I began the battle with garlic mustard about eleven years ago.   All be-it na├»ve at the time we moved in, the “native” plant with the “pretty white spring flowers” seemed delightful.   Unfortunately, as I found out quickly, this plant became prolific and invasive.  See the photos below.

 

                                    Garlic Mustard
The buckthorn must not have been too bad when we moved in, because the kids could run freely in the woods, building their forts and getting around easily.   

Several years after living in our home, the kids became teenagers and chose organized sports over “playing in the woods”.   Suddenly, it seemed, the buckthorn became so thick it was difficult to get a few feet in to the woodland area. 

 

See photo below help to you ID buckthorn in your yard.

 

              

 

Stay tuned for future blogs topics on how to keep up with the never ending battle of keeping these two invasive plants at bay!

 

LoriAnne Haischer

LAMMSCAPES!  Horticulturist & Landscape Designer