Friday, January 13, 2017

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2017 Landscape Resolutions

In a recent survey the number one resolution for the year wasn't dieting, but to be a better person. Truly admirable. Why not consider some resolutions to make your landscape better in 2017, too? The Hortiholic will happily share a few suggestions.

Help to reduce the spread of a very bad plant, buckthorn
  • Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is a noxious invasive, not an acceptable screening plant. Do yourself and your neighbors a huge favor and get rid of it to slow the spread. Boxelder and Siberian elm are equally awful and should share the same fate.
Assess the front of the house, and elsewhere
  • Tens of  thousands of dollars are spent on home renovations so our houses won't be "dated". How long has it been since you've considered the front of your house? Stand at the street, pretend it isn't your home and objectively ask, "Does this landscaping make my house more beautiful or is it as tired as the _______ (kitchen, bath, fill in the blank) I just replaced? Everyone sees the front of your home. Be proud of it. If you're overwhelmed seek professional help (design, not a therapist), preferably before spring so you're ready to proceed with ideas, or even better, a plan when weather breaks.
  • Just because you divided the Hosta lining the sidewalk and now have 150 or more "plants", don't feel compelled to share Nature's bounty. Compost 'em or throw 'em away. Don't put the neighbors in a position where they feel they have to accept and find a place for them. Neighbors, if you don't want the "seconds", politely decline. Perhaps, "Oh thanks, but I have other plans for that area." I'm sounding like Miss Manners, aren't I?
  • Break out of the rut. Try 3 new varieties of annuals, perennials, veggies or herbs. They don't have to be new on the market. Tried and true is good, especially if you're a newer gardener and building confidence in your green thumb. New to you and your garden is just fine.
  • Make life easier on yourself and stop trying to grow grass under a Norway maple. Too much shade, too much root competition. Consider a really tough shade tolerant ground cover. If that's too daunting make a bed with mulch as the ground cover. Let the bare soil and lack of grass suggest a potential bed outline. 
Create a pollinator-friendly place
  • Bees and Monarchs aren't the only pollinators. Other butterflies, moths, insects and birds can use all the help they can get. Check out "Little Garden Club of Wilmette Pocket Prairie Plant Selection Guide" as a great resource. They've certainly raised my understanding of how even a grouping of 5 or more native plants as a way station in your garden can make a big difference!
  • Do you have a room whose windows no longer "tell" time of day because of the foliage "curtaining" it? Do guests have to walk on the grass, or single file, to the front door because the landscaping is overgrown? If it's just a plant or two and you think it's salvageable, find out what the plants are and whether they can handle a rejuvenation prune or... must be trashed. 
Save tags to replicate what you liked
  • If you're not an obsessive compulsive person (guilty), if you're not a spreadsheet guru (guilty again) save the tags and labels from your plant purchases. I recommend a year, but two would be better. It's so much easier in the spring to replicate a successful container or add to a perennial grouping if you have the tags. Spring is frenzied in the garden center. A rousing game of 20 questions with your favorite horticulturist ("Well, I think it was blue. Maybe a foot tall. I don't remember when it bloomed. What was it?") may not yield the correct answer.
Take up birdfeeding and enjoy the show
  • Get a bird feeder and keep it filled! Winter is tough for our feathered friends when snow cover is deep. Learn the species names. I guarantee you'll enjoy watching them jockeying for a spot at the feeder. The antics of the squirrels trying to get around the baffle is fun, too. You'll be saving lives.

I got rid of so much angst with this post I think I can skip my therapy session this week.                          

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