Green Garden, Green Home Newsletter


Welcome to the first Green Garden, Green Home e-newsletter. Our goal is to encourage natural yard care techniques and provide tips and seasonal reminders specific to our area. Each Spring and Fall we will highlight what you should be thinking about as you prepare for the season, spotlight a pest you might commonly see in your garden and highlight actions you can take to help protect our local water quality. 


Seasonal Garden Tips
Pitchfork in wheel barrel with dirt.

Well, it may not seem quite like spring (I’m still wearing my winter coat) but the crocus and tulip bulbs tell a different story. There are two things that you can start doing now to help with the upcoming planting season – adding compost and weeding. 

Prepare new and old planting beds and gardens by mixing in 1 to 3 inches of compost into soil. The best tool for mixing compost into an established garden is a shovel or pitchfork. For a new flower bed, a rototiller may be a better (and less arduous) choice. Compost works with any soil. It helps sandy soil hold nutrients and water, and loosens clay soils so that water drains better and roots are able to spread. It can also invigorate nutrient depleted soil since compost is nutrient rich.

When it comes to weeding, there seems to be two camps – those who find it to be a Zen-like activity and those who see it as a mind-numbing, cumbersome task. The only advice I can give is that weeding now saves a lot of work later, especially since many of the weeds (and their roots) are small and the ground is well saturated making them much easier to pull this time of year. Additionally, the weeds you see now will go to seed in late spring, so it’s best to pull them before that happens. Once weeds are pulled, make sure you remove them completely from your yard and compost them. As the saying goes, “a weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.” Weeds are tenacious, and weeding once will not be enough, but getting the pulled plant out of your yard will definitely help.

Stormwater and You
Urban Landscape graphic

Did you know that in our urbanized landscapes more than half of the falling rain water simply runs off our impervious surfaces (like buildings, streets and parking lots) and travels untreated to local waterways? 

Did you also know that most mature grass lawns are considered impervious since grass roots become so thatched and thick with old stems and roots that water simply cannot penetrate it? 

This spring, why not take a baby step and convert one area of your grass to a garden bed or expand an existing flower bed, especially in an area that is shady or on a slope? To inspire yourself, buy some water-based spray paint and see what different garden shape and sizes might look like. Sheet mulching is the easiest way to convert an area from grass to garden. Simply cover lawn areas with layers of newspaper or cardboard, then 3 to 6 inches of compost and/or wood chips. Wait a few months for the grass to die, and then dig holes through the mulch to plant shrubs. You can also till the compost and dead sod directly into the soil to create planting beds.

The Usual Suspects: Aphids

There probably aren’t many gardeners who haven’t encountered aphids. They are soft-bodied, almost colorless insects that feed off plant sap and can reproduce at an alarming rate. Sap is the life blood of a plant and carries nutrients, sugars, and water to and from the leaves, roots and stems.  

There are a few tell-tale signs that your plant has an aphid infestations. You might notice a sticky substance around your plants, which is excreted from the aphids and called honeydew. If your plant starts to wither or droop, or its leaves loose color or prematurely drop off– take a moment to check the underside of the leaves since that is where aphids spend their time. 

Aphids don’t really have any defense mechanism so they can easily be washed of plants with a strong hose stream. If you have a heavy infestation on certain leaves, prune or pinch off those leaves.  Ladybugs and Lacewings are beneficial insects that have a love of aphids and should be encouraged in your garden. 

Aphid Leaf
In the News
Monte Cristo award-winning yard

Want to be recognized and rewarded for doing green gardening? Nominations are now being accepted for the new Monte Cristo Green Gardening Award category. This prestigious award is only given a few select homes at the annual award ceremony in October. The new Green Gardening Award was developed to demonstrate how beautiful a garden can be, all while using natural yard care principles like; smart watering techniques, stormwater infiltration practices, no chemical pesticide use. The full list of criteria and nomination forms can be found on the Monte Cristo webpage

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