Feel good about planting hollies. Not only do they provide great winter color, they help sustain birds and wildlife. Folklore has it that they’ll even ward off evil spirits, which is always helpful at the holidays or any time.
Do you hate to cut down trees? We do too. Here’s a way to save and honor that tree in your yard that must go because it’s crowding other trees or your roof or it’s not going to make it through another year.
The arid Southwest, extending to Central Texas, is well ahead of the curve when it comes to rain barrels. People here get it. But still not everyone has a rain barrel. There’s no reason to wait.
Drought-tolerant landscapes are an idea whose time has come. Many homeowners in Austin get this. Here’s a look at several non-lawn lawns that may inspire you. While they almost all require getting rid of that pesky turf, they’re easy to maintain later on. Most importantly, they’re not overly thirsty.
Are you a great water conservationist? There’s a contest for that. The Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation gives away dozens of prizes to the residents of winning cities. Find out more…
Raising chickens just gets bigger and better, and so too, does the Annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour. The 6th Annual event takes place April 19.
How do gardeners get through the deep, snooze-inducing winter? They salivate over seed catalogs and plat their future plots. Increasingly, that involves seeking out the rare heirloom seeds that can produce all many of vegetables, fruits and herbs that have vanished from modern supermarkets.
A hoop garden is one of the easiest ways to extend the planting season. If you’re hooked on homegrown lettuce and kale, you may want to make the effort. It won’t cost much. Here are a few tricks.
You may not think you can do much to save the honey bees, which continue to die in alarming numbers worldwide. But you can take a stand in your home landscape by banning a class of pesticides that are especially harmful to bees.
Stage 2 watering restrictions are not the most restrictive, but you still need to know when to water (at night if you’re using a sprinkler system). In Austin, you’ll also get distinct perks for Installing more efficient watering systems…
Eventually every gardener realizes they may want to save some seeds, or experiment with growing red carrots or purple tomatoes. Here are some resources for picky seed consumers.
Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy lives on, with a state full of wildflowers and a center that can help you pick the right native plants for your home landscape. Want to help bees and butterflies? The LBJ Wildflower Center makes it easy.
Stop the inhumane poisonings! Here are five ways to safely shoo and deter rodents, all of which are more eco-friendly than spreading poisons that endanger children, and kill pets and wildlife.
Are you weary of mowing, weeding and fertilizing that yawning stretch of lawn? Consider installing a patch of native prairie. A Pocket Prairie can reduce your thirsty conventional turf, replacing it with native grasses and flowers. You’ll be feeding butterflies and birds, and cut down your grass mowing obligations, perhaps to zero.
Yes, it’s cold for you, the tree trimmer. But pruning in the winter is kinder to plants. It discourages sap flow from the cuts, inhibits the spread of disease (like oak wilt) and gives deciduous and blooming trees time to recover before the spring growth period.
With the U.S. in the grip of possibly the worst outbreak of West Nile Virus ever, people need to do all they can to avoid getting bitten by the Culex mosquito that carries the disease and reduce the mosquito population in their yard…residents may be able to repel or reduce the mosquitoes living and reproducing in their yards by applying botanical oils that mosquitoes find disagreeable. A caveat: These products are no substitute for protecting your person (please refer back to the advice above). But they could reduce the mosquitoes breeding in and visiting your yard.
Drip line irrigation is a great idea for gardeners who want to save water and grow plants successfully.
By soaking the ground with water, the drip line approach mimics the effect of a gentle soaking rain, instead of battering leaves with a harsh jet of water like so many sprinkler systems do. More importantly, by slowly delivering the water to the soil and plants and not spraying it overhead the air, a drip line system can better target, and thereby reduce, the water needed for landscape or edible plants.
We usually watch out for snakes in the garden. You don’t want to be caught unaware.
It turns out that the same could be said for your garden hose, which could be a snake in the grass when it comes to chemical pollution. Like most real snakes, it’s probably not mortally dangerous. But you need to know more about it, especially if you’re using your hose as a drinking spigot or to water an edible garden.
Healthy Stuff.org, known for testing common kids’ toys for lead, cadmium and other pollution, recently tested 179 garden products, including two types of garden hoses and four types of garden work gloves, for chemical contaminants and toxic metals.
Ah, spring. You can smell it on the air — that bracing ammonia smell wafting off your neighbor’s lawn; the acrid odors at the local home store, where the first six aisles have been packed with heaping bags of the season’s poisons.
Hydramethylnon, glyphosate, dicambra, atrazine and 2,4-D.
There’s a little something to wipe out every potential lawn and garden interloper, but the most popular consumer weapons in the annual war on nature are the “weed and feeds.” These fertilizers-herbicide combos were conceived of more than 50 years ago in the US to enrich turf grass, while simultaneously stamping out invading weeds.
Just in time for weed-and-feed season, the Natural Resources Defense Council has filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to stop the use of the weed killed known as 2,4-D.
This neurotoxic chemical, infamous as a key ingredient in Agent Orange, is still allowed in products used to treat lawns, golf courses and in commercial operations.
Although it’s less obvious during winter, with the fields and forests having gone dormant, Texas’ historic drought continues to claim casualties.
Trees, especially, remain at risk because they use the winter months to grow root systems, and the moisture in the soil will determine whether they’ll recover from 2011’s record drought and heat.
Every year the holidays bring the same debate: Is it more eco-friendly to use a live fresh-cut evergreen or a reusable faux tree?
And the answer is that the most eco-friendly yuletide solution is to decorate a potted live tree, which is planted after the holidays.
The next choice would be to buy a live Christmas tree, and have it mulched after the holidays.
Pine and fir tree mulch is commonly used in civic garden areas or even as fuel. In recent years, people have come up with a variety of creative ways to reuse even whole discarded Christmas trees, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA).
This week, as you express your thanks for the good food on your table, you may want to also discuss how you can assure the future of healthy food.
Roger Doiron, founder of Kitchen Gardener’s International and the idea man behind the White House garden, extols the benefits of converting your lawn into a garden in this TedxDirigo talk. You will save money, help secure safer, healthy food for your family and put land into agricultural use on a planet that’s growing short of soil and water, Doiron explains.
We feed birds in the winter. But Americans have not been as aggressive about feeding butterflies in the summer.
The best way, of course, is to supply many varied and native flowers for your area. Plant those with a variety of colors and shapes — bright red and purple flowers rich in nectar in trumpet and cone shapes with sturdy “landing pads” — and you will see butterflies gravitating to your yard from spring through summer. Love the look of nature? Get really saavy and plant the vines and vegetation that caterpillars need also.