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Mulch Madness

Calls to the Master Gardener Help Desks about using bark mulches in the home landscape and gardens has prompted a Q&A column this week. Organic mulches are used on new plants to help them establish and lessen transplant shock. Mulches conserve soil moisture; keep weeds and grass from encroaching and moderates soil temperatures, making it easier on the limited root system. On older established...

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Poison Ivy

Poison ivy has been around forever and may have behaved itself by staying out of our yards and groundcover beds…until now. Every time there is a situation that affects our landscapes, likely a corresponding condition is favoring nature. For example, if you don't mow the lawn for a season, you get an interesting mix of weeds germinating and growing to outcompete the lawn grasses. The same can be sa...

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Already July

Vegetable crops are mostly doing what they should be doing right now, given our sporadic plantings working around the weather. U of I Extension Master Gardeners have mainly been getting tree, shrub, evergreen and flower questions, and are not hearing about problems in the vegetable garden. Leafy greens, including Swiss chard, have been doing very well. Harvesting and eating those greens should...

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Bugs, diseases and weeds in the landscape

I've got a weird looking weed that looks like grass but has a different light yellow seed head. How do I get rid of it? One grass-like weed that has shown up in the lawn, flower and garden beds lately is yellow nutsedge. Grass-like because it is actually a sedge. It is yellow-green in color and, if left to mature, produces "nutlets" in the soil to grow from in the futur...

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Gardening Potpourri

Landscape care strategies have certainly changed since it has gotten dry and hot, and now we have gotten scattered rain events giving water to some and not others. We are seeing the end of the spring bulbs with foliage yellowing and drying down, which is accelerated by the hot dry conditions. The early spring bulbs "went away" some time back, now it is the daffodils. Other perennials, like col...

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Dealing with waterlogged soils and plants

Horticulture Educator Rhonda Ferree recently wrote an article on our over-the-top spring rains and the waterlogged soils that resulted. Her comments apply statewide and I wanted to share some that article this week. "It's no secret that much of Illinois has received excessive spring rains, which has resulted in waterlogged soils and flooding. It is important to understand what is happening to...

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viburnum leaf beetle larvae damage

Viburnum Leaf Beetle Returns

This column has talked about how different plants, insects and diseases have developed based on our unseasonal temperatures and rainfall. Last year, I reported on the Viburnum Leaf Beetle larvae feeding towards the end of June. Our accumulation of growing-degree days being so far ahead, the larvae have already been feeding for more than 10 days. Throughout Cook and DuPage counties, homeowners h...

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