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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Sustainable Gardening
Drip irrigation in a raised bed garden.
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Wise Watering Tips for Gardeners

What is the best way to water plants? Community watering restrictions, rural water shortages, and high water costs sometimes require homeowners to make some tough decisions about outdoor water use. Here are ten wise watering tips for gardeners. Establish plant priority needs for water by watering only your most valuable plants. Consider a plants value, its replac...

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rain garden-friend

Rain Gardens

Rain barrels and rain gardens are becoming more and more popular by those wanting to recycle and conserve natural resources. According to U of I Extension Educator Duane Friend, when we receive rain, a lot of it falls on surfaces that cannot soak up water. Roofs and driveways create large amounts of runoff—much of which ends up in storm drains. It is estimated that water from these areas can i...

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Drip irrigation in a raised bed garden.

Low-Water Use Landscapes

My son Derek just moved to Monterey California to attend graduate school at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies. California has been in a drought for a very long time, and so water conservation is a real concern there. In fact, most of our western states have water availability and use issues. No matter where we live, we can all use water more efficiently. In the case of...

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front lawn on 6-11-12
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To Water Lawns or Not

Whether or not to water the lawn is a perennial question for homeowners. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, offers the following advice to help you decide whether to water your lawn this year or not. "When the hot, dry weather arrives, each homeowner needs to decide if they want a green lawn, or if they are willing to let it go dormant," said Rho...

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Green roof at Illinois Dept of Ag in Springfield
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Green Roofs Becoming More Popular

Recently I toured the Illinois Department of Agriculture's green roof on their administration building at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield. It is an impressive sea of green sedum growing atop a structure of concrete and steel. Green roofs are becoming an important part of sustainable urban development. These living roofs provide many benefits, including reducing sur...

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Rain barrels reduce tap water use during summer

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, lawn and garden watering makes up nearly 40 percent of total household water use during the summer. Is there a way this season to cut back on using the tap? "One way to reduce outdoor water usage and conserve water is to collect rainwater," said Jennifer Fishburn, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "A...

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Reusing wooden pallets in the garden

The trend of reusing wooden pallets for gardening seems to have become as popular as ever, said University of Illinois horticulture educator Candice Miller. But there are certain things to consider before such pallets are used, she said. "It's a great idea for the environment to reuse and recycle as much as possible in gardening, but you must also think about the safety of the p...

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Water Saving Tips for landscapes and lawns

When I teach the Master Gardener turfgrass classes, we discuss lawn watering in detail. If you decide to water your lawn to keep it from going into summer dormancy, be sure to water thoroughly and infrequently. One inch a week will keep grass actively growing. Consider the following points as well when watering grass: Do not mow turf too short: 2-3" Do not supply exces...

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Rain barrel savings

The drought of 2012 took a great toll not only on the plants in the garden but also on the gardener's wallet. "It was tough for some gardeners to decide which plants to water and which to let survive on their own," said University of Illinois horticulture educator Candice Miller. "Unfortunately, if a gardener did decide that watering was absolutely essential, they likel...

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Light Pollution

Some of my most memorable life moments happen at night when looking at a starry sky. For me those moments happen on camping trips, while boating down the Illinois River, and when canoeing the Canadian boundary waters. They also occur regularly in my own backyard while swimming at night or sitting in one of my favorite gardens. Especially breathtaking and memorable, are the wint...

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