Signup to receive email updates

or follow our RSS feed


Blog Archives

374 Total Posts

follow our RSS feed

Blog Banner

Over the Garden Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.
Over the Garden Fence2

Cold Temps, Snow Cover and Dormancy

When we have very cold weather, it is great to see snow come along with it, for our garden plants at least. Snow cover provides insulation from the drying winter sun and the extreme air temperatures. A good snow cover protects above ground plant parts and helps them survive the winter. In parts of the country that do not experience our kind of cold weather, plants do not have to go dormant. Ma...

Read More >

Winter Work for the Home Orchard

January is not too early to start to plan for a new home orchard or to consider replacements for aging fruit trees in an existing orchard. There are several different kinds of fruit trees to consider – apple, cherry, peach, pear, and plum. As we live in the northern portion of Illinois, apple is likely the main fruit tree grown in back yards and commercial orchards. At the local orchard...

Read More >

What's in your Garden Catalog?

Garden catalogs began to show up in early January and will continue for the few weeks. Each picture looks better than the next and promises to be bigger, better, than last year. There may be plenty of phrases or words that are unfamiliar or perhaps you have seen them before and never went far enough to find out what they mean. Vegetable descriptions will often include a number of initials at th...

Read More >

mailbox full

Gardening Catalogs Filling your Mailbox?

The end-of-year sales and holiday greetings have barely ceased and already the gardening catalogs have begun to arrive in your mailbox and inbox. Some catalogs are still pretty specific, vegetables or flowers, but not both. More and more catalogs today are now offering a bit of everything like the impulse aisle at the checkout. Since new flower and vegetable varieties are offered every...

Read More >

Plants, diseases & bugs over winter

Our weather can influence how well our landscape plants over-winter. Boxwood, rhododendron, azaleas and evergreen groundcovers get through the winter without all the desiccation associated with cold winters and come out in the spring looking a lot better. Limited or no snow can drive the frost deeper into the soil profile. A winter with temperatures that allow cycles of freezing and thawing soils...

Read More >

peeling veggies 2018 Canva2

Keep on Giving the Gift of Compost

Raise your hand if you are cooking for the holidays? My guess is there are quite a few of you. Ever think about all the fresh vegetable waste that goes in the disposal or garbage can? Cooks can get busy and not think about the compost pile or bin sitting just outside. If the pile or bin is large, composting continues all winter. If not it will resume next spring. In either case, adding...

Read More >

Holiday Plant Care 1

Hosting Holiday Plants in your Home

For many, giving holiday plants is an annual tradition. The one we likely think of most often is the poinsettia; yet mums, azaleas, cyclamen, and Christmas cactus are given frequently too. How well these holiday plants hold up and continue to give us enjoyment depends on their care. Proper management of those plants can extend the bloom show and foliage for several weeks, or maybe months. Some wil...

Read More >

garden tools

Yard Equipment Maintenance Tips

Gardeners have reluctantly decided the gardening season is at an end given our current and future weather patterns. It is now time to "put to bed" a lot of gardening and yard equipment until next spring. While each piece may have a different garden function to ease our workload, they can have a lot in common when it comes to winterizing. All things gasoline – 4- or 2-cycle:...

Read More >

birdfeeder canva

Bird Feeding is Not a Part-Time Job

Bird feeders are part of many backyards during the winter months. We enjoy the activity around the feeder, both by the birds themselves and the additional wildlife that feed on the leftovers knocked to the ground. We can attract specific birds by choosing an appropriate feeder and feed. One of our favorite ones seems to be the thistle feeder since it will attract a number of different finches...

Read More >

hose from canva

What's Left to do in the Yard?

Many of our fall yard and garden efforts have been delayed by weather. So what should we be getting done? One of the ongoing efforts has been to keep the lawn mowed, and, if we haven't already, now we need to contend with the leaves that came down in great numbers. There is very likely more than can be mulched and left on the lawn. Leaves bagged by the lawn mower are broken down and can...

Read More >

fall leaves

Don't "Leave" Behind Opportunities this Fall

The fall foliage show is back by popular demand (and because we cannot stop it anyway). Those reds, yellows, and oranges now have begun to subside, and soon enough a night of really below freezing temperatures will bring that to a close. Then, all those leaves will end up in the landscape. Our recent just-below-freezing temperatures caused an immediate fall of green leaves on any tree w...

Read More >

fall 03

Why do we Celebrate OAKtober?

Oak trees are proving to be more important to ecological balance than previously thought. Of the 60-plus native oaks in the United States, 22 of them are right here in Illinois. Homeowners know them for their majestic size and shape, and this time of year, for their colors of red, yellow and gold. Oaks, like all other trees, contribute to our health by removing air pollution, taking in carbon...

Read More >

fall winter tree

A Fall Potpourri of Yard Work

There are still lots of things going on in the home landscape as fall settles in. Woody plants are well on the way to dormancy; leaves are turning fall colors and coming down slowly right now. Most of our flowering perennials have lost that luster that we have enjoyed all summer. In fact, by now, perennials have succumbed to the many foliage diseases common this time of year. Powdery mildew can...

Read More >

bulbs 02

Sorting out Spring and Summer Bulbs

Let's start with a few confusing sentences this week. You plant spring flowering bulbs in the fall and summer flowering bulbs in the spring. You dig up summer bulbs in the fall. You divide spring bulbs in late summer. Your favorite spring bulbs are winter hardy and for them to bloom in the spring they need to have the cold soil temperatures to trigger them to sprout and bloom in the spring. Th...

Read More >

Tree plant measure

Time to Plant Trees

Late summer and fall are great times to plant ornamental and shade trees in the home landscape. The weather is comfortable for us and the trees can begin to establish themselves in yard before the cold weather sets in for the winter. If you are planting a flowering ornamental like a crabapple or serviceberry or another favorite bloomer, you can expect bloom next spring as the flower bud...

Read More >

mums store

Picking and Caring for Fall Decor

Mums and pumpkins have become a staple for fall holiday home decorations, along with straw bales, Indian corn and an array of hard rind fall gourds. Mums and pumpkins already are available at local garden centers, farmers markets and the big box stores. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your fall decorations looking good for the long run. For the longest bloom show, purchas...

Read More >

crabgrass from Richard

Rainy Weather FAQ

Now that we have gotten a lot of rain, plants are responding and that has been driving questions to Master Gardener Help Desks in all the counties I get to work in. Q: My lawn finally has begun to green up after the drought, what should I be doing to get it back in shape? A: It normally takes about two weeks for a lawn to start to green up after...

Read More >


Is Powdery Mildew a Problem?

Powdery mildew can be seen every year on perennials, lawns or landscape plants at some point in the growing season. As a fungal disease, it is not limited to just ornamental plants. Vegetables like pumpkins, squash, melons and grain crops, and even houseplants, can be added to the list too. The white-colored spore growth on the surface of plant tissue gives powdery mildew its name. Some...

Read More >


Don't Give Up the Garden Yet

A lot of things happen towards the end of August – school has begun or is about to, the last family outing of summer, haircuts all around, and then there is the family vegetable garden. End of summer activities seem to signal the end of our time in the garden, yet the vegetable garden is not done with us. Think about clearing out those snap beans that have slowed down and sow fall and l...

Read More >

trees lookng up

Trees are Wilting, Evergreens Dying

An unofficial windshield survey shows an alarming level wilting foliage on ornamental and shade trees planted in the last two to three years, along with trees planted this spring. It takes an extended dry period to have tree foliage wilting. It is obvious when flowers, vegetables and our lawns need water, much less obvious for larger wood plants as they do not show wilting until it gets so bad...

Read More >


How Many Times can We Talk about Water?

I purposely did not go back and count how many times this season I have discussed water. Either we are getting too much, it is interfering with planting, or we are in absolute need of water. Recent weather patterns have brought much needed rain to some of us, but others were left dry. Master Gardener Help Desks continue to get visitors and calls about failing plants. Large evergreens and older...

Read More >

apple scab

Tree and Shrub Disease Update

It happens every year, almost like clockwork. (I say "almost" because not every tree leaf disease shows up every year.) Another good point to make right way is common leaf diseases are rarely fatal to a tree. Some of our common tree leaf diseases are: Anthracnose, often seen on sycamores; and Apple Scab and Cedar Apple Rust are very likely on fruiting apple trees and the ornamental flow...

Read More >

Poisonous Plants

You would not think of intentionally planting poisonous plants in the home landscape, but that is exactly what the University of Illinois - College of Veterinary Medicine has done on campus, and for good reason. They have created an actual garden to grow poisonous plants. Each year, farm livestock, recreational horses and our pets are accidently expose...

Read More >

flowerpot-1722456 1920  2

Watering Hanging Pots and Containers

Many weeks have gone by since containers and hanging pots were planted. At the beginning, watering was easy; plants were small with a limited root system so the container or pot held lots of available water for good growth. Fast-forward to now, and the water management has changed as the plants developed. The hanging pots are now full, with lots of bloom and cascading vines, the containers that ha...

Read More >


Now We Need to Water

What a difference just a few days can make in what we need to be doing in the home landscape. Since the rain shut off or slowed, the first part of the landscape with symptoms of water stress is the lawn (even the lawn weeds). If you planned for it, go ahead and let the lawn go dormant even though it is early in the summer for that to happen. If your fertilizer program is to feed all summer, the...

Read More >