Northern & Central Midwest

March, 2006
Regional Report

Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

Cut back your ornamental grasses before the new growth even starts. Tie up the old stems and leaves with twine, about 6 inches above the crown and then again about a foot up. Cut them off with a saw, pruners, or a chainsaw. Simply toss the tied bundle at the curb for pick up or on the brush pile.

Trust Your Rain Gauge

Put out your rain gauge. Monitor every few days during the rainy season to make sure that your landscape receives at least an inch of water a week. If it doesn't, plan to irrigate. Put your gauge wherever you are sprinkling to make sure you get the amount of water you want.

Take Advantage of Local Seminars

Check out local garden centers for classes and seminars. Most schedule all types, from designing your landscape to selecting perennials to planting and caring for vegetables. Be sure to check out the "big box" stores as well because many of them also offer how-to classes. Best of all, most gardening workshops are free!

Plant Annual Vines

Consider annual vines this year, for adding height and possibly screening. Purple hyacinth beans, moonflowers, scarlet runner beans, cardinal vines, and old fashioned sweet peas all have attractive flowers that are often fragrant. These vines are vigorous enough to cover a screen in a season and give color through all the way through fall.

Plan a Kitchen Garden

Incorporate salad greens and herbs into the regular vegetable garden or use them in the true cottage style by weaving them through perennial and annual beds. Containers next to the kitchen door make a beautiful statement, and it's super-convenient to step out and snip for dinner.

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