For the past few years, I've been a 'stick to the plan' gardener. That plan was a layout/design, but it was also a plan in terms of sticking to plants that I know and understand how they'd perform. It also was VERY limited on flowers. I've talked about foliage gardening and thanks to our deep shade yard, I've mostly had foliage plants over the years. But, this #FallPlanting season, I felt a little moved to step out of my comfort zone and decided to buy a couple of things at the various end-of-season sales including a number of new (to me) flowering perennials. The first one that I put in my cart was 'Midnight Masquerade' Penstemom or Beardtongue. That's the 1# container at the top of this post. It is a Proven Winner and here's what Walters Garden has to say : This Penstemon will help fill the gap in your lineup for a taller, attractive foliage option. 'Midnight Masquerade' produces a sturdy clump of deep burgundy purple leaves. The
Showing posts with the label biosolids
Before we left town in June, I planted a pair of new (to me) Oakleaf Hydrangeas - Snow Queen - along the fence in an attempt to extend/continue that run of Oakleaf Hydranges along that bed . These are interplanted with some evergreens - Green Giant Thujas. When I planted these, I followed Ralph Snodsmith's advice and gave these "Five Dollar Holes" along with a heavy dose of municipal biosolids to get them started. I set up irrigation for the couple of weeks post-planting for these flowering shrubs and I'm very surprised at how much growth they appear to have put on in such a short time. See below for a photo showing the pair of shrub as they stand now. Flip back here . Very different in a short period of time, right? I'll plan on protecting these with chicken wire this Fall/Winter and hopefully...we'll see some blooms next year.
Last week, I posted a couple of photos showing the 'clumps' of Wild Onions (and their surrounding turf) that I've been digging out of the yard . Over the years, I've found that the ONLY way to remove these things are to dig them up. I've taken different approaches over the years in terms of how much soil I 'take' vs what I 'put back'. This year, I'm trialing a new way to remove the Wild Onions by digging out and NOT pulling the bulbs. In previous years, I'd use a shovel to dig out a clump that included grass. Then, I'd sort of 'tear' the clump apart to try to release the bulbs. And, then...I'd put the clump with the grass on top back in place. This year, I'm taking the turf, too. In an attempt to not leave any bulbs behind. My thought is that the lawn will spread out and fill these spots in this Summer. I'm also NOT composting these - instead...just tossing them directly in our garbage can. But, what di
Here's a quick, early-April check-in on what has happened since the application of a light layer of municipal biosolids as topdressing to our parkway - specifically the section that is IB2DWs. I top-dressed with these Downers Grove biosolids in early March - so right about one month ago. Peek at this post to see the state of the lawn in this section pre-biosolids . Then...have a look below. On the right, is *our* section of the parkway. On the left is the untreated section. That's an emerging domination line , isn't it? Sure feels like a pretty clear outcome from the biosolids, doesn't it?
Another day, another post showing some of the use of biosolids in the yard and garden. This time....it was a couple of half-full trugs of the organic material in the front of the front porch bed and a little bit scattered in the lawn. I last showed using it in the backyard . But, I've put the bulk of biosolids down this late Winter/early Spring in the front. Parkway and main lawn. Bu, also in the front porch beds. Below are a couple of photos showing a bit of biosolids scattered in the front of the bed (first photo) and the two trugs that I used. The reason for applying it to the bed was because I had a bunch of clay that I had dug up that was on the top of the soil. When those clay clumps dried, I kicked them to break them up and then mixed in this organic material. You can also see a little bit in the lawn, too. What is my plan for the next batch of biosolids? I was thinking of running them straight-down my property line in front - to sort of....boost up that 'dom
Having used biosolids to topdress the front parkway and a little bit of my lawn out front, I have now moved on to adding a bit of this organic material to our backyard. This comes after I used the Downers Grove municipal biosolids in vertical mulching and by adding a little bit to our compost bin. I've gone back-and-forth on whether (or not) to order a 3 yard delivery of biosolids, but in the meantime I've been going over to the pick-up station and filling 12 gallons-or-so of the material to use a little bit at a time. As for the backyard, here's a few photos showing how I started with 10 gallons of biosolids as a soil amendment. Below, you can see the 2 buckets and the trug - as well as the rake I use to spread it around. I take each bucket and walk around and sort-of 'drizzle' the biosolids out. You can see how that gets applied in the second photo below. This is when I use that metal rake to pull it out of the piles and spread it a bit more to help it b
Over the past few weeks, I've been working with biosolids in various ways - topdressing parts of the lawn and parkway as well as using it in a vertical mulching strategy in our front porch bed . But, I also wondered....what would happen if I amend our compost storage bin (the non-active, non-mixed storage bin) with some biosolids in an attempt to being to sort-of 'pre-mix' the storage bin. This bin is MOSTLY last Fall's leaves with a little bit of grass clippings mixed-in...as I used the bagger on my mower to collect and 'chop' the leaves. This is also the bin where I throw all my garden clean-up waste (like...the recently removed ornamental grasses) and our kitchen scraps. This past weekend, I took two gallons of biosolids and dumped it on top of this storage bin. See below for how much I added (not much): I used my spade to sort-of mix in the biosolids with the grass blades and it quickly disappeared from the top of the bin. What's the goal? To h
On Monday, I posted a series of photos showing how I had used my post-hole digger to excavate holes - getting into the clay layer below my topsoil - in our front porch bed. I ended up with more than a dozen of them in various spots around the bed including up front. My goal was to help improve the soil conditions, break up that bathtub effect and try to make the area a little bit more hospitable to plants and roots . I called it 'vertical mulching' in Monday's post, but today is a little bit more about that process and how I filled the holes. I recently removed the chicken-wire rings around our Disneyland Roses to prepare them for Spring. In each of those three rings was a heavy bed of mulched-up leaves that I collected last year. Since Fall, there had been a tiny bit of decomposition, but A LOT of the leaves that I used to protect the roses were Oak leaves and those are VERY.SLOW to decompose. So, I went over to the roses and filled up my trug with some leaf litter
I've put down (right around) 36 gallons of biosolids on the two sections of our parkway to date - using 5 gallon buckets and spreading it with a rake to top-dress the turf. This past weekend, I grabbed twelve more gallons (making it 48 total gallons of the stuff) across both sections. First (below) is the little parkway island that sits IB2DWs. Then, I went on the other side of the Norway Maple tree in the parkway and dumped some biosolids in between the tree ring and the property line (below): And, I also went back and filled in some of the spots that looked like they could se some help (below): And...finally, below you can see that I also introduced a little bit to the main lawn - right along the sidewalk. There is a slight void - a few inches in from the sidewalk - that has settled. I'm going to keep trying to go - and get 12 gallons at a time - to continue to top dress the lawn this Spring - even bringing some of it to the backyard to help in that part of the lawn tha
Over the past week or so, I've been working on - and posting about - the front yard beds. Mostly, I've been working on - and thinking about the soil conditions. Since we moved in - Summer of 2017 - I haven't had much luck at all up there. That's six growing seasons (well...five full ones at least) and I've lost things, have had other things not grow so well and removed the biggest plant in this bed last Fall: the large Norway Maple tree. I started last week doing some vertical boring of holes using my post hole digger . Both, to get a real look at the soil conditions, understand how deep the clay lies under the topsoil and to (maybe?) help improve the conditions by cutting through some of that bathtub effect that takes place in clay soils. After I dug a hole about 12" around and 24-or-so-inches deep, I proceeded to fill it up with some leaves and a big helping of biosolids to top it off. My thought is that this 'vertical mulching' will improve
Spring seems like the season of biosolids-application posts and today is no different. Last week, I posted a series of photos showing my use of biosolids in the parkway. And, then I talked about how I was going to use biosolids in a vertical-mulching application to try to help remedy by clay soil problem by our front porch. In that post, I referenced how I added organic material to the stump grindings to help the Triumph Elm tree thrive. As another step towards helping these stump grindings breakdown, I threw five gallons of biosolids on top of them - right next to the new tree - where some tulips are coming up. You can see that in the photo below. I didn't work them in the ground, but, as I keep up with the 'vertical mulching', I'll likely add even more surface biosolids like this batch below. The combination of organic material (and nitrogen) are going to be critical to making this bed a desirable place for plants and shrubs in 2023. At least....that's w
The planting bed that is out front of our porch has been something that has been on my mind for years. Specifically...the growing conditions. Between a few things going on out there, I think it might be time (this year) to take an even more aggressive stance at improving the soil across this foundation planting bed. Last year (2022), one of the items on my annual to-do list was to think about how we improve the conditions up there and I suppose that I did that (a little) and gave myself a partial grade of complete. The way I was thinking about this problem was across a couple of fronts: hydrophobic mulch and the root mat from the Norway Maple . Starting last Spring, I went about trying to fix the hydrophobic mulch issue - including the addition of some nitrogen in the form of alfalfa cubes and raked it in . Then, in the Fall, I attempted to do even more. First...with the removal and grinding of the Norway Maple tree, I'm hoping that the root mat issue continues to recede
This is day three and post number three of spreading municipal biosolids on our parkway turf in early March - as both a slow-release fertilizer and a soil amendment. Over the weekend, I started by picking up and dumping about 12 gallons of granular (or close to granular) biosolids from the Downers Grove Sanitary District on our parkway . They have a station across town where you can scoop-up and take-home your own batches of biosolids. I say (close to granular) because it has more of a topsoil consistency than a true granular fertilizer or commercial biosolids product like Milorganite. Yesterday, I posted a photo showing the application of even more biosolids to the parkway section across our driveway . Today is showing the addition of 12-or-so more gallons to the main parkway. My first application went down by the street. This one was dumped closer to the sidewalk. See below for photos showing the material dumped out followed by photos showing it after being raked in. Pos
A few days ago, I shared some photos of the initial application of municipal biosolids to our parkway - the part of the parkway that is closest to the driveway. I mentioned that I would need a few more trips of 10-12 gallons of material to finish the parkway. This past weekend, I made a stop at the biosolids station and filled up my 2+ buckets. I brought the material home and spread it on the smaller section of parkway that is on the other side of the driveway. This is the IB2DWs parkway area. See below for a look at the material after I raked it in: This section of grass is particularly rough to deal with and be successful with grass. It is not-so-great soil that also sees A LOT of road debris and gets filled up with those tiny Locust leaves each Fall. My neighbor's section is irrigated (I think), so his does better than mine. Looking at these photos - including another one below - I'm thinking that I could put a second application on top of this one to try to help i
Yesterday, I posted an update showing that I had spread 120 pounds of pelletized lawn lime on the back yard and gardens and mentioned that I was going to next turn to the application of pre-emergent. But, I failed to even reference MY OWN PLAN . In that plan - which I also published last week - I talked about how I wanted to add some biosolids to the parkway. Just like with the Lime, I wanted to try to beat a storm that was coming. So, I went out and picked up two five gallon buckets full of the stuff from the Village. See below - the buckets are NOT QUITE FULL, as I didn't want to risk them tipping over/spilling and getting the smelly stuff all over my car. I intend to try to spread a layer of these biosolids all across the parkway. Why? A couple of reasons. First....I've never had a lot of luck with the grass down here. I'm not sure if it is road salt-related. Or, the soil conditions? Or both? So, I figure I'll begin to amend the soil and see if I can
This is the third in a series of posts related to the removal of our large, 70-year-old (but in decline) Norway Maple tree in our front yard. First, I shared photos of the tree being removed . Then yesterday, I showed photos and a video of the stump being ground out . Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about what comes next. After doing a little bit of digging on the Web about what to do after you grind a stump, I've come to the conclusion that I needed to think about both amending the soil with organic material AND....being deliberate about adding nitrogen. The stump grinding left behind A LOT of small pieces of wood. A mulch of sorts. But, about two-feet-deep. I knew that we're going to plant a new three here, so I wanted to be proactive with the soil. I also knew that I'm dealing with a LOT of hydrophobic mulch in this area, so anything I do here will likely help. In fact...I'm pretty sure the act of grinding the stump - AND all the soil and mulch in th
This post is now two weeks in the coming. It is being published in the first week of June, but the photo above is from Memorial Day weekend when I put down two bags of Milorganite on the front yard. I applied to the main yard, the south side yard, the parkway and the strip of grass on north side of the driveway. My 2020 scheduled called for Milorganite application to the yard on Memorial Day with five bags (2 in front, 3 in rear). In the photo, you see only 2 bags - and that's because I only applied the fertilizer to the front yard. Of note, though.... #9 on my 2020 to-do list was to work the turf - and apply the work that I have done on the main yard on the parkway and the north strip. I've been cutting those other sections high - like my main yard - and now the fert application is continuing that trend of hitting #9 on my list. Why not the backyard? Well...I don't have the backyard automower wire set up, so I held off on the back application because I d
Based on the results of the test patch in our backyard where I applied 5 gallons of biosolids to our turf, I've decided to move ahead with the application in front. I'm starting with our parkway. #9 on my 2020 to do list was to continue to work the turf in front and, in particular, improve the condition of the parkway grass to match the main lawn. Topdressing with these biosolids is step 1 in that process. Prior to the application, I used my new thatch rake and removed as much thatch as I could get up. Last Fall, I also did some limited core aeration on this section, so I'm hoping that I've set it up for success this growing season. Down near the curb the area has been compacted a bit, so I might be looking at amending that soil a couple of times as the grass grows and can retain the organic material. Of note, I think this time of year (early Spring) is a good time to deal with biosolids on smell alone. There isn't a ton of time spent out in the yard
Well, well, well...now we're talking. Have a look at that test plot above where you can see the impact of the biosolids that I topdressed in this section of our backyard lawn. A week ago, I shared a photo that was two weeks in and the turf had already started to react positively . Today, you can see the dark, thick grass in the rectangle that had the biosolids applied. Here's the timeline: Application of 5 gallons of biosolids . Two weeks in . Three weeks in. (this photo/post). I don't know how I could classify this experiment as anything other than a spectacular success. I can see a process of top-dressing larger sections of our yard, but that's not a small project if I get it delivered - as it requires three yards minimum. I could, however, see taking a series of five gallon buckets over to fill up and use on the parkway to try to thicken that area.