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SJ
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I agree with Kmac it's all about balance. I personally don't use a leaf blower for my business. I have too many bad memories from the 90's of having one strapped to my back for up to eight hours and being sick every day during fall cleanup from the fumes. (Although, I do own a chainsaw and a gas powered brush cutter that I use when the occasion does arise). But when the biomass is so heavy in the fall, especially on large properties, it does make sense to use one to clean up hard surfaces like driveways, patios and in some cases large beds and lawn expanses just to the job done in a timely manner and get paid!. What there is no excuse for is this business of firing up the blower to chase down six leaves off the sidewalk when a quick sweep with a heavy duty broom would have done just as well. It also doesn't make sense to use one on small properties unless there are a lot of large trees and hard surfaces which need constant cleaning. I maintain about 30 gardens in all including 3 estate gardens - one trick I use is leaving a certain percentage of the leaves during the fall in the mixed beds as future mulch and fertilizer. As long as the lawn is neatly raked or blown, the borders well edged and the interior beds well maintained and pruned natural leaves can look almost as tidy as traditional mulch. I just make they are not piling up against any structures like the sides of houses or fences. I also agree with Matt, sometimes you reach a point in life where the property is too large to manage by one's own steam. It is also expensive to pay a service to maintain the property a the high standard that many people expect. That is just a fact and I just don't feel sorry for people that can't afford to do it. I have enough clients that have newly retired or the bad economy has impacted and just don't have quite the same amount of disposable income they had while working to pay for all services they are used to like the cleaning staff, the lawn service etc. Perhaps at that point they need to sell up and downsize to something they can afford and manage or at least lower their pristine standards and allow some natural leaf litter on the property or better yet get out there for even an hour a week and work in the garden. I think the best clients (and gardens!) are those that, even those with busy schedules or some health problems, still manage to put some time in the garden. It would also be a good trend to see people living on smaller lots and leaving the rest of the land to grow food and be used as wilderness preserves.
Toggle Commented Oct 30, 2010 on Leaf Blowers in the New Yorker at Garden Rant
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I have a prairie garden in my front yard like Benia & Don (which a couple of people in our neighborhood aren't too keen on) and I have a flagpole proudly planted in said garden in which the American flag flies each and every day - today it is at half mast in honor of all those who died or were wounded. I like all gardens: those with prairie plants, those with gnomes and those with flags. I am really getting tired of these rants about judging others. I've recommended this site to several other professionals (including some that are published) in the horticultural field for useful productive content but now it seems to be about politics, hawking books, pretend-a-gardeners like P. Allen Smith & Tracy D and the like and other nonsense. I will still visit for some of the content but I much prefer Garden Professors and GW and other less controversial websites.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2010 on Oh Say Can You See at Garden Rant
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I live in Cicero and got cited for the same thing five years ago after having had said garden in for six years - it was mostly prairie plants. Basically, I discovered from a sympathetic officer that the nasty old people were complaining about it at neighborhood watch when they're supposed to worrying about crime. They are very uptight here but the code enforcement officers were willing to work with me and we were working on a compromise. One of them even said he really dug it. The problem was the town lawyer and the head of public works (who was later fired for other reasons shortly thereafter) who said that they required lawn only. The judge saw no reason to enforce having grass he just said I'm to keep it at 10 inches or under and have an 18 inch setback (in my case leveled in flagstone set in paver base) for people to exit their cars safely and nothing hanging over the sidewalk. Since then, I've cheated a bit and let a few things get up to two feet here and there but I make sure it's well taken care of so no one bothers me. I make it a point to ensure neighbors see me deadheading the flowers, pruning back growth on a weekly basis. Before they mowed they had to issue a ticket and then you have the option of contesting in court which I did. I went armed with a diagram and a plant list and dollar amount. I also told the judge I was more then willing to compromise - cut things back, remove certain species and replace with shorter ones to meet compliance. It really made the head of public works look like a jerk. Bartlett is one of those western suburbs where people have a very narrow mindset - since I live near the city it's a bit more bohemian. It can be done but I think that I would level in the path a bit more so it makes better sense and put in lower plants - there are prairie plants that will meet code height requirement like Nodding Onion, Wild Petunia, Prairie Sundrops, Wine Cups - these can be nicely mixed with different creeping sedums, creeping jenny that require very little water to make a lovely tapestry.
Toggle Commented Sep 9, 2010 on When a Garden Needs a Lawyer at Garden Rant
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I went to the show on Tues - the enthusiasm was great (considering the economy is not so hot) but I really saw a lot of silly, useless stuff I would never buy. Amy referenced the goofy plastic baggie that creates heart shaped peppers. Disappointing. I'm very concerned about the push for independent garden centers to go with 'branded' names. There's a couple in my area that I would love to patronize more because I like the staff and am a big believer in supporting the smaller guys but they sell mostly the branded names like Monrovia, PW & Bailey - good quality plants but they cost way too much even with a discount to pass on to clients. Some only sell retail which makes them sky high. Since I went Tues and will not be able to attend the panel - please let the Independents know they really need to remember the professionals, good discounts makes us happy and very loyal - maybe even have a separate area to accommodate us too which has loose materials like good quality potting soil, compost, mulch etc - plain wrapped. I don't need to see them in colorful, little pretty bags - I saw that at the show and that really irritated me.
Toggle Commented Aug 19, 2010 on Coming clean before the IGCs at Garden Rant
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I like the Rose of Apeldoorn - peony & parrot type tulips are my favorites.
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Actually I really like the parkway as is even without the plants. But much as I hate to admit the troll actually brings up a valid point - the parkway is city property and should someone be injured there could be some liability issues. I have a 18 inch strip of flagstone on my parkway - to get around our ordinances and safety concerns I made sure mine were leveled in paver base correctly so people could get in and out of their cars safely and there were no sharp points sticking out. Perhaps you could level in some of the flatter stones that stick out and reuse the larger ones elsewhere on your property. As another poster mentioned I've had really good luck with many of the creeping sedums and creeping jenny on my parkway in spite of the plows and salt. I wouldn't give up (I think you are off to a good start). I would just rethink it a bit more.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2009 on Where did the Thyme Go? at Garden Rant
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What's the point of this post? Unless you are disabled or elderly, if you want it done right either do it yourself or be prepared to hire an actual horticultural professional and pay alot more. In the meantime, I'd short pay the invoice for the damaged rose. There should be a rant on why so many Americans can't just mow their own lawn like they did 20 years ago and instead pay someone else to do it and then complain it wasn't done right. It's not like we're talking about heavy duty labor like moving trees or rocks here where you actually might need additional help.
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I work quite a bit in Chicago and farther out suburbs doing garden maintenance. Maybe it's just me but I've observed that urbanites and those in the near collar suburbs where lots are tiny seem to value gardening (flowers/vegetables/herbs) far more then those in the outlying suburbs. The tiny pieces of ground or in some cases, only balconies seem more dear to them. Now, I've seen some awesome gardens in suburbs of those fortunate enough to garden on large expanses but it doesn't seem to be the rule of thumb but more the exception. Actually, the trend I'd like to see is for urban planning to drastically reduce the size of private lots and create more open spaces for the production of food, wildlife and general public enjoyment. Michelle brings up a good point, of resources - the amount labor and money that goes into maintaining a garden - either ornamental or otherwise can be quite large - I have the invoices to prove it. And I work for quite a number of folks who really have no clue how expensive and much work it is to keep up a large yard. They just thought it would cool to live in a big house on a big lot. We need to get out of this mentality that bigger is better.
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Part of my biz is maintaining native gardens in the midwest. People are often surprised at how much work they require to keep the diversity high. Unlike traditional perennial gardens they have different needs. For example in an urban and suburban setting much much more pruning to keep it looking respectable and tidy especially if it is in the front yard. Bob mentioned the Cup Plant - if I have a large property where this can be safely integrated into the landscape I oftentimes prune it 50 percent at least once or twice during the growing season. Some, like the New England Aster up to 3 times. The second is that natives typically seed and spread like crazy so you have to be ruthless in culling all the extras and to some extent some deadheading for the winter if you don't wish to have 1000's. It's nice to leave up some seedheads for the critters in the winter but on a smaller lot you often have remove at least half the seedheads in order not to be overrun the following season.
Toggle Commented Aug 31, 2009 on What Native-Plant Gardens Need at Garden Rant
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I found that if you could get past the extreme marketing hype and the usual kitschy garden center stuff there was actually some really innovative products and tools at the show. I had several favorites but I think my top favorite vendor was Natural Industries - they were promoting organic fungicides, iron addditives (for chlorotic plants) and a product called Vacation which supposed to promote drought resistance. I could definately see these products used by both homeowners and professionals. I got a sample bottle of the Vacation solution and will have to test it out.
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2009 on Live from the IGC show at Garden Rant
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It was mentioned to me today by a noted hybridizer that the trick to keeping these babies going is to treat them as E. paradoxa and not E. purpurea. They're genetically crossed but behave more like the former which needs to have a good solid root system established in the first season or two before it gets going on the flowering. He said to deadhead them completely (not let them flower at all! which it hard when everyone is salivating to have that first bloom) the first year and that will strengthen the root system. Not exactly a carefree method like purpurea but I did agree with him - I have a tendency to cull some of the coneflower heads of the different species to keep them from flopping and encourage healthier foliage so his reasoning sort of made sense. I just think it shouldn't have been marketed as carefree - there should be some instructions included.
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I saw neon colored cages at the show - they were pretty cool. I suggested to one vendor that he should have a line where they're flipped upside down, with pins and have the ends curled under like ribbon.
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2009 on Now, that's a tomato cage! at Garden Rant
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I live in the Chicago area and I had code enforcement on my back a couple of summers ago. It was the new head of the building department that had a beef with parkway gardens and a nasty old neighbor who egged him on. The actual code enforcement officer(s) on a personal level really liked the parkway garden. We have a lot of gang activity and tagging too - I reminded them in court of that. I also reminded my precint captain that DH & I always voted but the nasty neighbor never did - he might lose a couple of votes. BTW - we struck a compromise with the judge, the garden could stay as long as I kept it around a foot or so.
Toggle Commented Jun 5, 2009 on Front lawn police in BERKELEY?!! at Garden Rant
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