Summer Educational Programming

Summer is a busy time here in 4-H Youth Development, between fair preparations and seasonal programs. For me, this has been my favorite time of year, as I get to really get into the meat of youth development programming. The four core areas 4-H focuses on when building programs are Belonging, Independence, Mastery, and Generosity, and watching these youth grow in these characteristics in real time is truly an amazing thing. So far this summer, 8 Shawnee County 4-Hers attending 4-H Discovery Days, and I have taken a program to the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center about robotics and coding.

4-H Discovery Days is a long tradition in Kansas 4-H. This year was the first year we have been in person on campus at Kansas State University since 2019, and boy was it great to be back. The focus of the program has always been to give 4-Hers a taste of the college experience so they can make informed decisions as they finish high school and plan for the future. This year, a new layer was added focusing on exposing youth to the possible career paths and subjects they could study at KSU. Our 4-Hers spent their week at KSU focusing on learning about animal science innovations, engineering, equity & diversity, global food systems, and energy management. Each of our 4-Hers came back with great things to say about what they learned!

Fun at Discovery Days!!!!

One of my favorite things about 4-H is the ability to partner with other organizations in the community to deliver programming to youth who aren’t already a part of our program. This past week I have been spending morning with the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center here in Topeka teaching basic coding with a set of Sphero robots. We learned how to program simple codes, as well as how to program the ability to make conditional decisions. In the future, even a basic understanding of coding will help young adults get ahead as they enter the workforce.

If you are looking for an educational program, don’t hesitate to reach out! There are a wide range of topics, including STEM, traditional 4-H projects, and even mental health that I am able to provide programs for.

Grace Wiens

(she/her)

4-H Youth Development Extension Agent

Shawnee County 
1740 SW Western Ave
Topeka KS 66604
785-232-0062, Ext. 120
wiensg@ksu.edu
www.shawnee.ksu.edu

Facilitation and Extension

One thing that I do as a Community Vitality Educator is help groups and boards with facilitated conversations. As a facilitation leader I can guide a conversation that includes all the voices in the room. I can ask clarifying questions that might help the entire group get the information they need to make decisions. Lastly, I can use tools and resources that Extension has trained me on to be an unbiased helper when there is friction.

Recently, I attended a three-day training with Extension professionals from across the state to try new facilitation tools and discuss how to handle difficult facilitations. We role played a short and long facilitation for our colleagues. It was a chance to see how others handle a guided conversation and get feedback on our performance.

If you are part of a group in Shawnee County that has to set some priorities, work on short and long-term goals or decide one key issue; feel free to reach out to me. I would enjoy talking about strategies with you or coming to your group to help in person. The goal is to bring out the varied knowledge and experience in your group to make the best next steps.

This is just another service you can access at the Shawnee County Extension Office!

Sincerely,

Candis Meerpohl, M.S. 
Extension Director

Shawnee County 
1740 SW Western Ave
Topeka KS 66604
785-232-0062 ext.110
candism@ksu.edu
www.shawnee.ksu.edu

Take Steps Ahead of Disaster- be Prepared with a Grab-and-Go Box

We are subject to several types of disasters here in Kansas- floods, fire, and tornados for example. If you only had a few moments to evacuate your home would you have access to the cash, banking services and the personal identification needed to conduct your day-to-day financial life? Consider keeping the following items in a secure place in your home, in a waterproof, fireproof container that can be taken with you at a moment’s notice:

  • Identification and other key documents that may be needed to restore your financial records, including copies of your driver’s license, passports, social security cards
  • Insurance cards, policies, or other proof of insurance coverage
  • Household inventory (for more information on how to prepare an inventory https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3055.pdf )
  • Immunization records
  • Bank account numbers, cash
  • Copies (front and back) of debit and credit cards
  • Phone numbers and account information for all financial service and insurance providers
  • Important telephone numbers (family members, doctors, vets)
  • Names and prescription numbers for medications
  • Safe deposit box key
  • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
  • Will, contracts, deeds, stocks, and bonds
  • Titles of vehicles

We never know when a disaster may strike, but we can be prepared for it. Having easy access to the above information can help things run more smoothly in case of an emergency situation.

Susan Fangman, Shawnee Co. Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

1740 SW Western Ave.

Topeka, KS  66604

785.232.0062 ext. 103

sfangman@ksu.edu

Rain Gardens for Cleaner Waterways

Carefully designed rain gardens can help to funnel water to a designated area and keep it out of our basements and storm drains. Hardscapes like driveways and sidewalks move water into storm drains rapidly, taking chemicals from roof shingles and roadways with it. Funneling runoff into gardens can help the water to soak into the soil where the plants can use and clean it.

Pooling water can be a major issue not only for the plants and grass in your yard but also for your home and other structures. (photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/2knaboX)

Selecting a location for your rain garden is a critical step. The garden should be at least 10’ from your home, or other structures, to ensure water is diverted from, not directed to, your home. Look for a natural depression or an area at the bottom of a slope. Pay attention to where water runs off your sidewalks and driveways and look for ways to divert that water into a garden.

Once you have a location selected, test the infiltration rate of the soil. Dig a hole at least 18” deep and 12” wide using a shovel or post-hole digger. Using a trowel, rough the sides of the hole where your shovel smoothed the soil. Place a yard stick in the hole and fill it completely with water. If the water drains 8” or more in an hour you can select from a wide variety of plants. If that rate is closer to 2” in an hour, your soil is likely more clay and you will have less options when it comes to plant selection. In these soils, only use plants that tolerate wet feet. In some extreme cases, where soils are often saturated or flooded, water plants may be used.

After your infiltration test, call before you dig (811) to make sure you will not encounter any wires or pipes during excavation. This is also an excellent time to conduct a soil test to determine any needed amendments. Adding compost not only helps provide nutrients for plants but also increases the rate in which your soils soak up water. The depth and width of your rain garden depends on your space and your preference. Generally, a rain garden is somewhere between 6”-12” lower than the surrounding area. If your yard is flat, you may need to plan to haul some soil away.

To better visualize the area of your garden as you dig, you may want to spray paint an outline or use a hose or rope to draw the shape of the garden. Make sure you have decided where the water will come in and how. Water may naturally pool in the area of your garden or you may need to move a drainpipe to funnel water from your roof or driveway. Just as important as where the water will come in is also how it will come out. The hope for your rain garden is that it holds most of the excess water most of the time, but in a torrential rain, there should be a backup plan. As you dig your garden, plan for a spot for excessive water to drain away without pooling on your plants.

Rain gardens may look like other landscape areas but are created to allow water to pool and excess water to drain away in a controlled manner. (photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/xs2JmP)

An important part of a rain garden is a berm bordering the area. This berm can be made of soil and covered in a groundcover or grass. The overflow for your garden should consist of a break in the berm, lined with rock, to allow water to drain away.

Selecting plants for your rain garden is one of the easiest parts. Most native plants make suitable rain garden plants as they can handle both dry and wet conditions. Any plant that does not tolerate wet feet (the tag will indicate this) is not suitable for a rain garden.

As we face the reality of a world with waters contaminated with oils, fertilizers and other chemicals, rain gardens and other simpler gardening practices can greatly reduce the chemicals each of us are sending to our waterways. Make sure to keep grass clippings off sidewalks and streets and consider adopting a nearby storm drain that you can keep clean from trash and debris. When it comes to conservation, every little bit helps!

Happy Gardening!

Ariel Whitely-Noll
(she/her)
Extension Agent, Horticulture
K-State Research and Extension, Shawnee County
1740 SW Western Ave. Topeka, KS
785-232-0062 ext. 104
Like us on Facebook: @SNCOKSRE
Follow us on Twitter:@ksre_shawnee
Follow us on Instagram: @ksre_shawnee

K-State Research and Extension programs and materials are open to all, without regard for race, color, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Alternatives to Bush Honeysuckle

Last week we discussed control of the invasive bush honeysuckle and its impact on our local ecosystem. Many homeowners are sad to see bush honeysuckle removed, as the shrub can be attractive in the landscape. While the flowers and berries are attractive, bush honeysuckle is invasive and there are many other appealing, non-invasive options for flowering and fruiting landscape shrubs.

Black Chokeberry (photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/UJHavh)

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa): This low maintenance shrub has beautiful white flowers in the spring and blueberry-sized black berries. In the fall, its normally dark green, glossy leaves develop a purple to red color. As the common name indicates, the berries have a strong, unpleasant flavor but are sometimes used for jams and jellies. With seasonal interest in the spring and fall and adaptability to both sun and shade, this is an excellent shrub for your landscape. Notable varieties are ‘Autumn Magic’, which is more compact and ‘McKenzie’, ‘Nero’, and ‘Viking’ which are suitable for juice making. 

Purple Beautyberry (photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/74urbG)

Purple Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma): Purple beautyberry are small to midsized shrubs that showcase incredible bright purple berries in the fall. The shrub shape is often arching although pruning and variety selection does impact overall shape. The shrub also produces white flowers in the summer (June-July) and will grow well in full sun to part shade. Notable varieties include; ‘Early Amethyst’, which produces more fruit and ‘Albifructus’ which produces white fruit. I would be remiss if I did not mention that the white fruit of ‘Albifuctus’ alongside the purple of ‘Early Amethyst’ would make a stunning combination for fans of a certain university. 

Japanese Flowering Quince (photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/t4Dbwn)

Japanese Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica): This shrub is most recognized for its incredible orange-red flowers with yellow centers. Flowering in early spring, the shrub then produces green/yellow fruit that ripen in the fall. While edible, these fruit have a harsh taste when eaten fresh and are typically made into jams or jellies. The growth of this plant is low but wide with branches producing spines and winding around each other as they grow. This type of quince isn’t as showy as the common type but is extremely winter hardy.

Bearberry Cotoneaster (photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/GZ29Ss)

Bearberry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster dammeri): This groundcover has a mature height of 1’ but a spread of 6’. Its evergreen leaves are a glossy deep green and it produces sweet-looking white flowers in early summer. In late summer it will produce red berries that stay on until winter unless eaten by wildlife. Notable varieties include; ‘Coral Beauty’, which will grow 2’-2 ½’ tall and ‘Streib’s Findling’ which is lower growing with a heavier crop of fruit.

Inkberry Holly (photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/2nfcd9C)

Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra): Native to our region, the inkberry holly is evergreen and extremely cold hardy. The spring flowers aren’t particularly notable but produces beautiful black berries that develop in the fall and persist through winter, if not eaten by wildlife. It is critical that you have both a male and female shrub in close proximity in order to produce fruit. Notable varieties include; ‘Chamzin’ which is extremely cold hardy, ‘Nigra’ which typically keeps more leaves throughout the winter and ‘Shamrock’ which has a more dense growth.

For more ideas on bush honeysuckle shrubs check out our tree and shrub page: https://www.shawnee.k-state.edu/lawn-garden/trees-and-shrubs.html

Happy Gardening!

Ariel Whitely-Noll
(she/her)
Extension Agent, Horticulture
K-State Research and Extension, Shawnee County
1740 SW Western Ave. Topeka, KS
785-232-0062 ext. 104
Like us on Facebook: @SNCOKSRE
Follow us on Twitter:@ksre_shawnee
Follow us on Instagram: @ksre_shawnee

K-State Research and Extension programs and materials are open to all, without regard for race, color, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Let’s Talk Radon

You might have heard about Radon but not really know what it is. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. You can’t see or smell radon.  Testing is the only way to know your level of exposure.

Since Radon comes from the ground naturally, it is present all around us. Outside Radon disperse quickly and is not an issue. Indoors Radon gas becomes trapped after it enters buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundation. You have to test your home to know if the level of Radon in your home is problematic. *

In Shawnee County you can purchase a Radon test at the Extension Office. You can also pick them up in Home Improvement stores. Testing isn’t hard but there are several guidelines to make sure you get an accurate reading. Some of the guidelines are:

  • Make sure your home is closed two days before testing and during testing. You can come and go but other than that doors and windows should remain closed.
  • Test in the lowest livable area of your home.
  • Hang the kit away from windows or air vents so that it hangs between eye level and knee level.
  • Avoid testing in high humidity areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
*https://www.epa.gov/radiation/what-radon-gas-it-dangerous

All of the instructions about how to do a test will be given to you as a part of your test kit. Tests at the Shawnee County Extension office are $7. Something that has been an issue lately is how long it takes the test to get back to the lab in the mail. Because the sooner it gets to the lab the better the results we are now recommending you send it back either by priority mail, UPS or FEDEX.

If you have more questions about testing give me a call at the Extension Office!

Candis Meerpohl, M.S. 
Extension Director

Shawnee County 
1740 SW Western Ave
Topeka KS 66604
785-232-0062 ext.110
candism@ksu.edu
www.shawnee.ksu.edu

Honeysuckle Control in the Home Landscape

Asian bush honeysuckle is an invasive shrub that plagues Kansas yards, farms, roadsides and forests. While control can be challenging, it is not impossible. Every homeowner that controls bush honeysuckle in their landscape reduces the likelihood of it spreading to wild spaces where it crowds out native species, contributes to the decline of wildlife and worsens erosions around waterways.

In early November, bush honeysuckle is easy to spot. It often holds its leaves longer than many native shrubs and produces bright red berries that stay clustered next to the stem. Controlling bush honeysuckle this time of year also reduces the likelihood of harming non-target plants as they have already entered dormancy and lost their leaves.

The cluster of bright red berries, close to the stem is a good feature for identifying honeysuckle.

In the spring, honeysuckle has bright white flowers that turn into the red berries in the summer. While control in fall is ideal, especially for woody areas, these other distinguishing features can help you identify the plant. In gardens, control may be manageable year-round as the shrub is more easily isolated from non-target species. 

To effectively control bush honeysuckle homeowners will need to either chemically or mechanically treat, although for large stands both methods may be utilized.

If you notice small bush honeysuckle plants in your landscape, hand pulling is extremely effective. This is often done when seedlings are being spread from an adjacent property. As the shrubs increase in size, clippers, axes or chainsaws may be required. After cutting plants back, stumps may need chemical treatment to prevent regrowth. Products with the active ingredient triclopyr can be used to treat large cut stumps to prevent regrowth.

A 1-2% glyphosate solution is effective for bush honeysuckle control—especially from late summer into early winter. Keep in mind that late summer applications, when other plants still have their leaves, may result in damage of non-target plants if extreme care is not taken to avoid these plants.

For large stands of bush honeysuckle, a backpack mist blower is a great option. The backpack sprayer will use less chemicals while spraying a larger area—with the same effectiveness as less efficient hand sprayers. Make sure the specific glyphosate product you have selected is labeled for use in a mist blower. If you are treating near areas of water, consider aquatic formulations.

Homeowners are often disappointed when they bring samples of bush honeysuckle to our office only to find out it is invasive. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that a homeowner wants to keep the shrub but will “ensure it doesn’t spread.” That isn’t how nature works. Bush honeysuckle is extremely adaptable and spreads rapidly.

Its adaptability allows bush honeysuckle to out-compete with most native species and the bright red berries are carried far and wide by the birds and small mammals that eat them. Often homeowners don’t want to remove a shrub that feeds wildlife, but these berries appear at a time our wildlife need to bulk up for the winter, or migration. The sweet berries are like junk food for animals which should be feeding on insects and other heartier foods late in the summer. It is all our responsibility to protect our natural world and in the case of bush honeysuckle, that means complete eradication.

Information about renting backpack mist blowers through the Kansas Forest Service for bush honeysuckle control can be found on their website: https://www.kansasforests.org/events/BushHoneysuckle.html

Good luck and happy gardening!

Ariel Whitely-Noll
(she/her)
Extension Agent, Horticulture
K-State Research and Extension, Shawnee County
1740 SW Western Ave. Topeka, KS
785-232-0062 ext. 104
Like us on Facebook: @SNCOKSRE
Follow us on Twitter:@ksre_shawnee
Follow us on Instagram: @ksre_shawnee

K-State Research and Extension programs and materials are open to all, without regard for race, color, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

It’s Time To Get Moving!

Making time for regular exercise is an important component of mental and physical health; yet according to America’s Health Rankings only 23% of Americans met national exercise guidelines in 2019. Kansans fared worse at only 20.8% of adults meeting the guidelines.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend each week adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity. Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving, and it can be spread throughout your week. A 15 minute walk each day during your lunch break at work, 45 minutes push-mowing your yard or weeding your flower beds, and you are almost there! Only 30 minutes left to reach the 150 minutes. Get those extra minutes by dancing to some music a few days a week, parking farther away, throwing the frisbee with your dog, and doing a few extra laps around the hardware or grocery store.

Walking your dog is great exercise!

Don’t forget to check out your local parks and trails! In Topeka you can get more information about the many great places we have to walk, hike, and ride a bike by looking at the Topeka Trails Guide here https://www.visittopeka.com/blog/post/topeka-trails-guide/?fbclid=IwAR1LVz3rld4rtmDJRriwVFPMPmNkM0wYRnZTi9BmppisTzqFkX7bMDybr5o

Spring is a great time to walk a trail and enjoy the beautiful scenery!

For some, fitting in strength training is a little more challenging. You do not need fancy equipment or a gym membership to increase your strength! You can use resistance bands that can be purchased relatively inexpensively; you can also use your own body weight or household objects such as canned foods or water bottles. The Walk Kansas website has an extensive resource list of muscle-strengthening activities. You can check it out here https://www.walkkansas.org/activity/strength.html

Exercising regularly can help control weight, decrease risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers, improve cognitive function, improve mood, increase energy, and promote better sleep, just to name a few. What are you waiting for? It is time to get moving!

If you need more ideas to fit physical activity into your day please give me a call!

Susan Fangman, Shawnee Co. Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

1740 SW Western Ave.

Topeka, KS  66604

785.232.0062 ext. 103

sfangman@ksu.edu

2022 Master Gardener Plant Sale!

Clear your calendars for the morning of Saturday May 7th! Shawnee County Extension Master Gardeners are once again holding their annual Plant Sale fundraiser and for the first time since 2019 it will be open to the public! The sale is a primary fundraiser for the Extension Master Gardeners with funds contributing towards community horticultural education, maintaining our nine teaching gardens, youth and adult programs and helping to feed our community with fresh produce.

Extension Master Gardeners moving plants for the 2019 sale.

At this year’s sale, you can expect to find all your old favorites; annual flowers, herbs, patio pots, hanging baskets, both shade loving and sun loving perennial plants, hot and sweet peppers and all the tomatoes you could ever want! In addition to these sale staples, we will also have a large garden shed section with indoor plants, garden tools and hand painted bird houses.

As with past years, trained Extension Master Gardeners will have an information booth staffed and ready to answer your gardening questions on the plants you purchase or the plants you have at home! There will also be a pollinator booth to help guide you towards the many pollinator friendly plants we are selling or to answer questions about supporting pollinators in your garden.

A shopper with her box of vinca at the 2019 sale.

For your shopping convenience, we will have local ROTC students available to help you carry your purchases along with cardboard flats to help juggle 6-packs and pots. We welcome shoppers to bring their own carriers or carts. New this year we will have a loading zone after you purchase to ensure you can buy more than you want to carry back to your car! 

As with prior years, all the annual plants are grown by our Extension Master Gardeners in our greenhouse. Each plant is grown from seed or plugs with careful attention given to the quality of every plant. All the perennials at the sale come from the gardens of our Extension Master Gardeners. While we will not know all the types of perennial plants until the week of the sale, we often have a wide selection of hosta, iris, daylily and many native plants including yarrow and coneflower.

Hanging baskets are always a favorite!

The sale will begin at 9:00 am, although we often have a line forming well before the start. The sale will end at 12:00 pm or when we sell out! The sale will be at Agriculture Hall 1 Expo Drive in Topeka. Agriculture Hall is at the corner of 17th and Topeka Boulevard. We will use the full length of the building to allow for more room for shoppers to spread out. Cards, checks or cash are accepted!

See you there!

Ariel Whitely-Noll
(she/her)
Extension Agent, Horticulture
K-State Research and Extension, Shawnee County
1740 SW Western Ave. Topeka, KS
785-232-0062 ext. 104
Like us on Facebook: @SNCOKSRE
Follow us on Twitter:@ksre_shawnee
Follow us on Instagram: @ksre_shawnee

K-State Research and Extension programs and materials are open to all, without regard for race, color, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Gardening Practices for Earth Day

On April 22, many people across the world will be working towards a healthier environment through their Earth Day celebrations. Although some Earth Day campaigns are as broad as cleaning up our oceans, many environmental practices can start small—right in your own backyard. To keep our world clean and healthy, consider trying one or all of these small steps in your own garden!

  1. Composting

Composting is beneficial to our environment in many ways. Composting improves soil fertility, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizer. Synthetic fertilizers are frequently over-used and often run off into our rivers, streams and oceans. Fertilizers in waterways results in an overgrowth of aquatic vegetation that depletes the oxygen supply and can kill aquatic species as a result. Composting is also a form of recycling. Kitchen scraps and gardening materials are often bagged in plastic and sent to the landfill. Composting these items instead reduces the overall amount of trash in landfills.

2. Leave the Leaves

Many insects, including some of our favorite beneficials, need debris, like leaves, to overwinter. On your lawn, mulching dried leaves on top of your grass can help put nutrients back into the soil and conserve water. Leaving grass clippings on your lawn after you mow provides the same benefits. Make sure the leaves or grass clippings aren’t so thick as to create a barrier preventing the grass from getting light. Most people don’t want leaves in highly visible flower beds, so look for an out of the way spot that insects can overwinter in undisturbed.  

3.Go Native

Coneflower are a beautiful native that pollinators love!

When adding to your flower beds this spring, look for natives and pollinator friendly plants. A few plants that are both native and pollinator plants include: purple coneflower (Echinacea), black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), butterfly milkweed (Asclepias), columbine (Aquilegia), Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium) and blanket flower (Gaillardia).

4. Get a Soil Test

Another way to reduce fertilizer runoff is to make sure you’re only applying what you need. In your soils, you don’t know what you need until you know what you have. Soil tests are inexpensive (garden soil tests range from $10-$18) and guide you to the products you truly need to have a healthy lawn and garden. Soil tests only need to be conducted every 3-5 years so it a small investment to make that could save you money in the long run.

5. Identify Your Pest

Many beetles are mistaken for the Japanese beetle and control methods should be considered carefully given the short life span of the pest.

Often when a plant problem call comes into our office, we find that the client has tried treating what they think is the problem. Most clients are incorrect in either identifying the pest, or using appropriate treatment. This may mean spraying a fungicide on a tree with an insect problem or spraying a pesticide on a shrub that is suffering from environmental stress. This may also mean spraying the right chemical for the right pest, but at a time that is ineffective for control. Chemicals sprays, even organic, can be extremely harmful to beneficial insects, like bees, and they contribute to polluting waterways. To reduce overuse and inappropriate use of chemicals, homeowners should begin a practice called Integrated Pest Management. IPM is a multi-step process that begins with selecting resistant plants and ends with using chemical control as a last resort.

6. Conserve Water

Water is a precious, limited resource. Often in our garden we water as if our supply is unlimited even though there are many easy steps we can take to reduce our water use. How you water is just as important as how much. Sprinkles that spray water onto the foliage of bushes or the trunks of trees only waste water and do not help plants. Put water where it is needed and at a rate plants can absorb it. Water in the early morning, or later in the evening. Use drip irrigation, low sprinklers for lawns or with a hose on a low trickle placed at the base of the plant. Pay attention to your individual plant needs and the weather so you’re only providing water to those plants that need it. When adding new plants to your garden consider natives, plants recommended for our region and low-water use plants.

7. Diversify Your Trees

Trees are a substantial investment for homeowners. Trees shade your home, reducing energy costs and a properly cared for tree can contribute to your home’s value. When you select a tree to plant near your home, make sure it’s recommended for our area. Another, often overlooked factor is tree diversity. Tree issues like the Emerald Ash borer become a substantial issue for communities who planted many types of the same tree. Many ash trees were planted after elm’s died as a result of Dutch Elm Disease. Another commonly planted tree, the ornamental pear, is now considered invasive. It will take a village to solve the lack of tree diversity we have across our country, but it can begin with one tree in your yard. Pay attention to what trees you see in your neighborhood and town and plant something new! A few highly underrated trees are: Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora), Willow Oak (Quercus phellos), Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) and Western Soapberry (Sapindus drummondii).

8. Right Plant Right Place

If everyone followed this mantra we would have healthier plants in the world! Planting something in the wrong place can mean many things. It may mean planting a shrub that isn’t hardy for our zone (6A) or putting a sun loving annual in the shade. For trees, the wrong place may mean planting it 2 feet from your home when the tree will grow to be 20 feet wide. The right place for your plant also means providing appropriate soil, water and nutrient requirements. If all of these factors are considered when purchasing and planting, the result is a garden that requires less inputs and maintenance.

Every little bit helps when it comes to helping our environment and the creatures that inhabit it. Celebrate Earth Day with these practices and enjoy all the benefits of having a happy, healthy backyard ecosystem!

For information on the gardening practices mentioned, visit our Gardening Resources page: https://www.shawnee.k-state.edu/lawn-garden/gardenerresources.html

Happy Gardening!

Ariel Whitely-Noll
(she/her)
Extension Agent, Horticulture
K-State Research and Extension, Shawnee County
1740 SW Western Ave. Topeka, KS
785-232-0062 ext. 104
Like us on Facebook: @SNCOKSRE
Follow us on Twitter:@ksre_shawnee
Follow us on Instagram: @ksre_shawnee

K-State Research and Extension programs and materials are open to all, without regard for race, color, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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