Covering Ground

Kathy Connolly finds spinach sprouts in a milk jug planter Start seeds in milk jugs--outdoors, in late winter

It was February 25 when I put five milk jugs outdoors for my first experiment with milk jug growing. On March 30 that year, there was plenty of germination. By the end of April, I was harvesting spinach.

Hometown Habitat movie You Bring the Popcorn, I'll Bring the Native Plants

Dust off your ruby slippers and click your heels. When it comes to restoring nature, there's no place like home. That’s the message of a new documentary "Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home." 

It features seven nature-renewal initiatives where people landscape with nature—rather than in spite of it.

2 Good Books Take Us to the Inner Lives of Plants

Do trees live in families? Do they defend one another? Do trees “feel” a loss when one of their community disappears? What if a tree “remembers” the climatic conditions of its seedling days, but experiences a changed climate as it reaches the century mark?

Grow a Gift List for the Gardeners in Your Life

When you think of holiday gifts, worms, bees, rainwater, seed pots, and pruners may not come to mind. But if you like to support local business and make your outdoors-loving friends happy at the same time, the 12-plus products and services listed here may make your shopping easy. 

November-blooming witch hazel Look around for clues to beautiful winter landscapes

People often ask about creating a landscape with four-season appeal. I tell them that our northeastern winters put our imaginations to the test--because we human beings are more attracted to beautiful colors than we are to interesting shapes and textures. These dormant months are a great time, however, to find the structure of the landscape.

Blue rug juniper Cover ground with shrubs--why not?

No lawn mower has ever touched a 2,500 square-foot section of my yard, nor will it, as long low-growing juniper shrubs continue to thrive on this hot, sunny, dry, windy embankment. These junipers are poster children for the concept of putting the right plant in a place, the perfect groundcover for the spot. (No credit to me.

Galium odoratum, Sweet Woodruff No need to tiptoe

"Don't step on the garden fairies," my grandmother used to admonish. It was her way of making me walk carefully around the plants in her beautiful vegetable gardens. 

It took me a long time to get over the fear of harming garden fairies.

Bunny Blue sedge Covering Ground with Native Ornamental Grass and Sedge

Turfgrass and ornamental grass share the same last name, but they are very different plants. What's important is that ornamental grasses and their cousins, the sedges, are great problem-solvers, capable of filling niches where turfgrass is faint of heart.

Let’s consider the differences:

Sedum ternatum Woodland stonecrop Sedum: Desert Camel of the Groundcover World

It’s hot; it’s dry. Do you know where your sedum is?

These plants are the quintessential ingredient in many green roofs, though you may know sedum as the tall autumn species that flowers along with mums and ornamental kale.

Crown vetch weed growing in a meadow. How to Manage Weeds Without Weedkillers

Got weeds? Of course we all do--and they make us nuts. I count six ways to manage weeds without bottles of chemicals. 

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