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Old 07-30-2010, 08:22 PM   #1
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Question 5 things every homeowner should know

I am preparing for the town Garden Tour and will be putting up a species list for the garden, and I have some room for a text box of "Did You Know?"-style facts. I'm looking for 5 important things homeowners should know & appreciate your suggestions. So far I'm thinking along the following lines.

* something about the advantages of native plants
* something about identifying the worst invasive plants in this region
* something about the % of land in the US used for turfgrass
* perhaps something about particular invasive fauna? cats? earthworms?
* perhaps something about organic gardening? pesticides?

I will try to have at least one reliable reference for each fact. What do you think people should know?
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Old 07-30-2010, 08:34 PM   #2
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The top three for me would be:
1 - advantages of native plants
2 - benefits of organic practices
3 - composting
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Old 07-30-2010, 08:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amelanchier View Post
I am preparing for the town Garden Tour and will be putting up a species list for the garden, and I have some room for a text box of "Did You Know?"-style facts. I'm looking for 5 important things homeowners should know & appreciate your suggestions. So far I'm thinking along the following lines.

* something about the advantages of native plants
* something about identifying the worst invasive plants in this region
* something about the % of land in the US used for turfgrass
* perhaps something about particular invasive fauna? cats? earthworms?
* perhaps something about organic gardening? pesticides?

I will try to have at least one reliable reference for each fact. What do you think people should know?

Just one quick thought (so far)... If you plan to say something about cats, perhaps you should go the route that house cats are safer, live longer, etc... and then add that keeping them as house cats prevents them from becoming an alien predator of native birds/wildlife.

(I'm kind of TIRED as I type this, so I hope it makes sense. My point is that you don't want to close the minds of cat lovers out there. We have two cats that are kept as house cats--the vet told us it was the way to go to keep them healthy and safe. I can't remember the statistic but house cats live so many more years than those that are allowed to roam. Go for the benefits to the cat as well as to the environment--IMO.)
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:32 PM   #4
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First, kudos for putting your yard on the tour. I'm sure it will be a hit. And it's a great way to introduce more people to using native plants.

As for suggestions, I'm going to guess that this is going to be an 'introduction to using native plants in your landscape' for most of your visitors. As an introduction I would focus on the benefits. I think I would avoid more advanced topics like invasive species unless someone specifically asked, or if I got the impression that the person asking a question was open to having some common plants put in a bad light.

Put another way, if you were a gardener (perhaps even a very serious gardener) that knew very little about native plants, what would get you to look into native plants.

One specific source for an attention getting quote is Douglas Tallamy's Bringing Nature Home:
"If you count all of the terrestrial bird species in North America that rely on insects and other arthropods (typically, the spiders that eat insects) to feed their young, you would find that figure to be about 96 percent (Dickinson 1999) - in other words, nearly all of them." [page 21 - 22 of the updated and expanded edition]. Who doesn't want to be good to baby birds?

Another book that might provide some attention worthy quotes is Sara Stein's book Noah's Garden. Using quotes from books like these also gives you the opportunity to introduce some excellent books.
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:39 PM   #5
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Composting is a good one.

dapjwy - I agree it's best to go with the soft sell with things like this. In any case what I'm thinking of doing is just giving quick facts that get people thinking, rather than little essays about what they should do.

Cirsium - True, maybe the focus should be mostly on what other gardeners might want to know about native plants. I still think something about invasive plants might be useful, since people often need to know how to identify the things that are coming into their gardens unbidden.
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:50 PM   #6
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I still think something about invasive plants might be useful, since people often need to know how to identify the things that are coming into their gardens unbidden.
Good idea - I hadn't thought about that approach!

If I remember correctly, you have some Liatris in your yard. A little sign with "these are a butterfly magnet" or a photo with some butterflies on it might be an attention getter. A lot of people like to attract butterflies. Nice easy way to equate native plants with nature.
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:56 PM   #7
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A big advantage of native plants for me is spending less time on yard work, especially mowing. A few facts about how much gasoline is used and air pollution is caused by lawn mowers every weekend would be good.

I would point out the nearest Norway maple (I bet you can see one from your yard) and tell people about the ones you removed. It's an easy tree to recognize and people will start seeing them everywhere, and the magnitude of the problem will be obvious to everyone long after the tour. Maybe you could collect some leaves for the occasion and show people the milky sap in the leaf stalks for identification
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:04 PM   #8
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"Interesting" Facts About Turfgrass from the lawn institute
  • As of 2004, the annual value of the U.S. turfgrass industry was $35 billion.
  • Total acres of turf in the U.S. is estimated to be 46.5 million acres.
  • Land area collectively occupied by U.S. lawns equals a land mass greater than that of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
FAQs-Interesting Facts About Turfgrass
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:11 PM   #9
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I would point out the nearest Norway maple (I bet you can see one from your yard) and tell people about the ones you removed. It's an easy tree to recognize and people will start seeing them everywhere, and the magnitude of the problem will be obvious to everyone long after the tour. Maybe you could collect some leaves for the occasion and show people the milky sap in the leaf stalks for identification
Now that gives me an idea that might be neat... I could collect twig samples from all the invasives right in the immediate area, staple them to the sheets, and label them. That would give people a little head start.
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:12 PM   #10
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  • Land area collectively occupied by U.S. lawns equals a land mass greater than that of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
FAQs-Interesting Facts About Turfgrass

That's way more than I realized!
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