ecoscapes blog

Tips for Launching Your Spring Gardening

Two arms holding a rake clearing dead and dried plant material from an ivy bed.
Timing Your Garden Cleanup

It doesn’t take more than a few back-to-back warmer days to send many gardeners out to tidy up their yards. Yet experts at the University of Illinois Extension urge gardeners to think about how cleaning up too early might have a negative impact on overwintering pollinator species of butterflies, moths and bees.

The earliest we should consider cleaning up our landscapes is around mid-April, as many insects will have emerged by then. Waiting until temperatures are reliably in the mid-50s (around mid-May) would be more ideal, as all overwintering insects should have emerged, according to the Extension.

For gardeners who can’t wait, consider cleaning up your most highly visible areas, loosely piling plant debris in a less visible area to prevent killing the insects. When mid-May arrives, you can compost or dispose of the material. Read the Extension’s article for more spring cleanup tips.

Matching Birds to Native Plants

Sometimes the Internet can be a time-sucking ‘rabbit hole.’ Looking at one thing leads to another and then another and, well, where did the time go? Yet every so often, that experience pays off. Case in point: a friend recently e-mailed me a link to Audubon’s photo show demonstrating the link between birds and native plants. The photos were certainly ‘stellar’ as promised.

Yet as I further perused the site, I came upon Audubon’s Native Plant Database. Simply enter your zip code and up pops a list of natives with names and images of birds the plants may attract. You can refine your search with filters such as plant type (annuals/perennials, shrubs, trees, etc.) plant resources (seeds, fruit, insects) and the specific types of birds you’d like to attract to your yard.

Get Ready to Buy Natives

Chicago Living Corridors has an extensive list of native plant sales for 2023. Included are many organizations holding sales, plus some nurseries that offer native plants. This year, more nurseries are selling natives, so make sure to check these listings. Most of the plant sale dates have been updated for this year.

Gear Up for Earth Day

Earth Day (Saturday, April 22) will be here before we know it. For ideas on how you can make a positive impact on our planet, check out my blog posting 10 Ways to Walk the Earth Day Talk. An organization called EARTHDAY.ORG offers additional ideas through its How to Do Earth Day 2023 campaign.

Jumping Worms Invade Indiana!

No, this isn’t an early April Fool’s joke. If you haven’t heard, jumping worms are a new invasive pest spreading across North America, creating headaches for gardeners and farmers. They’ve recently been found in Southern Indiana.

Jumping worms devour organic material in the top soil layer and leave behind waste with no nutrients for plants. And because jumping worms won’t dig deeper than the top layer of soil, they don’t create channels for air and water to reach plant roots like earthworms do. This invasive pest doesn’t show up in new locales through migration; instead, they are being unwittingly spread by humans through transport of soil and compost. Learn more from this article.