Smart garden installation and reduced maintenance go hand-in-hand
(Excerpted from Ecoscaping Back to the Future…Restoring Chesapeake Landscapes, plus new material.)
Creating conservation landscapes—often referred to as BayScapes, GreenScapes, and RainScapes—include using native plants, removing invasive plants, conserving water, eliminating or reducing chemical fertilizers and pesticides to reduce pollution and conserve resources, shaping the ground for better infiltration and erosion control, and enhancing aesthetics and wildlife habitat.
Basic steps for smart garden installation to reduce garden maintenance
▪ Plan for the long term. Did you know that the Chesapeake Bay watershed was once 95 percent forest? Native trees and shrubs create the basic structure and foundation of landscapes. Long term planning is essential before installing trees and shrubs, which should be thoughtfully located in the landscape due to their long life, possible substantial size, and the resulting effects they create in the landscape. The difficulty, expense, and the stress on trees and shrubs if moved should also be considered.
When creating your garden design, place trees first, shrubs second, then place perennials. Place them in appropriate growing conditions, and allow enough room for them to grow based on their size once mature. You can easily thin and relocate perennials later if needed, however, large trees and shrubs are not so easy to move.
Many variables exist that may influence your installation and maintenance plans, including time, available help, budget, and season. It may not be feasible to turn the property into a conservation landscape overnight. You may need to implement your planting plan in stages and to plan for additional longer-term improvements, phased in over time. Remember, maintenance will be ongoing, so plan accordingly when creating landscapes to assure they will be maintained. For example, herbaceous perennial beds will require more maintenance than adding trees and shrubs to your landscape. Conservation landscapes are living, dynamic ecosystems that evolve and are ever changing.
▪ Avoid the use of and remove and replace invasive plants. Most invasive plants are “exotics,” i.e., they have been brought here from another ecosystem, frequently from another continent. That often means that they arrived here with few or no natural enemies to control them and hold down their numbers. Those that get completely out of control cause huge problems to wildlife and the plants they displace, as well as damage to agriculture and the livelihood of many people. Do your best to eradicate invasive plants before they take over your landscape (which, in some cases, could be a multi-year project). Some invasive species, such as bamboo have vigorous growth habits that, if unchecked, can quickly overwhelm a landscape. Beware of planting invasives such as English ivy, purple loosestrife, butterfly bush, Norway maple, or Bradford pear. These can actually still be purchased at nurseries, despite their known bad habits.
▪ Reducing turf grass and practicing natural lawn care are simple ways to make your yard more ecologically sound. Although lawns can prevent erosion better than bare soil, most other types of landscape plantings provide more benefits to the environment than does just a lawn. Many lawns have become very compacted, too full of toxic chemicals, and a drain on our time, energy, and financial resources. They can be almost as bad as impervious surfaces in causing rapid runoff. Reduce lawn area by creating and making existing garden beds and borders larger in order to incorporate more native plants.
▪ Go native! Did you know that 75 percent of food crops require fertilization by animal pollinators in order to produce fruit and seed?
“Native plants sustain native pollinators and other beneficial wildlife, compared to non-native plants which often provide poor habitat. For instance, one native oak tree can provide habitat for over 500 butterfly and moth species! An exotic species like a Bradford pear, by contrast, might provide habitat for one or two species.” —Professor Doug Tallamy, University of Delaware
Begin to transition away from exotic plants to using more native plants, including native herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and trees in your landscape. Start with plants that will thrive in the conditions you have.
Native plant benefits include:
- Best adapted to local conditions, e.g., no need to use chemical fertilizers.
- Water conservation, i.e., once plants are established in the right place, no need for supplemental watering.
- Reduced maintenance over the long run. While native plants are not maintenance-free, if they are placed in the landscape based on their preferred conditions, they require less care than non-native species.
- Won’t harm natural areas, e.g., won’t become invasive.
- High habitat value provides food, shelter, and nesting areas for wildlife.
- Great variety of species for all conditions.
- Create a “sense of place.”
▪ Plant right for your site. Take time to become familiar with the native plants you plan to install in order to select and place plants in their preferred growing conditions for light, moisture, soil requirements, and for pleasing aesthetics. Some plants prefer dry soil, others prefer moist soil, while some can handle a range of conditions from dry to moist. There are many good references on the growing conditions preferred by specific plants (see resource section below). Evaluate your site and select plants that will work well for the given conditions. Successful gardeners know that the old adage, “right plant, right place” will save you time, energy, and money. Moreover, your plants will be healthier, and more resistant to diseases, pests, and other problems—without the need for added fertilizer or pesticides. If a plant is not happy, i.e., is doing poorly in a particular location, try moving it. Also note that planting sites more densely in layers of differing heights results in better water retention, greater air and water quality benefits, and increased wildlife habitat.
▪ For newly planted plants—water, water, water! Mother Nature will sometimes do the job, but if it doesn’t rain, regular good soakings will be needed. Herbaceous perennial native plants take a few months to become established; while trees and shrubs take approximately a year (sometimes more) to become established. Once native plants are established, extra water is no longer needed unless there is a severe drought. Of course, during the coldest months of winter when plants are dormant and the ground is frozen, watering isn’t required or practical.
▪ When designing your garden, consider keeping it simple. While gardens can have several species of plants, they can also have a bold impact by planting just three or four plant species. Grouping several like plants or “drifts of plants” creates visual impact. If you decide to use several herbaceous flowering perennials and grasses, meadows (unlike formal planting arrangements) allow more freedom with plant selection and maintenance (i.e., less concern about plants migrating to where they weren’t originally planted).
▪ Consider the maintenance entailed with herbaceous perennials versus woodies, i.e., trees and shrubs. Gardens with woodies are often easier to maintain. And trees and shrubs soak up and filter a lot of stormwater runoff. For example, the large Oak Grove at the CEC has very high environmental benefits and is one of our lowest maintenance installations. Notably, woodies may remain long-term, whereas perennial beds may or may not, particularly on school grounds.
▪ Practice rainscaping with rain gardens, rain barrels, and permeable pavers to reduce stormwater runoff. Incorporate vegetated swales and rain gardens into your landscape to allow stormwater to infiltrate slowly into the ground rather than running off into the nearest waterway or storm drain. This provides flood and erosion control, filtration, groundwater recharge, and water-cooling benefits, while providing wildlife habitat.
▪ Plant more trees. Trees soak up rainfall and protect soil against erosion by catching raindrops before they hit the ground. Tree roots break up tightly packed soil, increasing the amount of water the ground absorbs. Trees filter air and water, provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, and shade for homes, which can reduce energy costs. According to professor Doug Tallamy, if you’re able to plant only one thing on your property, you couldn’t do better for wildlife than planting an oak.
▪ Fall is a prime planting season. Cooler temperatures and less risk of drought provide an ideal time for planting trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials; and while watering is required, it will be less than other times of the year. It’s less stressful on plants, i.e., plants put more energy into developing roots (rather than foliage).
Annual garden maintenance
During the growing season in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, regular garden chores include weeding, adding organic mulch once or twice a year, and raking leaves, plant and grass clippings, and composting them. Barring severe drought (once they’re established) native plants shouldn’t need additional water since they are adapted to the climate and soil conditions. Perennial plants may need to be thinned and relocated as they grow and spread; and trees and shrubs may need occasional pruning. Figuring out who will complete these tasks over the long term is just as important as the planting of the garden.
▪ Weeding. Tilling the soil stirs up lots of dormant weed seeds and is not advisable. Disturbing the soil—creating a haven for weeds—obliges us to maintain it.
“It’s hard to imagine the American landscape without St. John’s wort, daisies, dandelions, crabgrass, timothy, clover, pigweed, lamb’s-quarters, buttercup, mullein, Queen Anne’s lace, plantain, or yarrow, but not one of these species grew here before the Puritans landed. America in fact had few indigenous weeds, for the simple reason that it had little disturbed ground. The Indians lived so lightly on the land that they created few habitats for weeds to take hold in. No plow, no bindweed.” –Michael Pollan
Most weeds—as well as intended plants—proliferate in the sun. Your choice of plant location can determine how much weeding will be required, e.g., trees that provide shade will also help keep weeds at bay, however, your plants palette will be more limited in shady sites.
During the spring, weeds spring up daily, and it’s a good time to get a jump on weeds—an hour of prevention is worth a week of cure! Sally Roth, in Weeds, friend or foe?, advises: “Procrastination doesn’t pay when weeding. The more time weeds have to grow, the deeper and larger their root systems become, and the more time and muscle power you’ll need to pry them out of the soil. If you attack when they’re tender young seedlings, you can slice off hundreds of potential problems with one quick stroke of a hoe or hand weeder. Young weeds are easy to smother with mulch, too, though it’s always a good idea to hoe weeds into submission before you pile on the mulch. You may not get every last one, but the stressed survivors will probably lack the energy to break through the mulch and reach daylight again.”
If weeds grow long enough to set seed, your problems multiply exponentially. Some species of a single weed produce hundreds of seeds, enough to keep you busy weeding for years. If you fall behind on weeding, at least make an effort to snip off seed-heads when you see them forming. Dispose of weed seed-heads in the trash. If you add them to your compost pile, they may contaminate the finished material and sprout or spread once more wherever you use the compost in your garden.
Develop a regular garden care schedule for your garden. Take heart, if you maintain your landscape, the amount of weeding needed should lessen over time as the disturbed area stabilizes. And garden maintenance is a great way to commune with nature and stay in shape!
▪ Reduce or eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
- 80,000,000 pounds of synthetic pesticides are used on U.S. lawns each year.
- When pesticides are regularly applied, 60-90% of earthworms are killed. Earthworms are invaluable for soil health.
- Over 100 million tons of fertilizers are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually.
Before using fertilizer in your landscape, it is important to test the soil to see if it actually needs amending. A laboratory will give you detailed results and suggestions on amendments, and simple kits from a gardening store will give you a rough idea about certain nutrients. Don’t add fertilizer if you don’t need it. It will not be used by the plants and could cause significant problems as it runs off into the nearby waters. Algae blooms and fish kills are often caused by too much fertilizer running off lawns and other landscapes.
Commercial fertilizer is costly and is frequently made from petroleum products. If you choose to amend your soil, after testing it, try to use organic fertilizers, slow release products, or compost. Remember that if you “grass-cycle” or leave clippings on your lawn, it will reduce additional nitrogen requirements. Make sure no fertilizer remains on driveways or sidewalks, where it will wash into surface waters via storm-drains. If your lawn is unhealthy due to poor soil structure, compacting, slopes, poor drainage, pests, disease, improper pH, or shade, adding fertilizer will not help. If you have a lawn that you believe needs to be fertilized, contact your local Cooperative Extension lawn expert for suggestions on grass types and fertilizer requirements.
Pesticides, like fertilizers, should only be used as a last resort. If used improperly, they can be very dangerous to your health and the health of the surrounding environment. They can kill other things besides the intended species, such as worms, beneficial insects, birds, and other animals. They frequently make pest problems worse, because they tend to eliminate the beneficial insects that are trying to take care of the problem. Pest populations frequently recover faster from a pesticide application than the “good guy” insects who help keep them in check. This makes for a vicious cycle of dependence on chemicals to try to control a worsening problem.
Instead, try using integrated pest management (IPM). This technique entails simple preventative measures and using the least dangerous chemicals only if necessary, such as insecticidal soaps and oils. Using native plants that are adapted to the region and the specific site, and resistant to local diseases and pests, is the best approach. A wide diversity of native plants will attract many beneficial insects to your garden and may be all you need to keep pests in check. Using barriers, traps, and vigilant hand removal of pests can also help. The simplest aspect of IPM is accepting that a certain amount of damage will be done by pests. Having tolerance will help gardeners not to panic and apply pesticides where they are unneeded and problematic. Given overall healthy conditions, many problems are self-correcting.
“Most chemical pesticides represent a very crude form of knowledge about insects…. Even though this knowledge has been produced by Homo sapiens wearing lab coats, it is not nearly as sophisticated or precise as the knowledge a ladybug, say, possesses on the subject of aphids. The ladybug is not smart, but she knows one thing exceedingly well: how to catch forty or fifty aphids every day without hurting anybody else. If you think of evolution as a three-and-a-half-billion-year-long laboratory experiment, and the gene pool as the store of information accumulated during the course of that experiment, you begin to appreciate that nature has far more extensive knowledge about her operations than we do. The trick is to put her knowledge to our purpose in the garden.” –Michael Pollan
▪ Compost to use it as a soil amendment and to reduce yard waste. Composting is the natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material. Nature’s recycling system is efficient, completing the cycle-of-life process. Leaves that fall to the forest floor form a moist mulch layer that protects the roots of plants and provides a home for nature’s recyclers—bacteria, insects, and worms that feed on the mulch, turning it into compost. As the mulch decomposes, nutrients essential to plant growth are released into the soil and are absorbed through plant roots.
Compost contributes to good soil structure, which allows soil to retain nutrients, moisture, and oxygen for long periods of time. When we remove yard waste from the landscape where it was produced, we deprive plants of their own natural fertilizing source. Like the natural composting process in the forest, we can create compost in our yards and gardens by placing yard waste in a suitable spot in bins or piles. An easy formula to remember is: “One part green, two parts brown, makes the yard waste turn to ground. Add some water and some soil, turning is the only toil.” At the CEC we’ve mostly practiced passive composting, i.e., minimal effort composting by simply piling garden trimmings and leaves in piles and letting it decompose. It takes longer to work, but works just as well as active composting.
Yard waste alone accounts for approximately 18 to 20 percent of municipal solid waste, and during peak seasons, can account for 25 to 50 percent according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Backyard composting saves valuable landfill space. It also saves taxpayers the additional costs to collect, haul, and manage yard waste.
Joel Lerner, landscape designer, writer, and teacher advises: “Before you apply any material to the garden, apply some common sense to the process. A healthy environment is the best protection your plants can have. There are a lot of things you can do that are amazingly simple that will help your plants fend off pests and diseases. Start with healthy soil. Good drainage, aeration and lots of nutrients are the goals. Use soil amendments, especially in heavy clay. Think seriously of composting, if you’re not already doing it. Compost probably has a greater positive impact on plant health than any other single factor. I praise compost because when dug in widely and deeply enough, it will condition the least hospitable clay soils and help them bind nutrients so they are delivered to the plants instead of running off into the Chesapeake Bay.”
▪ Mulch to conserve water, suppress weeds, improve soil structure, and lessen erosion. Mulch is an organic or inorganic layer of nonliving material covering the soil surface around plants. The benefits of organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or pine are many:
- Helps to hold soil in place and minimizes erosion.
- Minimizes evaporation and retains moisture for plants, allowing considerable water savings and reduced maintenance, especially during dry spells.
- Keeps soil cool in the summer and warm in the winter, maintaining a more uniform soil temperature, which can improve plant growth.
- Provides protective cover until plants mature (be careful not to bury seedlings).
- Decomposes naturally to add nutrients and organic matter to soil.
- Helps suppress weed growth, which can significantly reduce maintenance.
- Enhances the aesthetics of a landscape design—a great top dressing that provides instant impact.
Avoid the use of too much mulch. Because mulch has so many benefits, some folks imagine “if a little is good, then a lot must be better” and create mulch volcanoes around trees. This type of excessive mulching creates unhealthy conditions. As a rule-of-thumb, apply mulch to a depth of 1- to 2-inches in planting beds; and keep it a few inches from the trunks of trees and shrubs. Commonly used organic mulches include: chipped or shredded wood mulch, such as pine or cypress; pine needles; and shredded leaves.
Unless it is for a pathway where you don’t want plants to grow, avoid the use of freshly chipped wood. Fresh wood chips will remove the nitrogen plants need from the soil as they decompose. Wood chips should be composted for six or more months before being used in planting beds.
Using dyed mulch is not recommended. In natural settings, dyed mulch is out of character and there are other problems as well. Unlike composted chipped or shredded mulches, dyed mulch tends to be made from ground up waste wood, like pallets and shipping crates. It causes the same problems for plants as using newly chipped wood. As it decomposes, it will draw nitrogen from the soil. Furthermore, some dyed mulch is made from construction debris, containing chemicals such as asbestos or lead paint.
Special considerations for schoolyard conservation landscapes
▪ A very important question to ask and answer is: “Who will maintain the gardens in 5, 10, or 20 years?” For public spaces, the more volunteers, the better—both for educational purposes, and so that volunteers will take more interest and ownership of projects and participate in on-going maintenance. Be prepared to spend time recruiting, organizing, and educating volunteers. You will need to supply gloves, tools, and drinking water.
▪ Native plant installations on school grounds especially need to be designed with long-term maintenance in mind. An important lesson learned over the years at the CEC is that native herbaceous perennials—although they have beautiful flowers and great wildlife habitat value—generally have higher maintenance requirements for schoolyard habitats. For example, herbaceous perennials need to cut back annually and divided every three to four years. And planting beds may require more intensive weeding.
On the other hand, native trees and shrubs aka woodies—which provide tremendous environmental benefits—often entail less maintenance and may be more appropriate for school grounds. Over the years, we’ve developed a growing awareness of maintenance issues and the greater long-term survival potential of woody plants versus herbaceous perennials on school grounds.
If you plant herbaceous perennials, consider whether you want a formal garden or a meadow arrangement. Plants move and grow where they are happiest. If you decide to use several herbaceous flowering perennials and grasses, informal meadows allow more freedom with plant selection and maintenance.
▪ When working with volunteers on garden care, especially young people, it isn’t always obvious what are weeds and what are intended plants. With mostly shrubs and trees, it isn’t hard to tell the difference.
▪ Some native plants are more adaptable than others. In public spaces, it’s important to install low maintenance, hardy native plants. For example, these native shrubs—Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica), Inkberry (Ilex glabra), and Red Chokeberry (Photinia pyrifolia) grow in a wide range of light and soil conditions; and they are commonly used in landscape installations. Commonly used versatile native trees include: Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), River Birch (Betula nigra), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), and Willow Oak (Quercus phellos). These are only a few examples of beautiful and versatile native woodies.
▪ A few native plants are aggressive. Do not plant these natives, unless you want profuse growth that will take over areas where planted: Jerusaleum Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina), and False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa).
▪ Interpretive signs are essential to communicate the purpose and value of conservation landscaping to the school and community. At CEC, we enhance the nature experience by providing on-site information through signage, which increases the public’s understanding of conservation landscaping and helps to empower their participation. Interpretive signs leverage our ability to provide information and inspiration by allowing visitors to take self-guided tours of the Native Plant Demonstration Gardens and Groves; and they assist us in the numerous guided tours we provide.
▪ Add protective plastic sleeves around the base of trees to protect them from weed wackers. Groundskeepers sometimes inadvertently girdle trees with weed wackers, i.e., destroy their circulatory system, which is just below the bark. It is easy and inexpensive to obtain (from home improvement stores) black corrugated plastic pipe (either 4” or 6” in diameter), and cut it into approximately 12” sections. Then cut one side of the pipe lengthwise to open and close it around the base of trees.
▪ Be prepared for the unexpected. On public grounds, the unexpected can happen, e.g.: vandalism and/or trash left by two-legged creatures; the girdling and removal of trees by beavers; and issues with dog walking and dog waste. Signage can possibly lessen trash and dog walking/waste problems.
The only constant is change. When creating a new garden, space is abundant. This is especially true when planting small seedlings. If you start with mature plants, you can fill a new garden bed, however, mature plants can be costly, and adapt less readily than younger plants. Charles Kidder describes his experience this way: “Often you’re left staring at your tiny new plants—while they’re staring back from a sea of mulch—and wondering when all that space is ever going to fill in. Eventually they do indeed put down roots, things start looking really good, and then before you know it—too many plants! Or perhaps, too-big plants. Something has to go.”
By definition, a garden is a man-made landscape that requires maintenance. As in writing this article, reorganizing ones closet, or cleaning out kitchen cabinets, gardens also require editing, especially over time since they are living, dynamic systems. Whether home gardens or schoolyard gardens, as gardens mature, editing and reworking is often necessary. Reworking a landscape may require making difficult decisions and is sometimes harder than creating a new one. At least with new gardens you don’t have to struggle with removing plants and deciding what to do with excess plants. However, after 12 years of creating, adding to, and adjusting the gardens at the CEC, we’ve had lots of practice making sometimes challenging editing decisions.
Garden editing tips
▪ Late spring and summer, after plants have fully leafed-out, are a good times to make plans for garden editing. And fall is a good time to both plant and transplant. It’s less stressful for the plants.
▪ Garden editing often simply involves removal of excess plants, which make great gifts for fellow gardeners, or if necessary, can be added to the compost pile.
▪ Some plants may need to be switched out for better selections, due to being placed in less than optimal growing conditions, becoming overly aggressive, or simply not providing a preferred look.
▪ As trees mature, their branches will gradually increase the amount of shade underneath, and can entail moving shaded plants which require more sunlight.
▪ Some editing is simply a matter of cleaning up and/or reducing the size of a plant, that is, pruning.
In the last few years, we’ve made edits to several CEC gardens to both enhance the gardens as well as to reduce maintenance. Editing the gardens has largely consisted of changing the plant palette in a few gardens and reducing the size of some of the beds. With the tremendous help of Master Gardeners and other volunteers, edits and enhancements to a half dozen large and small gardens at the CEC have been completed.
No doubt, gardens are very instructive classrooms. At the CEC, we’ve had countless opportunities for firsthand, on-the-ground lessons on the care entailed with different garden arrangements, the long-term environmental benefit of different landscaping arrangements, as well as aesthetic benefits. We’ve experienced countless planned and serendipitous successes as well as mistakes, and as Barbara Dodge Borland tells us, “A gardener learns more in the mistakes than in the successes.”
It’s been said that “A smart person learns from their mistakes, but a wise person learns from the mistakes of others; and to learn from the mistakes of others for you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” So, learn from our mistakes, but also remember that the mistakes you make are your greatest teachers. Trial and error gardening will answer many garden questions. In the garden, the voice of experience—distilled, collective, and well worn—speaks volumes. An open, flexible approach to gardening makes it a much more enjoyable experience—one that can also help keep you mentally and physically flexible and in shape. I think of the public and private gardens that I enjoy and work on as sanctuaries, playgrounds, gyms, and places to experiment and co-design with nature.
Remember, part of the joy of gardening is working in harmony with nature and fine-tuning over time. Learn to appreciate nature and tolerate some imperfections in the garden. The experienced gardener welcomes in their garden not only the laws of nature, but the play of contingency, too. The experienced gardener accepts that a garden is never truly finished; that though they may tame nature for a time, their mastery is temporary at best. As Roger B. Swain tells us, “Nature writes, gardeners edit.” And H. E. Bates reminds us, “A garden should be in a constant state of fluid change, expansion, experiment, adventure; above all it should be an inquisitive, loving, but self-critical journey on the part of its owner.”
Resources for transforming your landscape
▪ The Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC) has a wealth of information on a range of conservation landscaping topics. The HGIC is a statewide program providing outreach education to Maryland residents and beyond. They provide earth-friendly, research-based gardening information and education. The HGIC has extensive information on the following topics: flowers, insects, invasives, lawns, diagnostics, diseases, soils, trees & shrubs, vegetables, weeds, and more. Visit — http://extension.umd.edu/hgic.
▪ Reducing or replacing lawn. Visit the Lawn Reform Coalition’s website to learn about reducing or replacing lawn, water-wise lawn species, and eco-friendly care for all lawns — www.lawnreform.org.
▪ Going native, and planting right for your site. Learn about the extensive variety of beautiful, beneficial native plants appropriate for a range of growing conditions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by visiting — www.nativeplantcenter.net.
▪ About the value of native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials. Learn more at Doug Tallamy’s website — www.bringingnaturehome.net.
▪Landscaping with Native Plants—produced by the Maryland Native Plant Society—is a guide for the home gardener who wants to enjoy and learn about native plants. The guide can be downloaded at — www.mdflora.org/publications/gardenersguidelines/gguides.html.
▪Purchasing Native Plants. For native plant sources, visit the Maryland Native Plant Society’s website at — www.mdflora.org/publications/nurseries.html.
▪Extensive conservation landscaping information, with an emphasis on rain gardens and xeriscapes, can be downloaded — Ecoscaping Back to the Future…Restoring Chesapeake Landscapes.
▪ Composting to use it as a soil amendment and to reduce yard waste. Learn more here.
▪Compost and Mulch Calculator makes it easy to figure out how much to purchase.
▪The Free Mulch Program. “Created by AboutTrees.com, the free mulch program is the quickest and easiest way to request free mulch from tree services when they are working close to your neighborhood. All it takes is one single form and your request will be made available to all the tree services who use the app in your area.”
▪ Pruning techniques. Download — How to Prune Trees.
▪About invasive plants. “Contrary to the title, the focus of Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas is native biodiversity. Invasive species and habitat destruction, intensified by global climate change, are running neck-to-neck as the leading causes of environmental despoliation and loss of biological diversity worldwide.” Download — Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas Printable PDF (8.25 Mb).
Additional resources can be found on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Resources page.