THE SHELF: BOOK SUGGESTS BETTER PLANT ALTERNATIVES
B. Marden believes that when it comes to gardening, a
lot of us could do better.
could grow plants that are more resistant to pests and
diseases, plants that are less aggressive, plants that
require less effort or are just more attractive than the
common varieties we’re used to seeing.
a garden designer, recommends dozens of those
alternatives in "Plant This Instead!"
book is designed to help gardeners make plant choices
that result in better-performing, better-looking
of the plants he touts are natives, but not all. He
includes some non-native plants that add fuss-free
beauty to the garden and even suggests some alternatives
to native plants that can grow out of control.
includes guidance on matching plants to growing
conditions, but he devotes most of the book to his
recommended alternatives for specific perennials,
annuals, trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers. In some
cases, he suggests better varieties of an old favorite.
In others, he recommends substituting an entirely
different plant -- wishbone flower for disease-prone
impatiens, for example, or dawn redwood for Eastern
information that can come in handy when you’re
perusing plant catalogs this time of year.
This Instead!" is published by Cool Springs Press
and sells for $24.99 in softcover.
WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH A LAWN GONE BAD?
After years of neglect, my "lawn" is a
complete wreck. It is green, all right, consisting of
every green weed known to man. Should I get my soil
tested? Should I chemically treat and kill the lawn and
The answer to your first question is easy: Yes. Getting
your soil in good shape is the first step toward growing
a healthy lawn, whether you decide to try to save the
one you have or start over. A soil test will tell you
which nutrients your soil is lacking, so you can feed it
accordingly. It will also tell you the soil’s pH
level, which determines whether the grass plants can use
the nutrients in the soil.
are other things you can do to improve your lawn,
including giving it a core aeration and top-dressing it
with compost. Mowing properly is important, too, because
it helps the grass stay healthy so it can out-compete
your description, however, it sounds like you’re going
to have to renovate the lawn, either by over-seeding or
replacing it. Over-seeding involves dethatching and
aerating or slitting the lawn, and then spreading seed
over the existing grass. Replacing the lawn is what you
referred to: killing the existing grass and planting
Melinda has written a good series of lawn-care guides
for Midwestern states. The book for your state is
Indiana Lawn Guide. State extension services typically
have good lawn-care information, too.
NEW: CLEANER TACKLES SPORTS-RELATED STAINS
Sports Cleaner is designed to clean uniforms and other
clothing of the stains and odors associated with outdoor
laundry pretreatment is formulated to remove stubborn
stains such as grass, red clay, dirt, blood, field paint
and sweat stains. It was originally intended for sports
gear but can also be used as a general-purpose stain
our area, the cleaner is available at Walmart
Supercenters, according to the company’s website. It
can also be ordered at http://espro-direct.com.
pack of two 32-ounce spray bottles costs $22.95 online.
Shipping is free.
a question about home maintenance, decorating or
gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth
Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are
chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question,
call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to