What's Coming Up 185: Design no-mow parking strip, garden face lift, prune junipers, Arnold Arb

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In this issue: Step by step through designing and planting a lawn-free, no-mow parking strip. 

What's Up summary of this week's news

Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila help you grow

Issue #185, July 15, 2012


Here are your links to What's Up this week

We were clucking over an almost-great photo one day many years ago. This attracted the attention of a friend who looked, took the snapshot from us, ripped it to remove the offending bit and handed it back, saying, "There, now it's perfect." We laughed then, about, 'if only life were that easy.'

Now we're living that easy life and smiling in the teeth of a drought as we apply that tactic freely in gardens. That is, if it doesn't look good, we snip it for an instantly cleaner, fresher look. Those who learn by doing at aGarden By Janet & Steventell us the feeling's contagious. "This is so liberating. I never thought I could do this. Now I'm doing it and having fun with it."

Maybe you'll catch the bug, too. This issue certainly has enough pictures and lists of plants that have gone or could go under the knife.

We've also included design and planting help for working with an awkward spot, the public strip -- help that applies between sidewalk and road across three hardiness zones. If you are tackling the landscape at a new-to-you house, or helping others with such projects, maybe you'll send us photos and questions as D.S. in Savannah, Georgia did. When it comes to writing forWhat's Up, we love a real problem we can solve by drawing on and knitting together many existing bits of the library. 

Do remember that there are just the two of us running this show, so our email may get backed up. However, on the Forum there are a whole passel of expert moderators who also love a challenge. They, too, look at posted photos or drawings to identify, recommend, even design. So please become a Forum member so you can ask away. (Reading along is open to everyone.) Membership is free and the email address you use to register (so our computer knows you're not a hacker) remains only between us.


Don't miss your chance at summer hands-on workshops


Help for Hot Weather Gardeners July 19 in Guelph, Ontario.

Pruning workshop on Detroit's Belle Isle Park August 25.

Free, hands on Garden by Janet & Steven workshops in:
Grosse Pointe, MI July 17;
Plymouth, MI July 2;
Macomb, MI July 25;
at the Detroit Zoo July 28;
in Clinton Twp, MI August 7;
and in Toledo, Ohio August 19.
Check our calendar for details and to register.

Our top story this week: 

Alternatives to grass in an outlawn

For those fed up with edging and mowing that public strip between sidewalk and street, this is a full blown design with coverage of all the special points we should heed when digging out or killing the lawn. An extensive list of colorful, no-mow groundcovers helps you use plants to manage foot traffic, create landings for those getting in and out of parked cars, blend an outlawn with the rest of the landscape, even translate plant choices from zone 5 to zone 8. We also share practical experiences gained in digging in these spaces.


What's going on in Janet & Steven's gardens

July face lift for a garden

Hot and dry? There are lots of us in that predicament. To alleviate the frustration and clear the stage for a second season of beauty: Identify what looks great despite all. Then, dip into your bag of tricks to employ erasers, wrinkle covers, and spacemakers. Make peace with problems and then indulge yourself in a few, new, small perennials.


Green thumbs up and down

This week our nod and "No!" go to:

Brave pruners who quit simple shearing and dive deep into groundcover junipers. Clip way back on leading-edge tips to keep a low profile and always-new, feathery edges.


Boulders in the easement, accidents waiting to happen and no real help to the garden!


The 45 mph garden

It's catching driver's eyes and raising questions this week.

Will lawnless stand-outs start a trend?

Sure, the All-American lawn is alive and well but deviants are out there, uprooting the bluegrass. We do enjoy seeing these alternative lawns as we travel. Might we cultivate this trend?


Expert afield

All eyes see differently. Here's a place where we learn  through others' lenses.

Steven, reporting from: The Arnold Arboretum

He's only watched it grow for about 30 years but he's got a gift for capturing its whole 140 years of wonder and inspiring the rest of us. See why you should stop in at The Arnold the next time you're in the Boston area, and how much you can see even in a short visit.