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End-of-Season Sales Stretch Landscaping
Diesel in the Winter
Identify Signs of Meth Production
Winterizing your Landscape
Understanding Planning and Zoning
Sales Stretch Landscaping Budgets
By Mary Ann deVries, ISU Polk County Extension Horticulturist
One option to stretch a landscaping budget is to buy
landscape plants found at end-of-season sales.
My husband planted an orchard from end-of-season specials,
many of which came with no label. If you have limited
space, planting unlabeled trees is not something you’ll
want to do. Dr. Jeff Iles of Iowa State University’s
Horticulture Department equates a tree with no label
to going on a blind date. You never know how it’s
going to turn out. But we have lots of space and it’s
great fun watching the trees grow and develop. We have
learned about the characteristics of each tree –
how it grows, what the fruit is like, when the fruit
When buying bargain-basement beauties, here are some
things to look for:
1. A reasonable number of green leaves, free from
leaf spots or scorching
2. No cracks, cankers, gouges, or other bark damage
on the trunk or main branches
3. Soil that appears moist and ample for the root ball
4. A general idea of how big the plant will grow and
how much sun it needs; if there’s no label and
you don’t recognize the plant, pass it up.
Mulching and watering summer plantings are extremely
important to their success. A shade cage over the top
of new plants or transplants for a week or two provides
relief from the hot sun and harsh winds that can dry
out a young plant in only one day.
With careful selection and diligent after-planting
care, bargain-priced landscape plants are budget-friendly
options for new acreage owners.
By Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension Ag Engineering Field
If you have equipment that uses diesel fuel, here
are some winter facts you need to know. Diesel fuel
contains paraffin wax, which for common #2D diesel fuel,
remains liquid above 10 degrees F. At cooler temperatures,
the wax begins to solidify into crystals. Below about
0 degrees F, the crystals become so large that the fuel
becomes too thick to pour and the fuel system may plug
For cold temperature operation, #1D diesel fuel is
refined to have less wax and will remain liquid at temperatures
down to -40 degrees F. In northern states, an appropriate
“winter blend” of #2 and #1 diesel is available
from fuel suppliers.
Although most diesel engines sold in Iowa are equipped
to use winter blend fuel, check your equipment operator’s
manual to make sure. Because #1D fuel has less energy
per gallon and provides less lubrication for the fuel
system, excessive use of #1 fuel is not recommended.
Fuel additives are available to lower the minimum
operating temperature of the fuel. Check with your fuel
supplier before adding these products to your fuel.
of Meth Production and Use in Rural Areas
By Terry Finnerty, ISU Extension Commercial Horticulture
I live on an acreage outside one of central Iowa’s
larger urban communities (not Des Moines). It is one
of the many communities in Iowa and the Midwest plagued
by methamphetamine production in rural areas. I have
seen in ditches transparent grocery bags stuffed with
drug paraphernalia, sections of garden hose and aquarium
tubing, and propane canisters with blue-stained valves.
These are the tools of methamphetamine production,
which often are discarded in ditches and waterways.
Not only does methamphetamine cause addiction and suffering
among its users, it also creates an environment that
is unsafe and unhealthy for others.
What can you do? First, be aware. Methamphetamine,
also known as meth, crank, ice, and chalk, is an extremely
powerful and highly addictive stimulant that alters
the chemistry of the brain and causes severe damage
to internal organs.
Products used in methamphetamine production (things
to look for) include anhydrous ammonia (stored in portable
propane canisters), ephedrine or psuedoephedrine (found
in over-the-counter cold medicines), drain cleaner,
stove fuel, ether-based starting fluids, red-stained
coffee filters, aquarium and garden hoses, and flashlight
batteries (peeled open to extract the lithium cores).
Other evidence of meth lab activity in your area may
include a strong odor that smells like cat urine, ether,
ammonia or acetone around buildings or vehicles, attempts
to reinforce doors and blacken out windows, and unusual
amounts of activity into and out of residences.
Next, be wary. Meth users can be extremely agitated,
paranoid, and violent. Never confront a suspected user
or producer, and never touch discarded materials. Notify
a local law enforcement agency immediately of your suspicions.
Finally, be involved. Methamphetamine activity is
not going away, and law enforcement agencies rely upon
local citizens to help them with their efforts to eliminate
this problem. If you suspect methamphetamine production
in your neighborhood, contact your nearest law enforcement
For more information, visit the following Web sites:
Pastures - the Key to More Productive Pastures
By Carl Neifert, ISU Extension Livestock Field Specialist
Giving your pastures a three- week vacation between
grazing periods is a great way to produce more forage
for livestock and produce a more nutrient-rich pasture.
This vacation, better known as rotational grazing, allows
a “rest” period for pasture grasses and
legumes to recover and rebuild plant vigor. There is,
therefore, more leaf area to capture sunlight, and thus
more solar energy converted to plant energy.
you rotate and rest pastures, the number of pasture
plant species will increase and create a more diverse
plant population. This will result in more pasture productivity
throughout the grazing season.
Confining animals to a smaller pasture area for a shorter
time will encourage animals to graze a higher percentage
of the available forage in each pasture. It will also
allow the remainder of the pasture to recover from grazing
and hoof damage and to regrow at a faster rate. Animals,
especially horses, are notorious spot grazers if not
forced to eat all species in the pasture.
Electric fencing can make light work of subdividing
grazing areas into paddocks so that pasture plants can
rest and recover. Making water available to all paddocks
can be expensive.
Using temporary watering systems (heavy duty garden
hose or plastic pipe above ground) can make providing
water for each paddock a workable option. Be creative.
Don’t let current water resources or current fences
limit your efforts to divide pastures into paddocks
and rotationally graze.
A rotational pasture design should fit your land resources
and your management style. Pastures don’t need
to be uniform in size. Fences should be placed by topography
as much as possible. Lowe wet areas should be fenced
separately from hilltops. Similar vegetation should
be fenced together. Teh rate of rotation per paddock
will vary, but the main goal is to provide a three-week
rest period per paddock, before returning to that paddock
to graze. Pasture rotation will need to be faster in
the early spring when growth is lush.
Another goal is to not graze plants Low wet too short.
Begin grazing cool season grasses (orchard grass, from
hilltops. Similar vegetation brome grass) at 8-10”
height don’t graze below 4” height. Begin
grazing bluegrass at 6-8” height and don’t
graze below 2”.
Pasture plants that have begun to flower or head out
are done growing. Those platns should be mowed to stimulate
new plant growth.
By Bill Denton, Master Gardener
Many of us spend a considerable amount of time in
the spring and summer months working on our home landscape.
Trees are pruned and sprayed, lawns are fertilized and
neatly mowed and gardens hoed and weeded. A neatly manicured
home landscape is not only beautiful to see, but tends
to reflect on the personality and pride of the homeowner.
However, we cannot work all summer to keep our landscape
in the best health and appearance only to neglect it
during the harsh winter months.
basic principle we should always follow when speaking
of winter hardiness is to always select trees, shrubs,
herbaceous perennials, and vegetables that are recommended
for growing in your region of the state. Once you have
selected a hardy variety, there are a few basic steps
to winterize your home landscape from the harsh effects
of Iowa weather. In Iowa, winterizing is usually done
from late October through late November.
TREES. Dead branches on shrubs should be pruned so
that heavy snows do not break down weak areas. Young
trees that are still fragile can be protected from winds
by a lean-to made from stakes and burlap. A chicken
wire cylinder or burlap wrapped around the trunk can
keep rabbits and deer from chewing on the bark. It can
also prevent the bark from cracking due to large temperature
changes between daytime sunlight and nighttime freezing.
Trees and shrubs should be allowed to acclimate somewhat
to the cold fall nights and then watered thoroughly
before the ground freezes for the winter. This is especially
true if we have not had a lot of fall rain. The entire
canopy should be given a slow, gentle soaking including
the root area.
LAWNS. We can winterize our lawns by cutting the grass
shorter. The last mowing should be about 2 inches. The
fallen leaves should be raked to prevent any damage
to grass from being smothered by leaf piles or diseases
introduced to grass from the dead leaves. This is also
a good time to help your lawn’s root system by
fertilizing. Check out pm 1447e, Responsible Use of
Nitrogen Fertilizers on Lawn, available at your local
VEGETABLES. Vegetable gardens should be cleaned thoroughly
and all healthy plants and vines put in the compost
pile. Any diseased plants should be destroyed. The garden
should be tilled to help discourage plant diseases and
overwintering insects. Tilling the garden in the fall
also makes the soil easier to work in the spring.
PERENNIALS. Perennial gardens should be cleaned thoroughly
and all dead plants and leaves raked up and discarded
or composted. Any diseased leaves should be destroyed
so the health of good plants will not be affected. The
plants should be mulched with about three inches of
straw or leaves that are free from any disease or fungus.
The main reason for winter mulch is to protect plant
roots from heaving due to warming and cooling of the
soil. The mulch should be put on after the ground freezes.
These few measures can go a long way toward saving
your home landscapes from the damage that can be caused
by winter harshness. Hopefully, all of your favorite
plants will be healthy and ready to greet you come spring!
References used for this article can be found at:
By Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension Ag Engineering Field
Warm Season Grasses n: grass species that are well adapted
to climates where summer temperatures are high, especially
nighttime temperatures in July.
Many warm season species are native to the great plains
of north America. For this reason, the term “native
grasses” is sometimes (incorrectly) used interchangeably
with warm season grasses. There are warm season grasses
that are not native (crabgrass) and there are native
grasses that are cool season (wheatgrass and wildrye).
Common examples of warm season grasses include big
bluestem, little bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass,
sideoats grama, blue grama, and buffalograss.
Compared to cool season grasses such as bluegrass,
fescue, and bromegrass, warm season grasses tend to
have less growth early in the cool spring and very late
in the fall, but significantly more growth during the
hot late summer and early fall.
Warm season grasses tend to have deeper root systems,
often making them more drought-tolerant than cool season
(This article will appear occasionally to define common
Planning and Zoning: Part II
By Terry Finnerty, ISU Extension Commercial Horticulture
The Code of Iowa, section 335.8, gives county boards
of supervisors the authority to create planning commissions
for most county land-use issues. Only a planning commission
can conduct planning and zoning studies.
County planning commissions, also called planning
and zoning commissions, are advisory committees appointed
by boards of supervisors to make planning and zoning
recommendations. Service is voluntary; in Iowa, members
typically serve three to five-year terms. No previous
experience is required. Most commissions meet monthly,
and members are expected to read and analyze plan proposals
in advance. Typical activities for planning and zoning
- developing and maintaining a comprehensive plan
to guide the future development of a community or
- developing zoning ordinances and zoning districts,
- holding public hearings on proposed zoning plans,
- hearing subdivision matters,
- determining if proposed projects are consistent
with the comprehensive plan,
- consulting with people about implementing changes
to the comprehensive and other specific plans, and
- providing information to the governing body about
how to implement the comprehensive plan.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment, another voluntary body
appointed by county boards of supervisors, is responsible
for reviewing the county planning commission’s
actions based on how it interprets zoning ordinances
and planning regulations. Appeals to zoning ordinances
are made to this board. If the board of adjustment’s
decision reverses the original decision by the planning
commission, the matter is submitted to the board of
supervisors. The board may accept the decision of the
board of adjustment or remand it back for further study.
If the applicants are dissatisfied with a decision at
this level, they may take the matter to the district
For more information about planning and zoning, visit
your county government offices or contact Stuart Huntington,
ISU Extension Planning and Development Specialist, at
Publications in Iowa State University Extension’s
land-use series are available at www.extension.iastate.edu/pubs
or from your local Extension office:
The Local Planning Commission: Roles and Responsibilities,
The Comprehensive Plan, PM 1868f The Zoning Ordinance,