- March 2004 issue: (download
in pdf format)
If you plant it, they will come
NRCS helps acreage owners with
Tree selection - The right
tree in the right place
Reduce your debts the PowerPay way
Best management practices help acreage
owners manage surface runoff
State Forest Nursery offers low-cost
trees for conservation purposes
If you plant
it, they will come
By Steve D. Lekwa, Director, Story County Conservation
Much has been written about attracting wildlife to
our homes and yards, but in some cases even the creatures
we initially welcome can become nuisances. Deer, Canada
geese, and cute little bunnies and chipmunks come to
mind. Wild creatures can wear out their welcome when
our landscape plants become their preferred foods.
ISU Extension Wildlife Biologist Jim Pease advises
there are a few plants less attractive to twig and bark
nibblers such as deer and rabbits. These plants may
have thorny defenses or may contain chemicals that actually
disrupt digestion. Spruces, red cedar (juniper), and
both red and Austrian pine are conifers that are usually
left alone until more favored foods are gone. They may
still be attacked by buck deer rubbing “felt”
off their antlers in the fall, though.
Shrubs and small trees that are less attractive to
deer and rabbits include boxwood, barberry, lilacs,
forsythia, and both Russian and autumn olives. The latter
two should be considered with caution because they can
become invasive weeds in woods and unmowed areas. Trees
from the legume family such as locusts are also less
The famous movie quote, “build it and they will
come,” might be paraphrased to “plant it
and they will come” with regard to acreage wildlife.
Creatures will eat nearly anything we plant in our yards
and gardens, and a few seem to have a particular taste
for the more expensive decorative ornamentals. Remember
that under severe winter stress wildlife will eat even
things they normally avoid. You can select plants that
are less attractive to wild animals, but you may still
need to rely on repellents or exclusion with fences
to save your favorite landscape plants from the neighbors
that lived on the land before you arrived.
For more information, check out these publications:
Not Favored by Deer (pdf) and Controlling
Rabbits in the Landscape.
helps acreage owners with conservation efforts
By Rich Wrage, Boone County Extension Education Director
Iowa is a diverse state made up of many young and old
geographical land formations. This land is divided up
and owned by a diverse group of people. From large scale
farm operators to small acreage holders, conservation
practices are an important part of modern crop and livestock
production, as well as acreage ownership.
The Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS)
is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It is responsible for promoting conservation through
sound and practical land management practices. By providing
technical assistance to landowners in the form of advice,
basic information, and financial incentives, NRCS can
help to improve the soil, water, wildlife habitat, and
air quality on your acreage.
Acreage owners have many opportunities to apply conservation
practices to their land, no matter how large or small
their acreage. NRCS can provide information on soils
and technical assistance for wind breaks, native prairie
grasses, soil erosion problems, managing livestock manure,
or other natural resource issues. NRCS can potentially
help you make your conservation goals happen with programs
that provide cost-share dollars, too.
If you have a conservation project or need technical
assistance, please contact your local NRCS service center.
To find out where the office in your county is and to
learn more about NRCS, visit www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.
You also can find NRCS telephone numbers in your local
phone book. Look for the county seat, and then under
U.S. Government in the white pages.
selection - The right tree in the right place
By Eldon Everhart, ISU Extension Horticulturist
Tree selection is one of the most important
investment decisions a homeowner makes when landscaping
a new home or replacing trees. Most trees outlive the
people who plant them. Consequently, it is important
to match the tree to the planting site.
The most frequently asked question is,
“What tree should I plant?” Before this
question can be answered, you must address the following:
Why is the tree being planted? Do you want the tree
to provide shade, fruit, or seasonal color, or act as
a windbreak or screen? What is the size and location
of the planting site? Does the space lend itself to
a large, medium, or small tree? Are there overhead or
belowground wires or utilities in the vicinity? Do you
need to consider clearance for sidewalks, patios, or
driveways? Are there other trees in the area? What soil
conditions exist? Is the soil deep, fertile, and well
drained, or is it shallow, compacted, and infertile?
What type of maintenance are you willing to provide?
Do you have time to water, freeze, and prune the newly
planted tree? If not, will you rely on a professional
tree business for assistance?
Properly placed and cared for trees increase the value
of our real estate. A large shade tree provides relief
from the summer’s heat and, when properly placed,
can reduce summer cooling costs.
An ornamental tree provides beautiful
flowers, leaves, bark, or fruit. Evergreens with dense,
persistent leaves can provide a windbreak or a screen
for privacy. A tree that drops its leaves in the fall
allows the sun to warm a house in the winter. A tree
or shrub that produces fruit can provide food for the
owner and/or attract birds and wildlife. Trees reduce
the glare from pavement, reduce run off, filter out
pollutants, and add oxygen to the air we breathe. Trees
also improve the quality of life on our property.
Form and size
Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect, once commented
that “form follows function.” This is a
good rule to remember when selecting a tree. Selecting
the right form (shape) to complement the desired function
(what you want the tree to do) can reduce maintenance
costs and increase the tree’s value in the landscape.
When selecting a tree, consider its mature size. Trees
grow in a variety of sizes and shapes that will fit
the planting space available. Depending on your site
restrictions, there are hundreds of combinations of
form and size from which to choose. You may choose a
small spreading tree in a location with overhead utility
lines. You may select a narrow columnar form to provide
a screen between two buildings. You may choose large
vase-shaped trees to create an arbor over a driveway.
You may even determine that the site does not have enough
space for a tree of any kind.
In the next issue of Acreage Living, we’ll continue
this tree discussion looking at site conditions (soil,
drainage, space, exposure, and human activities) and
how they affect tree selection.
debts the PowerPay way
By Mary Beth Kaufman, ISU Extension Family Resource
Management Field Specialist
of us have some debt whether it’s a credit card,
a car loan, or a home mortgage. If you’re making
minimum payments on these debts, do you know exactly
how long it will take to pay them off? Would you like
to know how much you could save if you paid a little
more each month? If you received a holiday monetary
gift or plan to receive a 2003 tax refund, would you
like to know the best way to “invest” that
If you’re a consumer with debt, you may not
realize that you have a risk-free investment at your
fingertips that can produce double-digit returns. Put
simply, paying off debt and reducing the amount of interest
paid is one of the best investments a consumer can make.
A program available from Iowa State University Extension
gives consumers a visual picture of how they can reduce
the repayment periods and the money required to pay
off debt. The PowerPay computer debt analysis program
first calculates what repayment time and interest costs
will be if a consumer continues making payments at the
current level. It’s surprising for many consumers
to see the interest costs and the length of time it
takes to repay debts such as credit cards, especially
if they are making only the minimum required payment.
Next, PowerPay calculates the possible savings from
paying off creditors with the highest interest rate
first. This scenario is where the greatest savings are
typically found. However, a consumer can choose to pay
off the lowest balance or the shortest term first. The
program can even handle customized repayment plans such
as paying off a relative first or adding an optional
monthly payment if funds are available. All of this
information is printed out for you and can include as
many as 99 creditors.
The secret behind “power payments” is
that as soon as one debt is paid off, the monthly payment
for that loan is applied to the next debt. Money from
paid loans continues to be combined towards other debts
until all are paid. The total amount of money paid towards
debts remains constant until all are paid. It is not
necessary to come up with extra money to be successful.
To find out more about the PowerPay program, contact
your local ISU Extension office. Staff there can put
you in touch with an Extension family resource management
specialist or a certified financial counselor serving
your county. To receive a free, confidential PowerPay
analysis, you need to complete a worksheet that includes
the names of creditors, monthly payments, interest rates,
and outstanding balances. You can access the PowerPay
worksheet on the Web at
PowerPay was developed by Utah State University Extension.
The program gives consumers individualized information
to help make debt reduction decisions and control credit
use. Don’t delay . . . get your PowerPay analysis
management practices help acreage owners manage surface
By Kapil Arora, ISU Extension Agricultural Engineering
Watersheds, big or small, receive water
from individual lots as surface runoff. Water from rainfall
and snow melt that does not absorb into the soil becomes
surface runoff. It carries with it any contaminant it
comes in contact with such as soil, leaves, pesticides,
fertilizers, oils, etc. It’s important to remember
that we all live in a watershed, no matter where we
live. Because we are always downstream from someone
else, it is important for every homeowner to understand
his or her role in watershed management. A simple starting
point for managing surface runoff is to reduce runoff
from individual lots.
Activities that acreage owners can do
to manage their watersheds are generally referred to
as Best Management Practices (BMPs). These activities
not only help to reduce the amount of runoff, but also
help to improve runoff quality. As acreage owners implement
these simple activities on their lots, they should find
out which watershed they live in, who lives upstream
from them, and who lives downstream.
Simple activities that can help to reduce
surface runoff include the following:
- Cover all bare soil areas with some type of vegetation
and/ or mulch. Covers such as plants, trees, compost,
mulch, etc., help to increase water absorption into
- Within your acreage, plant natural species of vegetation
that are more deeply rooted than turf grass. This
also helps water absorption.
- If your acreage is close to a stream or a creek,
consider establishing a buffer zone along the edge
of your property next to the body of water. Buffer
zones consist of natural vegetation, woody plants,
and trees that help absorb water into the soil and,
at the same time, slow down the runoff leaving the
- Do not drive up and down your acreage with your
car, pickup, or any other heavy equipment. Heavy equipment
traffic can compact the soil, which results in more
- Consider landscaping your acreage in a way that
helps water absorption and infiltration. For example,
in low areas of the acreage consider rain gardens
and/or a small wetland or a pond.
- Large volumes of water moving at a fast speed across
an acreage can cause soil erosion. If erosion is visible,
guide the water across the acreage in a way that slows
it down. This will help to reduce erosion. Investigate
the possibility of establishing a terrace or a bio-swale
to slow water runoff.
Implementing these BMPs can help to manage
surface runoff on your acreage. To learn more about
storm water management and runoff control, visit www.soil.ncsu.edu/assist/homeassist/stormwater.
Forest Nursery offers low-cost trees for conservation
By George Warford, Adel District Forester, Iowa
Department of Natural Resources
The State Forest Nursery provides a consistent supply
of quality, low-cost tree and shrub nursery stock from
native seed sources to support forestry, wildlife, and conservation programs on public and private
lands in Iowa. In business since the mid-1930s, the
State Forest Nursery today has facilities in Ames and
Montrose. These facilities grow between three and five
million conservation trees and shrub seedlings and distribute
them to approximately 2,800 Iowa landowners. These landowners
then reforest 6,000 to 8,000 acres annually.
These conservation trees and shrubs are bare root
stock, one to three years old, and 6-24 inches tall.
They are sold in minimum quantities of 500-plus plants.
Evergreens cost $25 to $30 per hundred and hardwoods
and shrubs cost $37 to $45 per hundred. They can only
be used for conservation purposes such as reforestation,
soil erosion control, wildlife habitat, and water quality
protection. To avoid conflicts with private nurseries
and garden centers, they can’t be used for farmstead
windbreaks, shade, or ornamental purposes.
If you don’t want to buy 500-plus trees at once,
there are four special packets you can purchase.
Songbird Packet – Twenty trees (8-24 inches
tall) for $20; includes two bur oaks, two white pines,
four wild plum, four chokecherry, four gray dogwoods,
and four serviceberry. Recommended by
the Audubon Society of Iowa.
Wildlife Packet – 200 trees (8-24 inches tall)
for $90; includes 50 white spruce, 50 bur oak, 50 gray
dogwoods, and 50 common lilac.
Turkey Packet – 200 trees (8-24 inches tall)
for $90; includes 50 bur oak, 50 red oak, 50 pin oak,
and 50 gray dogwood. Recommended by the Iowa
Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Pheasant and Quail Packet – 200 trees (8-24
inches tall) for $90; includes 50 red cedar, 50 wild
plum, 50 ninebark, and 50 gray dogwood. Recommended
by Pheasants Forever chapters.
The songbird and wildlife packets sell quickly and
may not be available at this time of year, but any of
the packets are available as long as supplies last or
through the spring tree planting season.
To order or for more information, call the State Forest
Nursery at (800) 865-2477, or visit the State Forest
Nursery Web site at www.iowadnr.com/forestry/.
When ordering trees, be aware of a new insect, the
Emerald Ash Borer. This new exotic beetle from Asia
has high potential to damage Iowa’s forests within
the next five to ten years. This insect recently became
established in Michigan and Ohio and is expected to
move west toward Iowa.
The larvae stage of this beetle bores into ash trees,
first causing branches to die. After an infestation
of two to three years, the whole tree may die. The Iowa
Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Bureau of Forestry,
began preparations this year to counter and manage this
new pest. Questions regarding this insect as well as
other insect and disease problems may be directed to
your Iowa DNR district forester. You can find the forester
in your area by going to the Web site listed above and
clicking on the “Contact Your District Forester”