Got buckthorn?

Buckthorn is on the Minnesota DNR’s list of restricted noxious weeds. It is an invasive species that was imported from Europe and used for hedges. You may recall a couple of years ago goats were hired to eat the buckthorn growing in Indian Mounds Park.

This year I found some buckthorn in my yard and my neighbors are growing a large buckthorn bush along a fence. The way to get rid of buckthorn is to pull it out and dig out the roots. The plant I found was fairly small and easy to remove. It was hiding near my lilac bushes.

The plant is fairly easy to identify. When in doubt look for thorns at the base of the leaves where they join the stem.

Buckthorn plants that are two inches in diameter or larger are best controlled by cutting the stem at the soil surface and then covering or treating the stump to prevent re-sprouting. Cutting can be effectively done with hand tools (for a few plants), chain saws or brush cutters.

The Minnesota DNR has a lot of information about the plant and how to remove it. You will need a permit to have goats in your St. Paul yard but I suppose that is an option too.

Buckthorn Bush



Bad landscaping Vs. Good landscaping

Great landscaping around a home has a high return on the dollar. It can be a great investment. Homeowners can do there own landscaping but should do a little research first.

Here is a short list of common landscaping mistakes that I see often.

  1. Shade plants in sunny areas.
  2. Sun-loving plants in the shade.
  3. Plants put too close together so that they are crowded and do not have room to grow.
  4. Planting too close to the house.
  5. Too many plants for the size of the space.
  6. Bushes and trees that completely block the view from the house to the street.

There are numerous books about landscaping. They can even be found at home improvement stores.

Neighborhood nurseries often offer advice and will answer questions about plants and landscaping for those who want to do it themselves.

When searching the internet for ideas make sure that the websites are for Minnesota gardens.

I have made just about every landscaping mistake a person can make. My biggest mistake was planting a small every green bush that was 6 inches high but grew to be eight feet tall.

Removing plants is not nearly as much fun and sometimes much more expensive than planting them.

It is important to have a plan and to choose the right plants for the plan. It helps to have an understanding of what size the plants will be as they mature and how much space, water and light each plant needs.






Those darn ice dams!


I couldn’t help but notice all the ice dams on houses as I drove to a meeting yesterday. With all of the snow we have had and more on the way there will be a lot of ice dams and water damage from them this year.

The dams are caused by melting snow on the roof and heat leaking out from the house.  The snow at the edge of the roof turns to ice as it thaws and refreezes.

The water pools on the roof because the ice dam prevents it from rolling off the roof . . hence the term ‘dam’.  It does not matter how new your roof is you can still take on water.

The best way to handle ice dams is to prevent them. There are companies that will remove ice dams and damage the roof at the same time . . . or not. Removing the snow from the roof will stop new dams from forming.

It isn’t just snow on the roof that causes ice dams.  The University of Minnesota Extension web site has some great information about what causes ice dams and how to prevent them.

It is time to plan for spring

If you love tulips now is the time to pick up some tulip bulbs. The flowers like sunlight and they bloom in the spring but are planted in the fall. The good news is that if you plant them this fall they will bloom every spring with minimal care.

Experts say to wait until the soil temperature is 60 or lower and before the first frost. We don’t really know when the first frost will be, but generally in St. Paul the best time to plant bulbs will be around the 20th of September but before October 15th.

Tulip bulbs are easy to plant and they look amazing when they bloom. All you need to do is dig a hole about six inches deep, put a bulb in it and bury the bulb.


They are also fun to photograph.

Basics for the garden

Herb garden

I just got these plants at the farmer’s market last weekend and will plant them soon. These are some basics that come in handy for cooking. They are all super easy to grow. I plant them in a little patch of dirt by my back door.

Fron Left to right: Basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, and Lavender. We don’t eat the lavender but I like the way it looks and smells. I also grow a variety of peppers, some cucumbers, and tomatoes and There is rhubarb in the backyard and it gets used for pies and cake.

I freeze parsley at the end of the season and if I have enough basil I make pesto before the first freeze. The rosemary gets dried and used in the winter and so does the lavender. I used to grow dill but it tends to spread all over the place. Mint is also an invasive species. I have chamomile that reseeds itself.

Herbs can be grown in pots but I have plenty of space in the garden. Basil is an easy plant to grow from seeds which is a nice way to grow a larger crop.

If you are new to gardening or a new homeowner or both try these easy to grow garden herbs. I am always amazed at how much food I can grow on my postage stamp sized city lot.

About partial cans of paint


Sometimes home sellers will leave partial cans of paint behind when they move out so that the buyers have paint for touch-ups. Old paint isn’t really that great and if it isn’t used it has to be disposed of.

It is super easy to match up paint colors when small amounts are needed for touch up. Usually, you can use a scrapper and find some loose paint or peel some off with a razor blade. It isn’t hard to find tutorials on the internet. Take it to a home improvement store or where ever you buy paint and they will make the color for you.

When I paint I write on top of the can the date I bought the paint and what I used it for. I don’t keep leftover paint more than five years and that is probably too long. Check with your county for information on how to dispose of old paint.

If you are buying a home and the seller offers you partial cans of paint it might just be easier to say no thanks.  If the sellers offer to leave a ladder behind say “yes please”.