How to tell what is wrong with my Oak

I wouldn’t be me if I went a summer without talking oak wilt…..

If you look back or have been following me- you realize I talk a lot about oak trees and oak wilt.  Well that is because it is important-enough said!  I was asked to write a “How to” article for a newsletter here in Minnesota.  I was given many suggestions that were good, but not up to Kylee quality.  There were ideas like how to bud cap, hot to prune, how to develop a sugar-bush….while all good topics, it just didn’t get that fire going in my mind.  So after careful consideration, I decided let’s talk OAKS!  I decided the article was very informational, so I am going to just paste it here for some good light reading 😉  This is applicable to the Midwest region.

Standing tall with branches reaching out wide and high in the sky stands a strong oak tree in the landscape. Like most things in life there comes a time where this oak no longer looks healthy, and in Minnesota we have a few things that affect our oaks besides old age.

In Minnesota we have a number of different oak species: taxonomically we split them into the red oak family and the white oak family. Red oaks are bristle-tipped leaves and white oaks lack bristle-tips and are rounded. There are many pests and diseases that produce similar symptoms in oaks, so how do we determine what is happening to our oaks?

The first disease to show in the growing season is anthracnose. Anthracnose affects both read and white oaks as well as other tree species. It is caused by a group of fungal pathogens that all cause similar leaf symptoms. Anthracnose occurs when there is a very wet spring. Oaks with anthracnose will have leaves that develop brown spots and blotches, and many times these brown blotches greatly distort leaf shape. Oaks with anthracnose will usually display the most severe symptoms at the bottom and inner parts of the tree canopy. The fungal pathogen will over-winter on leaves and twigs. This disease is not typically the cause of death of oaks, but depending on the percent defoliation and stress caused, other problems such as twolined chestnut borer and Armillaria root disease may attack the trees.

Bur oak blight (BOB) is very similar to anthracnose in that it is caused by a fungal leaf pathogen and symptoms start in the lower and inner canopy. It differ from anthracnose in that it only infects bur oaks, symptoms first appear in mid-summer rather than spring, and it seemingly is causing significant stress amongst some bur oaks in certain parts of the state. Leaf symptoms on BOB-infected bur oaks are first visible as brown flecking along leaf veins, typically seen in July. Later in the summer, abundant leaf drop can occur, starting in the inner canopy, as well as leaves that develop wedge-shaped brown areas. Some dead leaves persist in the canopy throughout the winter, and these serve as the infection source in the following spring. Many citizens mistakenly cut down their bur oaks that had severe BOB because they think they will die: bur oaks with BOB typically re-leaf the following spring, and they look healthy until mid-summer, when BOB symptoms start to develop. Bur oaks can tolerate many consecutive years of moderate BOB before they become susceptible to other problems.

Oak wilt is a xylem blocking fungal disease that shows signs and symptoms throughout the growing season. Oak wilt starts to show symptoms of browning wilting leaves at the top of the crown and moves down the tree from the outside in. Oak wilt affects both red and white oaks. It will kill a red oak in about one month, a bur oak in 1-7 years, and a white oak in 1-20 yeas. Another indicator of oak wilt is the discolored streaking of the sapwood by the fungus. This can be seen by slicing away the bark on an actively wilting branch. Streaking is more readily seen on white and bur oaks than on red oaks. Come spring, if red oaks are not leafing out, examine the tree for subtle cracks in the bark and peel back the bark to reveal any spore pad/ spore mats that the oak wilt fungus sometimes produces. Bur oaks rarely form spore pads, and white oaks do not form them. In order to really determine oak wilt, lab tests of branches are needed, unless a pressure pad is located. Oak wilt is creeping northward in Minnesota and is a highly preventable, yet devastating disease. Please contact your local DNR forest health specialist if you see oak wilt symptoms in northern Minnesota.

Finally, there are other stress-related problems that occur to oaks. When any tree, including oaks, becomes stressed by weather or defoliating diseases/insects it weakens the trees, sometimes allowing for opportunistic fungi or insects to invade. Twolined chestnut borer and Armillaria root disease are examples of these opportunistic pests. Twolined chestnut borer tunnels in the cambium and outer sapwood, eventually cutting off nutrients and water flow through the tree. Armillaria also kills cambium and outer sapwood. When twolined chestnut borer infests an oak, leaves develop a red-brown scorched look from mid – late summer on the top half, or so, of the tree. Twolined chestnut borer typically kill a stressed oak in 1-3 years. The beetle creates small D- shaped holes in the trunk of the tree. When Armillaria is infecting an oak’s root system, leaves in the outer canopy may be stunted and yellow, and branches die back. Over the course of several years, Armillaria root infection will kill a stressed oak. These stressed-related problems are not treatable, but increasing tree vigor with careful harvesting and removal of poor trees can minimize these problems. Harvesting in stressed oak stands should only occur after at least two consecutive growing seasons with near-normal precipitation and no defoliation.

All these insect and diseases are unique in their own ways but have a common target of oak trees and cause somewhat similar symptoms. With a few key distinctions you can narrow down the search! The U.S.F.S. publication How to Recognize Common Diseases of Oaks may help you in diagnosing what is wrong with your oak: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/howtos/HowToRecognizeCommonDiseasesOaks.pdf.

Leaf drop and branch death from top-down is typically oak wilt, Armillaria, or twolined chestnut borer; leaf death from the bottom up in the spring is typically anthracnose; and leaf death from the bottom-up in bur oaks in later summer is typically bur oak blight!

Oak anthracnose _UMN
Oak Anthracnose (UMN.edu)
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oak wilt leaves (MNDNR)
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Crack from pressure pad forming under the bark (MNDNR)
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Bur Oak Blight Leaf (BOB) (MNDNR)

 

 

 

 

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MAEAP…MAEAP

 

Every-time I use the acronym MAEAP…I think of the roadrunner cartoon “MAEAP MAEAP”!

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has had a Michigan’s Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program- MAEAP program in place for many years to honor farmers who are environmentally friendly; recently in the past year they have added a forestry component.  Forest, Wetland & Habitat- geared towards farmers and private landowners who have one, two, or all three of these components on their property.  Many farmers have woodlots and can add it to their list of verified components.  Farmers and landowners go through risk assessments at their own pace and when they meet all the high risk (erosion, chemicals, ect.) they can become verified.  It is a voluntary program, and is confidential. I was given permission by my landowner to talk about it.  Being a forester under the MDARD umbrella, we took on the forestry part, while the MAEAP technicians focused on the agriculture parts.

When first learning of this new program, I immediately knew who fit the bill for it.  To be apart of it, you really have to be “one” with your land and active on it, and willing to keep up with it.

Norm, young at heart, has been following the words and wisdom of Aldo Leopold.  When he was younger he read Aldo Leopold’s, Sand County Almanac and was inspired and it has never left him. He spent two weeks in Baraboo, Wisconsin at the family shack, learning the ways and Aldo’s legacy. When I first met Norm, back shortly after I started here, he was just looking for direction to update his management plan.  I figured it would be another typical walk through the woods, chatting about deer management, and a quick referral.  To my surprise, I was wrong! We sat down that first day and he showed me the plans he had written for the last 20 years, his records of his control for invasive species (Autumn olive) and other activities he had done.  He has records for putting his property into a conservation easement and the real kicker is his mission statement.  While reading his mission statement, again inspired by Leopold, I was brought to tears. It is not often I meet someone with the same values as I. I was humbled and overwhelmed by what he had written YEARS ago. A holistic approach for sustainability of all parts of the land. I collected myself and we took a tour of the property….

As we toured the property, Norm pointed out the some 60,000 trees he planted- most by hand and some by machinery. He took an old abandoned farm and turned it into a nature paradise. He put up signs with species and dates, not only for him to remember the date but for his grand kids when they inherit the property. He has his hardwoods stands marked by color for easier tree ID for them as well.  Norm is an organic farmer with fruit trees and bees and provides ample habitat with 10 wood duck houses, buffer zones along his wetlands and has even restored his section of the Cedar River back to a blue ribbon stream for great trout fishing! That first tour, I left feeling a sense of calm and happiness.

Now, trying to get a hold of Norm is not always the easiest- because he spends 7 days a week out at the property managing it, so either I have to drop by or wait for a call- but the wait is always worth it! Because, I was so inspired by Norm, I knew I had to take everyone and anyone out there whenever I could. He was always ready to share his story with anyone who would listen.  I took a group out there to verify his property with MAEAP, and just recently took a group of landowners out there for a field tour on managing your woodlot. EVERY SINGLE PERSON, left there thanking him and thanking me for allowing them to experience such beauty.

He has even been Conservationist of the Year and Tree Farmer of the year! Norms.jpg

International Day of Forests

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are so many quotes I could start off this post with; so I chose one that was simple and too the point but is also complex.  With just 10 words and a deeper thought a bigger picture arises.  With one acorn we get a tree- which produces thousands more acorns to produce more trees and the cycle lives on into thousands of forests. In 10 words- we have the world; we have clean air, clean fresh water, carbon sequestration, recreation, wildlife habitat, a friend to hug, timber, food, clothing -“we have everything”- all from an acorn.

Now, I could go on and on about the benefits of forests and the importance of them but we should all know by now how they provide us with the essentials of life… 75% freshwater, oxygen, heat… but I won’t.  Instead I just wanted to say thank you to all the trees and thank you to those who appreciate the forests/trees/and vegetation not only today but everyday because without them humanity would not exist.

The picture below was taken a couple days ago- sometimes we run into areas where regeneration like this just does not happen and we have to plant- but I wanted to showcase mother nature at her finest- volunteer baby trees! The landowner told me he talks to his trees- which I think plays a huge roll in the amount of white oaks we are seeing here 🙂

Get outside…Plant a Tree…you will be planting for the future.

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Baby Oak Volunteers! 

 

 

Let Mother Nature Take Her Course

“The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been waiting quite some time to be able to start with this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.  I have finally been inspired by a landowner where it fit- on top of his bucket list was being able to escape the trifles of life and live surrounded by nature and being within the trees.  Recently retired he was able to finally escape the hustle and bustles of work and live out his life long dream of trees and wildlife! There is pure comfort in being able to know what you do to positively impacts the land.  This landowner was searching for all the right education to better sustain his property for the future all all wildlife that lives among it; even the families of squirrels!  Not many landowners I meet care for the squirrels!! Go Squirrels!

This landowner had just purchased the property and called me up a couple weeks prior to our visit very concerned about what previous landowners had done with logging it.  He is not against logging, but was very concerned with how it looked “butchered”.  I pulled up curious of why he was concerned…I saw no immediate concerns.  We began to talk about the property, a bit of history, and I simple said “I think it looks great”.  He took a stutter step backwards and had a huge smile on his face! He told me I made his day, I said great my work is done and jokingly acted like I was going to leave! He began to explain how this is his life’s dream, his top of the bucket list adventure, his true passion.  He was so incredibly worried about the forest and purely wanted to know everything he could do to make it better, was geared up to learn and do everything in his power to make it sustainable. We chatted about the basics- he has oaks so I filled him in on oak wilt and Asian- longhorn beetle for his maples.

We began our trek through the forest, well the sprouting of a new forest! I began to explain to him about how great it looked, you could see the baby red and white oaks covering the ground and the maples sprouting like crazy! He asked what he needed to do with everything and my answer for everything was “just let nature takes its course”.  Forests have been doing their thing for many years before us so they know what best to do naturally.  Now, if he did not have the ample regeneration he had, we would have been compiling a planting plan! Instead, we discussed adding fruit trees, hazelnut trees and some pines around the property lines for edge to enhance for wildlife and biodiversity. Forest land is so fragmented, split into parcels and one way to help wildlife feel safe in an area is to have forest edge and enclosure.

Just let Mother Nature do her thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milk + Weed = Milkweed

I need it to survive, I need it like a fish needs water and a human needs air….

Milkweed….the plant of my existence –Monarch Butterfly

The monarch butterfly is an iconic one; when the average person thinks of a butterfly- they are picturing that white spotted; orange and black butterfly.  Its orange wings illuminate against the green leaves of plants and trees in the summer time.  Its easily recognizable and is found in Mexico, Canada and the United States.  Now that you are picturing that bright orange, white and black little beauty- let me tell you this…it is in decline.  Reproduction of monarchs relies on milkweed plants- they do not lay their eggs on anything but milkweed! Crazy I know, but TRUTH! Milkweed is like a little hotel for monarch butterflies.

In the spring time, monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed plants and when they hatch the milkweed leaves becomes food for the larvae.  They eat, eat, and eat the leaves of the plant until they are a full blown caterpillar.  The monarch caterpillar is also beautifully orange, black and white.  When the caterpillar is fully grown it finds a safe place to form a chrysalis to become a beautiful butterfly- just like I learned in grade school!  Monarch butterflies also require nectar for food- gives them energy to fly and migrate- its their Gatorade!

I chose to talk about Monarchs and Milkweed because earlier this week I was out on a site visit doing the typical- hugging trees- I mean checking out oak wilt and other diseases on the property and I ran across on acre sized field of milkweed!! A Monarchs paradise! This summer at the conservation district we have really been focusing on planting native plants for promoting native pollinators.  Non-native plants do nothing for our local pollinators; bats, moths, butterflies, birds, bees, beetles and other insects all do their part to pollinate our foods such as fruits, apples, nuts, pumpkins and even chocolate depends on pollinators- so we need to provide those plants for them! Do it for the Chocolate if nothing else convinces you to plant natives!!

http://monarchjointventure.org/   -For more information on Monarchs and different species of milkweed

I fly thousands of miles back to show you my beauty and grace each year- but I cannot do it without a home provided to me with milkweed.  Go Native–Plant Milkweed!

Common Milkweed
Common Milkweed
Close up!
Close up!

Sapsucker Versus Woodpecker

Holes in my trees…most commonly blamed bird woody the woodpecker!

Both are birds indeed but both do different damages.  I have had a few calls from landowners curious as to how they can keep the woodpeckers away from their beautiful yard trees.  I ask them what kind of trees they have as well as the overall health.  Sapsuckers enjoy maples and oaks, woodpeckers do not discriminate with species so much they just enjoy the dying or dead trees where the larvae and other bugs are.  So if the tree is a maple or an oak and in good health its more likely to be a sapsucker.  If the tree is already showing signs of decay and dieback it could be our friend woody the woodpecker.  If It is still hard for me to guess over the phone I ask the one sure fire question.  Are they tiny holes in horizontal rows? If I get a yes its sappy the sapsucker and if no they are random large holes its woodpecker damage.

Sapsuckers (Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker in Michigan) form lots of small holes in horizontal lines.  This allows for sap to flow out which they feed on.  Other animals benefit from this and feed on the sap as well.  Sapsuckers also feed on insects and suet.  So I guess if you want to protect your trees hang bunches and bunches of suet cakes in the tree!

Extensive sapsucker damage will eventually kill the tree if it is not strong.  It is cutting off the flow of water and nutrients in the cambium layer.

Woodpeckers are considered the 3rd sign of a trees death.  They normally go after weak trees that are already dying.  They are in search for all the insects and larvae burrowing around under the bark of trees. They are looking for beetles, spiders, centipedes “Nom Nom Nom”!  Many woodpeckers help control the populations of invasive or other pests that are destructive to the forest.    Woodpeckers will also feed on nuts, seeds, and suet.

The only way I know of controlling these birds, to keep them from coming back to landowners trees is to put reflective things up in the tree or by the house.  Old cds or mirrors hanging in the branches is what I suggest, but its not full- proof.   I did have one landowner call back and say she cut up old pop cans; creative.

If you see a white butted bird fly away from your tree robin size…chances are you are watching a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker fly away!!! 

Sapsucker Damage
Sapsucker Damage
Sapsucker-Horizontal hole lines
Sapsucker-Horizontal hole lines
Woodpecker- large holes randomly along tree
Woodpecker- large holes randomly along tree
Woodpecker
Woodpecker

Oak Wilt Update

I do not discriminate against age, size, or strength; I will attack any red oak and kill it. -Oak Wilt

Back in April I knew I would be doing some outreach for oak wilt and needing to research it more extensively in order to help out a few of my landowners and answer questions.  However, I never did expect what has happened.  I had written a couple overview articles on oak wilt for the local papers just to get the word out there to stop pruning their oaks, do not injure or cut oaks from the time of April- July 15th.  Immediately after the news releases the phone calls and emails came flooding in. All leveled off and I began to settle down for a little bit.  Most of those calls were just folks who had trees die last year.  Now, when I say a little bit I meant it.  Soon after that the newly infected trees started to “flag” show signs of wilting.  Oh my goodness, I had no idea what I was in for.  One of my counties is heavily covered with oak wilt, controlling this and stop it from spreading to the surround counties is key- but is it ideal?!  Anyways, LOOOONG story short my new job is Oak Wilt! It is widespread, depressing and hard to control.  I say depressing because once infected- tree is dead- too many dead beautiful oaks!!!!!

A couple weeks ago, I got to enjoy a one on one training with one of the oak wilt guru’s in Michigan.  I set up a property where I was pretty sure it was oak wilt and so was he.  We showed up at my landowners property- hatches in hand and started banging on the the dead trees.  First, we were looking for cracks in the the bark, then would test with the hatchet to see if it was hollow.  If yes, you start going at the trunk of the tree with the hatchet taking off the bark and revealing this dark football shaped “pressure pad”.  The pressure pad forms the following spring after the tree has flagged and kicked the bucket! It often will have a sweet smell attracting the beetles.  The pressure pad and its nasty spores are the last fighting chance for the disease to spread! Anyways, back to my experience with the oak wilt guru, enough about pressure pads! After we located the pressure pads, we knew 100% it was oak wilt- that is the sure fire way to diagnose the site as oak wilt.  After that, we moved onto looking at a flagging tree.  We cut off a branch that had some healthy leaves left as well as some wilted ones.  Inside you could see a black ring around outer layer, the cambium.   This is the fungus clogging up the water vessels of the branches and trunk.

This is a deadly and relatively fast spreading disease.  It is hard to manage at a large scale and costly at small and large scale.  The best thing to do is preventive measures.  Do not prune or injure oaks during the critical period of April-July 15th and never move firewood!  As I sit here and type that, I cannot help but giggle- the movement of firewood is still going to happen.  A fallen tree could be in the forest and someone goes and cuts it for firewood and never stop to think oh, why is this tree dead in the first place- and transfers the disease wherever that wood goes…

In Michigan the Conservation Districts, DNR, and MSUE are all working together to GPS track and try to fight this or least slow the spread.

“My lawn looks like fall- I have oak wilt.”  …….sigh

This tree is "flagging" turning brown from the leaves wilting from lack of water.
This tree is “flagging” turning brown from the leaves wilting from lack of water.
Pressure "spore" pad of Oak Wilt
Pressure “spore” pad of Oak Wilt
Pressure Pads
Pressure Pads
Water vessels are clogged with fungus
Water vessels are clogged with fungus (black outer ring)
Death Valley- all dead- no discrimination
Death Valley- all dead- no discrimination (live trees are red pine, no oak spared)

Black Walnut- Friend or Foe?

A highly valued tree; but at what cost?

When I was a kid, I would always go over to the neighbors yard because they had large trees that we could climb.  One of the trees was a black walnut, back then that was all I knew about the tree.  I knew it was a walnut tree and that it would drop these big green things and squirrels would hide them for later!

Black Walnut, Juglans nigra, is highly valued for its fine grained dark wood, used often for furniture. It is also a great food source for wildlife.  While it may provide beautiful veneer wood it also provides a natural herbicide called juglone.  Juglone is found in almost all the tissue parts of a black walnut tree, just in different concentration.  The highest concentration can be found in the fruit, the fleshy green layer of the walnut, with 100.  Like mentioned, the juglone is a natural herbicide produced by black walnuts so this is where the foe part comes in.  It prohibits new growth of certain plants, trees, shrubs, or flowers around it and if it is grown by already established things it can kill them off.  I recently went to a site visit where this was the case.  The landowner had a hobby farm, where he was growing black walnuts. The trees are doing great however they are now seeing that their plum trees and other surrounding vegetation is dying off.  As leaves, fruit, flowers blow off the tree and land on and near other vegetation they secret the toxic juglone.  It is also in the roots and trunk so it is leeching into the soil.  If the tree is cut down and removed the “herbicide” is still in the soils and can take years for it to be gone depending on the drainage of the soil.  Now, its not all bad, like I mentioned great food source for wildlife and humans like walnuts and it is a great wood for production, just have to be selective of whats around it.  Some plants are tolerant to the juglone and still can be grown.  Some examples of tolerant species include, beans, carrots, corn, black-eyed Susan, morning glory, trillium, Eastern redbud, dogwood, poplar, black raspberry, and soybeans.  There are several other species tolerant.  Most folks do not like black walnut trees because they are messy but now their minds will be blown- messy and toxic! Because of this if they are not out naturally growing in a forest; they are usually use for plantations for nut production or can be a yard tree with selective vegetation around it.

Side note: black walnuts are not the only tree that produce juglone- other members of the Juglandaceae also produce it as well as hickory trees.  Butternut, English walnut, bitternut hickory, pignut hickory, pecan, shagbark hickory, mockernut hickory are the common names of juglone producers!

Peach in decline--about 15 feet from walnut orchard
Peach in decline–about 15 feet from walnut orchard
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) tree with fruit
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) tree with fruit

150 Third Graders…1 Forester

Man always kills the thing he loves. And so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in.” – Aldo Leopold

As the school year ends, I was asked to help out with several elementary schools for the end of the year outdoor events.  Yesterday, I helped with the third graders at a local school- 150 of them!!! For all you teachers out there, I commend you, one day with them I was exhausted! I have worked with smaller groups of children with 4-H, boy scouts and such but not a group this big.  It was great to see the children so excited about trees and conservation, we have to get them excited about the environment at a young age in hopes they continue to grow up with a conservation mindset.

I chose the quote at the beginning of this entry because first off Aldo is amazing and secondly because the quote says it all, the children I was with Friday are young in a time where they can not always be “young in the wild”.  Times have even changed since I was young.  I always spent my days outside in the woods running around and exploring and coming in once it was dark- kids today cannot do that.  Which is basically what Aldo Leopold is saying here, he is glad he is not young “today” because it is not the same wild country where kids can go outside and be safe playing enjoying nature like we used to.  We have also expanded in a way where children are growing up in more urban environments where the backyard is fenced in with little adventure.

Working with the third graders was fun, intimidating, but fun! A lot of little kids starring at you is intimidating!! We talked about conservation, how trees grow, the difference between a deciduous and coniferous trees and then did a fun little recycling project! Every time, I said deciduous tree they looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language! Some of them knew about economics but trees was a foreign language! Yes, economics is important- but trees are life too!! One young boy told me that deciduous trees are the ones that are hollow, another said the difference is their bark!  Hopefully, now they know the difference.  For the recycling project we had some fun, I wanted to keep the kids entertained so we used red pine cones to make little critters! Gave them all a chance to be artsy and crazy while learning about pine cones and enjoying nature in a way that will hopefully stick with them!

Conservation- preserve, protect, guard   –Mother nature for future generations

Twig the Cone Mouse- My example creature.
Twig the Cone Mouse- My example creature.
One groups Pine Cone Creatures
One groups Pine Cone Creatures
One Group working hard!
One Group working hard!

Rain equals Water

Water is the Driving Force of all Nature  -Leonardo da Vinci

Sitting inside while it is raining outside all day- gets me thinking.  Water is some ares of the planet is a commodity we take for granted- here in Michigan we don’t even worry about it because we are surrounded by the Great Lakes- doesn’t get much better than that right?! No- just because we are surrounded by freshwater does not mean other parts of the world are struggling for clean water to drink, bathe in, or use for cooking.  Look at California- a place kind of like home since it is the US, they are struggling right now and have been for awhile.  It is said they only have a year left, maybe less, of water availability.   According to water.org  “750 million people in other countries lack clean water”.  That fact is sickening!! Now, because we do have water at large here in the Midwest, I want to take a moment talk about Rain Barrels!!

Yeah a barrel and holds rain- WHO KNEW!? At the conservation district I work for, the administrator received a grant to help folks get all set up with a rain barrel.  If set up right, it can reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and save money on watering gardens, plants, and even the grass.  Best results the barrel is placed on a sturdy platform underneath a downspout to catch the rain from the roof.  A screen can be placed on top of the barrel to keep out bugs and other things that like water! (be sure to clean the screen from time to time–leaves and other things may get on there!!).  Also remember to clean the inside at winter time and before the first time you use it again in spring!  I heard that one rain barrel owner puts gold fish in theirs to keep it cleaner! Hey whatever works! Rainwater is actually “better” for plants, trees and lawns because it is naturally soft water and free from minerals or chemicals added to tap water- such as chlorine. Its important for us to do our part and conserve where we can and this is an easy way to conserve and reuse water.  Also, for you artists out there–fun project alert!!!- Painting the barrel to make it a nice visual piece in the yard!

Top 3 Benefits!!

1. saves money on tap water for plants, gardens, and lawns

2. reduces runoff into lawns (basements) and reduces the amount of runoff in large storms clogging road drains

3. can help save up water for times of drought

“Not safe for personal or pet consumption! Also- not recommended for veggie or fruit gardens! but great for TREES”!

Rain Barrel :)
Rain Barrel 🙂