Issue 11:  April, 2012 
In This Issue
Water Quiz
TYN Rain Barrel
Attracting Tree Swallows
How To: Rain Barrel
Upcoming Events

Helpful Links


TYN Website
Find TYN near you
Calendar of Events
Landscaping Resources
Find us on Facebook 

Garden Tip #1 
Stake any perennials which lodge or fall over from the weight of their heavy blooms in late spring or summer. Staking now will allow plenty of time for new growth to hide your support structures, preventing them from taking away from the beauty of your perennials.
Does Your Yard Measure Up?
We call it a Tennessee Yard Done Right -- a yard that is in harmony with Tennessee's native flora, soil and topography. You don't have to be an expert gardener or landscaper to create a Tennessee Yard Done Right. All it takes is a willingness to learn and a desire to build a yard that is based on the nine principles found in our TYN handbook: 


1) Right Plant,Right Place


2) Manage Soils and Mulch


3) Appropriate Turf Grass Management


4) Water Efficiently


5) Use Fertilizer Appropriately


6) Manage Yard Pests


7) Reduce Storm Water Runoff and it's Pollutants


8) Provide for Wildlife


9) Protect Water's Edge

To find out more information download our free 
Garden Tip #2 
Scout the garden for insect pests. Protect young vegetable starts by covering them with a light sheet or row cover fabric to exclude pests. Remove when plants are strong enough to recover from pest damage. Pick off adult pests and inspect stems and the undersides of leaves for signs of insects (the insect itself, eggs, frass, or moltings). 
Water Quiz!
This month's winner will receive a TYN rain gauge!!!  Be the first person to email us the correct answer to

How much water does an individual use daily?

a) 30 gallons
b) 50 gallons
c) 20 gallons

Garden Tip #3 
After April 15th, plant warm season veggies like tomatoes, peppers, and corn.  Planting of the "high sugar" or sugar sweet corn varieties should be delayed until May 1st because the seeds do not germinate in cold garden soils.
Last Months Water Quiz Answer 


The answer to last month's question "How much water does a birch tree give off per day in evaporation?" is: 


a) 70 gallons of water

Congratulations to last month's winner Wayne Kneipp!
Garden Tip #4 
Clean your pond or water feature and remove winter debris.  Cutback and remove all dead plant debris from your potted aquatic plants.  Begin feeding fish around mid-April.
Rain Barrel Extras

Maintaining and use tips:

To maximize the benefits of your rain barrel, it's stored water needs to be regularly drained so that there will be storage space for the next rain.

Overflow & unused Stored Water: Direct all excess water into lawn or bed area, away from house foundation. While on vacation, attach water hose to open spigot so that water drains out slowly instead of overflowing and potentially causing damage to your house.

Contamination considerations: Barrel water has bacteria in it so it is not for human consumption. Also, if water is used for vegetable plants, ensure vegetables are well washed before consumption.

Barrel Cleaning: Inspect strainer regularly and clean out as needed. Inspect barrel insides in both the fall and spring and clean as required.

House Cleaning: When cleaning siding or roof with soap or chemicals, disconnect barrel so as not to contaminate the water.


Winter Care: Barrels can be left outdoors, however, unless collecting water to use during the winter months, attach water hose to open spigot and drain water onto lawn or in bed area.

Mosquitoes: To control, consider using Bti donuts or granules (e.g., Mosquito Dunks) Bacillius thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) is a live bacterium that kills mosquito larvae that can be placed in the barrel. It is harmless to pets, birds and humans. Also, draining the barrel frequently will help keep mosquitoes at bay.


Things to consider:

Set barrel in desired location to determine placement of holes.


Select a barrel location near the area you intend to use the water.


For ease of use, raise the barrel so the spigot is high enough off the ground to allow for a bucket or watering can to be placed underneath.


Rain barrels work off of gravity. For better pressure, place barrel on an elevated, level surface made from concrete blocks or composite lumber. Untreated wood may rot.


Ensure that an elevated barrel is level and secure to prevent tipping. A full 55 gallon barrel weighs about 460lbs.


Garden Tip #5
It's good to maintain a layer of 3"- 4" of mulch around your plants in your garden.  Now is a great time to add needed mulch to your garden, getting it ready for the possibly hot and dry summer.  Just remember to leave 1"- 2" free of mulch around the plant base.
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Happy Spring!  It's official; plants are blooming and the temperatures are rising, perfect for getting outdoors and working in those gardens. For this month's newsletter we have a great article from Lyn Bales about how to attract tree swallows to your backyard habitat as well as a "how-to" article on making your own rain barrel out of a 55 gallon food-grade drum.  Also, check out TYN's Rainy Day Brush-Off (RDBO) barrel!   RDBO is a rain barrel-painting event in the Knoxville-area that raises local stormwater awareness and funds for the Water Quality Forum, a local water resource-protection coalition.  The first sneak peak ("the reveal") of the 2012 barrels will be on May 4th at the Ironwood Studios in Knoxville, TN.  The barrels will be auctioned off via E-Bay from May 12th through May 22nd.  Also, you will be able to vote for your favorite barrel which we hope will be the TYN one when you see it :).   As always, check out our water quiz and those gardening tips to keep you busy like a bee during these spring months! 
Happy Landscaping!!
The TYN Management Team
Katie Walberg head shotRainy Day Brush-Off:
 TYN-Themed Barrel!
By: Katie Walberg
TYN AmeriCorps Member & Resident Artist


Close Up of TYN Barrel


For this year's fifth and final Rainy Day Brush-Off (RDBO) event sponsored by the Water Quality Forum, I have been honored to design and paint a rain barrel on behalf of the Tennessee Yards & Neighborhoods program.  With TYN's mission to protect and conserve our state's water resources, the RDBO and TYN just seems to go hand in glove.  The challenge I set before myself was to create a fun and educational representation of the key principles to a TYN Yard Done Right


For those who haven't heard about this event, the RDBO began in 2008 and is an annual artistic rain barrel campaign that features actual works of art on 55-gallon rain barrels to help raise awareness about water conservation and water pollution prevention. Professional artists, school groups, 4-H clubs, design collectives, businesses and families participate in the RDBO, creating one-of-a-kind pieces of functional art! The painted barrels are displayed throughout Knox County and auctioned off to the general public. This is the last year the Water Quality Forum will be hosting this event so if you are interested in getting one of these great artistic rain barrels, this is the year to do it!


Original drawing from worksheet design

As described in last month's "how-to" article by Joy Stewart, painting rain barrels can be a lot of fun and will make a wonderful addition to your outdoor landscape. For the TYN RDBO barrel, I based my design on graphics I have been creating for a worksheet the TYN Team is developing for homeowners to assess stormwater conditions on their properties.  To lay out the design, I used a pencil to outline the images and then re-sketched it using acrylic white paint.   One thing about drawing on the barrel is if you need to erase something it usually ends up being a blurry mess.  By using white paint first, I could paint over any drawing mistakes and make changes to my design.  After the initial design was created, I went about outlining the drawing in black paint with a small paint brush. This created the illustration feel I was copying from my original graphic and also allowed me to make adjustments before adding color.   It also gave me the chance to correct any weird lines or blobs, keeping me from having to paint (with a super steady hand) those tiny black lines around everything.


Now for the color! Once the design was all laid out and outlined, it was time for me to start mixing up those colors for filling in the shapes. I

First sections of color

approached this part of the painting like paint by numbers (but without the numbers). I mixed  a bunch of one color and painted everything that color starting with the largest shapes. After this step, I was able to see the drawing starting to take form on the barrel.  I worked my way to the smaller more detailed areas until everything was colored in.


Another aspect of this design is the stenciling of the nine principles for water-friendly landscaping. I decided to use stencils for the lettering to create a uniform look. You can

Close up of finished stenciling

purchase a variety of fonts in stencil form at stores like Hobby Lobby. Using stencils can be a little tricky but with a little practice, it can make lettering quick and clean. One trick is to use a stubbly brush with stiff bristles and tap it in the paint color you are using. Try to get the bristles covered but not too wet with paint. Then, holding the stencil in place, gently tap the brush over the stencil filling in the letter with paint. Hold the stencil in place for a moment and then gently pull it away revealing the stenciled letter. If you have trouble with runny paint or edges looking messy don't worry, you can always touch up any marks or slips with paint. One thing to keep in mind when painting is if you make a mistake you can always paint over it. Acrylic paint makes this even easier because it dries quickly.


One side of the completed barrel!

So, after a few coats of paint and a little touching up, I had our TYN barrel ready for clear-coating. The final clear coat provides a barrier from the elements protecting the paint from chipping or peeling on the barrel. The RDBO is fortunate to partner with a local car repair company that provides a hard clear coat that goes on cars so not only are these barrels beautiful, they are also made to be used!


To find out more about this barrel and other barrels that will be available, go to the Water Quality Forum's website:


If you would like to see some in-process images of other artists' barrels available this year check out the Knox County Stormwaters Facebook Page

Principle Spotlight 
#7 Reduce Stormwater runoff and it's pollutants
Having a rain barrel keeps the collected rain water from going down the storm drain.
Stephen Lyn BalesNesting swallows have a fondness for feathers


By Stephen Lyn Bales


If you live near water - lake, river, pond, stream or wetland - you might be able to attract tree swallows to your property.


Tree Swallow

Scientifically known as Tachycineta bicolor, meaning "speedy, two-toned,"  tree swallows perfectly fit that nomenclature. They're lively swifts with shiny iridescent blue-green heads, backs and tails and sporty snow white undercarriages.


Like a two-toned 1957 Bel Air sport coupe, they are sleek, stylish and speedy. And like that classic Chevy, having one near your driveway lifts your spirits; but the pretty birds are more than mere eye candy. They eat mosquitoes and other flying insects including wasps, and they take their role in the environment quite seriously. In other words, they're healthy eaters.


Tree swallow nesting in our valley, and even our state, is a fairly recent occurrence. According to bird expert Charles Nicholson, the first recorded tree swallow nest in Tennessee was discovered in 1918 at Reelfoot Lake. It wasn't until 1968 that other nests were documented, this time in Anderson and Maury Counties. After that, nests have been reported every year and since the late 1980s, the nesting population has increased dramatically. Today, they're fairly common in the Tennessee Valley, a good example of a species that is thriving, expanding its original range.


Tree swallows are migratory, spending their winters in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, returning to North America as early as February to claim territory. They nest in empty cavities, hollow trees, bluebird boxes or even empty gourds. Unlike their cousins, the colony-loving purple martins, the dark metallic-blue tree swallows prefer to build their nests isolated from other swallows. They're loners. The female lays four to seven white eggs and incubates them without the help of her mate. The eggs hatch in about two weeks and the hatchlings typically fledge in roughly 21 days.


Tree Swallow nesting in a hollow gourd.

All you need to lure them to your property is a bluebird box or hollow gourd and lots of feathers scattered on the ground.  Feathers?

If you have chickens or know someone who does, you have a source for molted feathers.  Both tree and barn swallows like to line their nests with feathers to insulate their young. Studies have shown that the more feathers in the nest, the higher the success rate. Simply scatter the feathers on the ground during nesting season and the swift birds will dip low and snatch them as they fly by. If they miss, they quickly turn and make another pass. Their peregrinations are great fun to watch, just like a classic Chevy.


  • Tree swallows prefer to nest near water.
  • Tree swallows eat mosquitoes and other flying insects.
  • Tree swallows have expanded their range into Tennessee in the past 40 years.
  • Nesting tree swallows can be attracted to a bluebird box or an empty gourd.
  • Female tree swallows line their nest with collected feathers.

Stephen Lyn Bales is a senior naturalist at Ijams Nature Center, author of "Natural Histories" and "Ghost Birds" published by UT Press. Visit his nature blog at



Principle Spotlight
#8 Provide for Wildlife
Attracting beneficial wildlife to your yard cuts down on mosquitoes and other pests, and pollinates plants and flowers creating a healthy back yard ecosystem.
How To: Make a rain barrel out of a 55 gallon drum!


Many people are talking about the benefits of having a rain barrel, but buying one can be pretty pricey. Why not make your own for a fraction of the cost!  It's easy to do and the more barrels you have the more savings you can see in your water bills. Statistically 30-40% of a home's summer water bill can go for outdoor use.  Why let good water go to waste when it can be collected, stored and used for later? 


The benefits of using rain barrels include:

  • Provides soft water for:
    • watering plants
    • washing cars
    • washing windows
    • filling birdbaths or fish ponds
  • Alleviates demand on municipal treatment systems
  • Reduces polluted runoff
  • Lowers water bills and in some cases stormwater charges
  • Reduces flooding
  • Recharges groundwater and the list goes on!

So, what are we waiting for, let's get going!



Before starting: clean barrel, purchase supplies, decide which downspout it will be attached to, mark hole locations, and gather tools.


Drilling Holes

Drilling Holes:


Downspout: Use 4" hole saw bit to drill hole on top of barrel over one of the existing holes.


Spigot: Use 1" speed bore bit to drill hole on "front" of barrel about 2" up from lower edge.


Overflow: Use 1 7/8" hole saw with " drill bit to drill hole on "side" of barrel about 3" from upper edge. (Note: It is easier to screw in the elbow if this hole is located near the downspout hole.)

Preparing the Flex-A-Spout


Inserting Hardware: 

  • Screw in hose bib (spigot) using Teflon tape or caulk, if necessary. Install overflow hardware.  Place locknut on adapter and insert into overflow hole from outside.  The adapter threads will stick through the hole allowing the elbow to be screwed on from inside of the barrel.
  • Prepare Flex-A-Spout (FAS)
  • Measure downspout to determine which end of the FAS fits.
  • Cut the other end of the FAS above the 'cut line' using a sharp utility knife.  This end will be inserted into the barrel.
  • Screw in sheet metal screws across from each other in the round end of the FAS.
  • Compress downspout strainer and insert into round end of the FAS and let it expand.  The screws should hold the strainer in place.

Now it's time to install your brand new rain barrel!!


Installing Rain Barrel Instructions:

  • Using shovel, set concrete blocks (or other base material) and level. Set barrel on base.
  • Place strainer end of FAS into barrel. Extend the FAS a small amount and mark the downspout where it needs to be cut.
  • Cut the downspout using hacksaw.
  • Attach FAS to downspout according to directions on package.
  • Attach sump pump hose that has been cut to desired length to adaptor using hose clamp.

 *Note: the universal sump pump hose kit comes with a 24' corrugated hose, 2 different size adaptors and 1 hose clamp. These directions use the 1 " adaptor, of the hose, and the hose clamp. To make a 2nd rain barrel using the 1 " adaptor included in the kit, you will need the following supplies: 1 steel hose clamp; 1 (1 ") steel conduit locknut; 1 (1 1/4") Schedule 40, 90 degree elbow; and a 1 5/8" hole saw.


Download a pdf copy of instructions:  Rain Barrels Make Good Sense

Principle Spotlight
#4 Water Efficiently
Making your own barrel cuts down on your municipal water usage by allowing you to collect rain water for garden irrigation or for other outdoor tasks like washing the car. 
Upcoming Events
TYN Workshops

Hamilton County: Six-Hour Homeowner Landscaping Workshop Part 1:  April 24th, 2012 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Part 2:  May 1st, 2012 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Location: UT Extension office on Bonny Oaks Drive
Limited to 25 participants per class with a cost of $25.00 each or $40.00 per couple.
Advanced registration required
To register: Call UT Extension at 423-855-6113

Make checks payable to:   UT Extension & send to 6183 Adamson Circle,Chattanooga, TN 37416  


  TYN Teams up with Fort Loudoun Lake Association & the Water Quality Forum to conduct three Knoxville-area:

Make-it,Take-it Rain Barrel Workshops 

Location: Ijams Nature Center  
April 28th, 2012 10 am - noon


Location:  Town of Farragut in the Community Room at Town Hall
May 19th, 2012, 10 am - noon


Location:  New Harvest Center (near Knoxville Center Mall off of Millertown Pike)
June 23rd, 2012, 10 am - noon


Cost: $35/barrel

Contact: Fort Loudoun Lake Association at 865-523-3800 or to register


Our Friends at Beardsley Farms

Spring Skill Share and Plant Sale


Location:   CAC Beardsley Community Farm (behind Laura Cansler Boys & Girls Club) 1719 Reynolds St., Knoxville, TN
When: Saturday, April 14th, 10:30 am - 5 pm

CAC Beardsley Community Farm offers Skill Share, an event that brings together individuals with different levels of experience in gardening for a day of learning and connecting. 


Beardsley's Spring Skill Share include three workshops, childen's activities, and a plant sale. A wide variety of herbs, heirloom tomatoes and peppers, raspberries, strawberries,ornamentals, and more will be available.  Prior to the plant sale, a full list of plants will be posted on the Beardsley website.   Tickets can be purchased at:



Our Friends at Ijams Nature Center

10th Annual Spring Plant Sale


Location:  2915 Island Home Avenue, Knoxville, TN  37920

Date:  Saturday 28th, 2012, 9 am to 3pm

For more information, go to:   Ijams Nature Center


The Spring Plant Sale features eight local nurseries selling wildflowers, shrubs and trees. Garden flowers, vegetables, outdoor crafts, pottery, birdhouses, metal works and decorations will also be available. In addition, free wildlife walks will be conducted on the Ijams trails throughout the day. 


This event is sponsored by the Island Home Community Partnership, with proceeds supporting the protection and enhancement of Ijams Nature Center's natural areas and trails.



Keep In Touch!
Ruth Anne Hanahan and Dr. Andrea Ludwig
TYN Statewide Co-Directors
Tennessee Water Resources Research Center
University of Tennessee
311 Conference Center
Knoxville, TN 37996
See Ya' Next Month!
Thanks so much for reading!
Check back with us next month for details on our new projects
and more tips on achieving a healthy home landscape.
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