Issue 13:  June, 2012 
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Note to Privet
Privet Removal

Helpful Links


TYN Website 





Garden Tip #1

Don't forget to stake tall-growing perennials such as goldenrod, Boltonia, black-eyed susan, sunflowers, and Joe Pye weed to prevent them from lodging once in bloom. They may not look like they need it now, but a hard rain or high wind will bend them over when they are in bloom.

Water Quiz!

Be the first person to email the correct answer to: 

and you will receive a TYN tote bag!


The question is:


True or False: It takes 1,850 gallons of water to refine one barrel of crude oil.

Garden Tip #2

Fall-flowering plants such as asters, mums, goldenrod, sedum, and Joe-pye weed can be cut back to make them shorter and stockier when they bloom. Cut their current growth three-quarters of the way back this month to have them looking great and in bloom this fall.

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

Tennessee Yardstick Workbook

Garden Tip #3

Remove all root suckers at the base of all fruit trees, particularly apple and pear, and all thick water sprouts shooting up straight on the branches. Also, remove any diseased, dying or insect riddled wood.

 Last month's water quiz answer:


How much water does the average individual use daily?


is b) 50 gallons!!


No winners last month but let's see how we do this month!

 Quote of the Month!
"If it hasn't been moved three times, it is not in the right place."
- Hamilton Co. Master Gardener
Upcoming Events!


Water Quality Forum Mega Rain Barrel ($58) And Composter ($55) Sale! June 16th 2012 from 9am - 3pm pick up your barrels at the West Town Mall. Pre-orders Only. To learn more or pre-order CLICK HERE.

"Make It, Take It" Rain barrel Making Workshop
This workshop (sponsored by the Fort Loudon Lake Assoc., TYN, and the Water Quality Forum) is open to the public for a modest fee. Workshop includes all supplies for the installation of the barrel, instructional demonstration, and the benefits of the barrel itself.


June 23rd 10am-1pm at New Harvest Park


$35 per barrel with a limit of 40 per session

Pre-registristation is required. For info on how to register, go to: Fort Loudoun Lake Association


The Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Wild Ones presents: 

Meadow Scaping: A Recipe for Health Urban and Suburban Landscapes

Monday July 9, 2012

7:00pm at the Chattanooga State Community College Humanities Auditorium

Register at the door: Free admisison for Wild Ones memebers and $10 for non-members

Be inspired by nationally renowned award-winning filmmaker and organic landscaper Catherine Zimmerman to do away with pesticides, reduce your lawn area and return your land to a beautiful, natural habitat for native plants and wildlife! To learn more about the author/presenter and the Meadow Project CLICK HERE.


Summer Celebration Lawn & Garden Show

Located at the West Tennessee Ag Research & Education Center, UT Extension, Jackson TN
Thursday, July 12, 2012 from 10am - 6pm.


Tour the beautiful UT Gardens-Jackson, attend workshops presented by UT experts and hear from renowned gardening enthusiasts from across the region.Visitors can also peruse and purchase fascinating plant varieties at the Master Gardeners' plant sale. 
The cost is $5.00 for adults and free for children 17 and under.

For more information CLICK HERE.  

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
Join Our Mailing List




Happy June everyone! Summer is almost here and this month we have an entertaining article from Lyn Bales about his love affair with privet....or lack there of.  Our AmeriCorps member, Katie Walberg, who is enjoying learning about the world of gardening did her homework on another colorful topic, deadheading, and she shares with us this technqiue that can be used to extend our plants' flowering time.  Now turning back to that nasty privet, our Co-Director, Ruth Anne Hanahan, provides several approaches for removing it (including simply ripping it out) from our home landscape. We hope you are all getting out into your yards, enjoying playing in your gardens and using that rain barrel you have installed on your house.  If you haven't yet done so, keep an eye on our website for future rain barrel-making workshops and sales happening across the state.


Many thanks to all our faithful readers!


The TYN State Management Team
Stephen Lyn BalesNote to privet: I hate you!

By Stephen Lyn Bales


Being a naturalist, a nature-lover, a tree-hugger, a bay-at-the-moon kind of guy, I admittedly adore the natural world:  its diversity, complexity and downright in-your-face tenacity.


And as a naturalist I even appreciate the darker side: the ticks, black flies, mosquitoes, leaches, vampire bats and cowbirds. They all have their place in the great web of life (clue the "Lion King" music).


But, there is one exception: I simply cannot tolerate privet! The Ligustrums.

Privet in Bloom
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service lists four species in our state -- Border privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium), Japanese privet (L. japonicum), European privet (L. vulgare) and Chinese privet (L. sinense) -- with the last one being the most widespread in the Volunteer State, found from the Great Smokies to the Mississippi River.


So I know I have an aversion to all of the Ligustrums.  In fact, I hate 'em and, as best as I can tell, the invasive shrubs hate me. I know this by the sneezing, coughing, scratchy eyes, headaches and dripping nose that haunt me every time they bloom. Ah-choo.


It's not really privet's fault it's in the New World. Our English ancestors brought it. They simply loved well-groomed hedgerows -- lush, green, square dividers, perfect framing for a proper English garden. We assume they never realized when they turned their back that the pesky plants would jump ship and escape from the dignified confines of the properly maintained landscape.

Privet fruits ripen in the fall
You see, berry-eating birds love the small purplish-black fruits, pooping out the seeds EVERYWHERE. Soon that well-curried hedge becomes an understory nightmare.


In 1847, the American Whig Review reported that the English in this country, love to adorn their country homes and landscape with privet.


In 1877, Harper's reported that large Southern homes were landscaped, often with a tall hedge of holly or privet to mask "the cabins of the house servants," where the children were not allowed to go. They simply did not want their young white kids seeing where their black Mammy was forced to live. Every proper English country home with slave quarters to hide, needed a privet hedge to hide it. Today, that class divider has become a curse across the South.


Initially, the English L. vulgare was the hedge plant of choice but in 1852, Chinese privet  (L. sinense), was introduced. It proved to be cheaper and hardier than its European cousin which was susceptible to American native pests.


"Chinese privet is able to outcompete the native understory species of a habitat through rapid seed dispersal and quick growth to reproductive maturity. Producing an abundant amount of berries that are dispersed by animals, it is able to spread through an area with surprising speed," writes Wilcox, Beck and Davis in a study completed for Emory University. Dense monocultures are quickly created; native plants are driven out.

Cardinals actually thrive in thick stands of privet. But, they can live without it..


Studies vary. Some suggest that privet stands have negatively impacted such nesting birds as wood thrushes because the stems are heavier than native shrubs and better able to support the weight of predators like raccoons and back rat snakes. But oddly, as a habitat type, privet colonies are a boon for some birds. In the same Emory study, Wilcox, Beck and Davis discovered that thick stands of privet are home to a greater population of some common birds. The biggest winners are Northern cardinals.


But, the birds will do just fine without the privet, so as best we can, as quickly as possible, let's destroy the monster. Burn witch, burn.

Has anyone seen my loppers?


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

Katie Walberg head shotA Brief Introduction to Deadheading and its Advantages
by Katie Walberg 
Black-eyed susan
With summer months quickly approaching and blooming flowers abounding we thought it would be a good time to talk about dead-heading your flowering plants. Deadheading is a simple garden task that will keep your blooming plants happier and healthier. It refers to removing dead flowers, either by pinching with the fingers or by trimming back with scissors or pruners. Among candidates for deadheading in Tennessee gardens during late June and July are bee balm, black-eyed susans, yarrow, coneflowers, and coreopsis.


What does deadheading mean?


Deadheading is simply the process of removing old, faded blossoms from your flowering plants. If the flowers are left to develop seeds, the plant thinks it has accomplished its goal of reproduction and will stop blooming. Deadheading will encourage plants to put their energy into growing more beautiful flowers. 


Deadheading according to plant structure


Woody stems/plants


Cut woody stems at a 45-degree angle about one quarter inch above a node where a set of leaves grow. The break or cut should be smooth and clean. Leave no ragged stubs.


Cut spent flowers just above the next set of leaves.
Central stem with flower clusters


Some plants have one central stem and a flower cluster at the tip which blooms first followed by others that bloom on side branches below it. Nip off the top flower cluster after it fades (then secondary blooms as they die back) just above the next set of leaves or small branches where new flower buds form. Once the entire stalk is done blooming, remove it at the base. Examples of plants that re-bloom from offshoots on a main stem are black-eyed susans, yarrow and Indian blanket flowers.




Coreopsis lanceolata
Single flower stalk with one flower


Purple coneflowers, bee balm, and wild columbine have a single flower stalk which grows from the plant's leafy base with just one flower or a tight group of flowers on it. Remove individual spent flowers every day or until no more blooms remain, then cut off the flower stem at the ground. Shear off flowers and seed heads on plants that make lots of small flowers like coreopsis and marigolds once two-thirds of the blossoms have died. This encourages another flush of blooms.
Autumn-flowering perennials


Autumn-flowering perennials like swamp sunflowers, Joe Pye weed, iron weed, and asters tend to get leggy or tall and floppy. Cut them back by one-half in late June or early July to keep the plant under control.
Swamp sunflowers tend to flop over if they aren't cut back.


Let some purple coneflowers go to seed for future plantings or to feed the birds.
Times when deadheading might not be a good idea
Although deadheading may extend the bloom period for perennials, there are reasons not to remove the spent flowers. The dried flowers and seed heads of some species may provide added structure and contrast to the summer garden, as well as be of interest in the winter. Additionally, these seed heads can serve as a valuable food source for birds. The purple coneflower is an example. Don't cut off all the dead flowers if you want to save some seed from a favorite plant, rather let the seeds form, mature and dry on the plant before you collect and store them.

It is unlikely you can seriously harm a plant by eliminating spent blooms; however, there are some plants whose blooms can be postponed or even eliminated for an entire season if deadheaded at the wrong time. For example, cut off hydrangea blooms as they fade, rather than waiting until later in the season. Spring-flowering trees and shrubs in general, including forsythia, flowering almond and quince, and sweet shrub, should also be pruned immediately after flowering or you will risk reducing the number of flower buds for the next blooming season.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between pinching and deadheading flowers?


Pinching is done early in the season and removes the stem tips to promote bushier, more compact plants and increase the number of blooms. Pinching is most beneficial on late summer blooming perennials like asters and chrysanthemums. Stop pinching plants by late June to allow flower buds to develop and bloom before frost.

Deadheading is the removal of spent blossoms to avoid seed production. Deadheading prevents plants from using energy for seed production, can lengthen the bloom season, and improves the plants appearance.

Other TN natives that may or may not benefit from deadheading


Deadheading can be one of those wonderful daily rituals for the gardener and also a time to evaluate your plant needs or if there is any insect damage.  As always, if you have any gardening questions like how to deadhead a specific plant, please send us a message on the TYN Facebook page or e-mail us.  We will be delighted to ferret out the answer through one of the UT Extension horticulture specialists.
Peter White, (2003). Wildflowers of the Smokies: Second Edition, Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association Available Here
RA headshotPrivet Removal 

By Ruth Anne Hanahan 


Exotic, invasive species - they are a hot topic, and rightfully so, annually impacting our nation's economy in the millions of dollars, causing loss of habitat, crops, species... the list goes on.  Sometimes, the extent of the problem simply overwhelms me and I just want to bury my head in a honeysuckle bush, at least it smells good.  But that is where Tennessee Yards & Neighborhoods comes into play.  I might not personally be able to touch this problem on a national scale, much less across the state, but I can do something about it in my own back yard.  And I know it may sound trite, cliché, banal...but the fact is, that if each of us does our part, then one yard at a time we will begin to make an impact.


Chinese Privet

So yes, it is overwhelming but for sanity's sake, I am going to hone in on a primary nemesis - the Chinese privet.  Lyn Bales did an outstanding job introducing you to this plant and its plot to overtake the world.  I will now do my best to give you some specific approaches to removing it from your yard.  So here goes.


Bobcat - Wipe it Out:  Here I'm not talking about the fury tailed bobcat, rather the handy earth-moving piece of equipment.  When I moved into my humble abode, I had massive privet covering most of my entire backyard, 20 plus ft high.  I felt my only approach was to bring in the machinery.  It literally scooped out the root systems that fortunately tend to be relatively shallow in nature.


Mow it -Weaken it: What I found is that I still had pesky tiny privet plants appearing in the backyard so I'd let them get 6" high or so and then mow them.  Mowing the tops will weaken the roots systems and over time, you will see less and less of it. 


Weed-Wrench - Pull it Out:  If you have never been introduced to the

Make sure the clamp is at the base of the trunk.
Weed Wrench™, it is my pleasure to do so.  It is a lovely tool that will make you feel powerful and give you an ongoing sense of accomplishment as you rip privet plants out one by one.  Note below the series of photographs of one in action.  The tool is essentially a big lever.  It has a clamp ("jaw") on one end that you fit around the plant's trunk.  Holding the base (fulcrum) in place with your foot, you pull the lever, uprooting the plant.  You can purchase them on-line at  Also, this website has a great set of directions and tips on how to most effectively use them.  This company offers four sizes:   



Mini: Jaw size up to 1 inch, 5.25 lbs.,$82
Light: Up to 1.5 inches, 11.5 lbs.,$130
Medium: Up to 2 inches, 17.5 lbs.,$155
Heavy: Up to 2.5 inches, 24 lbs.,$189 


Weed Wrench in action



Example of light and medium weed wrench


The issue for most of us is the cost of these tools.  They are not inexpensive as you can see; however, my suggestion is that if you belong to a group like a Master Gardener Association, you go in together to buy a couple.  The largest one is very heavy and I find I use the light and the medium sized-ones mostly.  However, if you have some strong individuals, the large ones are quite effective for the large shrubs/trees.  Another approach for this sized plant is one that I outline next.   


Lop/Saw and Spray:  This approach involves cutting the trunk of the privet and then very carefully applying a shot of Roundup® to the cut trunk.  Now, anybody who knows me, will tell you I am absolutely not a proponent of herbicides.  I, thus far, have avoided them in my yard, but with very, very careful, limited application, I think Roundup can be safely used.  Its active ingredient is glyphosate that disrupts a protein-building process specific to plants. (There is some current research that indicates the "inert" compounds in it may be toxic to animals, so again, I never take lightly the use of it.)  To ensure I only get it on the cut privet stems, I add a dye - Spray Tracer Purple® -- to the Roundup. I get it at my local farmer's coop and this dye is specially made to be added to Roundup.  It is a purple color that leaves no question where the herbicide is sprayed, including on clothes, so be very careful.  The Roundup is absorbed into the root system and eventually kills the plants.

Lop/Saw and Spray Method

So we may not be able to solve all the world's problems, but we can begin to tackle what is in our own back yard.  Go forth, rip that privet out, get out that aggression, and smile knowing that you have done your part.


Additional references:
Economic impacts of exotic, invasive species:

For information on removal approaches to common Southeastern invasive species:Guide to Control Methods for 10 Common Western North Carolina Riparian Weeds

Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control

For a list of invasive species in Tennessee and initiatives focused on their eradication:  Tennessee Plant Pest Control Council:



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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