Bee Gardens to Help Pollinators with Russ Henry
Meet Russ Henry, the owner of Minnehaha Falls Landscaping that helps to install, manage and restore yards, gardens, and school grounds throughout the Twin Cities. Russ explains the importance of helping pollinators, especially bees, as it improves our food production and boosts the ecosystem. He also delves into the concept of a bee garden. Find out about some of the steps that you can take to be the hero in your own landscape. To learn more and schedule an appointment, visit MinnehahaFallsLandscape.com.
Shownotes:[00:00:08.700] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Good morning and welcome to Green Tea Conversation, the radio show that delves into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine to bring you the local experts who share their progressive ideas and the latest information and insights needed so you can lead your best life.
[00:00:22.650] - Candi Broeffle, Host
I'm your host Candi Broeffle, publisher of the Twin Cities edition of Natural Awakenings magazine, and I am honored to bring these experts to you. So today in our studio, I am excited to introduce you once again to Mr. Russ Henry, who is the owner of Minnehaha Falls Landscaping. Russ leads a team of landscaping experts who install, manage and restore yards, school grounds, and gardens throughout the Twin Cities, all without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Welcome back to the show. Russ, it's good to have you.
[00:00:58.800] - Russ Henry, Guest
Oh, it's wonderful to be here. Thank you so much for having me, Candi.
[00:01:02.160] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So you were with us last fall, sometime around September, I believe, and you were talking to us about the importance of preparing our soils for the winter ahead. And now we are on the other side of that winter. And it is time to talk about spring and spring gardening.
[00:01:22.980] - Russ Henry, Guest
[00:01:24.220] - Candi Broeffle, Host
But the first thing we want to talk about is something that is really on everyone's minds. And it's something that you did an article for us about in Natural Awakenings magazine called Catch the Spring Buzz.
[00:01:38.220] - Candi Broeffle, Host
It is a great article on pollinators. So I'm going to ask our listeners to please go to the website or pick up a magazine and read your article in full. But as part of that, I wanted to have you on the show today so that you can talk to us a bit about the importance of pollinators and what is kind of happening with them right now.
[00:01:59.010] - Russ Henry, Guest
Well, thanks again, Candi. It's really wonderful to be here with you. And yes, it is so important that we take a little bit of time to talk about pollinators. I was out doing a consultation just a couple hours ago and saw some of my first flowers for the year. There are some crocus blooming down in the down near the house at the consulate that it was really wonderful to see that. And of course, it's very important that we have some early blooms because pollinator bees are out buzzing around, looking for food right now and they eat the pollen and the nectar, especially from the flowers, and they bring that pollen back to their hives and they feed that to the babies, the larvae in the hives.
[00:02:41.730] - Russ Henry, Guest
And it's very important that that that the pollinators have access to flowers. So that means every one of us can really be a hero to pollinators in our own yards because we can offer flowers throughout the whole landscape.
[00:02:58.320] - Candi Broeffle, Host
You know, it's so important.
[00:02:59.940] - Candi Broeffle, Host
I don't know why some people are really up on what's happening with bees and other pollinators and and but some of us are not. So maybe you can share with us a little bit of information that we need to be aware of the dangers that they're facing right now.
[00:03:14.610] - Russ Henry, Guest
Well, let's let's take, for instance, the Rusty Patch Bumble Bee, which is the Minnesota new State Bee. And our state legislature a couple of years ago designated the rusty patch bumblebee as the state bee because it is facing the threat of extinction.
[00:03:32.390] - Candi Broeffle, Host
[00:03:33.000] - Russ Henry, Guest
And Rusty is also a indicator species. And so that means that where what happens to Rusty will also happen to many other pollinators. So alongside I should say, what is beneficial for Rusty Patch is beneficial for other pollinators.
[00:03:52.950] - Russ Henry, Guest
So that's where we come in as heroes in our own landscapes because what we're seeing is a global extinction, a 6x mass extinction of species throughout the planet. And Rusty is is a part of that. And if we can provide more habitat, we can slow that extinction. Maybe we can stop the extinction from happening to some species. And you know what? What more beautiful thing to do than come together in our landscapes around helping pollinators and helping bees, because after all, you know, bees help us through pollination.
[00:04:38.070] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Let's talk about that a little bit, because, you know, I think people are might not necessarily want bees in their yard because they're afraid of getting stung or afraid of having some kind of pain associated with it. But bees are really the important part of our ecosystem that we we cannot do without.
[00:04:58.230] - Russ Henry, Guest
Exactly. Bees and other pollinating insects, they visit flowers all day, every day, hundreds, sometimes even thousands of hours a day. And when they're doing that, they're blending the pollen from one flower to another and that allows the flowers to make seeds. And so that's how flowers reproduce through pollination. And it's the blending of pollens by pollinating insects moving back and forth from flowers that's so critical in wild plants. Most of the wildflowers that we know are all pollinated by insects.
[00:05:35.030] - Russ Henry, Guest
And if you go to the grocery store, about 30% of the food we eat and it's all the yummy stuff, it's the apples and oranges and the almonds and cherries and the tomatoes and all the good stuff that we love. That's all pollinated by insects, by bees, and other insects.
[00:05:54.630] - Russ Henry, Guest
So it's super critical that we do something to help Rusty out. It'll help us in the long term.
[00:06:00.790] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Exactly. So what are some of the steps that we can take to help out to be the heroes in our own landscape?
[00:06:08.600] - Russ Henry, Guest
That's a great question. And, you know, there's four kind of main areas and ways that I think about for folks being able to help. The first is the lawns. And that's kind of a new thing that's happening. It's a it's kind of a revolutionary new thing that's going on where folks are transitioning their regular lawn space into a lawn space still. But it's one that's beneficial for pollinators. It's a lawn space that helps out rusty patch bumblebees and other bees, honeybees and everybody.
[00:06:39.590] - Russ Henry, Guest
Now, that's one way. There's other ways...there's kind of three other ways that I see. Also, a lot of folks have a pollinator garden at home and a pollinator garden will have native blooming plants. It's a really wonderful place. Perennial plants, low maintenance, very easy to take care of. And it's a great way to bring in some of the really important pollinators, including monarch butterflies.
[00:07:08.570] - Russ Henry, Guest
And yeah, and and other and honey honeybees and Rusty Patch and other bumblebees, one really fun way that we can talk about it here, too, a little bit is, is the rain garden, which is a great way to have a pollinator garden. And those all kind of fit in what I like to think of as the pollinator garden realm. Then you can also add, if you really want to go big for the pollinators, you can add in blooming trees and shrubs.
[00:07:39.710] - Russ Henry, Guest
So that's kind of the third level I think, of as in terms of really helping out the pollinators. And and that's one of the big ways, because a tree or a shrub that's filled with flowers like a cherry tree or an apple tree or Catalpa tree that is going to feed so many pollinators all day, well, then you've got your fourth way and the fourth way to protect pollinators. And everyone could participate in this is soil health. Soil health.
[00:08:10.780] - Russ Henry, Guest
And what we dig down when we dig down just a little bit, what we find out is that when when we're talking soil health, we're talking about no synthetic fertilizers, no pesticides. We're talking about having fungi, beneficial organisms in the soil, microbiology, living soils, soils, acting like a sponge to clean the water. And all of this really starts to happen when we install the bee and the pollinator gardens and the blooming trees and shrubs. So it all is kind of a big cycle where the soil health supports the pollinator health of the the the pollinator plant health.
[00:08:52.030] - Russ Henry, Guest
The plants then support the pollinators. The pollinators support us and all of it ties together. And so this is what I'm here to talk about with you today is just all the wonderful fun stuff that we can do in our landscapes to save pollinators.
[00:09:07.300] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And we want to get into all of this as we go throughout the show. So we're going to talk about each one of those things more in-depth. But before we do that, maybe you can help us understand what are some of the different pollinators that there are besides the bees? What are other pollinators that that we need? And in particular, I know, you know, we're seeing quite a decline in the monarch butterflies, something that we used to see all the time when we were kids, when I was a kid.
[00:09:36.580] - Candi Broeffle, Host
You're younger than I am. But what I was a kid. We had monarch butterflies everywhere. And now there's quite the decline of that.
[00:09:43.840] - Russ Henry, Guest
Yeah, it's incredible. And I you know, I saw giant clouds of monarch butterflies when I was a kid and they're not here anymore. And so I am very worried. In California this year, it was the lowest monarch count ever. And monarch butterflies are facing some serious problems. Along with them are all of the other bugs and butterflies that we love. The swallowtail butterflies and the hummingbird moths, they're all vanishing. They're all dying. And we can think about some other pollinators here, too.
[00:10:26.140] - Russ Henry, Guest
And then let's think about why they're going away. But the other pollinators include birds like hummingbirds and finch finches, goldfinches and and house finches and purple finches, all visiting the flowers. You know, butterflies and bees are very important. But we also got to think about the other pollinators that sometimes don't have as much press, let's say. And, you know, that might be things like ants and beetles and spiders. We've got you know, there's a whole the whole range of all the living insects out there that are there to help us. And we can do a little bit to help them.
[00:11:08.980] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And when we come back, we are going to get into what a bee-friendly yard will look like.
[00:11:14.350] - Russ Henry, Guest
[00:11:15.550] - Candi Broeffle, Host
To learn more about Russ and the work he does, visit MinnehahaFallsLandscape.com or call 612-724-5454 to get your project scheduled. To read the online version of Natural Awakenings magazine, visit NaturalTwinCities.com. You can find a podcast of this show on AM950Radio.com on Apple and Google podcast, on Spotify, and anywhere you get your podcasts. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota. And we will be right back.
[00:12:03.610] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversation is where we delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine and talk to the professionals who share their expertise and natural health with you. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, and we are visiting with Russ Henry, owner of Minnehaha Falls Landscaping in Minneapolis. Alright.
[00:12:22.930] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So before the break, you were starting to talk to us about pollinators and the importance of pollinators and how we're starting to see a decline with that. And you also kind of gave us a little sneak peek into what we can do to be the heroes in our own backyards. And one of the things that you are really excited about, something that's really quite a revolutionary approach is called bee lawns.
[00:12:51.430] - Russ Henry, Guest
Oh, yes. Thank you, Candi. I am so excited about bee lawns. Thank you for asking about them. So everybody's got a lawn and you know, every homeowner has a lawn and every homeowner in that lawn has an opportunity to either help or hurt pollinators. And so if we're going to be outputting down synthetic pesticides, oh, that's going to hurt the pollinators because they spread beyond if we're going to put down synthetic fertilizer, same thing that's going to go in the soil and that will hurt the soil-dwelling pollinators.
[00:13:29.590] - Russ Henry, Guest
And what we need to do instead is....oH, and also let me mention, if we're mowing, we're actually mowing over the living pollinators and killing them. It's awful. It's absolutely awful. What we could do instead is plant these pollinator lawns. We want to be able to have a walkable space that we can still see and sit and play ball and and have fun with the kids and everything and walk the dog, all that good stuff. But if we have a No-mow Pollinator Bee lawn, then we don't have to do any of that pesticides and fertilizers and mowing and all of that good stuff.
[00:14:09.910] - Russ Henry, Guest
So this is why I am so excited about bee lawns. They give us the opportunity to have a lawn, but they also save the pollinators at the same time.
[00:14:20.530] - Candi Broeffle, Host
You know, it's really interesting that you say that the No-Mow Lawn when as you get a little older, you start to kind of look at your home like, how can I make this so that it's not as heavy as I start to age? I mean, when we're young and we have a lot of energy, it doesn't mean as much. But, you know, you try to figure out like, how can you make your house so you're not painting as much and you're not taking care of decks and you're not taking care of walkways as much.
[00:14:48.400] - Candi Broeffle, Host
But I hadn't thought about a bee lawn and a no-mow lawn. So that is pretty interesting to me. So explain to us, what does that what does that look like?
[00:15:00.160] - Russ Henry, Guest
Yeah, a no-mow bee lawn is essentially comprised of a few components. And so you've got fescue grass, which is a grass that stays about six inches tall, doesn't need to be mowed. Looks you know, the entire University of Minnesota campus is comprised of fescue grass. They mow it, though it doesn't need to be mowed. So it's when we combine it with white clover, which a lot of folks are familiar with, it's a common plant in most of our landscapes.
[00:15:31.750] - Russ Henry, Guest
We intentionally combine it into the bee lawn with the fescue grass and then a couple other bloomers, one called Self-heal Prunella Voulgaris. I love that, that plant's a beautiful purple blooming plant and then creeping thyme. Another plant a lot of folks are familiar with.
[00:15:50.230] - Candi Broeffle, Host
A lot of people don't. But I do. I love creeping thyme.
[00:15:55.480] - Russ Henry, Guest
I do too.
[00:15:56.050] - Russ Henry, Guest
It's so pretty. I love it when it blooms. And so we've got a couple of purple bloomers, a white bloomer, and then we've got the fescue grass combined. And that combination of the three blooming plants plus the fescue gives enough full season spread of blooms to feed eighty-five different species of native bees in Minnesota. Incredibly, and that's not even count the honeybees or the bugs and butterflies that we're going to see there.
[00:16:31.570] - Russ Henry, Guest
That is just just incredible. And the heavy-hitter in there really is the white clover, the Dutch white clover. It's a wonderful plant to...let me just say this...it is non-native and yet it is super important in our in our spaces because it is feeding 85 different species of native bees. Actually, the the white clover feeds about 70 different species and then with the self-heal and the creeping thyme we're going.
[00:17:03.180] - Russ Henry, Guest
Add-in, we add in a few more, another couple of dozen species, so together, you know, we're really feeding a lot of bees and making bugs and butterflies and bees all happy in our yard when we transition. Now, it does take a transition, a little bit of a transition. So the first thing we do to transition to a beeline is eliminate pesticides and fertilizers. The second thing we do is if we're going to do a moderate transition, kind of a slower pace transition, then we will aerate and overseed using these wonderful seeds.
[00:17:39.780] - Russ Henry, Guest
Then we'll come in and we'll do some organic fertilizer and a little bit of what we've created, this special liquid compost that I learned how to make through one of my soil health mentors, Dr. Elaine Egham. And she taught me how to make this wonderful soil health compost inoculation that we use and we spray out on the lawns and then it makes everything come to life. So we're kind of restoring the biology as we go. When we restore the biology, we're actually helping the above and below ground pollinators, above ground, below ground. We're growing soil health.
[00:18:18.720] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Mm-hmm. And in that then we also have a lot more insects and bugs and worms that are coming back to life within our soil as well.
[00:18:28.860] - Russ Henry, Guest
Exactly. And insects are so critically important because of the birds. Most of of most of our birds, most of their diets are comprised of insects. And so when we have eliminated so many insects from the landscape and they're showing that seventy-five to 80 percent of insects in some studies, even in protected areas, are being wiped out. And so the science around this is just scary. And we need to pay attention and we need to do something about that.
[00:19:00.960] - Russ Henry, Guest
And that's something is restoring health for pollinators and for soil, all the way around that's going to bring birds back to life, that's going to bring raptors back and foxes and the whole ecosystem once we start restoring that health right there in our lot.
[00:19:16.980] - Candi Broeffle, Host
You know, I think we've gone for a really long time where we have these beautiful, perfectly manicured lawns that are green and the perfect height and we have perfectly manicured plants. And I kind of see them in a different light now than I did, say, 10 years ago, where now it almost seems dead, the lawn, even though it's bright green and there's just no life to it anymore. And we need to bring those those insects back, those pollinators back.
[00:19:49.110] - Candi Broeffle, Host
We need to bring back that native look in order to have all that life come back into our yards.
[00:19:56.850] - Russ Henry, Guest
That's right. And we could all be heroes in our own landscapes by doing something like installing a blog and just transitioning. You know, the first step is eliminating those pesticides and fertilizers and every other step after that, we can help with
[00:20:09.870] - Candi Broeffle, Host
That is great. So, for people who want to learn more about how they can work with Russ to create their own bee lawns or Pollinator Gardens, go to Minnehaha Falls Landscape.Com or call 612-724-5454. To get your project started, to read the online version of Natural Awakenings magazine visit NaturalTwinCities.com. You can find a podcast of this show on AM950 Radio.com on Apple and Google, podcast on Spotify. And anywhere you get your podcasts, you're listening to Green Tea Conversation on AM950 Radio Progressive Voice of Minnesota. And we will be right back.
[00:21:05.750] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversation, where we delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine to bring you the professionals who share their expertise on natural health with you. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, and we are visiting with Russ Henry, who is the owner of Minnehaha Falls Landscaping here in Minneapolis. So just before the break, you were explaining to us about a revolutionary new approach called bee lawns which is very intriguing. It also is a no-mow option. So people who end up working on this yard for a couple of years can then enjoy sitting back and just watching it produce the results without having any of the work that has to go along with it.
[00:21:49.490] - Russ Henry, Guest
Exactly. Letting that live or go to rust.
[00:21:54.290] - Candi Broeffle, Host
But a great approach. But now we want to talk a little bit about how we can add some beauty and some interest to our yards, to our lungs as well. But we can also do other things like increasing our plants for pollinators. So tell us a little bit about what we should do for to create more of a pollinator garden?
[00:22:16.970] - Russ Henry, Guest
Yeah, absolutely. Well, Pollinator Gardens are a wonderful way to bring bees and butterflies around and give them some of the nutrition that they require from native plants. And so native plants are extremely important because they feed the pollinators, the native pollinators at the right time of year, what they're supposed to have. So it's really important that we bring in plants, we might designated area of the yard, we can have a pollinator patch, a garden where we can invite the birds and butterflies and bees all to come and have a little bit of something to eat.
[00:22:58.640] - Russ Henry, Guest
So that could be anything from just a four foot by four foot little garden area with a couple of plants, maybe a bomb plant and and some Black-Eyed Susans or Echinacea or that could be an extensive garden and a larger space, a low maintenance, maybe a rain garden or a larger kind of prairie restoration space in which we incorporate some plants that will spread and that will take over the area that will keep out the weeds for us. So things like Little Bluestem and Joe Pae weed and the bulbs spreading throughout the area, lobelia, lots of beautiful plants that we can add in.
[00:23:51.110] - Russ Henry, Guest
And there's wonderful resources online for finding native plants. We've got some great resources that Minnehaha Falls landscaped outcome for folks to find out, plant lists of what you can plant in the sun or the shade, what's going to work in a rain garden. Have we talked about rain gardens? Candi I keep saying rain garden. Do you know what a little rain garden is, don't you?
I want to learn more about what a rain garden is. So why don't you explain to us what your approach with a rain garden is?
[00:24:20.750] - Russ Henry, Guest
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So a rain garden. We do so many rain gardens for folks. They're awesome places. What you do is you find maybe a low spot in the lawn or you make a low spot, you know, somewhere off of one of the downspouts that come off the roof, off the gutter system. And that way you can direct the water into a garden area, a space that you've excavated a little bit of a divot, a kind of a space that you dig out, and then we improve the soil down under there.
[00:24:54.440] - Russ Henry, Guest
And after that, we install these native plants, the water. Then when it rains, flows off the rooftop, down into the garden that feeds the native plants and it comes to life.
[00:25:06.710] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Many of us already have those nice little areas in our yard that stay kind of wet and muddy and maybe don't like them as much. So what are some of those plants that we can can actually start to help ourselves?
[00:25:22.880] - Russ Henry, Guest
Great question. OK, what I'm going to say here is that, first of all, in the rain garden, it's a perfect place to bring in the monarch butterflies. So some of those plants, what I call the mega monarch magnets, include Joe Pigweed, Meadow blazing, star swamp milkweed - three critically important plants for monarch butterflies, a great place to put them in the rain garden.
[00:25:51.810] - Candi Broeffle, Host
You can also see the moisture. They like all the water.
[00:25:55.080] - Russ Henry, Guest
They love it.
[00:25:56.390] - Candi Broeffle, Host
They need to have a lot of sun?
[00:25:59.280] - Russ Henry, Guest
Those are some more sunny plants the Joe Pigweed can take apart shade. But if you're going to do and the milkweed can take apart shade environment. But if you're going to do that medo blazing star and of all the blazing stars, the meadow is the one to go with because it brings in the monarchs. But it does, it does like a full sun environment.
[00:26:22.440] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So tell us a little bit about these plants. What do they look like if we're not familiar with them, because now we're in radio, so we have to be very we don't have it, so.
[00:26:32.520] - Russ Henry, Guest
Well, yes. And that's that's a great reminder. Thank you. Yes. We're talking purple flowers. We're talking pink flowers on the Joe Pigweed, we've got a six-foot-tall plant that'll spread out to about three feet wide. So it's kind of a column I like to put it in the back of the garden. And it gets covered with these almost kind of hairy-looking beautiful purple, pink, lavender-ish flowers. Wonderful. They bring in hummingbirds. They bring in the butterflies. And then let's see that that Beddoe blazing star, that's one of the monarch's absolute favorites. That's kind of like a tall, skinny snake of purple flowers. And so there's several, you put them together and and you bite and they come as a bulb and you might plant maybe a dozen of the bulbs together. And so you'll have 12 or 13 of these snakelike stems coming up covered in purple flowers. They're just they're just beautiful to behold.
[00:27:36.150] - Russ Henry, Guest
I love to plant in the garden red lobelia, cardinal flower. And that's one that feeds hummingbirds. Hummingbirds absolutely love it. The butterflies love it. And it's beautiful. It's red. It's a deep red flower.
[00:27:52.050] - Candi Broeffle, Host
I was going to say it's not a color that you see a ton of. And in like a perennial garden, this is red. Red is a hard one to come by. So that is really interesting.
[00:28:02.250] - Russ Henry, Guest
Yeah, red is usually a high maintenance color, but not in this in these perennial native plants, very low maintenance, very easy to take care of.
[00:28:09.930] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So the perfect thing for Candi, who is not exactly a green thumb, is that what you're saying?
[00:28:16.770] - Russ Henry, Guest
Well, I love plants that thrive on neglect. And that's why I go native plants and and I like the bee lawn also that we talked about earlier because mowing is high maintenance. So if we can transition, I always say the best lawn is a garden so we can transition lawn space in the garden or into bee lawn anything. We can transition away from the regular old standard lawn and towards life and abundance and health and blooms of flowers. That's going to help the bees. It's going to help us because we get to step outside. Look at all this beauty.
[00:28:53.250] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Oh, it's just it just makes me feel so good. It makes me makes my heart sing to think about having the the birds and butterflies and insects around, especially I think now because I have a grandchild and I'm like wanting to bring that back to my yard, wanting to bring that back to our outdoor space, because kids love to explore. They love to learn, they love to see all of that. And it's just, you know, like I said before, we kind of go from this time of year, it almost feels like your yard is dead, it's not that interesting. And now we can go into creating life all around us and just having all of this interest for us to take a look at. So tell us a bit more about, are there any good pollinator plans for shady areas?
[00:29:42.810] - Russ Henry, Guest
Oh, I'm so glad you asked. First of all, everybody has a hosta in the yard. Bumblebees love hostas.
[00:29:51.210] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Mm. So I love hostas, hostas love neglect. So they love kids. Exactly.
[00:29:57.150] - Russ Henry, Guest
Exactly. They do. Well, just about anywhere. You put them in the shade. There's a wonderful all the spring of females. Ah. You know bloodroot and all of your blooming crocus and tulips and everything like that is going to help out in the early season for the bees. And they can a lot of those can go in the shade. I love Celine Dion, Poppy. That's a native that not a lot of folks get to use that works in the shade of Jacob's ladder.
[00:30:28.428] - Russ Henry, Guest
So selling down poppy is a yellow short, kind of a foot and a half tall. Jacob's ladder is a nice groundcover, spreads out in the shade. You might want a shrub, something tall, blooms in white like a viburnum, very fun or several kinds of dogwood if you want to go a little. Horler get maybe a midsize and short tree or taller shrub, something like a pagoda dogwood. That's beautiful has a low canopy, it's an understory tree or tall shrub works just great off the side of a patio or maybe a service.
[00:31:01.410] - Russ Henry, Guest
Barry comes in a shrub or tree form beautiful places that works great in the shade. The pollinators come by and get us the birds and people can eat the berries off the service. Very warm,
[00:31:16.260] - Candi Broeffle, Host
very cool and be fun in the yard.
[00:31:19.110] - Russ Henry, Guest
Oh yeah. And there's so many wonderful fun options for the shade.
[00:31:24.180] - Candi Broeffle, Host
What about, you know, what about shrubs that sometimes I bought a shrub that I love the way it looks, and then it ends up getting really out of control. And I didn't know that you were supposed to, you know, trim it. Sure. Cure for it in that way. So what are some, like, low-maintenance shrubs that are great for pollinators?
[00:31:44.490] - Russ Henry, Guest
Yeah, absolutely. And when you talk low-maintenance shrubs, you're talking about native shrubs. So the viburnum is a whole huge set of viburnum, the Mohican Viburnum. So beautiful, wonderful to look at, broad leaves on it, big white blooms across the top of it, brings in the birds and the butterflies has a has a kind of a pyramidal shape to it. You don't have to do any pruning on it if you give it a big enough space to grow.
[00:32:13.080] - Russ Henry, Guest
And that's kind of the the the key to picking out a shrub is giving the shrub enough space to breed it, reach its full potential, and then always planting under the shrubs with ground cover, something like native perennial ginger or Virginia waterleaf. Or again, you could use some of that white clover that's in the bee lawn. And we'll often use that bee lawn mixture up underneath shrubs to as a ground cover, what I call a a cover crop or a living mulch.
[00:32:50.760] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Which is great because then again, you don't have to be weeding it.
[00:32:54.870] - Candi Broeffle, Host
It's maintaining the health of the soil underneath it. And it's just what a great way to to have, again, another low maintenance aspect to your yard.
[00:33:06.150] - Russ Henry, Guest
Yeah, exactly. Plants are the way that we can innovate together with the landscape in order to create low-maintenance spaces. And those native plants are going to get us those low-maintenance spaces that'll bring in the butterflies and bees. But we'll also be just beautiful for us to walk on and see.
[00:33:23.490] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And if you love to plant tomatoes, wait until you see what your tomatoes do when you're bringing back those pollinators.
[00:33:31.190] - Russ Henry, Guest
Oh, that's right. Oh, tomatoes. Absolutely. Everybody's got to have a big red juicy to have our tomato plants.
[00:33:39.000] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, for people who want to learn more about what Russ does and to schedule an appointment with him, go to MinnehahaFallsLandscape.com. You're listening to Green Tea Conversation on AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota. And we will be right back.
[00:34:18.140] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversation. We delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine and talk to the professionals who share their expertise and natural help with you. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle. And today we're visiting with Russ Henry of Minnehaha Falls Landscaping. So just before the break, we have been talking about so many things, so many things we can do to be the hero in our own backyards, as you say, which I love.
[00:34:44.120] - Candi Broeffle, Host
But one of the things that you is really important, something we talked about last fall when we visited was preparing our soil for winter. But now it's springtime.
[00:34:54.440] - Russ Henry, Guest
[00:34:54.950] - Candi Broeffle, Host
What can we do to create good soil health?
[00:34:59.690] - Russ Henry, Guest
Oh, thanks for that question.
[00:35:01.010] - Russ Henry, Guest
It's basically my favorite question in the whole world. You know, it's no coincidence that we live on a planet called Earth and we can reach down and scoop up a handful of that earth and hold it in our hands. And here's the problem. We've been treating soil like dirt.
[00:35:20.390] - Russ Henry, Guest
And we got to we got to remember that soil is supposed to be a sponge filled with living organisms. And when the rainwater runs through that sponge, those organisms filter and clean it and they they slow and cool the water before it enters local waterways. And they then provide nutrition and protection from disease and pests for plants. So the soil is the starting place for all ecosystems on Earth. And we can see that right in our own yards. And we can stop treating our soil like dirt and we can start really regrowing the soil sponge right outside our back doors.
[00:36:01.610] - Russ Henry, Guest
And and so there's a few things that I want to say that folks should really think about as they're trying to think about soil health first and foremost. Absolutely. Most important, we've got to stop putting the pesticides and fertilizers onto the soil. And when I say fertilizers, I mean the synthetic fertilizers, because pesticides and fertilizers change the dynamic underground and they kill many of the soil microbiome creatures, all of those little tiny organisms that are doing this huge job on a planetary scale to clean the water and feed the plants.
[00:36:39.800] - Russ Henry, Guest
So we've got to do our part to protect those tiny organisms. We don't put any pesticides and fertilizers down. That's the first step. Well, then the next step is making sure that the ground is always covered in something. And so think of that as like wearing clothes. We wouldn't want to go outside in the middle of winter without our winter gear on. And we certainly wouldn't want to leave our soil naked. So what we've got to do is make sure that we've got some kind of wood mulch or I prefer a living ground cover, some kind of a ground cover, plants, native plants or or b lawn plants, these type of things that will spread out, cover the ground.
[00:37:26.450] - Russ Henry, Guest
You know, some of our favorite herbs, like mint and oregano are wonderful for spreading and covering the ground, keeping it covered, and also feeding the bees and butterflies. So what we've got to do is keep that ground covered. So when the rain lands on it, it's not that the soil is not disturbed by the rainfall, but instead is protected by the plants. And then the rain slowly hits the soil and it absorbs in nice and slow and then it can filter through and do all the stuff that the soil is supposed to do.
[00:38:01.690] - Candi Broeffle, Host
I purchased a home from someone who is like a master gardener and the last home we lived in, we had like 32 gardens there, flower gardens, which is a lot. But the soil in those gardens was so fertile you could just see. And when you would dig up plants, when when I was weeding or trying to maintain the gardens at all. And you're starting to kind of dig into the soil, there's all these insects and different things that are moving around in there, insects and worms and all of that.
[00:38:35.060] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And then then we purchased this home and it's a beautiful home. But the soil, you can tell, is it doesn't have that same organisms in it.
[00:38:46.400] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And so that's a really good indicator, I would imagine, if you're digging down into your ground and your soil is not a deep, rich, earthy color, it doesn't smell. You can tell by the smell of your soil and looking at all the different insects and things that are in there as well.
[00:39:05.060] - Russ Henry, Guest
Yeah, if your soil is filled with life, then it's going to be protecting the plants that you grow and it's going to help them grow fast. If the soil is if you don't see the worms, you know, because worms are a big indicator species of soil. Especially our earthworms here in the city, very important that we see in the urban and suburban environments if if we're going to have healthy soil, it's going to have earthworms in it and that, you know, they could be a great indicator of and if they're not there, then what we've got to do is start aiming towards soil health so we can compost.
[00:39:40.390] - Russ Henry, Guest
That's one of the main ways to regrow soil health. I think about compost and healthy soil is being basically one and the same. Once we get the organic matter back into our soil and we start recycling the leaves in the kitchen, waste all of that back into the soil, then the insects and the worms can eat that and transform it into healthy soil, into the soil food web, as my mentors call it, which is the web of life that is underground.
[00:40:09.700] - Russ Henry, Guest
That includes fungi and bacteria, little creatures like nematodes and microarthropods all down there working together to protect and feed plants to filter the water. And they really keep all life on earth going.
[00:40:24.760] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Mm-hmm. So what are some things that we might be able to do? So soil health is really important, but what about for people who live in condos or apartments or maybe just don't have big yards, but they still want to do their part in being a hero in their own backyard or on their own patio? What can they do?
Absolutely. And everybody gets to be a hero. And I tell you what, you get yourself a container and some some potting soil, maybe find a native plant nursery or an organic nursery around town and or in your neighborhood and and look, look out, especially when you're going to nurseries, ask them, make sure that they're not using any herbicides or any pesticides on the plants, not using any fungicides or anything like that. No. Ask your retailer now then while you're there, after you found out that you're in a good place, that's going to have organic plants and they're going to have some native selection go through, do you want to put a perennial plant that's going to come back year to year in your pot?
[00:41:35.680] - Russ Henry, Guest
Do you want to put it in you plant in your pot, find something that's going to bloom, find something, maybe an herb, maybe something that's a small tomato, what they call a determinant tomato, something that's only going to grow to a predetermined size so that you could have something blue and something fun, something smelling wonderful right outside your door, maybe on the patio or the porch. If you've got if you've got a little access or other rooftop, where have you got some access to put a pot?
[00:42:04.150] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And so any of those kind of blooming herbs, anything like that, also will dry in the the bees and the other pollinators to to your yard and you'll be helping them by helping to feed them.
[00:42:16.210] - Russ Henry, Guest
That's right. Everybody can be a hero no matter how much tiny little bit of space or great big space you have. It's time for folks to start thinking about what can we do as individuals to get out there, protect pollinators and make the world a healthier place.
[00:42:29.590] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, Russ, thank you so much for being with us again today. Thank you for sharing all this information. I'm excited for our spring gardens and excited for all of our listeners to be able to be the hero in their own backyard. So for people who want to learn more about what Russ does or to schedule an appointment with him, visit MinnehahaFallsLandscapes.com and or call, 612-724-5454 to get started.
[00:42:57.490] - Candi Broeffle, Host
You've been listening to Green Tea Conversation son AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota and I am wishing for you a lovely day!