Going Green 1: Planting Trees

Planting trees can be expensive and a lot of hard work, or we can do it the easy way. If you have access to a maple tree, you know that the seeds, or “helicopters”, are plentiful in the spring time. (Thanks to Wikipedia for the picture) 

maple seed "helicopter"

Maple seed or "helicopter"

  These seeds are easy and fun to show the kids how one of God’s great creations work. It is really something to show exactly how a seed germinates as easy as one of these helicopters. The easiest way is to germinate the seed in a wet paper towel. Once it opens up, it can be placed in a cup of dirt. Which reminds me of a friends science fair project…  

Keys to a successful tree:

  1. Catch some helicopters falling from a maple tree
  2. Germinate them, in the house, in a paper towel
  3. Once the seeds have started plant them in a cup of dirt
  4. Once the tree is started, and about 6 to 8″ tall, it can be transplanted to your favorite location outside.
  5. Then get a comfortable chair or hammock and watch it grow!
  6. Don’t mow over the tree by accident when mowing the lawn…
Tree Grown from Seed

Maple Tree Grown from Seed

My tree has taken approximately five years to grow about 30 feet tall from a seed. You will need to trim the lower branches from the base of the tree as it is growing to get a good looking backyard tree. If it is in the woods you may not care about this as much. 

A variation on tip number five is not necessarily sit in a chair for 5 years, but look out the windows every couple of months to see how the tree is coming. 

For more tips on growing seeds in paper towels, be sure to watch the last video for some other planting tips! 


Thanks Mayo Underwood for this great video! (From www.youtube.com)

One Option for Easy Mowing Around Mulch

If you are like me, you have to mow, but don’t have a lot of time. It is tedious to mow around mulch beds and seems to take longer and not look very good. I also have trouble keeping the line between the mulch and the grass defined. There is a solution. One thing that I have started doing is making the mulch areas into what they call raised beds. 


Dig a Trench

You can see that the grass around the mulch is high and disoriented. It is like it doesn’t know which way to grow. The weeds want it to grow one way and the other grass wants it to grow another. Some comes up inside the mulch too. It’s not very pretty. So what I started doing was cutting-in around the mulch beds at about a 30 degree angle and maybe half a shovel deep. One thing this does is creates a very defined edge for the grass to grow. It creates a natural boundary. Growing things like to have boundaries. I keep my kids on a short leash, literally… No, not really, they are not leashed up, yet… Although my very beautiful daughter is almost 15 and I told her she couldn’t date until she turned 15. These are the boundaries that I am talking about. When she turns 15 I may change the boundary to 16… The grass needs a boundary so it knows how to grow. Also, you need to make the boundaries easy to mow. Think about the turning radius of your mower and how easy or hard it is to mow corners. I make all of the corners with large sweeping radius’ that I can easily maneuver around and get all the grass cut.You may be asking what I am doing with all that dirt? That is a good question. About every 5-6ft is a wheel barrow full of dirt and weedy grass. I am using it for something, but I will talk about that later as I still have to see if it works. Another thing that I did this year is to clean out all the old mulch and soil.

Add New Mulch

It is very fertile as it has been breaking down for several years now. Weeds and other foliage grow very well in this soil and I needed to get down to the “bad” dirt or clay and remove the top soil. There is nothing planted in this mulch and I just need it to border the driveway, so all that good stuff is gone.


As I started adding mulch, I made sure that the level was slightly lower than the grass level. This way the mower would sit at an angle and cut the grass on the edge a little shorter than the grass in the yard. This is important for making the edge look defined and clear. The edge is the most important part.
The color or type of mulch is really up to personal taste. I have found that if the beds are made correctly and the edges are sharp, it really doesn’t matter what the mulch looks like, it just needs to look clean.
Steps to clean mulch bed;
  1. clean out old mulch if nothing is to grow in that area
  2. spray with foliage remover chemical to ensure this happens like Roundup (R)
  3. cut-in edge with a shovel
  4. add new mulch to bed slightly lower than edge of grass
  5. add plants and shrubs as needed

I am sure there are other ways to do this, but this is a good way! It is a lot of work and a lot of digging, but we all need more exercise anyway. Good Luck!