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So you're at home. Need a little expert yard and garden advice?

By Luke Heikkila

While sheltering-in-place efforts vary by county, recent data visualizations created by the Star Tribune clearly show that COVID-19 is prompting Minnesotans to stay home. This is a good thing. Thankfully, spring has sprung early in the Twin Cities. This, too, is a good thing. Just one year ago, Minnesotans were about to experience a soul-crushing, multi-inch snow fall, so 50-degree days and the frequent appearance of the sun are a boon to homebound spirits.

Perhaps this combination of events is drawing you to your yard and gardens.

If you have a yard and gardens to tend to, chances are that you might have heard even the faintest hint of that siren's song calling you to get an early start on those seven or eight months of continuous toil in the great backyard. Keep in mind that this is Minnesota: We could still experience a soul-crushing snow storm or the thermometer's plunge down to 20 degrees.

In fact, as I write this, I can see a thin layer of ice on the birdbath in the backyard.

Editor’s Note: As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds in Minnesota, certain details in our stories about the impact of the virus may become outdated within hours, days or weeks of our publication. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus in Minnesota, please visit the websites for the Office of Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan or the Minnesota Department of Health.

The question remains: What can we do in our yards now that will ultimately avoid harm later?

To find out, I dialed up Julie Weisenhorn, a professor and extension educator within the Department of Horticulture at the University of Minnesota. Because I was trying to tighten my skills as a professional Zoom interviewer, I didn't ask her if she has a green thumb. After all, I'm sure both of her thumbs are the shade of new springtime shoots. No matter, she was very open to sharing information about if and when we should be tackling our list of outdoor projects.


With home ownership, comes a yard and perhaps a garden; with yards and gardens, come questions. Fortunately, the University of Minnesota Extension site publishes a plethora of resources on pretty much anything that can be raised and grown outdoors. Whether dealing with plants, shrubs, grasses, annuals or perennials, Minnesota-specific information is available to you. More of a visual learner? They've got you covered with blogs and how-to videos. Prefer a podcast? They have that base covered, too, so you can listen while you tend.

Regardless of the color of your thumbs, will the summer of 2020 be the year of wonderful gardens in the Twin Cities? If there's one upside to a stay-at-home mandate, it might be that we start to see our homes a little differently. Epic gardens may just be the result.

Have your own masterful gardening tips to share? Spread the knowledge in the comments below. Happy gardening!

With the Twitter moniker @BitterAbtLitter, Roseville resident Des Mueller aims to make the world around her a little cleaner than she left it. One picked-up piece of trash at a time, she may just start the perfect social-distancing movement. 

In a newfound era of social distancing, two longtime friends got together to play a game of disc golf as a way to feel normal when everything else is anything but. Keeping a minimum six-foot distance, Twin Cities Producer Luke Heikkila tagged along to learn how others are finding creative ways to be social together – and spaced far apart at the same time.

Like so many Minnesotans, Twin Cities PBS Producer Luke Heikkila found himself suddenly camped out at his dining-room-table-turned-desk after a work-from-home mandate. But then he realized something: His neighbors were spending a lot of time outside. So he decided to check in with them to see how they’re faring in this time of COVID-19.

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