Get your backyard in bay-friendly shape

The Baltimore Sun

My New Year's resolution is to improve the environment, starting in my own backyard. How should I begin?

Make your yard a Bay-Wise yard! Choose from three University of Maryland Bay-Wise Yardstick programs: Landscapes Without Lawns, Landscapes With Lawns or Vegetable Gardens. Earn "inches" for each action you take to make your piece of Maryland healthier and bay-friendly. Then call the Master Gardener Program in your county (mastergardener.umd.edu ) to find out how to have your yard certified and receive an attractive sign to display in your front yard. Getting Bay-Wise-certified makes a fun family project. To start, call us or get the yardsticks on our Web site under Publications Online - Chesapeake Bay Preservation & the Home Landscape.

The Phaeleonopsis orchid I was given last year flowered for an incredibly long time. Now I have only the flower stalk left, but it's still green. Should I cut it off to encourage more flowering?

Don't cut off your orchid's bare green flower stalks. They will reflower. When they turn brown, then remove them.

Ellen Nibali, a horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and Jon Traunfeld is the director of the Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers free gardening information. Call the center's help line at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions at hgic.umd.edu.

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