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A Few Easy Tips On Sustainable Gardening from Gardener Rob Sperl

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Garden PlanningRob Sperl lives on a quiet street in Warrenville, Illinois. His garden is young and still developing its roots. Rob invited me to his home a while ago to visit and I was delighted to spend time with him on his back porch patio learning about what makes his garden “tick”.

Rob works for the Wheaton Park District as the Director of Planning and has a very strong background in Land Management and Landscape Architecture. Among his many community achievements, he is also the Chairman for the Friends of Warrenville Parks and is very interested in conservation and nature as it applies to the community. After many years and a few homes, he has fallen in love with gardening, particularly gardening around his latest home – a Cape Cod – which he shares with his wife, Katie.

“This home and garden is perfectly suited for the two of us,” said Rob. Indeed, Rob has an expansive yard for entertaining, but has filled his planting niches with a strong mixture of easy-to-care-for natives such as Prairie Dropseed, Native Black-Eyed Susan and Prairie Smoke and mixed them with traditional  drought tolerant perennials such as Russian Sage, Yarrow and Hosta. I was particularly taken with his giant nodding Native Black-Eyed Susan; blooming a sharp yellow color and spreading over six feet wide. Just beautiful!

The trees and shrubs on the property include Sumac, Holly, Cotoneaster, Pine, Maple and a delicate Japanese Maple against his front window. They offer shade to keep theGarden Planning home cool in the Summer and lose their leaves in the Winter offering the home additional warmth from the sun. A very environmentally sound plan which helps Rob keep his utility bills down seasonally.

Rob believes in being environmentally friendly and composts regularly. I was quite AMAZED at his 100 gallon trough he uses as a rain barrel. He dips watering pails into the deep trough and distributes throughout his yard. Follow Rob’s rule of watering only before the hour of 10:00 AM and after the hour of 6:00 PM to prevent water evaporation. He does not cover his water trough, but does suggest “hitting” or “moving” the water regularly to prevent mosquito infestation.

My advice is to follow Rob’s environmentally friendly example with his simple tips when planning your next garden:

  • Save your utility bills by carefully planning your tree and shrub planting
  • Utilize a water barrel or water trough to collect rain water and save on your water bill
  • Plant native plants so you do not have to water as frequently

Happy Garden Planning!

Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!

Where the $@*% is the Army of Gardeners? Get Off Your Duffs and Make A Difference – Feed the Hungry With Your Lawn

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  1. Exactly! Imagine having people with a stronger knowledge level about sustainability – helping people more – seems like a great way to be for a park district or city, right?


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