Mahan: Around Home and Farm

By Jerry Mahan

I was ask this past fall about the plusses and minuses of allowing vine type plants like English Ivy to grow on the outside of your home. I see it often particularly on brick homes. From the positive side it makes the home look like a part of the landscape and does keep the brick or siding a little cooler because it shields it from the sunlight.

On the negative side the vines provide a great “ladder” to your house for ants and other insects. The vines over time can destroy the brick mortar however. While the ivy keeps the outside of your home cooler it also does not allow the siding or exterior to dry out quickly so damage to wood or a change in color of the siding could happen. Vines can also grow under the siding resulting in more avenues for insects to enter the home as well as weather related problems from water, ice, snow and insects.

Lawn services

For some homeowners the move to contract out the application of fertilizer, weed control and insect control to your lawn makes sense in terms of time, equipment, timeliness of application and expenses. Some homeowners cannot physically do the work as well. There are some pitfalls to avoid however. Get quotes from more than one company and do not ask questions from a company until you have their quote in hand to compare it with others. Make sure that you are comparing like quotes in terms of what will be done.

Look for differences in the amount of square feet in the estimates. From personal experience I have seen as much as a thousand square feet difference in what was quoted vs. the actual area to be treated. Look closely at the problems the companies see in your lawn and do not be hesitant to question their evaluation.

Ask for names of clients they have for checking their work record. Once you decide on a company ask that paper copies outlining all lawn applications be left with you to make sure what is being applied to your lawn as well as when the application was made.

This can help narrow down what may have caused damage to your lawn/landscape plants or your neighbor’s. For more help in selecting a lawn care service review these OSU Ext. fact sheets. “What to Look for in a Lawn Care Service” (HYG-4025-88) and “Choosing a Pest Management Company”, HYG-2178-11 (pdf). All of these can be found on the OSU Ext. website at

Caught my eye

The following information caught my eye in the last few weeks. According to Andy Niehaus DVM of the OSU Veterinary College one of the reasons there are fewer large animal veterinarians is many graduates of the of veterinary colleges have over $100,000 debt in college expenses and small animal practices come nearer to paying off this amount.

At the Farm Science Review in Sept. last fall Maria Marshall of the Purdue Ag. Econ Dept. feels the “elephant in the room” with many farmers is them not wanting to talk about transferring the farm, assets or business to the next generation.

On Nov. 16 of 2015 the company Farmland Partners Inc. (NYSE:FPI) purchased 22,300 acres of Illinois farmland for 197 million dollars. To put in perspective Greene Co. has 140,000 acres of farmland according to the 2012 Ag Census so this sale would be roughly 16 percent of the county.

Jerry Mahan is a retired OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources for Greene County. He can be reached by email at: [email protected]

Jerry Mahan is a retired OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources for Greene County. He can be reached by email at: [email protected]