Posts tagged April

One Call

Following is a good reminder from Iowa One Call for Iowans thinking about planting trees or doing other digging this season:


Earth Day and Arbor Day Signal Outdoor Activity – Remember to call Iowa One Call before you dig!


As Earth Day and Arbor Day quickly approach, on April 22 and 25, many Iowans are looking forward to getting outdoors to plant a tree or undertake other outdoor gardening, landscaping or home improvement projects. But before turning a spade or firing up the post hole digger, Iowans must remember to call Iowa One Call before they dig. While April highlights Earth and Arbor Days and the start of the digging season, April has also been proclaimed Iowa One Call Month by Iowa Lt. Governor Patty Judge. Iowa One Call Month marks the beginning of a 2008 digging safety campaign to remind Iowans of Iowa’s law to call 811 or (800) 292-8989 to have underground facilities located and marked before digging or excavating.


“By proclaiming the month of April as Iowa One Call Month, we remind all professional contractors, homeowners, businesses and anyone engaged in any type of digging activity to call Iowa One Call before doing any excavating. Individuals who fail to use Iowa One Call may risk civil liabilities, serious injury or even death,” states the signed proclamation.


“Iowa One Call’s purpose is to protect people and property,” said Ben Booth, public relations coordinator for Iowa One Call. “By locating and marking underground utilities before digging begins, Iowa One Call saves lives, prevents damage to the environment and helps to avoid service interruption. Individuals who fail to contact Iowa One Call prior to digging are subject to civil penalties that may range from $1,000 to $10,000 per violation. This is not something that just applies to people engaged in professional construction excavation. Homeowners and farmers can be held liable as well. So the safe and smart thing to do is always call first.”


The Iowa One Call Center phone lines – at 811 or (800) 292-8989 – are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a team of 40 customer service representatives. Notification to Iowa One Call must be made at least 48 hours in advance (excluding weekends and legal holidays). While residential gardening does not require utility locates, it is a good idea to notify Iowa One Call before digging a new garden or using equipment, such as a power tiller.


Iowa law defines “excavation” as an operation in which a structure or earth, rock or other material in or on the ground is moved, removed, compressed or otherwise displaced by means of any tools or equipment. This includes, but is not limited to, digging, drilling, driving, grading, scraping, trenching, tiling, tunneling, ditching and demolition of structures.


Booth adds, “Even seemingly harmless activities like pounding a piece of re-rod in the ground to hold a landscape timber in place or digging a hole for a new shrub can damage an underground line. People also need to know that once utilities are marked, they need to avoid digging within 18 inches on either side of flags and paint markings.”


Calling Iowa One Call is Easy and Free

The national One Call 811 phone number was established last year. It is a standardized number for callers anywhere in the country to reach the respective One Call Center in their state. Iowans can reach Iowa One Call at 811, (800) 292-8989 or via the Web at There are no charges for the phone call. Iowa One Call’s service is free of charge to anyone requesting a utility locate.


About Iowa One Call

Iowa One Call is a nonprofit organization with over 1,500 members, including city and county utilities, electric companies, gas companies, water and sewer districts, telephone companies and cable TV and Internet providers. Iowa One Call coordinates the marking of underground facilities throughout the state. Each year, Iowa One Call personnel handle more than 400,000 incoming calls and coordinate over 2 million underground facility locates within Iowa. Historically, the Center’s peak period is from April through October, when customer service representatives average more than 45,000 calls per month. For more information, visit

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Cool annuals


                                   By Master Gardener Carolann Sears

            For gardeners anxious to get out into their gardens, early spring is the time to plant cool weather annuals.  After a hardening-off period, and as soon as the soil can be worked, there are a large number of annuals that can be bought and planted as early as April.

            A bed of smiling pansy faces next to an entry way door can lift your spirits on a cool spring day.  Purple and yellow violas planted in beds with tulips or daffodils contrast beautifully and bring color into your garden through May.

            Stocks and Dianthus are especially fragrant mixed with containers of Osteospermum (African Daisy) and will brighten up your deck or patio.  Some varieties, like the symphony and soprano series of Osterspermum, have been developed to be more heat-tolerant and will continue to bloom throughout the summer here in Iowa.

            Check with your nursery or green house to see if they have “hardened-off” the plants they have in stock.  Even plants that love cool weather need to be planted with care and some forethought.  They have been raised in a warm green house, without winds, and have been subjected only to filtered sunlight.  Your goal is to increase exposure to wind, sun and drought-gradually.

            Don’t put your new plants into the ground immediately.  Give them an adjustment period of about a week in a sheltered area, out of the wind and direct sunlight, perhaps next to the house.  Watch the weather, and if it’s expected to drop below freezing, keep them in an unheated garage overnight.  Although a light snow won’t hurt them if they are in the ground, cover them as you would in the fall, to keep them from freezing.

            Prepare your planting bed, amending the soil with organic material if it is too sandy or has heavy clay.  Soil that is ready to be worked will hold together loosely when squeezed lightly.  Dig a hole wider than the pot your plants come in, loosening up the soil, and replant your annuals at the same level they were in the container when purchased.  For container gardens, use lightweight, well-drained potting soil or a soilless mix.  Annuals prefer to be watered deeply, but infrequently, needing about an inch of moisture per week.  Water in the mornings, so foliage will dry before nightfall.  Fertilize lightly once or twice during the spring growing season, keeping in mind too much fertilizer may encourage foliage, but inhibit flowering.

            Most cool weather annuals will bolt (flower and decline) during Iowa’s hot humid summers, so plant them with perennials or other annuals that will bloom throughout the summer.  The cool weather annuals may surprise you and bloom again in fall.         

            For more information on annuals, I would recommend a publication available through Iowa State Extension titled Annuals (PM 1942).  It is one of a series of beautiful color publications that not only classifies annuals for use as cut flowers, shade, and drought tolerance, etc., but features color photographs with clear descriptions.

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