Garden Guru Mike McGrath

Feb 24, 2017, 13:53 PM
One of the annual treats of the Capital Remodel + Garden Show is having WTOP-FM’s garden editor Mike McGrath on our stage sharing his tips and counsel in his well-known irascible way. He’s a Washington DC legend and he’s one of our favorite headliners.

Mike McGrath

McGrath is also the host of the nationally syndicated Public Radio show, You Bet Your Garden, and a contributing editor and columnist for Greenprints magazine. Mike is also the former editor-in-chief of Organic Gardening magazine, the winner of four consecutive "Best in Show" awards for major exhibits staged at the Philadelphia Flower Show and from 1993 until 1997, he was the gardening expert on the weekend edition of The Today Show. His books include “You Bet Your Garden Guide to Growing Great Tomatoes”, “Mike McGrath’s Book of Compost”, “Kitchen Garden A to Z”, and “You Bet Your Tomatoes!”

Q: What’s the best way for homeowners to incorporate the latest trends into their outdoor space? How can you tell what has staying power and what doesn’t?
Mike: “That’s easy—stay away from ‘trends’. That’s how your Aunt wound up with avocado-colored kitchen appliances. Stick with the classics.”

Q: What are your best tips to help homeowners with curb appeal year-round?
Mike: “Year-round appeal without excessive work means lots of evergreens and plants with ‘four season interest’ like river birch and other trees with exfoliating bark. Be aware of the plants that are just plain ugly in winter, like hydrangeas and lilacs.”

Q: What should homeowners look for when it comes to working with a landscaper?
Mike: “His or her other work. Ask for outdoor tours of some of the homes he or she has worked on. Don’t hire based on pretty pictures.”

Q: What gardening project do you remember fondly? Why?
Mike: “Planting a live Christmas tree successfully. Because we were young, adult beverages were involved and yet no one lost a finger.”

Q: What’s your biggest gardening pet peeve?
Mike: “Dyed wood mulch piled against the trunks of trees; ‘volcano mulching’ means an early death for the plant. And it looks awful.”

Q: What’s one thing you think people should splurge on when it comes to their outdoor space?
Mike: “Hardscape. Plants are great, but safe walking surfaces allow you to enjoy them much more—and will lead you to spend much more time outdoors.”

Q: What’s one simple thing homeowners can do to improve their landscape or garden?
Mike: “Stop using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. And don’t pile mulch up against your plants. And especially don’t use mulch that’s the color of a Burger King!”

Mike lives in Eastern Pennsylvania with his family. He says he raises a bed organic garden, a raspberry patch, a peach orchard and an inconsistent number of rescued cats. He plays pinball, enjoys baseball, grows way too many tomatoes, likes garlic the best, and will not eat lima beans, no matter how much you pay him. Mike will be at the show to share his expertise!

Capital Remodel and Garden
FEBRUARY 24 - 26, 2017