Play with new tools. This weekend I managed to wreak havoc on the weed-tree world with a tree puller, otherwise known as a tree wrench, uprooter, extractigator, or come-along stick. This is best described as a 4-foot bar with a wrench and a foot welded on, so that the wrench grabs the base of the tree, and the bar, resting on the foot as a fulcrum, provides enough leverage to pry the tree right up out of the ground. The harder you lean, the tighter it grabs the trunk. In an hour I was able to yank up a dozen of the trees that had insinuated themselves in my blackberry patch, including a 2-inch diameter Norway maple. As Archimedes once said, “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”

Reclaim a weed patch with lasagna. 1. Cover weeds with a layer of cardboard, making sure there are no gaps. 2. Cover cardboard with a generous layer (2 to 3 inches) of soil and compost. Mine came from emptying out all the miscellaneous pots and market-packs from plants I killed. 3. Layer on 2 to 3 inches of mulch, dried leaves, old woodchips, or pine needles. Or the trash you sifted out of your compost when you turned it last, mixed with grass clippings. 4. Take all the plants still lurking in the corners of the yard and plant them here, in the layer between the cardboard and the mulch. Water well. 5. Marvel at how you’ve taken all the negatives in your garden and combined them into one positive, beautiful project.

Smell a lightning bug. Last night I accidentally smashed one on my railing, and the scent of it took me right back to my childhood. A calming flashback much needed in this crazy world.

Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( and winner of the AHS Great American Gardener Jane L. Taylor award.