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THE ROCK FATHER Magazine has partnered with Life of Dad and DynaTrap for the #GuardYourYard promotion.

Over the past few years, we've had a growing threat here at Rock Father HQ, an enemy whose numbers have been increasing, all while the usual tactics of combat have been proving ineffective as our adversary has evolved. These bloodsucking beasts are, of course, mosquitoes, and their presence truly has increased to nearly-unbearable numbers at times, managing to be "vampires of fun" - sucking the enjoyment out of our all-too-short summer season here in Illinois. I've tried everything, as have my neighbors and the county. As the mosquitoes locally have brought with them greater threats like West Nile and now the infamous Zika Virus, protecting our children has become something of paramount importance, and there is no single solution, but with the right combination of weapons in our fight, we're finally making progress. This year, we've added an impressive new tool to our arsenal in the form of the DynaTrap XL - a cutting edge tool in our war against mosquitoes and other flying pests. With no chemicals and no propane, we've had our DynaTrap XL installed since early May, simply plugged-in and running 24/7 to help in the fight, and it's been working - an impressive feat, considering how many other options I've tried that have failed.

When we moved into the house that would become Rock Father HQ back in 2010, in front of the garage was one of the plants that would end up sticking around - a relatively young Clematis plant that didn't have a proper trellis to support it. Clematis is a climbing vine, so to get it to grow and flower well, a trellis is essential, so that first year I purchased a black metal trellis that did the job this past six seasons, but we were ready for something with a little more style. Because of where the plant resides, we didn't want to go too tall (there's lights above it) but nothing we'd seen at retailers really grabbed me... but eventually, inspiration struck in our own backyard, where a small pile of fence scraps had been tossed aside and were headed for the curb this spring. 

It was nearly two years ago exactly that I first posted about Fall Creek Farm & Nursery's BrazelBerries, a fantastic collection of berry plants that are designed to be both edible and ornamental. Specifically, BrazelBerries are specially-bred Blueberry, Raspberry and Blackberry plants that can thrive in containers on a deck or patio, or be planted in-ground, depending on where you live. For our first batch. The Rock Daughters™ and I planted two Raspberry Shortcake plants along with two Blueberry plants - Jelly Bean and Blueberry Glaze. Likely due to my own error in winterizing (we live on the border of climate zones and the cold can be harsh and unpredictable), our blueberries didn't survive the first winter... but our raspberries did, and in 2015 they bore some of the most delicious berries that we've ever eaten - anywhere. Our entire family enjoyed them right from the bush, and I even spotted the dogs trying to take a nibble. So what's in-store for our BrazelBerries in 2016? Well, our raspberries are back, plus the folks at Fall Creek sent us four new plants - a Raspberry Shortcake, a Pink Icing Blueberry, and two brand-new varieties - Perpetua (a true double-cropping blueberry) and one that won't be available for purchase until the Spring of 2017... Baby Cakes, a sweet, thornless blackberry that can provide up to two crops per year. It was planting time!

There's always certain things that mark the arrival of a season... the first Pumpkin Spice of Fall... the first playing of the Holiday Music... and the arrival of The Garden Jawa. Whether his appearance denotes the coming of spring, summer or both is debatable, but without fail The Garden Jawa has been a fixture of our landscape since 2010. Originally offered as an exclusive through the Official STAR WARS Store that once existed at StarWars.com (they had some great things), The Garden Jawa is long out-of-production, so we're happy to have the little scavenger standing watch beneath our windmill every year. This week, he made his annual return... garden gloves on, hose and tools ready to rock.

Are you ready for Summer? With the official start of the season just days away, my friends at WORX want to help get you ready for some late Spring clean-up, and inspire you to get working on your yard. Today (Thursday May 19th, 2016) at 1PM EST, WORX will be hosting a Spring Cleaning Live Demo & Flash Sale to help you get your yard ready for summer! They'll be featuring the JawSaw & GT. The Jawsaw is the first and only fully enclosed chainsaw featuring a patented system that provides automatic lubrication and tightening of the chain. The GT is an extremely powerful string trimmer, precision edger, and mini mower -- all in one lightweight, cordless machine.

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