Get the best local gardening advice with a call or email to the Extension office

Extension Master Gardener Laura McEnery is among the experts who help answer questions on the gardening hotline.
Extension Master Gardener Laura McEnery is among the experts who help answer questions on the gardening hotline. Johnson County K-State Research and Extension

Where do you go for information when you have a lawn or garden question?

If you’re like most Americans, you turn to the internet. Or your friends or neighbors.

Unfortunately, neither of these sources may be reliable.

The internet changed the world. Information is now available at our fingertips. As a fellow gardener, I use this tool to check out the latest plants. Often I shake my head in disbelief at some of the recommendations I find.

As for your friends and neighbors, I must admit their information can be just as scary as the internet. Many times they are armed with misinformation they got from other friends or the internet. Like the Telephone Game, just because information is passed from one source to the next does not make it correct.

What if I told you there is a source for factual, researched-based information? And like these other sources, it’s also free.

I happen to work for this particular source. And it’s more than 100 years old.

That source is the national Cooperative Extension Service.

Cooperative Extension, or Extension for short, is the original Google. We cornered the market on reliable information long before you could search for information on your desktop or your phone.

In my particular program area, lawn and garden information, this national Extension network is available from land grant universities in all 50 states. It is still the best source for accurate answers to how, when and why lawn and garden questions.

Extension is available in a number of ways.

You can pick up the phone and call. Or you can visit a local office.

However — and this is where the internet helps — the websites of local Extension offices are the most convenient way to get personalized information.

Or, as with our office, you can send an email to a real, live person who has knowledge of the local conditions.

Sometimes finding Extension information on the web can be a challenge. Extension resources always end in with an .edu domain, which are limited to accredited institutions of higher learning. They are frequently found below commercial websites that pay to have their links appear higher in internet searches.

So if you are going to take the time to search for an answer, get the right one, not the quick, easy one. Luckily, Kansas City has excellent Extension resources on both sides of the state line.

I’m a local faculty member of Kansas State University and work for the Johnson County K-State Extension office in Olathe.

If you need an honest, accurate answer to a gardening question, use our gardening hotline. For the best assistance, please include photos with your emails.

You can call us at 913-715-7050 or email garden.help@jocogov.org.

In Missouri, contact mggkc@gmail.com or 816-833-8733.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter which office you call. Cooperative Extension’s mission is to provide research-based information, and we want you to succeed.

Dennis Patton is a horticulture agent with Kansas State University Research and Extension. Got a question for him or other university extension experts? Email them to garden.help@jocogov.org.

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