Tom Krauska would like you to spend some time outside this weekend.

The heart and soul of the Beautify Crestwood gardening committee is making it his personal mission, in his retirement from the post office, to get people to think beyond grass and evergreens in their yards — for their sanity, for their enjoyment and for the environment — all at once.

“People are so busy,” Krauska said. “They may want to start gardening, but mom and dad both work and the kids are going to multiple events. The outside, the grassy areas, the potential garden — all of it is the last thing on the family list.”

So this man, who was known as “Tom Terrific” on his postal routes, talks to anyone and everyone who will listen about gardening — specifically pollinator gardens, which is his specialty. He’ll give you seeds, suggestions, motivation, inspiration — anything you need to get off your couch and onto your lawn, or off your phone during your walk in the neighborhood to stop and smell the flowers.

Here are three “Tom Terrific” suggestions on how to begin a garden:

Start small. You only need a couple of plants, whether vegetables, herbs or flowers, whatever you want. “I don’t tell people what to grow, that’s entirely up to you,” he said. “But if you try to do something too big, it will be daunting and you will give up.”

Location, location location. Choose the spot in your yard carefully, he said. The best location is one of a half day in the sun and the other in the shade. “Location is one of the most important factors for beginners, because you’re going to want to enjoy it,” he said. “Close to your house, by a window, anywhere you can see it.”

It doesn’t have to be difficult. “I’m a proponent of no-till gardening,” he said. Basically, just cover the grass with sheets of newspaper or cardboard and then put a good, compositing soil on top of it all. “The newspaper will kill the weeds and plants will thrive in the new soil environment,” he said. “And now you’ve got a garden bed.”

His message is getting out there. Beautify Crestwood, the community group started by Alderwoman Mary Stadter a few years ago, is thriving. A recent event at Whitecliff Park distributed 500 seed packets.

So get your hands dirty this weekend. Beautify Crestwood is putting in a garden in at the Crestwood Fire Department and could use your help at 9 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday, April 20). More information is available at

Or start your own garden. Krauska will be happy to help. Email him at, he’ll give you directions to his house and maybe a few seeds from his pollinator garden.

“With anything you’re interested in, you want to share it,” he said.