Q: Would it harm a tree if I built a simple tree house in it? It would be nothing elaborate: a deck, three walls and a roof. I was thinking of the nails that would have to be used to make firm steps for my grandchildren and for the support braces.
A: A few nails or bolts in a tree trunk will not harm the tree. The tree needs to be solid to ...Read more
Q: We built a new home, and sod was laid yesterday. I did a fair amount of watering yesterday. How much do I water from here on? I have heard all types of things ... as much as six hours a day for the first two weeks. What do you recommend?
A: It is only necessary to water new grass (sod or seed) to keep the soil damp. Not waterlogged and not ...Read more
Q: My neighbor has a plum tree near our yard. This year, I have discovered about a dozen plum tree sprouts in my flower beds and lawn. Is there a way to control them, short of removing his tree? Digging them out is leaving holes in the grass and beds.
A: First, you need to see if there are sprouts coming up from the roots or if they are new ...Read more
Q: I bought a half-barrel to use as a planter, but it does not have drainage holes. Do I need holes in the pot, or can I just add some gravel to the bottom for drainage?
A: If you think you might use the pot for some other purpose in the future that will need to hold water, I would not add the holes. Otherwise, you should definitely drill the ...Read more
Q: I was wondering about grubs because my neighbor said his yard had lots of grubs last fall. When should we start to treat them?
A: How bad were the grubs in his lawn last year? Most people are caught up in the craze of killing every grub, when, in fact, most grubs do very little harm.
Almost every yard has grubs year-round. In our lawns, ...Read more
Q: We moved into this house two years ago. We were told there was a 3-year-old apple tree in the backyard. Last year, there was no fruit, but this year, the tree has thousands of small apples. First, is this normal? One year of no fruit and the next with too much? Second, will the tree drop a lot of apples prematurely, or do we need to prune ...Read more
Q: We planted a new vegetable garden with a lot of different vegetable seeds. We killed the existing lawn grass by scraping the plants off, and we did some digging to loosen the soil. We covered the garden with 2 to 4 inches of bark mulch from the city to keep out the weeds. The city grinds up branches from tree trimming around power lines. We ...Read more
Q: We bought some strawberry plants at the big-box store and planted them. They seem to be growing just fine. I did some reading about the strawberry variety we bought, and some of the sources said to cut off all of the flowers this year. The plants are supposed to grow more strawberries next year. If they are flowering now, aren't they capable ...Read more
Q: As a Master Gardener, I'm disheartened your article on pest control is promoting GMO plants as a means of pest control for home gardens.
A: As a former instructor of Master Gardeners, I am disheartened that you are confused about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Sometimes, people argue about a controversial topic without knowing the ...Read more
Q: Can you help me remember the difference between annuals and perennials? For some reason, I have it in my mind that a perennial is a plant that I have to keep planting and an annual is a one that replaces itself annually. I know that is wrong, but how do I remember it correctly?
A: Have you ever had to make an annual payment for something ...Read more
Q: I am planting some 6- to 10-foot-tall fruit trees and a couple of small shade trees. Is there really a benefit to painting the tree trunks or wrapping them in that spiral wrap stuff?
A: How many trees do you see in nature that are painted or wrapped? Tree trunks do not normally need to be painted or wrapped in plastic pipe, wire or cloth. ...Read more