Normally, August weather is hot and dry all across the country. In spite of that, it is still a good month to do many gardening and landscaping tasks.
Many vegetable crops produce more and have higher-quality fruit in cool weather, when the plant is not stressed. During the first half of August, plant beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, ...Read more
Q: I thought I got a poison oak rash when I went camping, but I looked it up, and it doesn't grow in the area we went camping. I think the real culprit is a poison sumac plant growing in my hedge that I trimmed before we left for the weekend. How do I get rid of it without damaging the hedge?
A: Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are ...Read more
Q: Everything under one of my large potted plants on the patio is turning black. What isn't black is sticky. What is wrong with this plant?
A: From the pictures you sent me, we know that the black stuff is sooty mold, but it isn't the real problem. The real problem is that the plant has scale insects.
There are many species of scale insects, ...Read more
Q: I have a problem in my lawn. Worms make it so bumpy that I can hardly walk in my yard without twisting my ankle. Any suggestions?
A: The bumps in the lawn are made of worm castings (poop). Most of the time, the castings are small piles that are not a problem, but they can be large enough to make walking in a lawn uncomfortable. We picture ...Read more
Q: I have shredded bark mulch on all of my flower beds. Lately, I have noticed what looks like wet cornmeal on the mulch. These areas turn foamy and then turn leathery before turning into a brown powder. I spray them with the hose, but the spots just keep turning up in new places.
A: Your mulch has what used to be called "dog vomit fungus." Now...Read more
Q: We want to trim our trees, but we were told not to cut off any branches in the summertime. Why is that? The weather is warm, and we can be outside, and we don't want to trim the trees in the winter when it is cold. Is it really better for the trees to prune in winter?
A: There are several benefits if trees are not pruned in the summer. First...Read more
Q: I have just moved into my newly built house and would like to plant some shade trees near the house to help shade it during the summer. The back of the house faces west and takes a beating from the sun. If you would, please provide advice on the species of tree and the most advantageous planting location. I would like for the tree to be fast-...Read more
Q: I just bought a property that has a small pond on it. I thought the pond was covered in algae. I was told that it is covered in duckweed. The duckweed is apparently protecting the fish and frogs from herons and other fish-eating birds. Even though I would like to keep the animals, I don't like the look of the duckweed. Any suggestions?
A: ...Read more
Q: I was in a park recently, and there was a sign on a very pretty plant that said it was a tree peony. It was only 3 feet tall, so I suppose it will grow. I have never heard of a tree peony. I am looking for a small tree for my yard. Does a tree peony make a good ornamental tree?
A: I'm sorry to tell you that no, it won't grow into a small ...Read more
Q: I don't know if I have a good problem or a bad one. There are a bunch of new shrubs growing in my yard. They are growing in the flower bed in the back, and there is a line of them growing under the power lines behind our yard. They have pretty yellow and white flowers that are nicely fragrant. I think they are honeysuckles.
I would like to ...Read more
Q: I bought a wisteria vine from a mail order catalog. When it arrived, it was about as thick as a pencil and about 3 feet long. It didn't even have leaves. I planted it, and to my surprise, it grew just fine. After just a few years, the trunk was about as thick as a baseball bat. Unfortunately, a record cold winter two years ago killed the top....Read more
Question: How much water should I circulate in my water garden? I read conflicting reports saying to add more water anywhere from once a day to once an hour. I want the water to be clear, and I do have some goldfish in the pond, with a few lilies and other plants. My pond holds about 1,800 gallons.
Answer: This is a common question with a ...Read more
Q: I know you have occasionally written about birds in the yard and garden, but I haven't paid too much attention to the birds in my yard. Over the past few weeks of being stuck inside, I have noticed a lot more birds in the tree outside my office window. I assume they are migrating. There have been several with red feathers, and some with ...Read more