Calvin R. Finch, Ph.D., Conservation
Manager, San Antonio Water System,
Q. My lawn is finally starting to grow but has dead, splotchy areas. What will speed its recovery?
A. The splotchy areas could have been caused by a lot of things last year including grubs, freeze, and drought. The good news is that St. Augustine and Bermuda fill in quickly once the growing weather begins. If you have not fertilized, do so now with slow release lawn fertilizer. Keep the lawn mowed to discourage weeds and let the grass do its stuff. Be patient.
Q. I see people bagging their leaves for the garbage men. Please remind folks how valuable leaves are for mulch and compost. We should not be wasting them by putting them in the landfill. If they end up in the dump we waste the leaves nutrients and soil conditioning value, plus we have to pay for the hauling and the landfill space!
A. I agree, you explained the dilemma well.
Q. Do hackberries have any redeeming quality? They are driving me crazy on the fenceline. I find it hard to control them.
A. Hackberries develop into large, attractive shade trees on deep soils like river bottoms. Their greatest redeeming quality is that they produce berries in the fall that the birds consume. They also deposit the seeds in their excrement on your fenceline. Remedy is a product that can be applied to the trunk or foliage of hackberries to kill them. As with all pesticides, follow the label instructions.
Q. We like both zinnias and marigolds but only have room for one in our garden. Which would you use?
A. Use zinnias this spring and marigolds in the fall. Dreamland zinnias are available as transplants and work well. Marigolds are better performers in the fall because the spider mite pressures are reduced as temperatures cool. Plant fall marigolds in late July for fall bloom.