Is your lawn full of thatch? Mike McGrath, host of You Bet Your Garden, will reveal the surprising cause and even more shocking cure for that unsightly layer of brown down low. Plus your fabulous phone calls.
Question of the Week:
“My lawn has a heavy layer of thatch. Is there anything I can use to encourage it to decompose? Does this mean I am over-fertilizing?”
— Gayle in Columbus, OH
Joy from Ringoes, NJ planted amethyst hydrangeas last year and wants to know if she made a mistake by pruning them early this November. She pruned the dead flowers and pulled the dried flower heads off.
Mike informed Joy there is a difference in pruning and deadheading, which is removing the dried flower heads. The downside to deadheading is that birds may feed if there are seeds on the flower, and will sometimes use it for nesting. He also told Joy that pruning in November was not the best choice to make, although pulling her dried flower heads off would not have damaged the plant. Her flowers should be fine if she didn’t cut off many branches.
“Even if you have done the worst damage it would only cost you one season of bloom…the roots are very hearty.”
Mike ends with assuring Joy that these flowers have “inherent bloom in them” so don’t be discouraged in winter when they look like sticks.
“Leave the plant alone so it can have enough biomass to survive winter.”
Exposed Tree Roots
Bob in Coatesville, PA has exposed tree roots in his backyard and wants to spread compost around it. He also wants to know whether or not planting grass seed now will benefit him by next spring. He has collected compost for over twenty years with grass clippings and leaves and wants to revive his dying grass.
Mike suggests that if the roots are a significant problem, then Bob can cover the tree roots. “If you are tripping over the roots, or they are a problem, start spreading compost around lightly two inches deep; if it doesn’t cover, then wait and do it again.”
As for Bob’s dying grass, Mike advises not to plant grass seed, as it would lose its vigor in the winter. He should wait until mid-August, then sow his seed, but make sure that it matches his lawn. Bob also should also space out his grass seed in proximity to his tree. The area underneath the tree should be free of other plants.
“Grass does not grow naturally beneath the canopy of a large tree.”
Bob should create an area under the tree that looks nicely mulched with black compost around it.