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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

Other April Links

Fixing Uneven, Mossy Lawn

I have depressions in my yard that are actually peaks or ridges caused by tree roots, mainly a cherry tree. They make it difficult to mow and are unsightly. In addition I have a moss problem in this same area and I've already applied a liquid moss killer that has turned some moss white and some brown. Do I need to remove the moss before I go further? I'd like to put down Dolomite lime, 3-way soil mix, fertilizer, grass seed and top it with peat moss. But what goes down first? Can I put lime on top of the dead moss, then soil, fertilizer, grass seed and finally the peat moss? Or should the lime go on top of the new soil? Or on top of the old and the new? What sequence should I use here and what else might I add to get nice grass and keep my nice trees?

I like your last suggestion and here is how I would recommend you do it. Spread half of the lime on the old soil and use the other half on top of the new soil. The old, dead moss will decay naturally, so there is no need to rake it off. So start by liming; spread the new soil to fill-in over the exposed roots, lime again, then fertilize, sow the grass seed, and then cover with a very thin (1/16") layer of peat moss. Roll with a lawn roller and keep the area moist until the new seed has germinated.

Winter Freeze Damage

I am really concerned about some of the shrubs in my garden. My Camellia; Pieris and a couple of Rhododendrons have lost all their leaves. When I check the cambium layer I find it is still green. What should I do? Should I prune the plants or just wait a little longer before I do anything?

The best thing to do is just wait. It may be mid-April to mid-May before the plants begin their new growth. It is at that time that you can actually determine whether the plants even need pruning and if so how much.

Replanting Containers

We are getting ready to replant a few of the containers on our deck. What always puzzles me is whether we need to replace the soil with fresh dirt, or can we plant in the same soil?

You can use the same soil, but you should replenish the soil by adding and mixing some processed manure; compost or peat moss with it. The addition of more organic humus and some fertilizer will build-up the soil to the point where it will fine for use again this season. There is no need to buy new soil!

When do Lilacs Bloom?

I have an old-fashioned lilac that I planted 3 years ago from a seedling. It has adapted very well and grows foliage every year, but no blossoms. When do lilacs start blooming?

If it is a seedling it may not bloom until it is 5 to 7 years old. If it was taken as a root sucker from another plant, it could bloom after about two to five years. Remember Lilac's need full sun, limed soil and feeding in early spring with a 'Rose' type fertilizer.

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