Yes, Juneberries can live in harmony with lilac bushes

Q: We moved into a house in Fargo a few years ago. We are finally ready to work on our landscaping. I have many questions since my wife and I are inexperienced gardeners. The house has a lilac bush in the east yard along a fence that marks the pr...

Q: We moved into a house in Fargo a few years ago. We are finally ready to work on our landscaping. I have many questions since my wife and I are inexperienced gardeners. The house has a lilac bush in the east yard along a fence that marks the property line. I want to plant something along the fence to make it more attractive, but I am afraid more lilac bushes would look wild and out of control because they really aren't hedges. I thought Juneberries might work as a hedge. If I remember right from growing up on the farm, they are woody and dense compared to lilacs, so the Juneberries should be more trimmable. Will Juneberries exist in peace with a lilac? (e-mail reference)

A: The two plants will coexist in peace and harmony, so enjoy! The birds also will love you!

Q: My wife and I are wondering how far to space techney arborvitae when using it as a form of privacy fence or hedge. We also are wondering if they will survive in a windy, unprotected area. Can techney survive our cold winters? (Jamestown, N.D.)

A: They could survive if they were purchased from a local source. If you planted them about 6 to 8 inches apart, they will grow into a nice, dense fence or hedge in just a few years, but it depends on the size of the plants you started with.

Q: I have two ash and two maple trees in my yard. The trees have edging around them. The inside area of the edging is filled with wood chips. There was fabric placed on the ground before the wood chips were put in. I cleaned the area out and found that the fabric is wrapped around the trunk. Should this have been done? The trees have a split in the trunk about 5 inches above the fabric. (e-mail reference)


A: The fabric is not needed and can be the source of problems as the tree matures. Remove the fabric and replace the wood chip mulch, but keep the mulch about 4 inches away from the trunk.

Q: We dug and replanted our iris plant two years ago. However, it has not bloomed since then. What is the problem? (e-mail reference)

A: You could have planted it too deeply or in too much shade.

Q: I was listening to you discuss crab and quack grass on talk radio about a week ago. Can you tell me the difference between the two and how I can treat either of them in my lawn? Is there some chemical treatment I should be using? I put Prevent fertilizer down about a week ago, but I don't think that is sufficient. You also mentioned we should mulch our clematis. Can you recommend what mulch to use? (e-mail reference)

A: Crabgrass can be controlled with a pre-emergent herbicide. Herbicides work best if not used in combination with fertilizer. Quack grass has no selective control that is available in North Dakota. Sorry, I was mistaken in what I said over the radio. Mulch around the clematis needs to be organic, such as bark or sphagnum peat moss.

Q: I'm having trouble getting grass to grow under my evergreens. I've planted grass seed specifically designed for shaded areas and I've tried to remove as many evergreen needles as I can. Is there a product on the market that would neutralize the acid from the needles? I don't even know what kind of acid is present in the needles, but I do remember a simple chemistry rule that an alkali can neutralize an acid. (e-mail reference)

A: Usually, this not a problem. Try using some limestone (finely ground). Sprinkle the limestone under the tree and carefully rake it in. Use only shade-tolerant grass, such as a creeping red fescue.

Q: We live in a new development area in South Fargo. We are looking for shrubs we can plant in the front of the house to add some curb appeal. The front looks kind of boring right now. Last summer, we planted a Princess Kay plum tree (I'm really excited that it made it through the winter), three globe arborvitaes and two rose glow barberry bushes in a bed along the sidewalk. That bed will be continued to a bed where we want to plant the new shrubs. What do you recommend that will be large in height to fill a space from the ground to the window? I would like something that will add character during the winter as well. Is there a shrub that I can buy that is the right size and can prune to stay that way or will we need to plant something smaller and wait a few years before the space is filled in? Unfortunately, I am a slave to my generation and enjoy instant gratification. (e-mail reference)


A: Excitement is something that is individually defined. What turns someone on may not another. I like the Annabelle hydrangeas because they are easy to grow and have a nice, long blooming season in our area. Another good one is the red twigged dogwood. It takes a little more work, but is worth the effort. A combination of the two shrubs will make a good visual impression. The combination would almost give you the instant gratification your generation craves.

Q: I have a young oak tree. Last fall, I noticed round balls or gauls attached to the ends of the branches. Each little ball had a hole in one side and it looked like some bug or worm had grown and left. One had a little, white worm inside. How can I keep these pests from using my tree? I want to keep the tree, but the balls are unsightly, especially in the winter when the leaves are gone. Also, does this harm the tree? (e-mail reference)

A: This is one of the characteristics of an oak tree. The gauls do not hurt the tree and spraying for control is not recommended. A good arborist can take out the galled branches selectively without disfiguring the tree.

Q: It says everywhere I read that you prune apple trees before they leaf out in the spring. What is the definition of leaf out? Does that mean fully leafed out or can you prune with buds on the trees? I have a fully mature tree that produces lots of apples, but needs some thinning. (e-mail reference)

A: Go for it today if you can or as soon as possible. During bud expansion is OK, but once they begin opening, they become more vulnerable to disease problems. It isn't cast in stone, but dormant pruning in early spring is always better.

Related Topics: GARDENING
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