What did we decide, do we need to dig up the gladioli bulbs after the leaves brown, or can we leave them in place to grow and bloom next year? I am leaving mine in place. They have bloomed well over the past two years without removing and replanting them.
Do deer eat red yucca? We are trying to develop a low-water-use landscape that the deer will not eat. Deer eat the flowers of red yucca, but not the foliage. Do you have esperanza, iris, Texas mountain laurel, thyrallis, vitex, four o’clocks, salvia, other yuccas and cactus on your low-water-use deer-proof list?
We had some construction completed on our house. The trucks and tractors compacted the soil. Our lawn looks terrible. Do you think it would help to rent an aerator or add compost now? Yes, I think that would help restore the soil. Find one of the aerators to rent that cuts the plugs from the soil and places it on the soil surface. After the aeration and top dressing, you could plug in a few squares of sod in the worst areas, or just wait for the lawn to spread into the restored areas.
What is the salvia that grows in the shade? It has red flowers and seems to reseed each year. It is the Salvia coccinea. It is a great plant because of its drought tolerance and its shade tolerance. The flowers are attractive and provide nectar for hummingbirds. Deer do not eat Salvia coccinea. You receive the seed in most Texas wildflower mixes or you can buy it from Wildseed Farms. Google the website.
Our old live oak tree has hollow parts and is close to the house. The foliage looks good, but should we be worried it will fall on the house? It is always good to be alert to the threat. Call an arborist to assess the danger. The good news is that almost all live oaks have hollow areas, but they can still be structurally strong.
The seed pods on the mountain laurel are so ugly. Does it matter if we cut them off? No, it won’t hurt the plant at all.
We have decided to build a concrete driveway. If will be 20 feet from our magnificent live oak tree. I have started digging out the area and am noticing a fair number of oak roots. Will the driveway hurt the tree? If we remove a minimum amount of roots under the driveway, will the tree roots from underneath expand and crack the driveway? You didn’t say how much of the total area will be affected, but at 20 feet away and assuming it affects 30 percent of the root area, the tree should do fine. Your decision not to cut all roots under the driveway should help the tree survive with minimal stress and should not threaten the driveway. Live oaks are one of the most tolerant trees when it comes to root disruption due to construction.
What are the thin-shaped flying insects feeding on our grape vine? Do we need to control them? Sharpshooters are being reported sucking the juice from grape foliage. They won’t kill the vine, but will discolor the leaves and may reduce the vine’s ability to fill out a grape crop this summer. Consider controlling the sharpshooters with Sevin or malathion. Follow label directions.
I saw the strangest thing the other day. A canyon wren nested in our porch light. When the baby bird emerged, it was a large, coarse-looking bird that did not look anything like a wren? What could have happened? The hatchling is probably a cowbird. They lay their eggs in the nests of warblers and other small birds, such as wrens. The foster parents bring up the intruder at the expense of the baby wrens, which may have been pushed out of the nest early in the process by the baby cowbird.
We are mowing our Bermuda grass at three inches tall. Our neighbor says it is too high. He says the lawn will look better and be less weedy if we mow it at 1.5 inches. What is your advice? I agree with your neighbor. Golf courses in our area use Bermuda grass and mow it at a half inch tall. At one and a half inches, it makes a tight sod and competes better with the weeds. Bring it down to this height gradually over a month
Dr. Calvin Finch is Urban Water Program Director for the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.You can ask Calvin question and hear his answers on the air as he co-hosts the Gardening South Texas on the air at KLUP (AM 930) Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 2:00pm.