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December 2012

QuestionRecently my neighbor on the east side of my home had at least four 70 foot oak trees cut down from his side yard (on my east side.) When I asked him why he did it he said with a big grin on his face, "because I wanted to." Sounded like something that my two-year-old grandson would say. Needless to say, I was very sad to see the tree removed. In addition he mutilated two other oaks. My concern besides the removal of the trees is my shade-planted garden. I still have trees on my side of the fence; however I have hydrangea, camellia, and other shade plants planted. What differences should I expect come next summer? I am tempted to plant bamboo for a quick shade, privacy! I'm sure come next July (if it's anything like this past one,) he'll regret the sun coming into his west-faced-bedrooms in the afternoon. We remember Joyce Kilmer's line from the poem, "...only God can make a tree."


AnswerDo not plant bamboo—that would be almost as bad as removing healthy mature trees. I think there are many homeowners out there that basically have done the same thing as your neighbor by not watering for the past two summers. When their trees are dead and gone, their utility bills are going to go up without shade for their homes. I would consider a couple of options—one, plant some young trees, and start growing some shade. You can also put up a trellis with fast growing help with your shade garden. But pay attention to the garden next spring and don’t forget to water. Good luck!vines to aid in shade production until your trees grow up, and hopefully you will have enough shade from your own yard too.

November 2012

QuestionI need some information regarding the planting of Carolina jasmine and roses. First Is now the time to plant Carolina Jasmine and roses?


AnswerThe best time to plant Carolina jasmine would be spring through early summer, and roses can be planted year-round, but best selection is usually in late February as nurseries begin to get them in.

June 2012

QuestionI have a lot behind my home that is being taken over by English Ivy. It is taking over my fence and trees just beyond my back yard. Is there anything that will kill this stuff? I keep pulling it and cutting it off my fence-which is a never ending battle. I tried glyphosate twice once normal strength and once triple strength to no effect. Is there anything that I can use that will kill it. I do not want it to kill the trees behind my home, and I am tired of the constant fight to keep it out of my yard. Any advice would be appreciated.


AnswerThis is why I warn people, make sure you want it BEFORE you plant it. English ivy has a very waxy coating on the leaves which helps to repel herbicide damage. I would cut it back as severely as possible and then use a weed-eater or lawn mower to damage the remaining leaves before you spray with a herbicide like Round-up. Breaking up the outer waxy layer will allow the herbicide to penetrate. Late summer to early fall would be the best time to do this as it will store more of the chemical in the root system. I seriously doubt one application will totally kill it, but over time, you can get rid of it.

March 2012

QuestionWe have just built a new pool and it turned out much higher than expected so we need privacy OVER the 6 ft fence as we are almost looking over the fence into neighbors yard. We have a very small yard and were thinking we would almost have complete back full with pool and patio and plants. There is 53 inches between fence and concrete around pool on one side and 36 inches on other side. Rest is connected to house and porch. I would like to know what you would suggest to fill this space in that will grow up over the fence for privacy. We were thinking about Bamboo and someone suggested oleander. We would be open to other suggestions also if you have any thoughts.


AnswerDefinitely not running bamboo-or your neighbors won’t be your friends any more. I would assume you want tall plants, and if you have tall bamboo, it can run as far away from the base as it is tall—20 foot tall bamboo can send up suckers 20 feet away. Clumping bamboo would be an option, but your space is quite narrow. Since your space is limited, you want tall vertical plants. Oleander is an option if you live in central or southern Arkansas, but it would not be reliable further north. The downside with oleander is the blooms will drop in the summer, which will be quite close to your pool and it is not fast growing in Arkansas and it does spread fairly wide. What about a holly such as Nelly R. Stevens, Foster, Savannah or Lusterleaf holly. Another option would be to build a trellis and let a vine grow up it to give instant privacy, and not take up an abundance of space.

October 2011

QuestionCould you please give me some information about the growing habits of Blue Moon wisteria? I have a young one that is currently planted against my wood privacy fence. I understand that it’s not as aggressive as its Asian cousins, but I’m still hesitant about leaving it there and am considering moving it or giving it away this fall. Is it safe to leave on the fence? Can I safely train it up one of my mature oak trees?


AnswerBlue Moon is a new variety of Wisteria macrostachya which is a deciduous vine that is native to the south central U. S. It is similar to the American wisteria Wisteria frutescens. Both of these wisteria are considered better choices for the garden because they are not as aggressive as their oriental counterparts, but they still need a trellis to grow on. Blue Moon is supposed to bloom several times a season. I would not allow them on a tree for two reasons. Over time, the vines will become woody, which could girdle the tree, but secondly, for best blooming, they need full sun. Letting them grow on an old oak is going to be too much shade. Leave it on the fence, or add a taller arbor or something to grow on. The flowers are beautiful and fragrant.      


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