Question: The hot summer killed my beautiful hydrangeas. I tried to water twice a day during the 105-plus temperatures: once early in the morning and again in the evening, but most of the leaves and stems dried up and died. I kept watering every morning, and sprouts began to appear, so I pruned off most of the dead, brittle branches, leaving whatever looked alive. They seem to be coming back, but should I cut off the long branches that have no sprouts or signs of life, or just leave them? L.Z., McKinney
Answer: Cut off the dead branches; they won’t rejuvenate. Applying the Sick Tree Treatment just as you would for trees would be a great help for these stressed shrubs.
Question: Much of my ground ivy withered, and there are a lot of dead-looking vines on the ground, though it is still alive in patches. Should I pull it out? Is there anything I can do to revive it? T.J., Fort Worth
Answer: Cutting the dead away is OK but not worth the effort except for aesthetics. Drench the roots with Garrett Juice and Thrive.
Question: We have a castle-spire holly with one branch that has turned brown and looks withered. (This holly is about 4 years old.) The main part of the bush looks fine, and there is a small branch on the bottom of the withered part that has green leaves. Should I just cut off that branch? M.M., Fort Worth
Answer: Some plants can be watered and brought back to health, but not hollies. Holly foliage that turns a dull color is damaged badly and usually dead. Brown foliage is definitely dead and should be cut away.
Question: My neighbor has a Bermuda lawn and contends that it burns up in the summer due to the rocky and shallow nature of the soil. He uses molasses and an alfalfa-based fertilizer. He wants to scalp the lawn and add 1 to 2 inches of mulch or topsoil to increase the depth of the soil. He is afraid that if he puts too much of the mix on the lawn over the winter it will kill the grass. I contend that it won’t. How much would you put on the lawn? Is this a valid reason for the lawn deteriorating due to the monstrous heat wave we had? B.B., Fort Worth
Answer: I would not recommend adding soil. Adding dry molasses and a half-inch of compost now and every October or November will be the best way to solve the problem.