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A Monster's Growing Under Our Deck!


QUESTION: We installed a deck over an area where bamboo had been growing, and now bamboo shoots are coming up through the deck slats. Can we kill the bamboo or transplant it? M.G., Flower Mound

ANSWER: To kill bamboo, the runners must be chopped up. This will be difficult to do with the deck in the way. Removing the top of the deck and digging out the bamboo for transplanting might be the best option if you want to move it. It’s very invasive, so be careful where you plant it.

QUESTION: We have several loropetalum shrubs (also called Chinese fringe flower). They are 5 years old, and after growing beautifully this spring, they are yellowing. What can we do? In addition, I planted vincas in four beds. Two beds are thriving, but in the other two, the vincas are turning yellow and dying. We replaced several plants, but that didn’t solve the problem. M.S., Fairview

ANSWER: Try drenching the plants with the new commercial Garrett Juice formula that contains fish emulsion, or add fish emulsion to a homemade Garrett Juice brew at a rate of 2 ounces per gallon. Neptune’s Harvest is a good fish fertilizer.  I don’t know what is wrong with the vincas, but loropetalum is not well-suited to our alkaline soils.

QUESTION: I have a big problem with nutsedge in my back yard, and it is growing around the exposed roots of my Chinese pistache tree. How can I get rid of this weed without harming the tree? J. M., Lewisville

ANSWER: Apply heavy amounts of dry molasses to the nutsedge. Use about 20 pounds per 100 square feet in this case. Warning: This is a rate that also will kill small landscape plants, so be careful.

We have a dogwood tree that was planted three or four years ago by landscapers. It is spindly and has very few blossoms in the spring. We have fertilized it regularly and cleaned the trunk at the bottom, but nothing we do seems to help. Are there specific treatments for such trees? S.P., Dallas

ANSWER: My guess is that the tree had a dry root ball when it was planted. Drench the root zone with Garrett Juice and add an extra ounce of molasses for each gallon of solution. Getting a dry root ball moist is not easy.

I want to convert to organic gardening. My front lawn is about half Bermuda grass and half crab grass. What should I use, and when should I start? G.J., Dallas

ANSWER: Start now. Apply dry molasses at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet, and follow up with an organic fertilizer used at the same rate. If you aerate the lawn first, the transition will be faster, but you will be surprised at how fast grass overtakes weeds if you simply start feeding the soil organically.

I was cleaning the yard recently and noticed that my feet were covered with black dust. What might this be, and how can I correct the problem? A few years ago, I treated my lawn for rust. Could this be related? J.L., Wylie

ANSWER: Rust is a fungal disease that is rare in turf. The black stuff probably was slime mold, another fungus that is mostly cosmetic. If you want to kill it, use garlic tea, cornmeal juice, hydrogen peroxide or Soil Mender Plant Wash  (

QUESTION: In a recent column, someone asked how to treat brown patch in a St. Augustine lawn. I have used your recommended cornmeal treatment, but I still battle brown patch. What caught my eye was your comment about the wrong type of fertilizer being used. I hire a company to treat my lawn. What is the wrong type of fertilizer so I can be sure it is not used? B.A., Fort Worth

ANSWER: Any high-nitrogen synthetic fertilizer is wrong. The unbalanced salts glut the plant and create weak, watery cells that are easy targets for diseases and insects. The worst choice is a relatively new recommendation of nitrogen-only fertilizer.  

Good organic fertilizer brands include Bradfield, Soil Mender, Nature’s Creation, Nature’s Guide, Maestro-Gro and Lady Bug. You also can use dry molasses.



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