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Dallas Morning News - November 3, 2016

Q.  I need to move a sweet almond verbena, how big should the root ball be? It is 3yrs old and too close to our fence.  C. J. Plano, TX
A.  Wait a few more weeks. After the first frost, you can move it bare-rooted and have an almost 10% chance of success.

Q.  I have a Bradford pear tree (19 years old) that is very sick with fungus. I did the sick tree treatment, except for the zeolite, which I've not been able to find. The tree bark is missing from the exposed root flare up the trunk about six inches. It also has orange fungus-looking growth on the root flare and the roots are disintegrating in some places. I’ve given it lots of water.
1. Would the zeolite make any difference? 2. If this is a fungus, how likely is it to spread to my nearby trees? 3. Is it likely that this was caused by too much water? 3. If I have to remove the tree and am able to remove all the roots, is it possible to plant another tree in that same location?  S. K. Denton, TX
A.  Zeolite might be some help, the overwatering probably is the culprit, the Sick Tree Treatment is the solution and planting other plants in this location is fine if the drainage is fixed and organic techniques are used.

Q.  The lawn care company that does periodic fertilizing (organic only for me) tells me that a part of my St. Augustine lawn near the street, which is dying badly, has scale. This is something I have never encountered. They want to "cross the line" and use a chemical insecticide, but I told them to wait until I did some research. What do you recommend? L. A. Grand Prairie, TX
A.  Ground pearls are the only kind of scale that sometimes attacks St. Augustinegrass. Since they are active and feed mainly in the spring, treating in the fall would be a waste of time and money - especially if toxic chemicals are the recommendation. A much better approach would be to apply a 1/2" layer of compost now and then apply beneficial nematodes in the spring as the grass starts to grow.

Q.  My asparagus ferns in five gallon containers do well. I bring inside prior to freeze time. They are very full and lush. In the winter they loose 50-75 % of the needles. Can I cut them back at storage, and to what level in inches from the soil? Thanks.  J. A. Dallas, TX
A.  They will respond well to cutting back for the winter. That's what I do with mine. Leave as much foliage as you can.

Q.  Can you identify this bug?  It is about 1/4 " long.  P. M. Dallas, TX
A.  That's a crane fly. It's basically a harmless insect. Here's the information from our Texas Bug Book.

Q.  The city did some work on our street and curb last year and replanted grass on the "skirt" area between the street and sidewalk. I want to replace the peculiar grass they gave us with either St. Augustine or Bermuda and was wondering if I needed to completely dig up all of the unwanted grass or if I could just scrape it off with a hoe before planting the new. I would prefer not to do the digging if I could avoid it.  J. J. Irving, TX
A.  Scraping it off with a hoe or just scalping really low will work fine - and it's a lot less work.

Q.  Last October, you advised me on pruning my beautiful golden ball lead Tree, which is about 7 years old. My original message was:
"I know we are not supposed to prune until the weather is cold, to give the
sap a chance to fall. But although the tree is still in full leaf with
blooms galore, there were two completely dead branches on it (about as
thick as a little finger) that were just sticks - nothing alive growing on
them. No leaves, no blooms, deader than a doornail. So, I whacked one off.
and a thin line of sap (?) came squirting out, the color of honey, shooting up about 8" in the air! I felt like I had hit a tree artery! I immediately put my finger on it, but it bled for about 3-4
minutes. You advised me to let it head naturally, and a year later, the tree seems healthy. But this wound continues to bleed, and it is driving me crazy. Right now, it is still actively oozing and has a constant dark liquid stain running 12" down its trunk. Still just leave it alone? Picture attached.  B. F. Kerrville, TX
A.  You might douse the problem area with hydrogen peroxide. Cutting off a dead limb shouldn't have created this issue and it's definitely strange to be lasting this long. You could also put the hydrogen peroxide in a quart spray bottle and give the area a spritz every few days until the bleeding stops. Make sure the flare is exposed.

Q.  I've got three maple trees. I planted two of them 3 - 4 years ago and another 2 - 3 years ago, all in the back yard. One is a silver maple, another is an autumn blaze maple and last is a red maple. I've got to dig them up to reset them because they are too low. If I dig a wide ugly hole and I cut off the tap root by accident, it won't kill the tress will it? Doing it to expose the flare. E. B. Millington, TN
A.  Losing the tap root is not a big problem. All trees lose their tap roots as they mature anyway. The shallow growing feeder roots are the ones that are important. The best time to do this move is after the first hard freeze as happened. The maples you mention here are not my favorites, so if you have to replace any of them, look at bigtooth maple, trident maple and paperbark maple if it would get shade in the afternoon.

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