Q: I have an infestation of moss in some of my flower beds on the north side of my house. Is there anything I can do to remove it without having to dig it all out? Thank you for your helpful column.
A: Thank you for your kind words. Infestations of moss are associated with low fertility, poor drainage, too much shade, soil compaction, wet conditions, poor air circulation, or a combination of these factors. Contrary to popular opinion, low soil pH is seldom responsible for moss invasion. Here is a short list of suggestions for dealing with your moss issue:
– Maintain good soil fertility. Adding compost or manure will help.
– Improve drainage. Soils that are constantly wet because of poor drainage should be contoured so that water will drain away.
– Improve air circulation. Low-branched trees or shrubs may be the cause of poor air circulation, as well as even more dense shade. Prune the shrubs back.
– Loosen compacted soil. Cultivate the beds on a regular basis.
– If there is nothing growing in the beds, such as perennials or shrubs, you can treat the issue with a moss remover.
– Lastly, and this would be my choice, get out your hoe or cultivator and break up the moss and then simply pick it out. This is not a permanent solution, but if you do this and improve your soil fertility and air circulation it will not come back as quickly.
Q: My neighbor has a large excess of decorative rock and the price is right (free). I’d like to put it under my spruce tree. However, I’ve heard that the rock will heat up under the sun, draw moisture from the ground and dehydrate the roots. This shady area gets minimal sunlight and plenty of water. Should I be concerned?
A: You have nothing to worry about. Since there is minimal sun anyway the rock won’t do much heating up and the spruce is an extremely efficient tree in grabbing moisture. It sounds like it already has a pretty good source of moisture as well.
A word of caution about the depth of the rock, though. Applying too much rock can suffocate the roots of a tree. This, of course, depends on the size of the tree and how far from the trunk you are applying the rock. I would recommend not having the rock any deeper than two or three inches.
Q: I am hoping you can advise me on my lawn. I spend a lot of time watering my beds and containers, and I always take time to water the lawn by hand. Does it need more water than I am giving it?
A: Yes, the water you are applying by hand is not enough. Lawns like to have a deeper watering. You should set a sprinkler and let it run for over an hour. Because this penetrating watering lasts longer you should not be watering the lawn as frequently. Once per week, even during the heat waves, is plenty.
Q: I have a blue spruce that self-seeded. It is about a foot tall and I want to move it. When is the best time and what should I add to the soil?
A: The best time to move the spruce would be after the new growth emerges. Look for the branch tips swelling and you will see the new growth once it pops out. Once that happens you can move the plant to the new location. Blue spruce are very adaptable to their new surroundings but would prefer a spot that has at least six hours of sun per day. They do not tolerate deep shade very well at all.
I would incorporate compost into the soil, both in the bottom of the planting hole and in the soil that you will be adding in and around the roots. Also, add a generous amount of bone meal and work it well into the soil before adding the plant. Keep the plant well-watered for the first few weeks until it has a chance to get established. Good luck and happy gardening!
Gerald Filipski is a member of the Garden Writers of America. He is the author of Just Ask Jerry. E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org . To read previous columns, go to edmontonjournal.com/author/geraldfilipski
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