Ask the gardening expert
Thursday, September 13, 2012
We have been wanting to plant some trees to the side of our home, but the area that needs shade is quite sloped. I am stumped on how I would keep them alive on the hot southwest side of the house. We had a small flower bed on that side of the house that I finally gave up; we could not make water stay on the plants that needed it. What suggestions might you have for keeping a tree alive?
Planting a tree on a hillside, it is more difficult to be assured that water is available to the root area, and not just run away down the hill. One way to help get water into the plant roots is to place a 3- or 4-foot plastic pipe just next to the tree trunk. Make certain the pipe is wider than your hose nozzle. You might drill a few holes near the bottom end of the pipe to allow water into the root area. Once a week or so place the hose end into the pipe, run a slow stream of water into the pipe for about 20 to 30 minutes, watch to see that the area is absorbing the water, and not making the soil soggy. This method is far from perfect, but I know it does help, as I have used it myself in the past. I have also used a short version in baskets (cut to fit the basket depth) 1-inch pipe, place several in a basket. It guarantees the water is absorbed within the soil and doesn't run off the area that you need it.
Good luck on saving the trees.
I have been wanting to add daffodils to my yard. I frequently see the term "naturalize bulbs" and I don't know what that really means. I hope this is something I could do? How does one naturalize them?
Yes, I do think a spring display of naturalized bulb plants is an achievable goal most any gardeners could look forward to.
The term actually means to let the bulbs multiply on their own, under natural conditions. What could be easier? Plant them and forget them (just do not mow the green tops). A first consideration one needs to begin this garden is an undisturbed spot in order to grow, reproduce and increase in numbers over time. Maybe your spot will be a fruit orchard, a rolling hillside, or perhaps a meadow, somewhere that will not be bothered. What a lively spring picture that would be; the naturalized beauty of fruit trees in bloom with daffodils and crocuses and maybe a little grape hyacinth thrown in. I hope this will come about in your home garden area.
I have a cat or two that are always coming around my garden. I am the only one on the block with a garden and they seem drawn to my garden. They trample my plants and I am constantly having to run them off. What can I do to keep them away from my garden?
I've not run into this problem in my garden, but I did find these comments on the National Gardening Association Web page. This is what they say to try: "Cats love nice soft soil and they're creatures of habit. If you can discourage them for a while, they'll find another litter box. Try placing crumpled chicken wire over your flower bed and planting in the holes. The leaves of annual plants will spread and cover up the wire. Or, drive stakes around the perimeter of the garden and string nylon fishing line from stake to stake. Keep the line about 6 inches off the ground and criss-cross so there's less than 12 inches between the strands. Cats don't like walking on chicken wire or ducking under fishing line. Eventually they'll give up and find a new 'litter box' to visit."
Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-certified master gardener. Send questions to email@example.com.