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April 14, 2012

I had the water turned off on my lawn because I had it scalped yesterday, so do I go right back to turn the water on and fertilize it?

-- I would leave it off for about 2 weeks because with the cooler weather the grass won't burn as much. When it gets to the 90s you will want to turn the water back on. You can also fertilize it at the same time.

My Skyflower leaves are yellowing, what can I do about that?

-- Well right now you can probably give them a shot of fertilizer if you want to green them up real quick. You can use Peters or Miracle Grow, pretty much anything that is water soluble, and you can spray them directly on the leaves. You should be able to get them green real fast with this weather.

What's the best time of year to trim a Fig tree?

-- The best time to trim a fig is when they're dormant in the Winter and you can really butcher them back. You can do some moderate pruning anytime, but if they're really out of hand you'll want to do it sooner than later. Typically the best time to trim figs is in the dead of Winter.

I planted a Bermuda lawn a couple weeks back and the back yard is coming in nice and slow, but I'm still not seeing anything with the front lawn.

-- It's a little cooler and might be a little shadier in the back, so that's probably why your backyard grass is growing a little quicker. I would wait another week or so and you should see the front yard come up nicely too. With the cooler weather, the growth really stops and comes to a screeching halt. When the weather hits the 90s the Bermuda grass should do pretty well.

I planted some sod a couple weeks ago and it got really thick and I decided to use a mower on it, but now there's a lot of blank spots in the grass. Is there anything I can do?

-- It's not going to hurt your grass so you don't have to worry about that. Really what you're mowing now is the Rye grass and it's not going to hurt it long term. What I would do is keep it watered and really push it along, keep the Rye grass healthy for the next 2 or 3 weeks and then I would shut the water off for a week or two, dry it out and it will kill that Rye.

The last couple of years I've done really well with the water lettuce, but they've become pretty scarce. Is there anything else I can plant that isn't quite as expensive as water lilies, that I can put in there to help keep the algae down?

-- Well you can grow Canna Lilies or Horsetail Reed, both are a good choice for keeping water clear and clean.

I have 3 hibiscus, 2 of them are red in full bloom, but one is yellow with not a bloom on it. Is there anything that I can add to bring the flowers out?

-- They're going to have different cycles on them and they will bloom at different times. They kind of come in and out of cycle on blooms, but if you want to help it along you might look for a product called Super Bloom. It's a water soluble fertilizer that you spray right on the foliage and it gives them some extra phosphorous, which helps them to bloom. The other thing you want to do is make sure to keep them a little dry between waterings, you don't want them too wet.

I've got a couple Queen Palms that are doing okay and growing, but what can I do this time of year to help them along?

-- Feed them, just a good balanced fertilizer, and then what you might want to do is pick up a Manganese spike and put one spike per tree. Now is a great time to do it. If you want to green them up a little faster, you can spray Miracle Grow on the foliage as well.

I'm starting my first garden and I'm looking for a 4x4 raised. Do you have any advice?

-- Well when you're doing a raised garden you want to have a soil mix that includes some real soil. You want at least 50% of regular soil or dirt and 50% organic material. If you want to go the organic route, when you're adding the soil you want to mix some bone meal and blood meal and that's going to give you your nitrogen and phosphorous base.

I have a Fig tree that is in a pot that and I took some root cuttings and put them in the ground. What can I do to make the root cuttings as successful as possible?

-- What I would do is add a product called Super Thrive, it's a great product for transplanting those kind of things, and it has vitamins and hormones. What you might want to add to is a little bit of super triple phosphate or super bloom or bone meal and that's going to give you more phosphorous which will help in your rooting. After that you want to get them real wet and dry out in between. With new cuttings like that you probably want to water them every other day.

I have a Jacaranda tree that was affected by the frost, so I cut it way back, but now I've got two trees coming up. So should I just keep those two trees going and cut the middle out?

-- It's kind of fun to grow them as a multiple trunk, you can grow 2 or 3 without a problem. I have a multiple trunk one in my backyard that I think is really beautiful. You will want to cut the dead out so the tree can grow out to the side and you also may want to clip the top a little bit. Then just sit back and watch it grow!

Last Fall I bought two Yellow-bell vines and planted them, but they are just bare. They aren't growing or getting greener, they're just there.

-- They're waiting for the heat. The cold weather really slows them down, but once it hits 90 degrees you should see some good growth. They don't do much until they get hot. If you want, you can use pretty much any fertilizer if you feel like doing something right now.

I recently planted some Palo Verde trees and she was worried about over watering them so she bought a water meter or testing device. She put it in next to the tree and hasn't worried them in a while, but the meter still says that the tree is wet. They've also been in the ground for about 3 weeks.

-- If you have some heavy clay soil, that could still be the case. Here's the trick though, they're probably grown in a potting mix at the nursery, so even though the soil outside the root ball is stil moist, inside the root ball is probably not. Here's what I would recommend for her to do, about 6 inches away from the trunk dig down until she hits the nursery soil, not the native soil. And then go ahead and check that out and see if it's not dry. Typically with a newly planted Palo Verde I would water it about once a week.

I got 2 Ocotillo plants that I purchased a year ago and they're not doing a thing.

-- Well, they could be dead. Take a sharp knife and scrape the bark to see if it's green underneath. If you're going to plant some new ones what I would do is buy some powdered sulfur. When you plant the new Ocotillos go ahead and dust the roots real good. That's going to kill bacteria and prevent any bacteria from ruining the new ones. Then you'll want to water about once a week.

I have a Mesquite tree that is pretty big and fairly close to our house, so I'm wondering how far back I can cut it without destroying it?

-- You can cut it back to pretty much any size, depending on how big you want it. What you might also do is give it a little less water and that should slow down it's growth a fair amount. Realistically, here in the desert you'll want to water them about once every week to 10 days.

I've got 9 Italian Cypress that get spider mites really bad and I've tried different things, can you give me a recommendation?

-- Italian Cypress tend to get spider mites, but if you hose it down about once a month that will help it a lot. You can use a systemic insecticide, but it won't be immediate. If you put the insecticide on there and then wash it down they'll do better. If you don't mind them getting large you can fertilize them a little bit too and they really enjoy blood meal so you might want to look into using that. Spider mites here in the desert on Italian Cypress are just normal.

I have a potted gardenia and it keeps getting these buds of flowers, but then they just brown and die. The leaves are yellow as well, and I'm wondering if I gave it the wrong fertilizer.

-- You want to give it a fair bit of sun and you might have had some thrip on it. But it's most likely a lack of sun so go ahead and put it directly in the sun and you should get some good results because gardenias thrive this time of year.

What is the best way to get rid of an unwanted desert plant?

-- Probably the easiest way would be to spray Roundup on the foliage. Just spraying it on the ground won't do anything, you need to spray it on the leaves and branches and you should be good!

I live on an acre that's irrigated and over the last two years we've been inundated with Fox Tail and Nightshade and I can't get rid of them. I've used Weed-be-Gone and a Scott product and still nothing.

-- Well they're really hard to kill, but what we would use is a Roundup type product. But the real key to getting rid of those long term is to use a pre-emergent.

I'm having a landscaper come out and get rid of the Bermuda glass, but he wants to put down plastic, what do you think about that?

-- Well it's old school, but it can be effective. But here you have two options, you can use some spot spray this Summer and it'll kill all the grass that comes up or you can use the plastic, but I'm not a big fan of the plastic myself.

What's your recommendation for the smallest Dwarf Peach tree that is easy to take care of?

-- Well the bonanza is the easiest, but it doesn't produce the best tasting peaches. If you want a better fruit you can do a Desert Gold or Tropic Snow. If you're planting them from containers you can plant them anytime, but make sure to take care of them if you plant them in the Summer.

I'm pruning 3 bushes, a Yellow-bell, a Cape Honeysuckle, and a Red Bird of Paradise. I'm thinking of going down to 18 inches above the ground, but what should I do with regards to water and fertilizing after I've pruned them?

-- Well you should water them pretty heavy and let them start to generate some new foliage maybe for a week or two at first. Then be light on the fertilizer, not too big of a dose. Pretty much any fertilizer you have at home will work just fine.

I've got a plant that's about 20 feet tall and it looks like the main branch is starting to bend over. Can I take that top off where it's bowing?

-- Yeah of course, a little moderate pruning won't hurt it at all. Now would be a great time of year before it gets too hot if you're going to prune it back heavy.

Is Bermuda an annual or perennial?

-- That's a perennial, it stays year after year.

I have a Grapefruit tree that is starting to shed a lot of leaves and is starting to turn yellow. It used to put out a lot of good fruit, but recently it's stopped.

-- You might want to make sure it's not bleeding any sap out of the trunk. You'll also want to water it about once a week, but make sure that between your waterings the tree will get dry. Now would be a great time to fertilizer it if you haven't already, just a good balanced fertilizer will do just fine.