We've pulled these questions from our question-and-answer database. Find solutions for the issues in your yard or garden in our database.
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Question: I'd like small trees or big shrubs on both sides of my driveway. I want something beautiful all year. Any suggestions?
Answer: For year-round color, it's tough to beat kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) says Eric Liskey, garden editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. This lovely small tree bears beautiful spring flowers, great fall color, and red fruits that can persist into winter.
Jane McKeon of BHG's Country Gardens magazine suggests another dogwood -- the red-twig type (Cornus sericea). This shrub offers clusters of white flowers in spring, blue-black fruits in summer, nice fall color, and bright red stems that really stand out in winter. Some varieties have foliage variegated with white or cream, adding even more interest.
Justin W. Hancock, garden editor of BHG.com, recommends serviceberry (Amelanchier), a large shrub or small tree that has white springtime flowers, edible fruits (that attract birds), fantastic fall color, and gray bark that has a nice texture.
Question: Some of my tomatoes have horrible black spots on the bottom. What can be the problem?
Answer: It sounds like blossom-end rot. The good news is that while it looks like a disease, it's not. Instead, it happens when your tomato plants don't absorb enough calcium from the soil.
But feeding your plants more calcium isn't usually the solution to the problem. Most of the time, the soil has enough of this nutrient, but conditions such as drought keep the plants from absorbing the calcium they needs.
Prevent blossom-end rot by keeping your tomatoes watered consistently. Also avoid feeding them too much; excessive nitrogen can also cause the spots.
Question: I'm building a new home and would like a nice landscape. What does a good landscape need to have?
Answer: That's a really subjective question; there's no one best landscape plan because everyone has different lifestyles -- and thus, different landscape needs. But here's what some of the garden editors at Better Homes and Gardens have to say.
Luke Miller, editor of BHG's Garden Ideas & Outdoor Living magazine says, "Shade is a must-have in most areas, so make sure you include a shade tree in your yard." Luke also recommends using plantings to help hide the foundation of your home to blend it into the landscape.
Doug Hall, editor of BHG's Garden, Deck & Landscape magazine suggests thinking beyond just curb appeal. "It seems a waste to design a landscape that's just for other people to look at." Be sure to pick some of your favorite plants and personalize your yard.
Justin W. Hancock, garden editor of BHG.com suggests thinking about privacy. "Most people want their yard to be a getaway, so look for ways to screen views into your yard from the street or from your neighbors' yards."
Question: Because it's been so hot and dry, I've been watering my trees every day. They're still wilting. How can I save my trees?
Answer: During periods of hot, dry weather, it's important to be sure your plants get enough water. But be careful not to give them too much.
I'm wondering if what's happening is that your trees are actually drowning, and that's why you're still seeing the wilt. If this is the case, then cutting back on the water should help.
As a general rule, most garden plants like about an inch of water a week during the summer season. Newly planted varieties will appreciate a little more, of course, to help them get established.
Continued on page 6: July Questions