In the Garden with Janet B. Carson
December 7, 2013
My zoysia grass was inundated with Poa annua (annual bluegrass), henbit, chickweed, spurweed, and other weeds this year. The weeds were killed, but I have several bare spots of dirt. Should I seed with rye or some other "winter" grass in the bare spots to keep the dirt from washing away? If so, which seed should I sow?
Bare spots in a lawn are a good way to allow winter weeds to encroach. However, it is a bit late in the season to get any lawn grass seed to germinate—this year, it got cold much earlier than in recent winters, so it would have needed an even earlier seeding date to get established this season. Normally winter grass seed should be sown from late September until November 1. If the bare spots are quite large, try raking some leaves putting either the whole leaves, or preferably shredded leaves in the bare spots. That should handle erosion and prevent weeds until you can get your zoysia going next spring. I am not as worried about erosion—unless you live on a slope, but weeds may start growing again.
I recently built a rustic pergola in my backyard. I haven't planted vines yet - pondering what to plant. I'd like your opinion. I am considering Virginia creeper - is that clematis?? I also like needlepoint ivy. I like the orange trumpet vine which is in honeysuckle family but unsure if that'd be a good choice. I have some of it on a back fence. I like the orange bloom but do not really know much more about it. Also wondered if should try a climbing hydrangea? What do you think? And would it be wise to mix - maybe use different vine on different posts to start - or would that be too much of a hodgepodge look. I considered a combo using the needlepoint ivy on four corners and a blooming vine on middle posts or would it be best stick with same vine? Any suggestion and advice would be greatly appreciated.
Since it is a large pergola in heavy shade, I do think a mixture of vines would be nice to give you a variety of colors and potential blooms. Virginia creeper is not clematis, but is a nice native vine with outstanding fall color. It is deciduous. It also can get a bit invasive if you don't watch it, as can trumpet vine. The native trumpet vine produces seeds which can germinate in other places, but it also needs sunlight to bloom well. Improved varieties include Madame Galan and Madame Rosy, but again, they need sunlight. I do like climbing hydrangea, but it is a slow growing plant and you will need patience to see blooms, but it will eventually bloom in heavy shade. Variegated needlepoint ivy is ok, but keep it trained to the pergola so it doesn't start to spread. Some other options include Dutchman's Pipe or pipevine (Aristolochia fimbriata) which likes the shade and will attract butterflies—but will die back to the ground in the winter; and Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), a good evergreen vine with fragrant white flowers that will grow in the shade, but will bloom better with some sunlight, and Carolina jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) another great evergreen vine, but few blooms in the shade.
I would like to grow bamboo (I know most people think I'm nuts!) in containers along a chain-link fence to use as privacy between my home and my neighbor's. What type of containers should I use so this monster plant doesn't spread? Is there another fast-growing, attractive plant to use instead of bamboo? I only get a few hours of sun in this spot, and I have very little top soil but lots of clay and rocks since I live in Fayetteville on the side of a hill.
If you really want bamboo, opt for a clumping form versus a running form. There are numerous varieties in the Fargesia genus which don't run and they are winter hardy in NW Arkansas. If you are looking for a quick screen, consider building some raised beds instead of pots so the plants can get established. Even though you think you could contain the running bamboo by planting in pots, it will root through the drainage holes and escape and spread, so DON'T plant a running type of bamboo—your neighbors will thank you later.
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