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Volume 15, Issue 6 ~ February 8 - February 14, 2007

The Bay Gardener

By Dr. Frank Gouin


Trees The Bay Gardener would never plant

Most trees you plant will outlive you, so choose with care to add value to your property. Trees that grow fast are a temptation to be avoided. Fast growing trees create a mess, fare poorly in wind and ice and easily become susceptible to debilitating diseases.

A common error comes with good intentions: To kill two birds with one stone, many beginning homeowners purchase living Christmas trees to plant after Christmas. Most often, these nice, dense trees are planted near the house or in a small space. But such trees are forest dwellers that can grow 80 to 100 feet tall.

Instead of making a tree decision you’ll regret, plan ahead to select species that best meet your future needs without creating problems. Trees I would never plant in my landscape include Lombardy poplar, empress or Palownia tree, Bradford pear, Siberian elm, paper bark or canoe birch, sycamore, black gum, black locust, sassafras, Chinese elm, mimosa, mountain ash, silver maple, Norway maple or weeping willow.

In coming weeks I’ll detail why southern Maryland homeowners should avoid these trees, and I’ll offer a list of suitable substitutes with a proven record of dependability.

Planning War on Invasives

Q I live in the Sylvan Shores community in Anne Arundel County where we have three unwanted invasive plants. The culprits are knotweed (Mexican bamboo), common bamboo and what we call wiregress, which I believe is a form of Bermuda grass. I wonder if you would address how we can rid the neighborhood of these pests?

—Ron Cully, Riva

A Knotweed (I have never heard it called Mexican bamboo) is a difficult weed to control because it generates millions of seeds. The seeds generally germinte in mid to late June. To control the germinating seed, you need to apply a pre-emergent herbicide like Scabbard or Goal. To kill the existing plants you need to spray in late May or early June with Trimec or Weed B-Gone. 

To control common bamboo, mow it to the ground this spring. Allow the bamboo to grow all summer long. In mid-October, spray the bamboo with Roundup at the recommended concentration and repeat the spray in 10 to 14 days.

To control wiregrass or Bermuda grass, spray it in June after it has turned green again and is growing rapidly. If the Bermuda grass is growing in your lawn, set the cutting height of your lawn mower to three and a half to four inches. This will give the bluegrass or fescue grasses more strength, and they will shade out the young wiregrass seedlings that will germinate during the summer months.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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