Q -- Our dwarf red maple is red and beautiful in the spring but turns green in early summer and stays that way until fall. Is there a way to make it stay red during the summer? A -- Most red maples, including the Japanese red maples, are that way. It's the way they're built, their genetic makeup, and there's nothing that can be done about it. Q -- How large must a pine tree be before it starts bearing cones?
A -- The time of bearing cones (seeds) is determined by the age, rather than the size, of the plant. Each species tends to begin seed production within a narrow range of time that varies widely between species.
Q -- We want to establish a windbreak for our home: What's best to us? A -- Usually a hedge is more effective against wind than a wall or fence. The more dense the foliage, the better the protection. Curved plantings of a high hedge can guide winter winds around and away from the home. A wall or solid fence acts like a dam and spills the wind over the top. A lath fence with laths spaced a lath-width apart diffuses and breaks up the force of the wind. Hedges break the force of the wind and diffuse it instead of pushing it over the top. Q -- We have a wisteria that never blooms. What fertilizer will give us blooms instead of foliage? A -- Wisteria started as a sucker from a blooming plant may not bloom for 15 to 20 years. Giving the plant too much fertilizer can result in a lot of growth and no blooms. Q -- We intend to build a new lawn next spring, didn't have time to do it this fall. Having a chance to buy some topsoil at a bargain price, we did it and piled it up on the lawn. Some of it's about five feet deep around two of our trees. My neighbor tells me this could kill the trees. Is it true? A -- Soil piled on the ground over the root area of a tree can kill it within a few weeks or after a number of years, depending on the kind of tree and the amount of earth used. Two or three inches can kill an American beech in a short time; the American elm may survive a foot or more.
Sugar maple, dogwood, oak, tulip tree and most evergreens are almost certain to be damaged by piling soil over their roots. Birch, hickory and hemlock suffer less, and elm, sycamore, poplar, willow, pin oak and locust are least affected.