Q: We were totally engrossed with building our new home and moving in and suddenly it dawned on us there was not a tree on the place. I guess it will be a long time before we have shade during the hot summer months. Please tell me, should we plant a fast-growing inferior tree like the silver maple or siberian elm, or stick it out and plant a really good kind. We don't have room for both.
A. There are ways to encourage a young tree to grow much faster than it ordinarily would. A young tree given such treatment may grow as fast or faster than the so-called fast-growing kinds.
First, plant the tree propely. If it is planted a few inches too deep, it may set it back for two or three years. If the tree you buy is growing in a container and the roots are pot-bound, break up the soil ball, loosen the roots so they can grow outward instead of circling around and around. Better still, buy one B&B (ball and burlap).
After planting the tree do not pile dirt around the trunk as so many people do. It makes it more difficult for the roots to get oxygen, and when you water the water runs off instead of going down into the soil where the roots are.
If a lot of the root system was left behind when the tree was dug, reduce the top about one-third to compensate for it. It will pay big dividends.
If the tree is planned on the lawn eliminate grass from a circle 10 to 12 feet in diameter around the tree. In order for the tree roots to grow and increase in length they would have invade soil already occupied by grass roots.
Keep the tree well-watered during dry weather in spring summer and fall through the first three or four years. It needs about an inch of water each week.
Fertilize the young tree in the spring every year if it needs it. If it is making less than four to six inches of twig growth each year and the foliage is thin, it should be fertilized.
Don't prune the young tree any more than necessary the first few years after the initial pruning to help it become established.
Don't stake the newly planted tree unless it is necessary to keep it from blowing over.
Q: Moss is spreading over may lawn even though it is fertilized every year. What can I do about it?
A: Moss buildup in lawn areas usually is due to poor soil conditions where internal drainage is a problem. There may be excessive shade, too much moisture, and compaction which restricts water flow through the soil. An application of copper sulfate will get rid of the moss but it will come right back unless the cause is removed.
Q: I have a walk of brick in my back yard and I would like to have the space between the bricks covered with moss. What is the best way to go about it?
A: Moss plants start from spores. Mature plants produce germ cells and spores form when male germ cells fertilize the female egg cells. A patch of moss is made up of thousands of tiny plants growing close together.
Create a favorable environment for a particular kind of moss, then bring in a small amount of that kind and you have a start.
$ Transplanting moss is not difficult. The big problem is in matching the enviroment where you put it to that from which it was taken. Mosses have no roots and are very sensitive to any change in conditions under which they grow.
Some mosses require an acid soild and will not live long without it. Others prefer neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Forest mosses may not survive if exposed to sunlight.