I cut back my hydrangeas two years ago. Last year, I had no blooms. What can I do?
Leave it alone! I suspect you cut way too low two years ago, into old wood. Then the new canes develop from the leftover old wood. Leave it alone and you should see flowers this season. Remember the rule: cut down, 2–5 sections, to a paired bud (see picture). If you must cut out old wood, remove the biggest cane or two every year. You have no idea how many frustrated people ask me to remove Hydrangeas that don’t flower. They were just badly pruned.
do you weed with a spade or other tool, or by hand? Can you always verify the root has been removed?
Simple rule: only hand pick big trophy weeds. Small weeds are handled with tools: a cultivator. We have this argument at work a lot. I find hand weeding super weedy beds tiring and exhausting for my fingers. Professionals use tools. Period. I don’t care who disagrees with this. I’ve tested it in the field. Cultivate, lightly rake it over to separate the weeds from soil, then remove the weeds. It’s much faster than hand picking small weeds. I am suspicious of hand picking because I doubt people get the roots out and the weeds just come back. Cultivation at least uproots the weeds and it makes your beds look beautiful and fluffy. That’s what I do with private clients. At work I have to suffer with slow hand picking. I think it’s like punishment but the boss listens to others…..
Is 8am too early to mow lawn?
Not during the week but definitely on weekends. On Saturdays, 10am is fine, on Sundays, some cities don’t allow commercial work. If you can mow on Sunday, do it after church, 12:00. Our company starts work at 8am Monday to Friday; most people are up by 8am.
How often should you mow your lawn?
Commercial operators do weekly services but homeowners can get away with bi-weekly. I used to have clients who would call me once in a while but this sucks, because overgrown meadows have to be knocked down first and then mowed. It costs more to mow overgrown lawns so don’t let it get that far. I say, during growing season, don’t go more than 2–3 weeks without cutting your lawn. If you do let it get too far, the grass will produce flowers and it will get to have sex, finally!
Is it bad to mow a muddy lawn?
Homeowners can delay lawn cutting until conditions improve but commercial operators have choices to make. Yes, they need to get paid and no, they may not be able to come back later but the client’s grass is the issue here. (See examples below: big mower and push mower.) Large muddy sections I would avoid completely; small muddy sections you can line edge with a trimmer. When you make mud tracks, ruts, and dislodge grass plants are you really providing a good service? I don’t think so. Ignore muddy lawns until conditions improve.
Is now a good time to core aerate my lawn?
Yes! Do it in spring and, if your lawn is still in a rough shape, again in the fall. Some clients automatically go for twice a year. Regular maintenance contracts include spring aeration. The idea is to allow more air and water into the root zone and on the West Coast we get wet spring so it makes sense to do it now.
If I want to put a layer of mulch underneath my trees, how deep should it be and how widely should it be spread?
I wouldn't anything less than 3 inches because it will settle. To keep moisture in and weeds down do 3–5". Normally it's nice to have a defined tree well so the mulch doesn't spill over. Obviously it shouldn't be larger than the drip line. Maybe half, I'd have to see a picture. Warning: don't go cheap, a skinny layer of mulch will encourage weeds by conserving moisture but not depriving them of light.
What do people have against mowing the lawn backwards?
It only makes sense in tight spots where you can't properly turn around. One obvious problem is straight lines. You can't cut in beautiful laser lines backwards. The look will always be inferior.
I have five tulip plants but only one blooms. It has been that way for years. What would cause some of them to not bloom? They are planted outside, within a couple of feet of each other.
It's common with tulips, don't worry. Toss them and design a new bed. They're not expensive. I don't keep any tulips past season one. Do the same. Daffodils on the other hand pop every year and can be naturalized.
Should you edge your lawn?
Absolutely! Edging gives your lawn definition. It's like baking a cake and skipping icing. Lawns will creep over sidewalks and, if allowed, will cover them up. Lawns will creep into planted beds and interfere with plants. Lawns that only get mowed but not line-edged will show tall grass margins; the grass will produce flowers and it will get to have sex. You must edge your lawn!
Does grass grow from the tip or the base?
Neither! Grass grows from meristems (growth points) located in the first third of every blade. This is why we only cut off the top third. "Scalping" your lawn means cutting below the meristems. That's the ultimate sin in lawn care.