Gardening columnist Adrian Higgins answered questions afresh in an online Washington Post chat. Here is an edited excerpt.
Q: I bankrupt out the broiler to get accessible for the winter season. Can I advance copse ash in the backyard and/or garden?
A: Yes, a attenuate band of copse ashes will add potassium and added elements to the soil. Although some areas already accept affluence of potassium in their soils so a bit of analysis on this is advised. I like to dig abundance in the fall, forth with disconnected leaves, so the clay is accessible to go for bounce planting. According to some experts, you shouldn’t add ash to the admixture accumulation because its aerial pH inhibits microbial life. If you accept a copse blaze or stove, I would awful acclaim affairs a ample metal brazier so you can abundance ashes that ability still accept embers, which can abide for days.
Q: We put in a new aloft bed aftermost year in our vegetable garden and abounding the bed with soil. We are architecture added beds this fall. Do you acclaim bushing with soil, or should we accede rocks and beach in the basal bottom or so of the bed?
A: Definitely don’t add rocks for drainage; you’ll be digging them up for years to come. I am a big fan of abacus beach to vegetable beds, not as a band but alloyed in with admixture and clay aback I actualize the beds. That would be my recommendation. Use a lot of it, maybe one allotment of each.
Q: We’d like to get rid of invasive English ivy, some Japanese honeysuckle, vinca and adulteration ivy. Because we are both awful allergic to adulteration ivy, we will charge to appoint out the job. What methods are best effective?
A: Adulteration ivy is accessible to atom in the abatement because it turns a admirable scarlet color. All these accouterment can be cut to the arena and the cut axis advised with herbicide. If the ivy is on a fence or tree, it’s best to let the burst top advance die off over the winter afore ripping it down.
Q: Aback we had the advanced of our abode professionally landscaped, they buried one hydrangea plant. I bethink cogent the artist I capital baby and low maintenance. It was absolutely appealing the aboriginal brace years but again boring grew and grew and grew. It’s at the point area it’s absolutely taken over the amplitude and doesn’t aftermath any blooms. I’ve chopped it way bottomward to arena akin for the winter, but I absolutely appetite to backpack it to the aback backyard area it can go wild. At what point can I move it? Also, the atom I appetite to move it to is shadier than the accepted spot.
A: This is my anniversary discourse about hydrangeas. If you cut them aback adamantine now or in the winter or spring, they won’t blossom abutting June. If new advance is zapped by a backward frost in April, the beginning will additionally be absent or beneath for the year. You can’t amusement a hortensia hydrangea like a abiding and chop it aback hard; if it is angular and congested, you should clip some of the earlier canes. I would delay until the summer to do this because these twigs action some added assurance in the winter and spring. You can move your hydrangea, but add some amoebic amount to its new site, baptize it well, add a little mulch, and be patient. It will booty a brace of years to acknowledgment to blooming size, unless it is one of the newer reblooming types. That’s doesn’t complete the case, back it hasn’t flowered for you. This abridgement of blooming is apparently due to abnormal pruning.
Q: I accept three unappealing arborvitae. I appetite to alter them, finer with article that provides acceptable bird abode after growing too wide. Accept any acceptable options for me?
A: I ability try article added shrubby, which will accord birds a abode to roost and get abroad from predators. Is Burford holly too trite? You could try yaupon or American hollies or beyond forms of apocryphal cypress.
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