Garden Doctor advice on mushrooms in lawns and seeding
Q: My newly sodded lawn is being overrun by mushrooms. What can I do to get rid of them and how can I prevent them from coming back? I have dogs to take into consideration when I choose a method to rid myself of this problem.
A: Unfortunately, there's no useful control available for mushrooms. They usually pop up during wet, humid weather and disappear again when the temperatures heat up and things dry out. All you can do is be patient and/or rake them off if they look too unsightly. Keep in mind that mushrooms are actually helpful to your soil -- they break down materials in the soil, enriching it for your lawn.
Q: Can I plant watermelons, cantaloupes, squash, and zucchini near each other? My neighbor told me if I do, the produce will be ruined.
A: It's a common garden myth that you'll get hybrid fruits if you plant any of these near each other. They're all in the same plant family, and it's possible that they may interbreed. But if they do, it would only affect the seeds, not the fruits from this year's plants. If you were to collect the seeds and plant them next year, you might get undesirable fruits.
Q: My backyard slopes down on both the western and eastern sides. I get a lot of water in my lawn after it rains, so sometimes it is almost swampy. There's a planting bed along my fence. I'm very new to gardening and am looking for a shrub to plant in a sunny, moist area like this.
A: You're in luck. Two great choices for your area are buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea). The first produces interesting creamy-white flowers in summer; the other offers white flowers in early summer, pretty fall foliage, and interesting red or yellow stems during the winter.
Q: I want to transplant some hostas now. They have lots of lush leaves. Should I cut off the leaves after I move them?
A: Hostas typically will not produce more foliage this year if you cut them back. Leave the leaves on the plant unless you transplant in autumn at the end of the season, which is the best time to transplant them.
Q: I seeded my lawn the second week of May, and I didn't kill everything before seeding. Now I have grass and a wide variety of weeds coming up. When should I cut my grass for the first time?
--Turtle Lake, Wisconsin
A: You should mow as soon as possible. Even if the grass is not very tall yet, mowing is beneficial simply to knock the weeds down. After a few mowings, you can go ahead and spray broadleaf weed killer or apply a weed-and-feed product to get rid of the weeds. If you did not fertilize when you planted, be sure to do so soon. It will really help the new lawn. Also, water the lawn as needed to keep the grass actively growing.
Q: I have a big problem with my dog, Deisel. He likes to eat my flowers and plants! I have tried to stop him, but nothing I do seems to be working. Do you have any ideas that could help me?
A: If you can't train him, give Deisel a place of his own in the yard where it doesn't matter if he chews. Or, try sprinkling red pepper over your favorite plants. There is also a product called Liquid Fence you can spray on your plants to keep dogs away.
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