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August 3, 2011 | 5,091 views | Post a comment

Q. I want to redesign my landscape to include more color and less water use. The job seems overwhelming. How do I start?

A. Break the task into small pieces. There is a book, Home Landscaping Texas, by Greg Grant and Roger Holmes, that is a practical guide to landscaping a portion of the yard at a time.

Another great resource is the “Xeriscape Con-version Guide,” produced about 15 years ago by the Master Gardeners. As long as my supply lasts, I will send one free to everyone who sends me a self-addressed, stamped envelope ($1.68 postage) to Calvin Finch, “Xeriscape Conversion Guide”, P.O. Box 2499, San Antonio, TX 78298-2449.

Q. Is it necessary to deadhead esperanza to keep it blooming?

A. It helps if you cut off the spent flowers before the plant forms seedpods.

Q. My “New Gold” lantana has quit blooming. The leaves look dusty and gray. Is it a disease?

A. No, the symptoms you describe are caused by a sucking insect called lace bugs. Blooming will resume in four or five weeks. Spraying with acephate will kill lace bugs. Mark the time that the infection occurred this year on your calendar, so you can spray next year before they do the same damage.

Q. My compost pile does not seem to be “working,” even though we have added lots of green weeds pulled from the garden. Is there a trick that we are missing?

A. The major problem this year is the lack of moisture. Add a couple of cups of lawn fertilizer spread over the pile and wet the pile down every week. It will heat up and begin decomposing.

Q. What are the tomato varieties for fall? When should I plant?

A. Put transplants in the garden somewhere near Aug. 1. Use Surefire, Heatwave, Merced, 444, Phoenix, Solarfire, Sunpride, Celebrity, and /or Tycoon. Tycoon is the one selection resistant to the tomato yellow wilt virus that devastated tomatoes last year when white flies migrated from harvested cotton to our tomatoes.

Q. What herbicide is it that will kill Bermuda grass in groundcovers without hurting the groundcovers?

A. There are several -- Over the Top, Vantage, Grass be Gone, Fusilade, and others.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, e-mail him at reader@wcn-online.com.
 

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