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Does Excess Car Exhaust Damage Gardens?


“How would a parking lot with 16 stalls [and the car exhaust] next to my garden interfere with plant photosynthesis?” Sylvia of Belle Plaine, Minnesota
Answer: It is a very interesting question. Car exhaust contains gasses that are helpful to plants and photosynthesis and some that are harmful. Car exhaust is also everywhere, especially if you live in an urban area, though the increase in […]

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How Can I Keep Plants Cool During Scorching Heatwaves?

Move potted plants to cooler locations during the most dangerous periods of a heatwave.
“It has been hotter than it’s ever been on record. How can I protect my plants from the severe heat?” Angie of Walla Walla, Washington
Answer: It’s scary when you live in an area that typically has mild summer temperatures, and you unexpectedly experience super high heat. Your tender plants are as used […]

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How Do I Build Up Tough Clay Garden Soil?


“I live in the San Fernando Valley – Woodland Hills alongside the 101 freeway which follows the Los Angeles River. The soil is horrible – topsoil atop the riverbed, which was diverted to a cement-based flow.  How do I build it up – besides gypsum – are there plants more suited to help break it up long term.” Lorraine of West Hills, California
Answer: Your […]

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What Small Trees Can I Plant Close to My Home?


“Is there a type of ornamental tree that I can plant within 6 feet of my house (in zone 5)?” Amy of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Answer: Aside from being attractive and suited to your garden and area, any tree that you choose must be compact and have a root system that is somewhat shallow. Here are five selections that are both beautiful, compact, and native.

Lavender […]

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What Are The Best Shade-Loving Native Groundcovers For New Jersey?

Shade Native Groundcovers For New Jersey
“What are the best ground covers for where I live in coastal New Jersey? The location is shaded 75-80% of the day.” Question from Thomas of South Amboy, New Jersey
Answer: The groundcovers that grow best in the shaded areas in your area of coastal New Jersey are natives. Here are four of the prettiest and toughest for your area.
Native Groundcovers […]

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How Do You Get Grass to Grow in Shade?


“How can you grow grass when you have so many trees you get no sunlight on the ground?” Question from Terry of La Place, Louisiana
Answer: Sadly, the best thing to do is to grow something else. Grasses are notoriously sun-loving and none of the common lawn varieties will grow well in deep shade. Beds of attractive, low-growing groundcovers for deep shade are a much […]

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What Is the Ideal Flower Bed Size?


“Is there a recommended size of a flower bed, specifically the depth, and how much Black Gold soil should be used for a solid grow?” Question from Rob of Colorado Springs Colorado
Answer: The size of your flower bed depends entirely on the space you have, the flowers that you want to plant, and the time you have to care for them.

Space: If you have […]

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What are Inexpensive, Easy Groundcovers to Stop Erosion?


“We have a small fenced-in backyard with a dog. Due to sloping, and poor drainage, we have little topsoil left, but a lot of mud that gets tracked in the house. Are there any inexpensive suggestions for easy-to-grow hardy ground coverings or grass that will alleviate these issues? Our back yard has a mixture of sun and shade and is primarily red mud, so […]

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What Seeds Need Heat Mats For Germination?


“In seed starting, which plant benefits the most by having a grow mat under it?” Question from Tim of Burton, Ohio
Answer: Some seeds need supplemental heat for germination, and these are almost always seeds for warm-season crops that naturally sprout when the outdoor temperatures heat up. Summer flowers, like cleome, cosmos, coreopsis, gomphrena, marigolds, salvias, and sunflowers, sprout better and grow faster with added […]

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How Do I Start Seeds?


“Hi, I have the worst time starting seeds and am not sure what I’m doing wrong. Do I need to put a heating pad under the tray and a light on top? If so, can I use a regular heating pad for under them? Can I use a regular shop light above them? I cover them with plastic wrap until the seeds sprout, which […]

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