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Slope planting ideas

BY KEITH STANGLER

Q. We have planted Lamium ground cover on the slope twice now and it has washed so badly there that we now have to replant the area again. Can you suggest how we might accomplish establishment without all this erosion?

A. I have several suggestions:

(1) Use more plants so your planting becomes thick sooner. If you installed one plant every two feet before, use one every foot this time.

(2) Use a good starter fertilizer, maybe a 5-10-5 or a 10-10-10 to assure establishment as soon as possible.

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(3) Put down a 2- to 3-inch thick layer of a quickly biodegradable mulch like shredded hardwood bark. Do this as you install plants so this can be done as efficiently as possible without missing areas or covering your new plants.

Q. My perennial garden has a blooming "lull" period from mid June to mid July, I have one area where I have tall hollyhocks that I plan to take out because I just don't like them anymore. What would you suggest we might replant there for some summer bloom.

A. You could choose between garden phlox, yarrow, and early varieties of daylily or coreopsis. There are others as well. This is one of the nicest characteristics of perennial gardens, that not only does bloom change constantly, but also you can (and should) change species from time to time. Changing one or two varieties will give the whole garden a new, fresh look and appeal.

Q. We seeded a new area of lawn this past spring. We have mowed it now a few times but some have told us we should not mow it this first year, to just let it grow, become established and produce strong roots. What is your advice?

A. Here there is no doubt. Keep mowing as you are doing. It is not beneficial in any way to avoid mowing. With any new lawn seeding, begin mowing as soon as the new seedlings look tall enough that mowing is required.

Keith Stangler has 35 years experience as a horticulturist. For comment or questions call (507) 285-7739 or 1-800-562-1758.

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