By Walter Reeves, For the AJC
Troy Warren for CNT
Q: We have a play set in the sun for our toddler. The soil underneath is dry and cracking. What would you recommend to put there so she can crawl and not get eaten up by ants or cut by mulch? Rachel Galen, Dunwoody
A: You have two choices: zoysia sod or Bermuda sod. Either would work. I asked my 9-year-old friend Gabe to evaluate the feel of Emerald zoysia on his feet in my neighbor’s lawn and he reports it is very soft. There are other fine-bladed zoysias available besides Emerald. Any Bermuda variety you choose would thrive in full sun. The key to success is to prepare the spot before you lay the sod. It will not readily root into bare, uncultivated soil. You could easily lay the sod one weekend and have your child play on it the next weekend.
Q: What low ground cover would you recommend for a driveway middle strip? Marlene Goldman, DeKalb County
A: I’m seeing Asiatic jasmine, Trachelospermum asiaticum, used more and more as a dense and successful ground cover around town. It’s not the same as Confederate jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides. Despite the name, neither one is a true jasmine. Asiatic jasmine stems are more woody than Confederate jasmine’s. It’s less likely to climb an arbor unassisted but it covers the ground densely. I’ve never noticed it blooming while on the ground, probably due to yearly pruning, but a neighbor has the vine on a foot-tall fence and it blooms fragrantly and reliably each year. Asiatic jasmine tolerates a bit of foot traffic. It is tough, deer-proof and readily available. To keep it neat, use shears or a string trimmer to cut it down to 6 inches in early spring each year.
Q: Several years ago, we planted asparagus crowns in a bed where they thrived. But six years ago, they started producing small stalks with only ferny foliage. Could it be that the crowns have gone too deep? Will Magruder, email
A: I have never heard of asparagus roots going too deep. But asparagus plants can lose vigor if the soil becomes compacted or some other factor keeps the roots from growing healthily. They are heavy feeders and depend on regular summer fertilizing to make thick roots that produce big spears. Consider digging the plants carefully with a spading fork this fall, redoing the bed and replanting them. Be sure to remove any weeds you find as you work.
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