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How to Rid Yourself of Bamboo Roots

We planted a stand of bamboo years ago, thinking it would be a wonderful screen – and boy, it has been. But I never realized how powerfully invasive its roots are. Taking it out threatens to be a huge task. Any advice?

Planting bamboo is a reckless act. Maybe you should suffer a little now. If you could find them, a couple of motivated teenagers could spend an entire lucrative summer digging out all your bamboo. To make your task easier, water the area deeply a few days before digging. The roots may go deeper than 12 inches. The task: dig out the entire root and rhizome mass, getting as much out as possible. Start on the outside of the stand and work your way inward. You may be able to dig deeply around the circumference of a chunk, tie a strong rope or chain around it, and pull it out with a truck!

Please describe the best mulch to use for perennials. I want something that biodegrades, blending into and helping soil improve over the course of the season, so that by next spring it has worked into the earth.

Mulch can accomplish three things: retain moisture, stop weeds and make a garden look unified and attractive. Taste in mulch varies widely ‒ from shredded bark to large hunks of wood, from dyed charcoal gray to dyed orange brown, and from pebbles, hay or straw to pine needles, buckwheat hulls, grass clippings or sawdust. Popular mulches sold at garden centers are usually of hardwood or softwood or bark shavings. To enrich your soil, try dry crushed tree leaves mixed with humus or compost. Roots need air, so don’t smother plants with mulch. A couple of inches will do.

Why are some of my azaleas turning yellow, and if it’s a bad thing, what can I do to green them up?

When healthy dark green azalea leaves turn yellow it often means chlorosis ‒ iron deficiency. Either not enough iron is available in the soil for the azalea to use, or the soil pH is not low enough (acid enough) to release the iron that is there. Or perhaps the soil is compacted, preventing roots from accessing existing iron. Azaleas like light, friable soil with a pH from 4.5 to 5.5. Look for something with iron sulfate or iron chelate to add now, and feed with Holly-tone in the growing season. Other causes might be root rot (caused by poor drainage) or planting too deep, or simply that the plant is not well established. Azaleas do need some light – the filtered kind – and aren’t happy in complete shade.

For more information about the Capitol Hill Garden Club, please visit the website Capitolhillgardenclub.org. The May meeting of the club is planned for Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Details available by using the contact information on the website.

Feeling beset by gardening problems? Send them to the Problem Lady c/o the Editor, Hill Garden News. Your problems might even prove instructive to others and help them feel superior to you. Complete anonymity is assured.

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