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Bob Morris

Debunking the myths of pine needle mulch

Q: We have 14-year-old pine trees with large water berms under them for collecting water. The inside of these berms are full of pine needles that I hoped would help hold moisture but they do not deteriorate. Should they be left under the trees or be removed?

Cedar, redwood mulches work better than pine

Question: Would you please tell me what type of mulch is not recommended to put in flower beds? I thought I remembered it being redwood mulch, but I can’t find anything on that. Could it have been cedar? My landscape guy says the shredded cedar is not a problem for vegetation.

If bees don’t get to flowers, plums can’t form properly

Question: I have two Santa Rosa plum trees planted in my backyard. One is planted in a lawn, and the other is in a rock landscape. Both are doing well with numerous large plums growing on them. The one in the lawn area has about 25 percent small yellow plums that fall off when I flick them or shake the branches. The remainder of the larger plums look great.

If the patio can hold it, container plants can thrive

Question: I live in a third-floor condo that faces south. I get about seven hours of direct sun and have containers on my patio with spinach, tomatoes and peppers that are doing well so far. I was wondering if there are any types of fruit trees that produce and thrive in a patio container.

Options limited for verticillium-resistant trees in desert

Question: We have a 20-year-old olive tree in our front yard diagnosed with verticillium wilt disease. The north third of the tree appears to be healthy. If we remove this tree, what distance from the old hole is needed for the new tree? We would like a replacement tree to provide shade. We are looking at oak, pine, ash, spruce or fir.

Bay laurel a bad choice of trees

Question: On the north side of our house, we have a 10-foot-wide space we are trying to landscape. Several have suggested planting bay laurel trees, but we are concerned about the tree’s size for the space. When we went to the nursery, their suggestion was the Majestic Beauty hawthorn tree. Will the hawthorn tree do well in our climate and soils?

Get pot-bound citrus in the ground

Question: I purchased a lovely Meyer Lemon tree in a 1-gallon pot in the middle of the spring. It already had six lemons on it. I have the original fruit, have new fruit growing and still am getting blossoms. Should I transplant it now into a larger pot or wait until after the fruit ripens and is used?

Keep gardens out of full western sun

Question: I have planter boxes that get hours of direct sun. I’ve tried everything from corn to edamame, grapes, peppers, tomatillo and many others. I have even put up shading, but either there is too much sun or maybe I overwater. I’d like to start now and get a jump on summer.