Things you should never do…..if you listen to me

Things you should never do, if you listen to me

Week in and week out, I do my best to tell you what you SHOULD BE DOING in my weekly e-mail tips, on the radio show, and especially on this website.  I thought I would turn that completely around and tell you all the things you should NEVER DO.

I’m not doing this because I’m in some kind of ‘negative mood’ or anything like that. I just took the idea from some home-improvement show talkers. I thought to myself, “What a great idea! Let’s talk about what you shouldn’t be doing.” So, let’s dig in!

Now, there is no real order to this list. It’s just random tips. And if you want to help add to it, send me an e-mail and we can build the ultimate “you should never” list that all Houston and SE Texas gardening newbies can trust.

You Should Never – buy Zoysia grass plugs through the mail or the Internet. Zoysia only works with solid sod.

You Should Never – purchase fruit trees from big-box stores or mass merchandisers, unless you are 100 percent certain the variety works here. I actually saw a Red Delicious apple tree at the big-box store near my house the other day. They don’t work in this zone.

You Should Never – solely use mushroom compost as your veggie garden compost. It’s too high in salts.

You Should Never – use dyed or ash-infused black mulch, period. I have a new way of telling if certain mulch is good enough for you: Stick your hand in it, pull it out, look at what’s on your hand, and ask yourself, “Would I let my kids play in that?”

You Should Never – hire a tree company based on the lowest bid alone. The good ones have liability insurance, workman’s comp insurance, and are bonded. That is why their bids are usually higher.

You Should Never – use weed and feed products with atrazine. Really … if you take these tip sheets seriously and you listen to my radio show … you’re still using weed-and-feeds … shame on you. Atrazine will be removed from the market one day (soon, I hope), so you might as well get used to not having it.

You Should Never – prune the brown fronds on your palms until the first flush of new growth has laid out.

You Should Never – plant periwinkles/vincas until at least the end of April. Even though they may be for sale at garden centers in March, the soil is way too cold for them to set up shop, and you’ll just be wasting money replacing them. The holds true in the fall when garden centers try to sell pansies too early.

You Should Never – plant pansies and other cool season annuals until at least Halloween.

You Should Never – put out fungicides for brownpatch in the spring. No matter how bad your brownpatch was last fall, it’s not active in the spring and you’ll do more harm than good to the beneficial bacterium in the soil.

You Should Never – believe every little claim that a “new organic product” makes, unless the manufacturer can back it with test results. Organic charlatans are rampant out there. But it’s really easy to pick them out … when you ask if they have university research to back up their claims, they always say things like, “They charge too much” or “I don’t trust them because they’re in bed with conglomerates.” Or, “I don’t need research when get all these anecdotal letters and e-mails.”

You Should Never – top trees. Period! Topping trees used to be a common pruning practice, but research proves how deleterious this effect truly is. If a tree service company recommends “topping,” turn them away … they don’t know what they’re doing.

And lastly, You Should Never mulch-mow again until you’re convinced you got most of the dead and freeze-damaged material up from your lawn. Mulch-mowed dead grass could lead to an unhealthy thatch build up. Bag up the dead grass as long as you can.