Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Worries About a Weeping Fig


There is a weeping fig tree growing 6 feet away from our home in the neighbors yard and it is about 1.5 - 2 stories tall.  I was wondering if this is hazardous to the pavement, foundation or pipes since I hear they have a vigorous root system.  There are no signs of damage yet. but to prevent it from growing larger, what are things that can be done?

I also have a Sycamore tree in the front yard maybe 15 feet away from the house that is 27 years old.  Should I be worried of future issues with these trees?


Hi Sara,

Most tree issues are best dealt with when they appear, except those that involve safety. If you are worried about the tree failing have a consultant (preferably an ASCA consultant), evaluate the tree for safety. That being said there are several things you can do to help mitigate damage from yours and your neighbors' trees.

1.       Don’t attract the tree.
a.       Trees roots grow where there is water. If your neighbor has a tree with damaging roots that you are worrying about, make sure the area on your property adjacent the tree is a low water use landscape that doesn’t attract thirsty tree roots.
2.       Cut ‘em off at the pass.
a.       If you are dealing with a particularly pernicious plant, like bamboo, you can trench between the roots and your property down to 3-4 feet and then install a barrier of very thick PVC plastic. You can purchase such plastic at bamboo wholesalers. Although mainly for bamboo, this barrier can work for trees as well.
3.       Cut em back?.
a.       Cutting the roots of your neighbors trees could cause them to fail, so do consult an arborist (see introduction) before you consider this option.

Cheers,   Frank

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mushrooms Mass on Local Lawn

Question:  My front lawn has been inundated by mushrooms.  I just picked 1/2 pail this morning and now I have another 1/2 pail out on the lawn. What can I do?

Answer: Mushrooms can pop up in a lawn anytime the conditions are right. Some come during winter rains, others during summer humidity, and still others when there is enough moisture to precipitate dew out on the lawn. Even lawns that are watered only once a week can produce mushrooms. Besides in some cases producing an unsightly band of darker and then lighter colored grass, few mushrooms contribute to lawn diseases.  Many people feel that mushrooms are unattractive and they look for a way to kill the fungus.  The actual mushroom is simply the fruit of a fungus.  Killing the mushroom does not remove or-kill-the mycelia, or fungi, causing their growth.
Still some may consider these unattractive or a nuisance. What can be done to help lessen their occurrence? Below are some options that can help reduce the number and occurrences of mushrooms:

1.  Reduce amount of moisture in the area:  Mushrooms thrive in moist soils, refrain from, or slow down, the amount of irrigating or water you do to the location. This will not get rid of all the mushrooms, but can in some cases decrease their numbers.

2.  Eliminate decaying elements that enhance the growth of mushrooms:
  • ·         Remove grass clippings after mowing, raking them with a rake or using a bag grass catcher on the mower.
  • ·         De-thatch your lawn. Some lawns, especially tropical grasses like Bermuda and Saint Augustine, build up a layer of dead stems and roots that encourages mushroom growth.
  • ·         Have tree stumps ground and removed. Leaving tree stumps in the ground can encourage fungi that will infest other trees and cause heart rot. Also, buried wood over two inches thick from trees that were infested with Oak root fungus (Armellaria mellea) can encourage infestations of the fungus in trees whose roots come in contact with it, as well as producing large clusters of honey colored mushrooms.

3.  Increase the amount of light in the area mushrooms grow in; this can work for some mushrooms that do not need the sun to stimulate their fruiting, but does not work for all mushrooms.

4. Change your brand of mulch or compost: Some mulches and composts are very friendly to mushroom growth. If your using wood mulch make sure that that it is composed mostly of bark –under composted wood chips are great chow for mushroom producing fungi. If you’re using compost or amendment that is high in under-composted steer or horse manure you are likewise treating mushroom producing fungi to a very nutritious meal.

4. Learn to enjoy the fungi. In most cases mushroom producing fungi is not harmful to your lawn.

6. Have your mushrooms identified. You can bring your mushrooms to a local mycological society meeting and have them identified. This is very good idea if you feel that your dog or neighbor children might eat the fungi off of your lawn

7. Replace you lawn with ground cover and landscaping less susceptible to mushroom growth. Low water use landscape is less likely to harbor mushroom mycelia, and the period of mushroom production is much more likely to be shorter than that of a lawn.