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Published June 12, 2009, 12:00 AM

Close digging not likely to harm ash tree

Q: We are building a new home, so the electric company trenched a hole for the electric lines a few feet away from my ash tree. The tree isn’t quite as high as the house (single story) but almost. Do you think this will kill the tree? Is there anything I can do to keep from losing it?

By: Don Kinzler, INFORUM

Q: We are building a new home, so the electric company trenched a hole for the electric lines a few feet away from my ash tree. The tree isn’t quite as high as the house (single story) but almost. Do you think this will kill the tree? Is there anything I can do to keep from losing it? (e-mail reference)

A: While not good for the tree, this action usually does not harm the tree to any degree. The hope is there will be some root regeneration from the cutting if the tree is otherwise healthy and vigorous. There isn’t much you can do in this case.

Ash trees are fairly tolerant of this kind of abuse. Depending on where you live, your bigger worry is the emerald ash borer.

Q: What can I do if my very large tomato plants are fruiting already? I had my plants in small cups. I planted them two weeks ago. Can you please give me some ideas? (e-mail reference)

A: Pick the fruits off and throw them away. Then give it some Miracle-Gro. Make sure your tomato plants get ample water and plenty of direct sunlight. Repeat the fertilizer application in about three weeks.

Q: I would like to plant a permanent snow fence. It is in a rural setting with a couple of miles of open space to the northwest. The west fence line is approximately 75 feet from the edge of my driveway. I am considering maybe cotoneaster and cedar. Horses pasture in that area, but I would plan to put an electric fence there. Thank you. (Brookings County, S.D.)

A: Both plantings would work. However, I’m assuming you mean the arborvitae or juniper when you refer to cedar.

Q: I’m going to plant San Marzano tomatoes in pots on my south-facing deck.

Since these have 80 days to maturity, is there anything I can do to get a good yield? Are night temperatures a factor?

I’m looking forward to making spaghetti sauce from them. I enjoy your column and look forward to your advice. Thanks. (Grand Forks, N.D.)

A: The location is perfect. Just try to keep the moisture level as consistent as possible and don’t overfertilize. Wide swings in fertilizing or watering can mess up a good production schedule.

Your spaghetti sauce sounds fantastic. Spaghetti with a good glass of red wine is one of my favorite comfort foods.

Q: I would like to plant a privacy hedge, so I have looked at cotoneasters, ninebark and lilacs. I have a small backyard. What can I expect for a growth rate per year? I understand the cotoneaster will require a lot more pruning and maintenance. What would you recommend? (West Fargo)

A: Why not ignore all of those and consider something immensely better, such as the Arnold red honeysuckle? Go to www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/

4dmg/Trees/Shrubs/arnold.htm to see photos and get some information on this beautiful shrub. It is underused in our landscapes.


Gardening or houseplant questions can be directed to Hortiscope, Box 6050, NDSU Dept. 7670, Fargo, ND 58108-6050 or ronald.smith@ndsu.edu

Note to e-mail correspondents: Please identify your location (city and state) for most accurate recommendations.

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