If you have a question about gardening in the Birmingham area, ask John. John Floyd has been gardening–and learning about gardening–for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience in the garden, John has degrees in horticulture, plant taxonomy, and plant physiology from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.
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It depends on how high you want the screen. One of my favorite 20 plus foot screens is Nellie R. Stevens holly. They grow very well in the Birmingham metro area. For screens larger than 30 feet, you will need a small evergreen tree. Those not sensitive to drought are not common in our area, so you might want to try cryptomeria, but they will require water.
Many nurseries are limited by space and what is available from their wholesalers. Gardenias are not as popular as they use to be in the past. Check this spring at larger garden centers like Hanna’s, and they may have several types.
Each time after they finish blooming, so that could be up to 3 times a year depending on the selection.
Since they bloom on the new wood each year, prune before they leaf out.
First, you are not alone in losing cypress. One of the things that needs to be decided is how fast you want a six foot hedge. I really like dwarf Burford holly, and mine came through the drought with limited watering. If you put out a good 3 gallon plant, five feet on center, expect 5-7 years to achieve what you described. Quicker growing shrubs include Mary Neil holly, ‘Bright ‘n’ Tight’ cherry laurel (short lived 10-15 years), Japanese boxwood, and Fortune’s osmanthus. But all of these will have to be kept at six feet once they achieve that height.
About the only thing I am using on spring weeds is a herbicide containing 2-4-D. Make sure the product you buy is cleared for your specific type of grass and apply according to label directions. That should clean it up, except for Poa annua (common name annual bluegrass), which it does not control. If the Poa annua is sparse, you might want to hand pull it.
Candidly, the weather is so odd right now, who knows, if you depend on the weather. I think it is fine to prune blueberries, figs, and crepe myrtles, if they need it.
Yes, it is fine to use as mulch, but it may contain some weed seeds. If you can spread a very thin layer of pine straw over the leaves, the look will be nice, and it will help with decomposition. Buy pine straw at any big-box hardware store or garden center.
I cut mine in a fan shape in late fall. If you did not do that last fall, remove dead and damaged leaves now. Leave the new leaves coming out of the rhizomes now.
I really don’t have a solution for you. I have a friend that has an electrified fence, and that does not seem to work either. My only suggestion is that over time you select deer resistant plants to replace the ones you lose from those pesky deer.
It should be ok in the container but remove the dead stalks. Then, in the spring, when new shoots appear remove any bad looking shoots. It always grows better in the ground vs a pot.
Tough questions – I think if the azalea’s leaves are shriveled and then turn brown, chances are poor. Scratch the bark and see if there is any green under it; if not, my guess is they are dead. As for hydrangeas, even if they die back, oftentimes they will come back from the roots (hopefully). As for the pachysandra, I must declare it is dead unfortunately. With it being so dry now, I think many of our plants will be severely damaged.
When she commnets it is either in Ask John or Comments and she will identify herself-john
Broom rake the area where you killed the worms, or try removing with a blower. Instead of soil, I would use sand if the holes are severe. When I have had infestations in the past I would clean the area of dead worms the best I could, and then water the area well. Generally it filled the holes, and the yard returned to normal. As for the armadillos, removal from the area is the best solution.