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Friday, March 11, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Practical Gardener

It's Easy To Transplant Small Dogwoods In Winter

WSU / King County Cooperative Extension

Q. Is it possible to transplant a pink flowering dogwood?

A. A very large, old tree would need the services of a professional with the knowledge and equipment to do the job properly. On the other hand, smaller trees, with a trunk diameter of no more than 2 inches, can be transplanted reasonably easily. Dogwoods can be moved anytime during the dormant season.

Make sure the new location has soil at least as well-drained as the previous site. And, although dogwoods are usually planted in partial shade, it's probably best to plant them where they'll receive quite a bit of sun to help mitigate disease problems, especially anthracnose, that have been decimating them recently.

When digging up your dogwood, try to get as much of the root system as you can with minimal soil disturbance. Make your new hole 2 to 3 times the diameter of the rootball, but no deeper. It's often prudent to plant the tree an inch or two higher than it grew before, in case the drainage in its new site is a bit slower.

Loosen the backfill before replacing it, and make absolutely certain the tree never dries out this summer. A deep, thorough soaking every 7 to 10 days would definitely be in order. A 3- to 4-inch loose organic mulch such as bark over the soil all around and under the tree would be desirable, as well as a handful of a nitrogen fertilizer, such as 21-0-0, spread evenly on top of the mulch and watered in.

Q. Moss is back in my lawn this year with a vengeance, even though I treated it last year and killed it. My lawn gets only moderate sun, and every time I mow it, the mower skins it in some areas right down to the soil. What should I do?

A. Moss invasion is usually a symptom of a poorly growing lawn. Low fertility, too much shade, compacted soil, an abundance of thatch, inadequate watering in summer: These are a few reasons turf grass doesn't do well.

Very acid soils, say with pH's below 5.5, may also inhibit vigorous lawn growth. Unless you do something about these conditions, you will likely be continually plagued by moss and other weed problems.

The skinning you do when mowing could be the result of excess thatch and/or a very uneven surface. A serious dethatching with a vertical mower, and then filling in obvious low spots, should be of some benefit. Along with this, if a pH test reads less than 5.5, a lime application may create an environment for better grass growth. Lime will not get rid of moss, contrary to popular opinion.

Q. How can I encourage bees to pollinate my fruit trees?

A. Unfortunately, honeybees are reluctant to do their job of pollinating when temperatures are below 60 degrees or when it's cloudy or rainy. This sort of weather invariably occurs in Western Washington when fruit trees are flowering! To circumvent this situation, many folks have been successful in attracting orchard mason bees to their yards to pollinate their trees. This native bee flies and works when weather conditions are less than ideal, and it is also more easily manipulated than other bee species.

For more information on this wonderfully beneficial insect, send a stamped, self-addressed, long envelope to WSU Extension, 612 Smith Tower, Seattle 98104. Ask for KC 156, "The Orchard Mason Bee."

Gardening runs Friday in the Scene section and Sunday in Home/Real Estate of The Seattle Times. It is prepared by George Pinyuh and Holly Kennell, Washington State University/King County Cooperative Extension agents, Mary Robson, Master Gardener program assistant, and volunteer Master Gardeners. Send questions to: Gardening, The Seattle Times, PO Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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