Growing Things: Reduce lawn height gradually as summer turns to fall

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Q: I love lobelia and try to grow them every year but I never have much success. They start out looking great and then seem to fizzle as the season goes on. Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong?

A: You may not be doing anything wrong. Lobelia are notorious for not liking heat and they also do not like having their feet wet. So this is a bit of a catch-22. You water extra because of the heat and the double whammy of heat plus too much water just exacerbates the problem.

I am speaking here from firsthand experience. This year I bought a stunning hanging basket chocked full of white petunias, lobelia, and at least six other varieties of annuals. It was beautiful! Yes, I do buy hanging baskets made by someone else when it looks as good as this one did. Within a month the lobelia looked terrible. I had been using ultrabloom fertilizer regularly as well. Too much water and too much heat and bye bye lobelia.

I have learned my lesson and will be making my own baskets, or at least buying ones ready-made that have the techno heat varieties of lobelia. This variety is much more tolerant of the heat than other types.

Q: Is it really necessary to roll sod? I seem to remember a pamphlet from the University of Alberta on lawn building, which said that it was of no benefit to use a lawn roller when installing sod. Also, do I need to make sure the edges are touching or does that not matter?

A: Like so many other topics in gardening, there may be more than one definitive answer to the question. Personally, I have always rolled my sod and will continue to do so. My reasoning is that I feel that I get better root to soil contact with rolling. Often sod gets kinked and bent as it is cut and stacked. When you lay it there may be sections that do not touch the soil because the sod section had been bent. Rolling helps press these sections down into the soil.

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