Annual vines bring beauty and hummingbirds

Morning glory is an easy summer vine for color in the landscape. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: This summer, we had gorgeous morning glory vines on a trellis and on the railings of our patio. They are losing leaves. Might I have overwatered? Emily Butler, DeKalb County

A: It is not your fault. Each year, morning glory vines begin to decline in September. If they are in full sun, they can lose a lot of leaves. Pull them out when you can’t tolerate the rattiness. If you want to experiment with other annual vines next year, cypress vine and cardinal climber have bright red flowers and will take the heat plus bring in neighborhood hummingbirds.

Q: My zoysia sod was put down in mid-August. I have looked for simple watering information but they all talk about inches of water instead of time. I’d have to put cups in random places, try to assess how much water is collected during watering, etc. Can you suggest a watering schedule that’s not so complicated? Jenni Ferguson, email

A: If you’d rather not measure irrigation with the cup averaging method, I have an alternative. There are two main watering goals after laying sod. The first is to give it enough water so that it roots healthily into the soil beneath. To accomplish this, run your sprinkler in one spot for 30 minutes. Turn it off, wait five minutes, then walk barefoot in the area for a few seconds. If water squishes up between your toes, you have watered enough in that spot. Move the sprinkler and repeat until the whole lawn has been watered. The second watering goal, after the grass is well-rooted, is to wean it down to grow healthily with just a single watering per week. Lawn grass hates being wet all the time. It is happiest if you give it five or six days to dry out between waterings. The idea that a lawn must be watered every week from June until September is simply wrong. In dry weather, if you walk across the lawn in midafternoon and can see your footsteps behind you, the grass roots are dry and the lawn needs watering. Use the barefoot method described above to know when you’ve watered enough for that week.

Q: What would happen if I let my emerald zoysia grass grow on a steep bank without mowing? Debbie Miller, email

A: It will be “tufty” but could be somewhat attractive. Plant 3-inch-diameter plugs of grass 6 inches apart in May. Try to control water flowing down the bank to avoid erosion around the plugs. Fertilize lightly. You should use a string trimmer to mow it once a year in late spring.

Listen to Walter Reeves' segments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.

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