Yaupon holly is great for native bees

These small white female holly flowers feed early native bees like mason bees and mining bees. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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These small white female holly flowers feed early native bees like mason bees and mining bees. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Q: I’m trying to support the local pollinators with new plantings and wondered if ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon holly is a good replacement for arborvitae. I am especially interested in mason bees. Jeff Moore, Johns Creek

A: ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon holly would be an excellent replacement. Solitary bees love the little white flowers, which occur in great numbers in early spring when mason bees emerge. It has a nice dense form. Since ‘Will Fleming’ is a male holly, it won’t have fruit, but everyone with female yaupon hollies in the neighborhood will be very pleased to have a male nearby to increase the number of bright red berries they get.

Q: We have a new compost bin. We feed our horses and donkeys hay during the winter. It falls to the ground and is soiled with manure and urine from these animals. Is it OK to use this hay in compost bins for my vegetable and flower gardens? Vicki Waits, email

A: The particular E. coli associated with human disease is just one of hundreds of strains of this bacteria. Most are harmless; some are necessary for good digestive health. Composting lowers the amount of E. coli in manure but does not eliminate it. Mixing the composted manure in the soil lowers E. coli even further, but no manure can be considered to be free of E. coli. Despite that, I think the minute risk of sickness is an acceptable trade-off for the health benefits of fresh vegetables. In my opinion, mixing composted manure into the soil before planting does not increase disease risk, particularly if you wash the produce thoroughly before eating.

Q: My zoysia lawn never greens up until late spring. In spite of professional fertilizing and liming, it is beautiful but never deep green. What can be done to have it green up earlier? Richard Tyler, email

A: Zoysia is always going to be the laggard in green-up when compared to other warm-season grasses. Although delayed green-up in some years might be blamed on poor management in early spring (scalping too early) or the previous year (fertilizer applied late in the season), it sounds like your grass is late every year. You didn’t name the variety of zoysia you have, but slow green-up could also be caused by the genetics of the grass itself. Dr. Clint Waltz did DNA fingerprinting on 16 samples of grass that were labeled ‘Emerald’ zoysia. He found great variation in the samples’ genetic heritage and a big variation in their date of green-up. Your zoysia simply “is what it is,” and it is likely nothing you do will make it turn green faster.

Email Walter at georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener, for his latest tips.