Help your tree recover from bark damage

Q: I had my front yard dug up because of a collapsed sewer line. The backhoe damaged a 6-inch square of bark on one side of my mature dogwood tree. Is there anything I should do to ensure better survival of the tree? Steven Grego, DeKalb County

A: Unlike mammals, which heal an injury by covering over it, trees deal with damage by forming a layer of dense cells inside the tree around and under the wound. Oxygen contacting the damaged cells stimulates the tree’s protection response to proceed as quickly as possible. The best help for your tree is to clean the edges of the scrape with a razor knife, removing any loose bark. Do not apply wound dressing or paint. Water regularly to reduce stress and place mulch under the tree to keep the soil cool.

Q: Is it too late in the season to lay zoysia sod? I have a southern-facing lawn with limited sun in the winter due to lots of surrounding trees. Philip Giese, Buckhead

A: The answer is a qualified maybe. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lawn grasses have slowed down their growth in the last few weeks. Sod of any kind laid now will be slow to root, which means you’ll have to water it in winter so it doesn’t completely dry out. I guess it depends on how much you’re willing to gamble on the sod cost, ability to irrigate, continued warm weather, etc.

Q: I replaced my Bermuda lawn with zoysia in late April of this year. The contractor sprayed the Bermuda with some sort of herbicide cocktail and the grass turned brown in three days. Five days later he scalped the brown sod with a string trimmer and laid the zoysia on top of it. The zoysia quickly established. But recently I've noticed Bermuda growing in the zoysia. Is this Bermuda is coming from my old lawn or could the new sod have been contaminated with it? Ken Krawford, email

A: It is coming from your old lawn. There is no herbicide in the world that will completely kill Bermuda grass with one spray and then allow planting sod five days later. It usually takes two sprays, two weeks apart. Sometimes three sprays are required. In addition, it is bad practice to simply scalp the existing lawn and lay sod on top. The soil should’ve been thoroughly tilled and raked smooth before laying sod. You are now going to have a hard time killing the Bermuda grass in your zoysia.

Q: The cut roses I received are growing sprouts and new leaves. Are they able to be planted? Kathy Bicknell, email

A: It is not uncommon for cut roses to sprout new leaves. However, they rarely sprout new roots. If the twigs don’t develop roots, they won’t survive being taken out of the water. That said, they won’t even last much longer in the water because the stem ends can’t absorb nutrients. Enjoy the flowers, but the leaves will all soon turn yellow.

Listen to Walter Reeves on Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.