Chinese elm bark naturally pops off to make a jigsaw puzzle-like pattern. Contributed by Walter Reeves.

Lacebark elm is an excellent landscape tree

Q: I had to take down a big oak and I want to replace it. A friend mentioned Chinese elm. What are your thoughts? Anne Stanley, email

A: Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia, also known as lacebark elm, is an excellent tree. The bark is particularly attractive, looking like a big jigsaw puzzle. This elm is fast-growing, drought-tolerant and has few pests. If you want shade, look for the ‘Athena’ variety. Be sure not to buy a Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila, as it is vastly inferior.

Q: I am a new homeowner. My zoysia sod has been down since late May. Does it need fertilizer? Josh Nixon, email

A: If the sod seems to be strongly rooted down then it’s time to fertilize. You can buy anything that is labeled “lawn fertilizer” or “turf fertilizer.” I know there are heavily advertised products but I promise you will not go wrong initially by buying any brand of lawn fertilizer. The numbers on the bag don’t make much difference either. As long as the bag says lawn fertilizer, you’re fine.

Before you buy the fertilizer, measure your lawn. Write the number of square feet you are managing someplace where you can always find it and refer to it. I have my dimensions written inside my shed door. Knowing how many square feet you have, it’s time to go buy the fertilizer. Most bags will note how many square feet they cover. You do the math to figure out how much to buy without having a lot left over.

If you don’t have a lawn fertilizer spreader, you’ll need to buy one. It is easiest if the fertilizer you buy has a specific setting for your spreader so you know how to prepare the spreader to put the fertilizer down correctly. Once the spreader is set and the fertilizer is in place, start pushing. Note how wide the swath of fertilizer pellets is spread. When you stop and turn around, try not to overlap your previous fertilizer spreading path.

If you have fertilizer left over, put it in the bag and seal it tightly so it doesn’t absorb moisture. As long as you keep it dry, you can use it next time. A typical zoysia lawn would be fertilized twice a year, once when it is 90% green in May and once again in late July.

Q: My three sunny cardinal climber vines are not blooming. They’re pretty big and green but no blooms. Jody Darby, Calhoun

A: Cardinal climber and its parents, cypress vine and red morning glory, are vigorous annual vines. Given a good site in which to grow, they shoot up rapidly. I think they sometimes initially put more energy into growing than into putting on flowers. If your vines are healthy, they should be getting ready to bloom soon.

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Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.