Leyland cypress has limited life span

Q: I have hundreds of Leyland cypress surrounding my property. They are 5-21 years old. I’ve noticed the older ones are dead inside. What are your thoughts? — Barb Drost, Blairsville

A: Nothing lives forever. Whether plant or animal, living things seem to have typical life spans — some measured in centuries and some in days. Leyland cypress is enormously popular in Southern landscapes. Even so, it is not particularly suited for heat and drought. Both lead to disease, from which a Leyland has a hard time recovering.

In my observation, Leyland cypress trees that were planted properly, so they have a wide root system, last 25–50 years. In contrast, trees that were planted hastily in clay soil have small roots that just can’t keep up with the need for water in summer. They might last only 10–15 years.

If you have important Leyland cypresses in your landscape, it is imperative that they get water in summer. Depending on their size, 10 to 50 gallons of water might be needed per week. I have details on Leyland cypress diseases at bit.ly/Leylandlife.

Q: My wife has an orchid whose roots are extending over the pot edge and hanging loose by the side. Should I remove them? — Danny Snelling, email

A: This is typical growth for some species of orchids. In nature, these roots would help the orchid cling to a tree's bark. There is no need to remove them unless they die and shrivel.

Q: I planted Bermuda seed 10 days ago. It is coming up nicely, but I did not roll the freshly tilled dirt before seeding. Walking behind the seed spreader and walking to move the sprinkler around everyday has left many footprints in the soft dirt. Would a sod roller to help even out the ground? — Dave Lucas, email

A: The roller will not do what you want. It would have to be enormously heavy to flatten the soil and that would not be good for your grass seedlings. At this point I think you're stuck with the divots in the ground. Next spring fill them with a 1:1 mix of sand and topsoil and let the grass fill in during summer.

Q: Our older home deck needs renovation, but a huge wisteria has been trained to grow through a hole in the middle of the deck and then climb a big arbor. Will I be able to rescue it? — Suzanne Williams, Atlanta

A: I think rescue is possible. If you can get underneath to dig out some of the root ball and heave it up through the deck, that might work. Failing that, excavate some long roots and plant them horizontally in a trench somewhere nearby. Or even cut some 3-foot-long sections of ½-inch diameter vine and plant them in horizontal trenches. It would be rare for wisteria not to sprout back from one of these methods.

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