Arborvitae is a great screen plant, but the limbs can sometimes split open. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES
Photo: Contributed by Walter Reeves
Photo: Contributed by Walter Reeves

Shorten wayward arborvitae branches

Q: I’ve seen arborvitae in many beautiful landscapes, but it always seems to split as it grows. Can this be avoided?Kathy Bell, Morrow

A: Arborvitae is an excellent needled evergreen, but it can have a problem with splitting. When it occurs close to the top of the plant, this is not a problem. But when the splitting is only a few feet away from the ground, the plant will splay outward after a severe rain or ice storm. The splayed branch is difficult to straighten. Some landscapers use wide green nylon tape to pull the branches upright. I think the best thing to do is to inspect an arborvitae every few months to check for vigorous branches trying to grow out from the main trunk. It is a simple matter to clip a few inches off the tip and put them back into place.

Q: I want to plant climbing hydrangea on a wall, but I am concerned about how invasive it is. How would you compare it to other vines?Mike Kleimeyer, Cumming

A: Climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris, is not nearly as fast growing or invasive as kudzu. It will climb trees and walls but in a graceful manner. When it reaches the height you desire, pruning it is easy. In my experience, it may take three to five years for it to bloom. It tolerates shade but it blooms best in sunshine. I observed one that grew in shade for two years until it finally found a tree nearby and began to climb. When the top was out of the shade, the vine began blooming. Note that there are two vines called climbing hydrangea. The second one is woodvamp, Decumaria barbara, which is native to Georgia.

Q: I heard you say on the radio that no herbicides will kill bamboo. I have had reasonable success killing bamboo by cutting every cane a little above ground level, just below a joint. I then fill the cell, which is now like a cup, with properly diluted Roundup Extended Control. This process seems to kill up to a square yard of bamboo, and it doesn’t seem to hurt nearby worthwhile plants. A few days later, you can cut the stumps at ground level.Harry Bolan, email

A: Your technique may have merit in some situations if you don’t have too much bamboo. But remember that Roundup Extended Control contains glyphosate plus imazapic, and the second chemical can last in soil up to four months. If you don’t intend to plant anything where the bamboo was growing, this product may be a good choice, but you will have to wait four months if you want to safely install another plant.

Q: I have fescue grass with some mondo grass mixed in. Will mondo grass eventually take over the fescue?Werner Stanek, Lawrenceville

A: The amount of light the area gets would determine which plant would win. In moderate to deep shade, it is likely the fescue would thin out, and the mondo grass would gradually take it over. Conversely, with more sunshine, the fescue would thrive, and the mondo grass would be slowed substantially.

Listen to Walter Reeves 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.

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