When to trim beautyberry and crepe myrtle?

Q: When is “late winter through early spring” in southeast Georgia? That’s when I understand I should be trimming my beautyberry and crepe myrtle. — Carole Franzone, email

A: You're right to identify the correct season. Southeast Georgia winter weather is much different from the metro Atlanta area I most often write about. Here, we do winter pruning between December and March. Both of your plants flower on new wood, so winter pruning does not diminish summer blooms (or fall beautyberry fruit). For the warmer parts of the state, I think January and February would be good times to get pruning done before spring growth begins.

Q: I am going to hire someone to plant an evergreen screen for privacy and long-term low maintenance. Our neighbors' upstairs bedroom overlooks our yard. Is Green Giant arborvitae a good choice? — Jane Mobley, email

A: I think 'Green Giant' arborvitae would be a fine selection. They grow tall enough to block second-story windows and the foliage is quite handsome. It seems less prone to limb cankers than Leyland cypress. You'll get the fastest growth rate if you thoroughly loosen the soil six feet in all directions from the base of the trees at planting. Be sure to water regularly for six months after planting, even in cold weather. There's no need to fertilize now but a couple of applications of landscape fertilizer each summer will aid growth.

Q: I want to get rid of some large holly bushes. I previously had some pulled out of the ground with a chain and a big truck. Someone said it would be easier to cut the remaining one down completely and put Roundup on the roots. Do you think this is effective? — Beth Perpall, Norcross

A: As many have discovered, holly has a will to live that conquers most herbicides. Glyphosate (Roundup) is slowly absorbed by holly leaves and it doesn't travel far from the point of application. I've applied glyphosate to a Chinese holly in my landscape twice a year for two years yet it still persists. I think you'll discover root sprouts for a couple of years after using either method. However, if you are persistent about removing the sprouts, the holly will gradually starve and disappear.

Q: I've always known yellow jacket nests to have two openings. The second opening helps ventilate the nest while serving as an emergency exit. — Greg Brett, email

A: UGA insect expert Paul Guillebeau said sometimes they have multiple holes by chance. They make nests in existing holes like rotted out tree roots or under logs. Paul said he's seen a nest with four exit holes, but doesn't think they made more than one hole on purpose.

Q: We are looking for an evergreen tree to provide shade in our front yard. What types would you recommend for the middle of Georgia? — Susan Huguley, email

A: I can’t think of anything evergreen that provides effective shade other than a pine tree. My guess is that’s not what you’re looking for. I think you’d be better served by a couple of deciduous trees that cool your house in summer but allow the winter sun to warm it. I have a list of fast-growing shade trees at bit.ly/fasttree.