Q: My lawn has taken a bashing this summer with the dry weather and kids playing on it – dry and bare patches – what can I do to help it get back to its best in the autumn? MM, Newport
A: Wait for enough rain to give the ground a soak. Get some grass seed (mix with compost) down on the bare patches. Put down some lawn feed and weed on the rest of the area (don't over do it) wait for two weeks. Cut the lawn and rake it. You should have a nice lawn again for the autumn.
Q: My neighbour has lovely dahlias, what should I do to grow them next year? And which varieties would give me the longest flowering time? LI, Cwmbran
A: You can buy Dahlias in early spring in a packet. You can plant them outside at Easter time or buy them growing in pots through the spring and summer. They all flower for a long time as long as you remove the old flower heads, be careful as the new buds look similar to the faded flowers. They will need protection from slugs and snails. They die down to their tubers in the winter and if you have well drained soil you could take a chance and leave them in the ground for next year otherwise dig them up in November and store them frost free and dry. Bishop of Llandaff has a bright red flower and dark foliage.
Q: I have plum, pear and apple trees – how can I stop the fruit falling off before they’re ripe? I’ve also had some plums rotting without ripening. CT, Newport
A: The most likely cause is June drop which can also happen in July. The tree drops some fruit to ensure it has enough nutrients to bring the remaining fruit to maturity. For the plum try Bordeaux mixture which controls bacterial canker in plums and cherry.
Q: I have an ant nest in my garden, at the edge of the lawn – I’m tempted to leave it, but wonder what the implications are. CD, Pontypool
A: Ants are generally not a problem for gardens and should be left alone. If the nest is close to the house or you have young children I would put some ant powder down.
Tips for the week
If you have a wisteria now is the time to give it a prune to give a good show of flowers next year.
Prune this year's shoots back to three or four buds from the old stems.
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