Each year, thousands of Arizona residents email or call Rosie Romero’s radio show with questions about everything from preventing fires in their chimneys to getting rid of tree roots invading their sewer system. His goal is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona.
Q: I’m installing a trellis next to a wall of my house. Should it be bolted to the house itself or should it be free-standing? And can I plant a star jasmine on it?
A: Most trellises have a footing that allows them to stand about three to four inches off the wall. They’re usually not bolted to the wall because you need space for the vine to grow. If it’s a south- or west-facing wall, you need a plant that can handle the sun and heat like a bougainvillea or a cats-claw. A star jasmine would work better on a north- or east-facing wall.
Q: We have two tomato plants in our yard with beautiful green tomatoes on them. Will they ripen now that it’s gotten much colder?
A: No, they will never ripen even if you could keep the plants going and they stayed out there for weeks and weeks. Pick the tomatoes and bring them into the house and put them in a sunny spot to ripen there. Don’t put them in the refrigerator.
Q: I had a long concrete sidewalk laid for 50 feet along the side of my house. It’s about three feet wide and runs up to my driveway. But after it was done, I noticed that it doesn’t have any expansion joints with isolation fiber in them as has been done on sidewalks throughout my neighborhood. Is that going to be a problem that will cause cracking in the concrete later?
A: No, because expansion joints in concrete paving are not needed very often in sidewalks. It’s unlikely that there could be problems later with cracks forming.
Q: I have Bermuda grass growing next to an area in the yard where I want to put in a vegetable garden. How can I put in a barrier to keep the grass from invading the bed of vegetables?
It’s not going to be a raised bed, but I will put a border of bricks around it and I was thinking of laying pieces of old carpet under the soil for the plants to keep the grass out. Would that work?
A: It is going to be very difficult to keep the grass out. Bermuda will not be stopped by carpet; it will grow right through or around it. You should probably use a herbicide spray to kill some of the grass first in the area, before starting the garden, although admittedly some people find that objectionable. Then dig down about two feet to form the bed.
Over time, you’re going to have to keep pulling the Bermuda out to remove it. The best time to do all this Bermuda removal would be at the end of next summer and into the fall.
Q: I’ve let most of my lawn die out, but now I think I’d like to provide a little bit of a lawn again for my dogs.
I’m interested in planting dichondra – the grassy stuff that looks like a bunch of little round clovers. I’ve never seen that planted here. Is it available for sale and will it work?
A: Dichondra isn’t really grass; it’s a very tender ground cover that can be grown from seed. You can also buy flats of it and put it into a lawn space in plugs. It does best in shadier areas though. I don’t think that it would be very good for handling traffic with dogs though.
You might consider using artificial turf instead. Some kinds of artificial turf have been developed for use with animals, in fact.