Each year, thousands of Arizona residents email or call Romero’s radio show with questions about everything from preventing fires in their chimneys to getting rid of tree roots in their sewer systems. His goal is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona. Here are questions about home maintenance and improvement from the Tucson area.
QUESTION: I have a problem in my yard with agave worms. Now my agave looks really bad and I’m afraid I’ll have to pull it out. I’ve also had a lot of June bugs this year; are they responsible for the worms, and can I still save my agave?
ANSWER: This is the time of year when agaves can start deteriorating if grubs have invaded the base of the plants. The spiky leaves of your giant blue agave may be flopping, rotting and melting. If you wiggle the plant around, you may be able to pull it right out of the ground. Then you will find the grubs still inside the core of the plant. These grubs are actually the larvae of what is called the agave snout weevil or beetle, which may also be the critter that you call a June bug. The weevils drill holes in the plants to lay their eggs, which hatch into grubs.
You need to pull the plant out and try to get rid of the grubs or beetles that may still be in the area. You can apply some insecticide now, but the damage has already been done, of course. One method of controlling this pest is by applying a systemic insecticide in early spring to prevent the same thing from happening again to other agaves in your yard. The plant absorbs the chemical, and its juices become deadly to the pest. But be sure to ask your local nursery for advice.
Q: I have just had a flagstone hardscape installed in my backyard. Do I have to finish it or seal it in some way to protect it?
A: You don’t have to do that, but if some food or chemical is spilled on it, it could stain the stones. If your flagstone paving isn’t sealed, some of the stone might also flake or chip off. Both of those reasons are why flagstone has lost some of its popularity with homeowners in recent years. But if you cover your patio with a penetrating sealer, you can protect against any of that happening. You can get those sealers in a matte or wet look. Some finishes are not even visible on the surface of the pavers, although they are still protecting the flagstone.
Q: I bought a house about six years ago, and now my tile floor is lifting up and buckling. Construction originally started on the house in 1982; then it stopped for a while. When they came back to work on the house again, they found a tree growing in the middle of the house site. They cut the tree down and later poured concrete over it to create the slab for the house. Could that tree or its roots being growing again and lifting up my floor? I’m thinking that the tree might not have been totally removed.
A: You could be right. It’s possible that the roots weren’t properly extracted or killed. You need to get some local contractors in to assess the situation and determine whether your foundations have been jeopardized in some way. You don’t want to try to put a new floor down at this point. You may need to demolish the floor and some of the slab to find the stump and then bring in a grinder to demolish it and any roots. Then you can re-grade the floor and pour new concrete.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona homebuilding and remodeling industry expert for 25 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning “Rosie on the House” radio program, heard locally from 8-11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) and -FM (97.1) in Tucson and KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 1-888-767-4348.