QUESTION: We are interested in relocating the laundry room to the second story of our house, which means moving the plumbing line into the attic. My reason for doing this is that I need more space for the laundry area. It’s now in a closet, but there’s room for it upstairs. Then I could also turn the old laundry room into a pantry. Is that a bad plan?
ANSWER: Your idea can work if you are willing to give up getting cold water out of your faucets during the summer. When the plumbing lines run through a hot attic, you will get only warm water out of the cold faucets.
Q: I want to have a water softener installed in my house, but I’ve been told my home wasn’t plumbed for that and it would cost me $2,000 to get it done. It could be done more cheaply if I buy one of those alternative water treatment systems instead of a conventional water softener. Would one of those other methods work?
A: A traditional water softener is the only way to soften your water. Any company that tells you they can soften your water with magnetism or electricity will not be able to do that. Probably you should go out and get a second bid on installing a water softener loop in your house, just to make sure you’re getting competitive pricing.
Q: I am building a new home with western exposure and I want to plant from three to five small to medium trees that could provide some shade in summer.
A: Think about planting a deciduous tree that loses its leaves in winter so that your yard might get more sun when the weather is colder. A Chinese elm tree will do well in our climate. Hybrid mesquites are also a good choice.
Q: I have a 5-year-old lemon tree that has stopped producing fruit. I got five lemons last year and I had three blossoms this year. Should I take it out?
A: It sounds as if the tree is languishing in its current location. Perhaps you should cut your losses and put in a new tree. It’s possible that the old tree was planted too deeply or perhaps it had been left in the container too long before you planted it. If you do plan to take the tree out yourself, you want to be sure to do it safely. There are lots of great companies who have the right equipment for doing the job.
Q: I have planted two desert willow trees over the past two years, but they haven’t done very well. They have something growing on them that looks like mistletoe, but it is not mistletoe. The leaves are looking misshapen and stunted. What’s wrong with them?
A: It could be what is called a fasciation, abnormal growth that produces ribbon-like, crested or contorted tissue. It’s a fairly common growing situation that is also seen on cactuses, like the “crested” saguaro.
Some people like to collect plants with these unusual situations. It could be caused by genetic material or by bacteria. If you plan to keep the plants, be sure to give them some extra watering.