Doug’s mailbag: Zebra grass, pale vegetables and yellow nutsedge

Posted on: June 5, 2018 | Written By: Friends of EG | Comments

Gardening editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

• Email askdoug@535mediallc.com

• Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site

• Send us a message on Facebook.

We’ll try to make this a weekly feature. (The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)

Karen P: Hi Doug! Wondering if you have a solution to off zebra grass. I have 3 plants, each about 15 inches in diameter. They stand in front of my new solid fence which I just had redone from 4 to 6 foot. I used the grass as a makeshift barrier to block the neighbor’s unkempt yard when my fencing was picket and shorter. Now with the new fence, I no longer need them as a barrier. They are quite alot for me to trim at season’s end and make a mess if I leave cut down until spring. I did manage to trim them to about 2 inches high. I am not strong enough to dig them out. Is there a herbicide or a solution that will definitely eradicate them for me?

Doug: They will need to be dug out and removed. There’s no herbicide strong enough to kill a mature ornamental grass. For now you could just keep cutting them down, shouldn’t be as hard as the old brown stalks.

• • •

Donna E: My green beans and peas are growing very well, but the vegetables are very pale in color. What do I need to add to the soil? I’m a native of Pittsburgh but now live in Southern California; gardening is very different here but just as much fun.

Doug: It’s all about the soil. Not sure what you’re growing in, but compost works anywhere. I’d also check the pH of the soil. Since the beans and peas are already in, I’d like to see how they would respond to a good liquid organic fertilizer for a boost.

• • •

Fran S: Do you have any advice on how to deal with yellow nutsedge in flower beds and borders? I’m losing my mind!

Doug: There’s no easy way to deal with that invasive. They can be removed by hand by gently digging the root (or nut) out. If you can get to it, continual top cutting (weekly) will kill it after a season. A thick mulch of 7-10 layers of newspaper covered with bark mulch should help too. I wish I had better news for you.
If the newspaper method doesn’t work, the only real way to deal with it is dig the rootlets when they are young and remove the tuber, not fun.

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”