Anne Marrison: Clover a friend to lawns

White clover helps grass grow through nitrogen-forming roots.

Dear Anne,

The grass in my front lawn has brown patches and does not look healthy. It has two or three types of grass/weeds growing. Does it need fertilizer? Should I aerate the lawn first? Can I do this myself?

Florence Salama, Vancouver

Dear Florence,

Work on your lawn is best done in when late Sepember orearly October rains begin. At this time lawn seed germinates without being watered every day.

Yes, your lawn would benefit from aerationm but it’s much too hard for you to do it yourself. It’s a long job that requires lots of muscle.

After aeration you could spread some compost or topsoil over the lawn and then scatter grass seed around. The best way of deterring lawn weeds is a strong growth of grass. Overseeding with new grass seed will help your lawn recover.

If you spread compost or topsoil on your lawn this fall, you don’t need fertilizer as well. If your lawn shows signs of moss next spring, it would be best to spread a thin layer of dolomite lime over it.

In spring, if your grass isn’t growing strongly, you could apply a fertilizer three weeks to a month after the lime is put on. But if you topdress your lawn with compost each spring, you may not need extra fertilizers.

Many grass seed mixes include white clover and it’s most likely that some of the ‘weeds’ on your lawn were white clover. This helps grass grow more strongly since clover’s  nitrogen-forming roots help feed the grass.

Clover flowers also attract bees which improves pollination in your garden and neighborhood. The only situation where clover should be avoided is where people in the home are allergic to bee stings.

Dear Anne,

My friend gave me a tropical rubber-tree house plants. It contains a white, milky latex that drips everywhere if you injure the plant. It is growing very fast. I was going to move it outside to prune it, but it is way too heavy.

When I cut off one branch before it touched my ceiling, the milky substance dripped all over my carpet and hardwood floor. Can this plant be pruned without making a mess? What should I use to clean this milky stain off my carpet and hardwood floor?

Gillian Hunt, e-mail

Dear Gillian,

Latex sap dries if left at indoor temperatures. Then you should be able to peel it off your hardwood floor. Wear gloves. But be careful, Gillian. Latex is an eye and skin irritant ,and many folk are allergic to it.

The carpet is a harder problem. It would be best to get a carpet cleaning firm in and see if they can handle it. They will have proper protective gear.

When you prune this immovable plant in future, your only option for inside cuts is to swathe the whole pot and surrounding floor with plastic. But this plant will leak every time it’s pruned.

The friend who gave you the tree may be willing to help you move it outside and in when it needs pruning. If not, it may be easier to send it to green waste.

For this you should don gloves and old clothing, drape plastic all around, then prune the tree into manageable pieces putting them into doubled plastic bags as you go.

Send to her via It helps me if you include your city or region.


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