Q. I planted 12 "blue rug" junipers in my yard four years ago. This year the lower branches started turning brown, and they look terrible. The soil drains very poorly where they are planted. Is there something I can spray to save them?
A. Junipers cannot tolerate wet soils. Your plant roots and lower stems are rotting due to poor drainage. No pesticide treatment will solve the problem. You can remove the damaged stems, but expect the plants to decline and eventually die. The only solution is to remove the junipers and replant with species that can tolerate wet soil, or remove the junipers and correct the drainage problem.
Q. I had a very expensive termite problem several years ago and am wondering if I should spray my firewood periodically with an insecticide to kill any termites or other bad bugs that might get in the house.
A. Doing so would be a violation of federal law. No insecticides are labeled for spraying firewood. Burning firewood treated with an insecticide could cause the release of poisonous fumes in your house and to the outside air. Prevent potential problems with wood boring beetles and termites by storing firewood outside and away from your house, inspecting firewood before bringing it into the house, and bringing in only enough firewood to burn for a few hours.
THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST
Pull off your large green tomatoes before the first frost and find a good pickle recipe, or place them in a closed bag or container with a ripe apple. The apple gives off ethylene gas that will help ripen the tomatoes.
Backyard Q&A is by Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist for the Home and Garden Information Center, Maryland Cooperative Extension Services of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu / users / hgic.