Termites aren't always the enemy


Garden Q&A

August 26, 2006|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to The Sun

A pesticide guy came to my door and said that he'd treated a house nearby for termites and that our neighborhood had a lot of insects. I haven't noticed any problems. Should I take his offer?

The short answer is "no." Termites are native here and help us by disposing of dead wood and aerating the soil. They are present in all neighborhoods. Most houses will never have a problem with them.

Big tree roots make mowing my lawn harder every year. It's impossible to ride the mower in some areas, not to mention the mower is slicing the top off roots, too. Can I cover those big roots with dirt or just cut them off?

Tree roots grow near the surface for oxygen. Trees slowly "suffocate" without having oxygen available to their roots.

You can safely add a maximum of 3 inches of soil over the roots without making provisions such as tree wells. Or consider dispensing with turf at tree roots and simply grow ground cover or mulch.

Scalping the roots repeatedly with a mower opens a wound that could provide entry for infection. Cutting off major roots may very well kill a portion of the tree.


Check houseplants for infestations of mealy bug, whitefly, etc., before bringing them indoors.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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