I installed sod for a new client. Several weeks later the sod seems infested with all types of weeds — some bindweed and Johnsongrass. I'm fairly new to the business, but think the weeds could have come in with the sod. — Detroit, Mich.


You need to ask yourself and your client a couple of questions. First, what was the property used for prior to becoming lawn? Was it formerly a farm field? Was new sod needed because the old turf was a problem lawn? Also, when you purchased the sod, did you inspect it? Was the supplier a certified sod producer? Often preparing for a new lawn brings up dormant perennial weeds or weed seeds, especially if the area recently had weed problems. If the sod had been infested, you would have been able to see at least some of the perennial roots from the weeds. Be sure to inspect sod before installation begins or better yet, visit the sod farm itself to get a feel for how meticulously it is cultivated. Both bindweed and Johnsongrass are difficult to control. Their root systems are extensive: bindweed can survive low mowing; Johnsongrass has a large amount of storage in their fleshy rhizomes. Bindweed can be controlled using a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide. Check the herbicide label for any precautions with new sod. You may need to spot treat Johnsongrass with a broad-spectrum herbicide. Of course, the sod in that area will be damaged, but if left unchecked, the Johnsongrass will take over the new lawn and landscape.



I've been asked to care for a poinsettia display in an office building I do landscape maintenance for. I've never done indoor plant maintenance for a client before — seems that's always done by a separate company. Can you help? — Charlotte, N.C.


You're right to look for help — caring for interior plants can be tricky, especially if the clients have not used a service before. Look at these plants in the same way as flower containers outside, with one major difference: light levels indoors are much, much lower than outdoors. They have a restricted root space and the drying effects of forced air heating systems. Hopefully, you are charging an additional amount for this service, because it is time consuming. You will need to inspect each pot daily, as they will probably need water daily, but that will vary with the environment. Many potting mixes contain large amounts of peat, which holds moisture but doesn't always release it to the roots; while other mixes may contain pine bark, which needs frequent water. Because newer poinsettia varieties have long-lived bracts, the plants will benefit from frequent dilute fertilizations. The goal is to maintain as many leaves on the plant as possible. If you're lucky, your client may want the poinsettias on display only until after New Year's Day. Communicate with the manager to agree on expectations, then live up to them.

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