Can sand co­ex­ist with new grass?

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - News - Jeff Rugg

Ques­tion: The kids out­grew the swim­ming pool, and we re­moved it. There is a large pile of sand rang­ing from an inch or 2 deep to about 6 inches deep. We don’t have any need for it; we just want to plant grass in place of the pool. Can we cover it with top­soil and plant grass, or can we till or­ganic matter into the sand? It would be nice to keep it.

An­swer: I am sorry to say that the best thing to do is prob­a­bly re­move as much sand as pos­si­ble. It takes at least three times as much or­ganic matter as sand to make it into an ac­cept­able soil. In the area that has 6 inches of sand, you would need to mix in a lot of or­ganic matter to cre­ate a good soil. Since or­ganic matter de­cays, you would have to con­tinue ad­ding more as the soil set­tles.

There are three nor­mal min­eral com­po­nents to soil: sand, silt and clay. Nor­mal gar­den soil or top­soil con­tains around 5 per­cent or­ganic matter. There is a wide range of soil types with vary­ing amounts of the three min­er­als and or­ganic matter. Some soils have a lot of sand, and some don’t. Mix­ing good top­soil into the sand is more work than just re­plac­ing the sand with the soil.

The more sand there is in the soil, the faster wa­ter will drain out of the soil. Most lawn grasses will grow bet­ter in soil that does not have sand as the ma­jor com­po­nent. Sandy soils need to be wa­tered more of­ten than oth­ers, so by re­plac­ing as much sand as pos­si­ble, you will lower your lawn’s wa­ter­ing needs.

If you place less than 6 inches of good soil on top of the sand, the grass will dry out too fast and you will have to wa­ter way too of­ten. Re­plac­ing the sand is the best op­tion.

CAR­ING FOR POINSETTIA

Ques­tion: I bought a beau­ti­ful cream and pink poinsettia early last Novem­ber think­ing that if it didn’t last, I could al­ways get an­other one at Christ­mas. Now, it is the first of May and it looks al­most as good as when I pur­chased it. All the poinsettia care ar­ti­cles I have read say to cut it back when the flow­ers fall off in early spring, but since this hasn’t hap­pened, I haven’t cut it back. I live in Ohio, and it is not yet warm enough to set it out­side. Should I cut off the bracts even though they still look great?

An­swer: Con­grats on do­ing such a good job grow­ing the poinsettia. When the weather is warm enough to take the plant out­side, you can do that. Or, since it has grown so well where you have it, you could leave it there.

Even­tu­ally, it will start grow­ing new branches. They will start at the buds where there are ex­ist­ing leaves. Those leaves will fall off, and the col­or­ful bracts may fall off at the same time. Some­times, poin­set­tias will send just one new branch out from the top of the ex­ist­ing stem. Prun­ing off the top cou­ple of inches of the ex­ist­ing stem (in­clud­ing the flower) will cause the plant to send out more new branches from more buds, giv­ing a fuller ap­pear­ance.

If you want it to re-bloom for Christ­mas this year, there are sev­eral ba­sic re­quire­ments, but the main one is long nights and short days. Most poinsettia va­ri­eties will bloom if you give them 14 hours of dark­ness each day. Start­ing in midSeptem­ber, cover the plant with a box ev­ery evening. Night­time tem­per­a­tures should be in the 60- to 70-degree range, and the day­time tem­per­a­ture should be about 10 de­grees warmer. Dur­ing the day, it should be in bright light, but not full sun.

Wa­ter as needed and fer­til­ize fol­low­ing the la­bel di­rec­tions for a fer­til­izer that pro­motes flow­er­ing. It should bloom in eight to 10 weeks.

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