Can sand coexist with new grass?
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.