Q&A: Trees for faster summer shade
Special to The Washington Post
Q. Are there any trees that can be planted close to a house and deck and will grow quickly and provide shade in summer?
A. Some fast-growing trees that could provide some shade in five to seven years, if the trunks already have a 1- to 2- inch thickness, are heritage river birch, pin oak, black gum, October glory red maple and Zelkova. A shade tree should be planted no closer to your house and deck than about 20 feet, which should be close enough to cast shade. Before planting, track the hours of sun and know where late-day shade is required.
Q. What can I do about stink bugs? I’ve disposed of dozens of them over winter and spring.
A. To control them, learn their life cycle. They are active from spring to fall. Adults can live for several years by hibernating under leaf litter. They can lay their barrel-shaped eggs, up to 100 or more at a time, as many as four times a season on the undersides of leaves. Keep your garden as weed-free as possible, removing low-growing leaves that provide areas for egg laying and hibernation. They have a sharp proboscis that can feel like a pinprick. Use gloves to hand-pick them, or try using a small cordless hand vacuum such as a DustBuster, on low speed, to suck them up.
When startled, they release a smell that is not only repugnant to people but attracts other stink bugs. Dispose of them as gently as possible; dumping them into soapy water should work. They are attracted to the color yellow and to lights. Plant yellow flowers far away from the house to lure them away, and use low-wattage light sources outdoors to discourage them from flying to your property.
• Joel M. Lerner is president of Environmental Design in Capitol View Park, Md., and author of “Anyone Can Landscape”(Ball 2001). Contact him through his Web site, http://www.gardenlerner.com.