Fielding Your Yard Questions
HGTV Magazine|September 2016

Chris Lambton, host of DIY Network’s Yard Crashers, weeds through your pesky lawn and garden problems and pulls up answers.

We want to maintain our lawn organically.What can we do to combat crabgrass,grubs, and moss without chemicals or pesticides?

—Judy Cariglia, Columbia, CT

Routine maintenance can prevent all these issues. First test your soil’s pH level by either using an at-home kit or taking a sample to a garden center. Soil that’s too acidic or alkaline is weed prone; acidic soil can also lead to grubs. Depending on the test results, you’ll likely need to add either lime or sulfur. If moss is the problem, you may be over watering. Rely on Mother Nature for H2O, and water only if it hasn’t rained in a few days. Two more key chores: aerating and dethatching. The aerating process pokes holes in the ground so air and water can reach the grass’s roots. There are hand tools and even special spiked shoes you can wear to do the job. Dethatching requires a rake that combs the lawn and removes dead grass. I typically aerate in the fall and dethatch in the spring, but the best time for each depends on your grass. A local garden center can help.

I want to grow tomatoes in my shady yard. Do any types grow in shade,or do they all need full sun?

—Nicole Palmieri, Hoboken, NJ

There’s no way around it: Tomatoes love sun. At least the ones I’ve met do. If your yard gets a lot of shade, plant tomatoes in pots on casters so you can roll them around as the sun moves across your yard or patio. You can grow any tomato in a pot, but types with a dwarf growth habit, which don’t grow as large, work best for beginners. You can even bring the plants inside to a sunny corner near a window. I’ve grown Big Boy and heirloom tomatoes indoors, but those require a spot in direct sunlight that will warm up to 80 degrees.

We’d love to get more use out of our backyard in the fall.Can you recommend a safe heating source?

—Frank Giaquinto, Paramus, NJ

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