Spending summer in your garden

“Good questions outrank easy answers.”

— Paul A. Samuelson

Stuck in traffic yesterday afternoon, I finally realized why Paul fled to Germany. And Eric to Spain, Michael to Vancouver, and Catharine to San Juanico. It’s not for the obvious reason of summertime crowds in Laguna. My friends and family all left on the pretext of vacation, but the real reason was to avoid garden chores.

From sprinkler repairs to fighting off whitefly, the garden requires your attention. Besides, where else can you find that peaceful, easy feeling while working under the sun? Your good questions to the Plant Man for August included:


Q. I have a weedy patch that I would like to plant as a perennial bed. Any tips?

A. Get to the weeds first, prior to any planting. They’re tougher to control once your flowers are in. Knock the weeds out with Roundup herbicide and mulch liberally after planting.

Q. I still have snails in the garden. What should I do?

A. Snails require moisture to thrive, so they are most troublesome in wet environs. I handpick the ones I see and apply copper pellets to reduce the population. If your shelled friends are a major problem, That’s It from Metro is the most effective control.


Q. I have holes in my flower garden. What should I plant?

A. A list of hardy summer annuals begins with petunia, vinca and marigold. Warmer weather would allow you to plant zinnia, verbena and gloriosa daisy. Coreopsis, ageratum, nicotiana and dahlia also deserve consideration.

Q. I think some skunks have set up home under our house. At least, I can smell them. What can I do?

A. If you’re a do-it-your-selfer, placing mothballs, open pans of household ammonia, or floodlights under your house should discourage your houseguests. For myself, I would call a service to humanely remove them.

Q. The neighborhood crows are driving me crazy. How can I discourage them from sitting on the fence and cawing?

A. Catharine recommends applying Tanglefoot (a bird repellent adhesive) where the crows sit. It discourages birds from resting on your fence.

To leave Laguna means enduring hot and humid weather, crowds and unfamiliar restaurants. Not to mention airports, rental cars and the daunting possibility of fathoming foreign currency. Leaving Laguna is as farfetched as visiting Baja in August. See you next time.

STEVE KAWARATANI is happily married to award winning writer Catharine Cooper and has four dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-8168, or e-mail to