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October offers good weather for planting

Cooler evening temperatures and the Canyon sycamores turning leaf color are a reminder that summer has departed. It has been consistently warm despite the on-and-off overcast weather… my anemones appeared pinker and the Russelia brighter than autumns past. The days have closed with a clear horizon over the ocean, and possi- bilities have returned. October is such a splendid month.

Your questions for me included:

Q. Besides ruining my view, my neighbor’s eucalyptus tree has covered my soil with debris. What can I do?

A. Rake out all leaves, bark and pods, and then turn the soil as deeply as possible. Follow with weekly watering to leach out the toxic oils. After lying fallow during the winter, the soil should be in fair condition for spring. Constant raking must be continued forever.


Q. When should I plant a new lawn?

A. Although a lawn may be started at any time in Laguna, the best time is during the fall, particularly in October. This will establish the lawn prior to the winter rains and before the summer’s heat.

Q. How can I tell the difference between a male and female asparagus plant?

A. With much difficulty; however, the male plants yield a greater bounty of spears.


Q. The leaves of my laurel leaf ficus are curling up. What’s up?

A. Your ficus is being infested with thrips. Although unsightly, the damage is not likely debilitating. For aesthetic reasons, I recommend simply pulling off affected leaves.

Q. The last of my Monterey pines is dying. Is there anything I can do?

A. The deadly combination of the engraver bark beetle, and the fungus it transmits, has destroyed most of the Monterey pines in Laguna. If you are not willing to remove the tree, keep it well fed and watered to increase its vitality.

Q. How can I get rid of oxalis growing in my Korean grass?

A. The broad leaf herbicide, 2, 4-D, is very effective. In small areas, I recommend applying the chemical as a premixed solution.

Q. How can I grow a dichondra lawn?

A. The soil should be well prepared and perfectly graded. Monthly feedings with a complete lawn fertilizer, and plenty of water is necessary to keep the “lawn” green. Limit mowing to three or four times a year.


As October began I noticed a renewed liveliness in both Buster’s and my footfalls … I could see where I wanted to be (and hope he would continue to follow).

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