Your Garden Guy: Reasons behind ‘don’t do it’ list

I received many questions from last week’s column. This week, I’ll explain the reasons behind items on the list.

1. Don’t use rocks/pebbles as a ground cover or mulch.

Over time, these little rocks can, and do, spread into lawn areas. This creates a hazard when mowing, which can pick them up and send them flying toward windows, cars and people.

The beds are very difficult to work in. Adding and removing plants becomes a real chore, and there is no easy way to add soil amendments.

Looks a little bit like Arizona landscapes, where they use rocks because there is no water to keep plants alive. I like Arizona, just not in Georgia.

The pebbles attract just as many bugs as pine straw or mulch.

2. Don’t use privet, Leyland cypress, red tip, mahonia or Bradford pear.

Privet is a buggy, invasive shrub.

Leyland cypress is short-lived and has disease problems. Use arborvitae Green Giant instead.

Red tip has a major fungus problem that causes death. If you have healthy shrubs in your yard, remove them when they start to decline. Use a holly instead.

Mahonia has naturalized in some areas of the state forming dense growth displacing the native plants. Spread mostly by birds who love the berries, this shrub has become a problem.

Bradford pear flowers smell bad, and the tree, as it matures, tends to split in half during wind or ice storms. Do not cut this tree way back like a crape myrtle, plant a crape myrtle instead or try Okame cherry.

3. Don’t use pampas grass anywhere in the landscape.

Pampas grass is the ultimate landscape joke. This grass grows huge. The leaves are like razors. It should, like all grasses, be cut back from time to time. Only the female plants get the big, beautiful, striking plumes and you will not know if you have a male or female until the grass has gotten large.

4. Don’t plant petunia, marigold, morning glory, cana lily or ajuga.

These are the plants that you buy in the spring and by July are either dead or take over and become a weed. Save your money.

5. Don’t put sand on your lawn.

I know the golf courses add sand to the greens, but you don’t own a golf course. Lawn roots will not grow in sand when we have a drought, so as the roots dry up, your lawn will reverse course and die quickly. Try getting a soil test, aerating the lawn, and use a sand/top soil mix.

6. Don’t buy seat cushions that are in jewel tones.

Jewel tone outdoor cushions are, well, way out. Use neutral tones or bright colors. This is a quick way to update the look of any patio, pool or porch.

7. Don’t buy, plant or encourage wisteria or trumpet vine.

These are just really pretty versions of kudzu. For those of you who don’t know, kudzu is a very bad plant, very bad.

Next week, I will give you my list of “go for it” tips.

Contact Todd Goulding at or 345-0719.