Homegrown: Sycamore’s peeling bark nothing to worry about

Help! I think my sycamore tree has borers. The leaves are fine and the tree looks good, but the bark is peeling off in big pieces all over my yard. What’s going on, and how can I stop it?

— Catherine

Though I can understand your concern, the peeling bark isn’t really anything to worry about.

Sycamores tend to “shed” their outer bark as part of their growing process. While it can make a real mess as it occurs, it doesn’t damage the tree and actually adds to the overall beauty of the trunk as it matures. The shedding bark actually adds to the ornamental quality of the tree.

We have an area of low junipers, 8 to 12 inches tall that are getting a lot of grass growing up in the middle. Is there a nifty chemical that will kill grass but not the evergreens?

— Dave

There’s a product called Fertilome Over the Top that would do the trick for you. It kills grasses without harming broad-leaved plants.

Spray it well on the grass and do it a second time 10–14 days later. Be patient with this product. It will take a week or more for the grass to start to yellow, but it really does the job.


Can you recommend a variety of strawberry that will be ever-bearing in our location (elevation 5,300 feet)? I am of the opinion that altitude, latitude and temperature all have an effect on the ever-bearing qualities of strawberries. For this or other reasons we have had difficulty finding a good ever-bearing variety.

— Norman

There are three main groups of strawberries available to you, June-bearers, ever-bearers and day-

June-bearers fruit over several weeks in the spring, usually in June. June-bearers tend to bear heavier crops than the other types of strawberry and are the best choice for making jams and jellies since they set large crops of berries that ripen at the same time.

However, June-bearing strawberries are not as cold-hardy as the other types and are sometimes damaged or lost because of low wintertime temperatures.

Ever-bearers generally produce two main crops (spring and fall), but yield less than a single spring crop from a June-bearer. Ever-bearers produce fewer runners and are considered hardier than June-bearers.

The first two groups of strawberries set flower buds in response to a particular day length. Day-neutral strawberries are able to flower and fruit under any day length conditions.

They theoretically will produce fruit from spring through fall with several peaks throughout the season. However, temperatures above 70 degrees will inhibit flower bud formation.

As it gets hotter around here, production will slow and usually stop for a month or so during the heart of summer. You can increase production in the summer by shading your plants. Day-neutrals generally form fewer runners than June-bearers but more than Ever-bearers.

Being a bit higher in elevation should help with your strawberry production. We carry two varieties: Quinault, an ever-bearer, and Eversweet, which is a day-neutral.


I want to put in a strawberry bed. Can I plant different kinds of strawberries, and can I plant asparagus with the strawberries?

— Nancy

You can mix different varieties of strawberries in the same patch, but I’d steer away from planting asparagus there. I think you may run into watering problems down the line.

Strawberries want a regular supply of water while asparagus does better with a more infrequent soaking.

We run into this problem when people plant rhubarb in their strawberry patch. They go great together in a pie, but they are not that compatible in the garden.

I suggest finding a separate spot for each so you can match the watering to the individual needs of the plants.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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