I have weeds I need to identify. I was told they might be purslane and plantain. I planted buffalo grass and want to make sure that I use the correct herbicide. I know NOT to use 2, 4-D on buffalo grass.

— Bill

It's mostly purslane I see in the pictures you sent. That's the weed that's really prostrate with those fat, succulent leaves. You're right about being very careful with the broadleaf type herbicides such as 2, 4-D on buffalo grass lawns. It will damage the grass if you apply that type of herbicide.

Right now, I don't have anything to recommend. Since Purslane is an annual weed, I think your best bet is to use a preemergent-type herbicide early next spring to control it.

Preemergents work by preventing seed germination without affecting existing perennial plants. They're magically effective in controlling all sorts of annual weeds.

I know it's hard to wait until then to do anything about it, but the truth of the matter is that this purslane has already set bucket loads of seeds, so you'll have to deal with them anyway next year.

I was wondering if it is OK to cut branches from my smoke tree this time of year or would it be better to wait until March?

— Maria

It probably doesn't matter a whole lot if you prune in the fall or the spring (or summer or winter for that matter).

The theoretical problem with pruning in the fall is that you've created some open wounds and the tissue can desiccate in our dry climate over the winter, occasionally causing some additional dieback. That doesn't happen often so you probably will never notice the difference.

Personally, I prune woody trees and shrubs any time of the year except for the fall. In fact, I've been pruning several of my trees in the yard through this past summer.

Pruning is often a growth stimulant, so you don't want to encourage lots of growth this time of year. You want the tree to be moving toward a long winter's nap.

I recommend waiting until the plant is dormant in late October or November..

What trees and shrubs shouldn't be planted near a leach field?

— Gary

I'm usually not that concerned about planting most trees near a leach field (I do worry about planting trees close to a septic tank). The only trees I really worry about are riparian species that naturally grow along stream and riverbanks, such as willow, birch, maple, sycamore and poplars.

I would probably try to keep them a good ways away from a leach field.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506, or email info@bookcliffgardens.com.

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