Is there any way to eliminate sand and mulch that has worked its way into the cracks between the rocks of my French drain other than completely digging up the rocks and flushing the trench? Is there a Drano for French drains, or is this just wishful thinking?
— Houston


Sorry to break the bad news to you, but there is no Drano for French drains that I know of. If fine sand, organic matter and clay have clogged your French drain, you might consider an alternative system to avoid return of the problem. If you use perforated drain pipe, you will first lay an inch or two of gravel in the bottom of the trench, on which the pipe will rest. The drain pipe should be wrapped in a filter fabric. Then, finish filling in with gravel around the pipe, ensuring at least 1 inch of gravel surrounds the pipe on all sides. Four- or 6-inch drain pipes are commonly used, and are easily accommodated by 6- to 8-inch trenches. Be sure to run the upper end of the drain pipe to the surface and cap it so that you can, if necessary, access the pipe to unclog it. Look for more detail on drainage solution in this issue of Grounds Maintenance by turning to “Drainage Solutions” by Chris Carlson, Kent State University, on page G6.



A customer of mine has a child with severe allergies to pollen, and she is concerned about turf's contribution to the problem. What can I tell her?
— via the Internet


Hay fever is the common name given to pollen allergy. In the East and Midwest, pollen is most heavily produced by trees, such as elm, maple, birch and poplar, in early spring, by grasses in the late spring and by weeds from mid-summer to late fall. Ragweed is the main pollen-producing culprit in the late fall.

Because pollen is in the air from all surrounding sources, it is impossible to totally eliminate the problem by removing suspected pollen sources in the immediate vicinity, but removal may lessen the impact. The first step is to achieve a weed-free lawn. Keeping the area mowed will maintain the flowering culms in turf below the mowing height, but the grasses will still flower. Applying a seedhead-inhibiting plant growth regulator such as Embark and Proxy in the spring will prevent grass flowering. Landowners in the West with a windbreak of Russian olive trees, notorious pollen producers and now classified as a noxious weed in many states, have used Embark on these trees to prevent flowering and resultant pollen as well.

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