Garden Q&A: Unfertilized lawn is less appetizing to geese

Peperomia, Baby Rubber Plant
Peperomia, Baby Rubber Plant (Marian Hengemihle, Baltimore Sun)

This winter, Canada geese are eating the grass down to the bare ground on my waterfront. There's 15 feet of nothing but brown along the edge of the river. It looks terrible. How can I get rid of them?

This is more than unsightly — it is Chesapeake Bay erosion and pollution in the making. (One goose produces a pound of droppings a day, and they can live 15-25 years.)


Fortunately, the best times to address the problem are late winter before nesting begins or as soon as they appear. Grass is an ideal food for geese. They like it cut low and fertilized (more nutritious for them.) So, let your grass grow 12 to 14 inches high and don't fertilize.

Avoid Kentucky bluegrass, their favorite, for less-favored fescues. Both sheep and hard fescue, for example, thrive without fertilizer and tolerate only a few mowings a year. (Call the Home and Garden Information Center at University of Maryland Extension for more information.)

Or replace grass with other low-growing plants. Because geese like to land in water and walk onto land, strands of 20-pound fishing line at 6 inches and 12 inches off the ground, with sturdy stakes every 6 feet, have proved to be an effective barrier. For more ideas, see this state Department of Natural Resources link:

Do not assume these geese are migratory. Most of Maryland's "Canada" geese live here year-round in resident flocks and are considered an invasive species.

My friend has been growing Christmas cacti successfully for ages. I gave her one, she repotted it, and it hasn't bloomed in a year. Did I give her a dud?

As your friend knows, they don't naturally bloom at Christmas, and they aren't really cacti, but a Christmas cactus should have bloomed by now. Assuming it is getting bright but not direct sun, plenty of water and steady temperatures, we suspect that the repotting has disrupted bloom.

Christmas cactus should only be repotted when roots fill the container — it may look top-heavy. This may be done yearly, but move it into a pot only one size larger at a time.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question from the website at

Plant of the week

Peperomia, baby rubber plant

Peperomia obtusifolia 'Variegata'

Peperomia earns popularity by looking lovely without a lot of work. These houseplants in the pepper family, native from Florida to South America, have foliage in various sizes, shapes, colors and textures. "


," for example, sports red stem blotches, irregular creamy margins and two-tone green leaves. Flowers appear atop long, thin spikes. Peperomias thrive in containers or terrariums at normal room temperatures. They like bright light but not direct sun. (Variegated foliage tolerates the most sunlight.) Do not overwater, as they are prone to root rot. Allow potting soil to dry almost completely between watering. The thick fleshy leaves help them tolerate short periods of drought. Fertilize actively growing plants monthly with liquid fertilizer at half-strength. Occasional pinching of growing tips promotes sideshoots and a bushier plant



— Marian Hengemihle