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When Queen Anne's Lace becomes invasive, and a garden near a septic tank

Resident Expert

Q. Queen anne's lace has a graceful bloom but an invasive root system difficult to get rid of. It is choking desirable, adjacent bulbs. I read that it is a biannual so cutting the flowers should solve the problem but this has not worked. Digging and destroying the plants does not seem to prevent Queen Anne's lace from spreading. Is there a poison that I could daub on exposed roots ? - Robert Quinn, via e-mail

A. The most effective strategy in ridding your garden of unwanted Queen Anne's lace is, in fact, to pull the entire plant up by the roots, says an expert at Mahoney's Garden Center in Winchester, Mass. "You could paint some Roundup on it, but that could damaging the neighboring flowers, [or greenery]," he says. "Unlike weed killers for lawns, there is no poison that is selective for wildflowers. The best course of action is, after having pulled up the unwanted plants by the roots, to put mulch or weed block fabric down to prevent them from growing back.

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Q. Is it safe to plant a vegetable garden in a yard with a septic tank? If so, how far away must it be from the tank? - P.Z., Peterborough, N.H.

A. It's not a recommended practice, says David Nagel, vegetable specialist at the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Deep-rooted vegetables, such as tomatoes, could be contaminated by chloroform bacteria.

If you have to cultivate near a septic area, planting a few feet away from the filter field, (the surrounding area where the septic tank drains) is safe for most plants.

Nagel says to be wary, however, if you live in a wet region where sewage could leach into the nearby vegetable plot.

Readers: Pose your questions and we'll seek out experts on home repairs, gardens, food, and family legal issues. Send queries to the Homefront Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail

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