Issue: November 4, 2000

  • Lichen on fence
  • Gardening after hip surgery

Lichen on fence


Lichens fungus has gotten onto my fence boards and are rotting the fence. What can I do to prevent this? What will destroy the lichens fungus on the fence? Any help is greatly appreciated. Paul Voeller


Copper solutions kill fungus and algae. Lichen is a symbiotic relationship of a fungus and an alga. So copper sulfate, or other such material, should help.

I wonder if the lichen is a result, not a primary cause of what you are describing. It is likely that the lichen is growing in that location because the fence has begun to rot, releasing nutrients that benefit the lichen. The lichen will exude some weak acids which may enhance the rotting process but are probably secondary to the problem. Fortunately, the copper solution will probably help control the primary rot organisms.

Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office for more local recommendations on products that will help.

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Gardening after hip surgery


My grandmother recently had a hip replacement. She is now unable to kneel in her garden. Is there a special seat that can be purchased to solve this problem?

Answer: I am not familiar with any chair that would facilitate your grandmother's gardening. Any chair that would be low enough to make gardening easy would be so low that it would be difficult for her to stand. Perhaps there is a power-lift type of chair that I haven't seen that would work.

I suggest that her gardening be facilitated by creating raised bed gardens. She could sit on the side of the raised bed and reach into the garden. It is important to design the raised bed garden so that she can reach to the center of the bed from either side. If the bed is against the side of a wall or building so she can sit on only one side, then she must be able to reach across the whole bed. Raised bed gardens have many advantages. You can formulate the soil to the needs of the plants that will be grown in the bed. Different beds can have soil adapted to different plants. The design of the raised bed can be attractive, adding an architectural element to the landscape. The soil in raised beds often warms more quickly in the spring than traditional garden soil, allowing earlier planting. Of course, raised beds reduce the bending and kneeling required in traditional gardens.

You should also contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office for more information. If there are Master Gardeners working with your local Extension Service office, they can also make good recommendations.

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Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at or at Please include your county Extension Agent ( and your county of residence with your question!

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page:

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.