Gardening This Weekend: July 19, 2018
This is a pivotal time for your lawn and landscape. Here are things I’d put at the top of the list.
• Annual flowers and foliage that can handle the heat to brighten up drab spots in your gardens. Let your local independent garden center owner or manager show you the best choices for your needs.
• New lawngrass from sod, plugs or seed (bermuda only). Be sure sod or plugs are fresh and vigorous. Plant lawn immediately, then water twice daily for 5 to 10 minutes to help it get started. After two weeks, water once daily, then increase days between waterings, and water more deeply.
• Crape myrtles. Nurseries are selling down their supplies of the best varieties, so don’t wait any longer. As you’re buying check mature heights to be sure the plants that you’re choosing will fit the space that you have for them.
• Keep mowing turf at the recommended height. Tall grass quickly becomes weak grass. Mowing high does not improve summer hardiness or drought tolerance.
• Oak trees as needed. The oak wilt fungus is not active in the hottest summer weather, so this is an acceptable time to trim them. Seal all cut surfaces with black pruning paint.
• Tidy up perennial and annual color beds to remove spent flower stalks and browned foliage. Water deeply to encourage regrowth for fall.
• Iron-deficient plants (yellowed leaves, dark green veins, most prominent on newest growth first) with iron/sulfur additive. Keep iron off masonry surfaces that could be stained.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Many of our fast-growing shade trees will have yellowed leaves over the next several weeks of hot and dry weather. But they’ll be the older leaves, farther down on the stems. That will be due totally to water stress. Don’t confuse it with shortage of iron.
• Container plants with timed-release fertilizer every three or four months, and also high-nitrogen, water-soluble food each time you water.
• New fall garden transplants once they are established and starting to grow with complete-and-balanced, water-soluble plant food.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• St. Augustine lawns for chinch bugs. They are horrible this summer. See story this issue. And bermuda lawns for Pythium (cottony blight). It is also really bad and really early, at least to my memory. See story this issue.
• Leafrollers attacking foliage of cannas, vinca groundcover, sweetgums, redbuds, pyracanthas and other plants. The caterpillars roll leaves together to form their pupal cases. Systemic insecticide Imidacloprid will stop them, but it needs to be applied several weeks before they start attacking the plants. It may be too late to get much help for this year. You’ll need to make that determination.
• Lacebugs continue to turn leaves of Boston ivy, pyracanthas, bur oaks, sycamores, azaleas and other plants tan. You’ll see their black droppings on the backs of the leaves, but you probably won’t be able to see the pests themselves. Most insecticides will control them, but systemic insecticide applied in early summer will prevent this damage from showing up in the first place.