Gardening This Weekend: July 27, 2023

It’s still quite warm across Texas, but prospects of fall’s cooler weather are closing in on our calendars. Here are this weekend’s suggested activities.

New sod as soon as you can so it can become well established before fall. Order it ahead of time. Have the soil tilled and raked so you’ll be able to have it delivered early the morning after it has been dug. Plant it immediately and water it as soon as it is laid in place. It will probably turn brown for a few days, but it should bounce back within a few days. Water the new sod 5-10 minutes morning and evening the first week, then 5-10 minutes once daily for a week, then less often but more deeply.
Fall vegetable plantings. This is an important time to plant bush green beans, cucumbers, summer squash, corn (large blocks 20×20 ft. or larger to ensure pollination) and Irish potatoes from seed potatoes). It’s too late for a sure crop of tomatoes unless you grow them in 10-gallon pots and make provision to protect them from early freezes.
Fall color plants, including transplants of marigolds, zinnias, celosias, copper plants, Joseph’s coat, firebush and others.

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Shade trees to remove dead branches. It’s scary to see so many large dead limbs still in place on oaks and other species. Most are branches that were killed by the cold of February 2021. They will break and fall and could cause serious damage and injuries. Have a certified (and bonded) arborist do the removal to be sure it’s done right and safely.
Spent flower stalks and seedheads from spring- and early summer-flowering perennials.
Erratic, vigorous shoots from shrubs to keep them in bounds, but avoid the highly sheared look whenever possible.

Patio pots and hanging baskets with water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer to keep them growing vigorously. They bloom on active new growth.
Bermuda with all-nitrogen lawn food, with up to 30 to 40 percent of the N in slow-release form. Wait until early September to feed St. Augustine to reduce chances of gray leaf spot outbreak.
Iron-sulfur product to correct yellowing brought on by iron deficiency. Sulfur acts to keep soil less alkaline, and that keeps the iron in a water-soluble form. Telltale symptoms of iron deficiency: yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominently displayed on the newest growth (ends of branches) first. Keep iron products off masonry and painted surfaces that could be stained.

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Pecan scab: pecans are falling early, with shucks turning black on their husks. Nothing can be done at this point. See related story this issue.
Gray leaf spot causing St. Augustine to turn yellowish in irregular “washes” across the lawn. Diamond-shaped, gray-brown lesions will also appear on the leaf blades and runners. Avoid nitrogen fertilizers between mid-June and early September. Nitrogen exacerbates gray leaf spot in hot weather. Apply Azoxystrobyn fungicide as control.
Chinch bugs will kill St. Augustine in hot, sunny parts of the yard. Grass will appear dry, but watering won’t bring it back. You can see the small, black insects in the perimeter of the dying area if you part the grass with your fingers on a hot afternoon. Nurseries and hardware stores have products labeled for control of chinch bugs.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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