Gardening This Weekend: July 4, 2024

Here are the things I’d outline as the most pressing for this first weekend of July.

Fall tomato transplants. Choose small and mid-sized varieties. Protect transplants from hot afternoon sun for a few days until they acclimate.
Sun- and heat-tolerant annuals. Your local independent retail nursery manager can show you the best.
Crape myrtles while they’re in full bloom in the nursery. Choose the colors you like but be sure their mature heights fit the space you have for them.
New turf. You have 6 or 7 good weeks left to get this job done, but sooner is better than later.

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Mow lawn at recommended height. Raising height does not improve its summer durability.
Erratic growth from shrubs. Avoid formal shearing whenever you can.
Trim seedheads and spent flower stalks from perennials.

Bermuda every 8-10 weeks with high-nitrogen fertilizer with 30 to 40 percent slow-release nitrogen.
Patio pots and hanging baskets every time you water them with liquid or water-soluble high-nitrogen food to replace nutrients leached out by frequent watering.
Apply iron along with sulfur soil acidifier to correct iron deficiency in plant (yellow leaves with dark green vines, most prominent on newest growth).

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Chinch bugs have been serious problems for St. Augustine in recent summers. They cause dry-looking patches in the hottest, sunniest parts of yard. Watering, however, doesn’t help. Part the grass at the edge of dying turf and you’ll see the BB-sized black insects with white diamonds on their backs. Treat with a labeled insecticide.
Spider mites attack a wide variety of landscape and garden plants. Leaves of many types of plants will have tiny tan speckles. If you thump infested leaves over white paper, you’ll be able to see them walking briskly on the paper. Spray top and bottom leaf surfaces with an insecticide labeled for control of mites.
Bagworms devour needles of junipers, cypresses, arborvitae. They can kill plants in serious outbreaks. Spray with general-purpose insecticide to stop them while they’re still feeding. Once they secure their bags to the twigs you can only pull them off by hand.
Gray leaf spot in St. Augustine causes turf to develop yellowed patches. On close inspection of leaf blades, you’ll see diamond-shaped gray-brown lesions. Treat with labeled fungicide and discontinue nitrogen feedings until early September.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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