July lawn, garden tips
Fescue goes naturally semi-dormant during extremes of hot and/or dry weather; it can survive 3 weeks without water. Water only when grass shows signs of wilt (footprints will show when grass is walked on). If it is extremely hot and dry, your fescue lawn will need some irrigation. The most effective watering methods is to water to the point of runoff, turn off sprinkler to let water soak in, then water again, repeating until the root zone (6" deep) is moist. Unless the water reaches the roots where it is taken up by the plant, you waste both time and water. Water in early morning or late at night; late afternoon or early evening is the worst time to water as the grass stays wet for a longer time and encourages diseases.
Warm season grasses such as Bermuda needs to be fertilized during the warm months of the year. Apply one pound of nitrogen each month during the summer time from May to August. One pound of nitrogen would equal 10 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer. Be sure to water it in during dry times.
DON’T bag grass clippings. Leave them on the lawn and save 25 percent on your fertilizer needs for the year. Clippings take up unnecessary landfill space and can be best disposed of in a home compost bin. (Compost clippings only if you have NOT applied broadleaf weed killer!)
• Crape Myrtles
The beauty of crape myrtles is shown in their color this month. Prune spent flower blossoms and you’ll prolong the flowering period. If the leaves appear dark and sooty or almost uniformly charcoal gray, you have sooty mold, the result of an aphid infestation in May/June. Spray now with horticultural oil or soaps according to label directions. Next year watch for and treat aphids in May. Some have problems with powdery mildew. Use horticultural oils to control mildew.
Cuttings - July-September are the months to take semi-hardwood cuttings of evergreen shrubs. Remove the leaves from the lower half of cutting and dip in rooting powder. Place in a well drained media in a container that can be placed in a clear plastic bag or set in a cold frame. Place them out of direct sunlight and keep moist for about eight weeks or until rooted (azalea, boxwood, holly, camellia and other evergreen shrubs).
Bagworms - Handpick the bags. Pesticides are not effective once bags have been produced.
Remove suckers and water sprouts from trees. Do NOT excessively prune trees. It is too hot! Some summer pruning can be done to maintain shape and to remove dead and diseases areas.
Water plants carefully early in the morning to avoid evaporation. Trickle or drip irrigation works well for valuable trees and shrubs. Shade trees may need more water especially if they are in declining health. Most of the water should be placed at the outer reaches of the root system (the “drip line”) where the small root hairs which take up the soil moisture are located. When you water a tree, water deeply—apply sufficient water so the soil is quite moist to a depth of at least 8 inches.
If you cut off (deadhead) blossoms when they die, then you will prolong the flowering period of the plant.
• In the garden …
What to plant this month? It’s a little late to be planting but consider second crops of cucumbers and bush beans at this time. Also begin to plan your fall garden so you can begin planting the middle to late August.
• Yellow Jackets
These bees can ruin outings until frost. With insect prey (their usual diet) becoming scarce, yellow jackets scavenge for other sources of nutrition, especially sweets, e.g. fruits, ice cream, soft drinks. A dilute solution of ammonia and water (six oz. of ammonia per gallon of water) sprayed in and around trash cans and sponged onto outdoor tables and food preparation surfaces may help to repel yellow jackets from these areas. Use household ammonia, not bleach. Aerosol sprays that control wasps and hornets work well to control yellow jackets. Carefully locate the nest and use these sprays at dusk or after dark directly in the hole. Do NOT pour gasoline into a nest. This can contaminate ground water.
Scott Welborn is a consumer horticulture agent with the Davidson Center.