Gardening in August

Weeks and weeks of a long, hot summer can be stressful to the lawn and landscape, as well as to the person doing the gardening. The fall planting season is still a couple months off, so we have a long way to go before we have worked through the “dog-days” of 2017. So stay cool, and be wise when working in the lawn and gardens.

Here are a few tips that may be helpful as you to make decisions about your landscape:

ANNUAL FLOWERING PLANTS: True annuals that were planted earlier in the year might need to be replaced at this time, unless they are heat tolerant. Hanging baskets of annuals may also be past their prime and may need to be replanted.

Some heat-tolerant annuals, which generally remain under 2 feet tall include: Blue Daze, Celosia, Coleus, Dusty Miller, Lantana, Marigold, Mexican Heather, Periwinkle, Portulaca/ Purslane, and certain varieties of Salvia.

Some heat-tolerant annuals, which may grow to be over 2 feet tall include: Cana, Four-o’clock,

Hardy Hibiscus (Mallow), Mexican Sunflower, Rudbeckia, some varieties of Salvia (such as Mealy Blue Sage), Shrimp Plant, and Sun Flower.

When the plants become too leggy and tired, trim them back. Fertilize after pruning to encourage regrowth.

LAWN: Watering continues to be important this month. Do not be fooled by quick thundershowers. It is not a “good rain” unless it produces at least ½” of water. The turf needs a MINIMUM of 1” of water per week. (Flowerbeds might need to be watered more frequently.) A good way to measure the amount of water your lawn is getting is to set out pans or cups throughout the yard, and allow the irrigation system to run through a full cycle. Every area of the turf must receive an adequate amount of water –between ½ and 1 inch. Usually, two or three times per week is sufficient – providing a total of at least 1 inch per week.

Another way to see that the lawn is getting adequate water is the good old reliable “screwdriver moisture test”. Push a screwdriver into the ground. You should be able to reach a depth of at least 6”. Anything less than that indicates you are not watering deeply enough.

Just a thought…since drip irrigation is not generally subject to rules relating to water restrictions. Think about installing a drip system in the flower beds and gardens.

LAWN PROBLEMS: Be on the look-out for chinch bugs in St. Augustine lawns. Hot, dry weather is conducive to activity by these little pests, and they can destroy a yard in a matter of days. Generally, the first signs of chinch bugs are seen near concrete, such as along driveways, sidewalks, and curbs. The grass will turn brown – and die.

Other lawn pests that do not destroy the landscape, but rather irritate people and/or animals, are fleas and fire ants.

Chinch bugs, fleas, and fire ants can be controlled with proper treatment. The do-it-yourself stores have products available, or consider calling a reputable, professional company to provide the service.

A fungus, commonly known as “gray spot” (not to be confused with Brown Patch) might also appear. Treat with a fungicide.

ROSES: While we are in the middle of the worst part of the summer, it’s time to look ahead to the fall blooming season and its beautiful flowers. With that in mind, plan on fertilizing and pruning late this month.

Suggestion: don’t plant or transplant roses this month. Wait for cooler weather. However, late summer fertilizing is important. The extra nutrition will encourage growth and flowering over the next 3 months.

Black spot continues to be the number one problem. Keep yellow, fallen leaves picked up, and continue to spray regularly for insect and disease control.

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