During the summer lull, there are still things you can do to help your lawn and garden thrive.
• Lawn care – Now fertilize warm season grasses with a 25% nitrogen product to promote maximum growth and spread for Bermuda grass, buffalo and zoysia. Consider using a ferrous fertilizer – sweep all concrete surfaces before pouring.
The summer weather requires adjustments to the mowing height and the frequency of watering. Recommended grass mowing height for fescue 3-3½ inches, bluegrass / rye 2½-3 inches, and Bermuda / buffalo / zoysia 1½-2 inches. Mow often enough to remove only a third of the blade of grass. You can mulch the clippings instead of bagging them.
These clippings return nutrients to the soil as it breaks down and also act as mulch to retain moisture and cool the root zone.
Proper irrigation is essential for a well-tended lawn. Irrigation must be done in such a way that deep rooting is encouraged, which in turn makes the lawn healthier. Depending on your soil type, it may take several short waterings during a day to saturate the soil and prevent it from draining. Your automatic sprinkler system can be programmed to bring the amount of water exactly where it is needed. Keep watering in the morning so the grass is dry at night to reduce flare-ups of fungal diseases.
This would be the time to apply a fungicide if your lawn has had brown stains in the past. If you’re fighting maggots, apply in July of a product like Hi-Yield Grub Free Zone, which will act as a preventive for the rest of the season. After application, the insecticide must be poured.
• Care of trees, bushes and flowers – Water is the most important element that helps plants survive the summer heat. This year, as wet as it used to be, watering becomes even more important.
Plants that are used to constant humidity may need more water than usual. Drip irrigation is the easiest and most efficient way to bring water directly to the roots of plants. The drippers provide the individual plants with the moisture they need and remove the waste through evaporation or runoff. The vacant spaces between plants will not receive water and that will reduce weed germination in those areas.
Mulch is another factor in this maintenance formula. The mulch prevents water from evaporating from the soil surface and reduces the light and air available for weed seeds. In landscaped beds, the best mulch is cedar wood. The fibers of the crushed cedar mulch work together to create a weed barrier and hold the mulch in place so it doesn’t wash away. In vegetable gardens or on other areas that are being worked, a biodegradable mulch such as compost, straw, finely ground bark or cottonseed husks is preferable.
Another product that can relieve stress in hot, dry conditions is Soil Moist, a polymer that stores water and then releases it to the plant roots when needed. This is especially useful for smaller containers that dry out quickly. Annual flowers and vegetables can easily be fed with a slow release fertilizer in the heat.
• Pest control – Spider mites thrive in hot conditions. Watch your plants. Look for mottled, yellow leaves and tissues over flower buds or on the lower leaf surfaces. S.
Infest affected plants with an insecticide such as Triple Action or Natural Guard Horticultural Oil. Treat at least three times at weekly intervals. Before treatment, use a hard jet of water to wash off some of the mites.
It is best to use these products in temperatures below 90 degrees and always spray in the early morning or evening to avoid the hottest part of the day.
For the top pine moth, spray for the third generation at the end of July. Use High-Yield Indoor / Outdoor Broad Use Insecticide or Natural Guard Spinosad.
For geranium budworms, use Natural Guard Caterpillar Killer with BT (Thuricide). This product is also available as a ready-to-use spray. Natural Guard Spinosad is another great choice for worms and small beetles. Spinosad is also available as a ready-to-use spray.
Spray in the early evening and continue through the summer if necessary.
Nelson is an instructor for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service AG for Garfield County.