In The Garden – July-August gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


• Fill empty spaces in your garden with warm season annuals.

• Fertilize container plants every week to 10 days and keep these watered, sometimes twice a day if in full sun.

• Prolong the bloom period of some annuals and perennials by “deadheading” the spent flowers. Pinch or cut off the stem of the faded flower just above the first set of healthy leaves.

• Pinch back chrysanthemums to encourage branching, more blooms and bushier plants. Continue doing this until mid-July.

• Stake or add a hoop to taller and leggy perennials now before the plant gets too big.

Fruits and Vegetables

• Check your vegetable garden daily for water needs. Fertilize weekly, as these plants are heavy feeders. Keep watch for disease and insect infestations.

• Start planning the fall garden. Turnip, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can be direct seeded in August.

• Watch for blossom end rot on tomatoes. Provide plenty of water and some fertilizer. Place in light shade if it is a problem


• Brown patch is a problem on tall fescue lawns in summer. Limit damage; mow when grass is dry and void high nitrogen fertilizer. Several types of fungicides are available to treat brown patch.

• Summer is the time to fertilize your warm season grass lawn. Don’t fertilize your fescue lawn until fall. Fertilizing now makes fescue more susceptible to disease problems.

• Summer is the time for post-emergent weed control. It’s too late for pre-emergent weed herbicides—the seeds have already germinated.

• It’s hard to control henbit, chickweed and hairy bittercress now, but it is a good idea to control the seed dispersal of the flowers. Physically removing these weeds before the seeds fall will give you a jump on next year’s weeds.

• Watch your mower height. Bermuda, Centipede and Zoysia should be mowed at 1 inch, fescue at 3 inches. Do not fertilize fescue now, but you can lightly fertilize the other grasses.

• Manage your lawn watering needs through the Turf Irrigation Water Management Program at NC State. The program calculates and tracks watering requirements based on current weather data. Details at

Trees and Shrubs

• Stop pruning evergreens and hedges in late August, except to remove dead wood or crossed branches that are rubbing. New growth from late pruning can be harmed in winter.

• Fertilize shrubs in late August and then not until spring.


• Butterfly larvae need to be identified before spraying flowers and herbs. Know your insect before you spray or you may kill a future butterfly.

• Aphids, spider mites and whiteflies are grazing now. Spray them off with a strong stream of water. An insecticidal soap will keep them in check. Hand pick and remove bagworms from evergreens.

• Japanese beetles are here. You can hand pick them off the plant or use traps, if you clean these daily.

• Keep an eye on evergreens – junipers, arborvitae, and especially Leyland cypress – for bagworms that look like little brown hanging cones. There are worms inside that will kill an evergreen if left untreated. Bagworms are relatively easy to control with organic insecticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis.

• Watch for yellow jackets, wasps and hornets in the landscape and lawn and stay away from those areas. They are beneficial in pollinating and eating insects.

• Monitor fruit trees for scale insects. These look like a pinhead-sized bump on stems. The insect under this protective armor is sucking plant juices. One can become thousands resulting in plant decline.

For a complete list of garden maintenance activities, visit the NC Cooperative Extension web site at

For lawn care go to the NC State Turf Files at