In The Garden – July-August gardening tips
Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.
• Refresh your annuals with new ones, cut back plants that are leggy or struggling.
• Fertilize container plants every week to 10 days and keep these watered, sometimes twice a day if in full sun.
• Deadhead perennials and annuals for continued blooming.
• You can divide most perennials anytime if they are crowded or you want to get them started in another location. Be sure plants are well watered before dividing. Water them in after planting to ensure good root-to-soil contact.
• Flower stalks of bearded iris should be pruned off and the leaves cut back in a fan shape after the tips turn brown.
• Make sure the garden receives at least 1 to 2 inches of deep watering per week. Shallow watering doesn’t reach the deep roots of the plant.
• Deadhead roses after the bloom, keep watered and continue spraying.
Fruits and Vegetables
• After blackberries and raspberries have finished blooming, prune the canes to the ground that bore fruit along with any old canes.
• Prune aggressive growing water sprouts on fruit trees, especially sprouts growing from the base of trees.
• Harvest vegetables and fruits in the morning, not during the heat of the day. Immediately place the harvest in a cool place to prevention deterioration of taste and quality. After the harvest, remove summer crop debris to prevent disease and insect problems.
• Watch for blossom end rot on tomatoes. Provide plenty of water and some fertilizer. Provide light shade if blossom drop is a problem.
• Start planting the fall garden. Turnip, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can be direct seeded into the garden in August. Remember to keep plants watered and even shaded from the afternoon sun.
• Donate some of your extra produce to a local food bank.
• Don’t fertilize your fescue lawn until fall. Fertilizing now makes fescue lawns more susceptible to disease problems. Fescue grasses will go dormant and turn brown in the heat of the summer, but should green up when cooler, wet weather returns.
• Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass may benefit from a light application of fertilizer unless you have done that recently.
• Keep mower blade sharp. Smooth cuts cause less moisture loss of the blades of grass. Mowing heights for your lawn are important. Bermuda, Centipede and Zoysia should be mowed at 1-2 inches, fescue at 3-4 inches.
• Don’t bag grass clippings. Leave them on the lawn and save 25% on your fertilizer needs for the year.
• Spot treat broadleaf weeds. Apply a pre-emergent for bluegrass, henbit, chickweed, and other winter weeds.
• 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 www.turffiles.ncsu.edu.
Trees and Shrubs
• Water young 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 August and then not until spring.
• Remove faded flowers on crape myrtle to encourage a second flowering.
• Powdery mildew most often attacks in late summer. You can prune the plant for better air circulation and reduce fertilizer to avoid late-season growth. Better yet, plant powdery mildew-resistant varieties in the fall.
• Don’t let weeds go to seed or you will have double the weeds next year. Hand pull annual weeds. Use a tool to get beneath the roots when pulling perennial weeds. Be careful when using tools such as hoes around the roots of desirable plants. Mulch can help suppress weeds as well as reducing moisture loss. If you use herbicides, pay attention to the directions.
• Japanese beetles are here. You can hand pick them off the plant or use traps, if you clean these daily.
• Treat/remove bagworms on junipers, Leyland Cyprus and arborvitae.
• Watch for yellow jackets, wasps and hornets in the landscape and keep away from them. They are beneficial in pollinating and eating insects.
• Aphids, lace bugs, caterpillars, dogwood borers, two-spotted spider mites, and other insects are active and require different forms of treatment. Details at www.ces.ncsu.edu.
• The single most effective means of reducing mosquito populations is to eliminate standing water.
• Scale and mealybug problems do need to be controlled with a horticultural oil spray 3 to 4 times a year, especially on shrubs and trees.
For a complete list of garden maintenance activities, visit the NC Cooperative Extension web site at www.ces.ncsu.edu.
For lawn care go to the NC State Turf Files at www.turffiles.ncsu.edu.