Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle in July and August.
• 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.
• Many flowers will stop blooming once the plant begins to set seed. 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.
• Fertilize container plants every week to 10 days and keep these watered, sometimes twice a day if in full sun.
• Refresh your annuals with new ones, cut back plants that are leggy or struggling.
• Flower stalks of bearded iris should be pruned off and the leaves cut back in a fan shape after the tips turn brown.
• Keep pulling weeds so they don’t steal water and nutrients from your flowers.
• Deadhead roses after the bloom, keep watered and continue spraying.
Fruits and Vegetables
• Watch for blossom end rot on tomatoes. Provide plenty of water and some fertilizer. Place in light shade if it is a problem.
• Check your vegetable garden daily for water needs. Fertilize weekly, as these plants are heavy feeders and need fertilizer weekly. Keep watch for disease and insect infestations.and eggplant.
• Harvest vegetables and fruits in the morning. Place the harvest in a cool place to prevention deterioration of taste and quality.
• Start planning the fall garden. Turnip, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can be direct seeded in August.
• Donate some of your extra produce to a local food bank.
• Brown patch is a problem on tall fescue lawns in summer. Limit damage by mowing when grass is dry. Avoid fertilizer with high nitrogen. Several types of fungicides are available to treat brown patch but a granular is the easiest to apply.
• 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.
• 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.
• Summer is the time for post-emergent weed control. It’s too late for pre-emergent weed herbicides—the seeds have already germinated.
• 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.
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.
• 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.
• Japanese beetles are here. You can hand pick them off the plant or use traps, if you clean these daily.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.