Summer Lawn Care Tips in Austin, TX
Watch out for chinch bugs by looking for dry spots around radiant heat sources, such as driveways and sidewalks. They can also be found near foundations of houses on the west side, as well as un-shaded areas in the center of a lawn. June brings both the opportunity to plant summer color, and the routine garden maintenance of mowing and weeding. Take advantage of the longer days by doing gardening tasks in the morning or evening when it is more pleasant to be outside.
Hotter weather means grass will be growing faster. Keep up with the mowing so you don’t have to bag the clippings. Letting the clippings fall back into the lawn recycles nutrients but does not promote thatch. Keep the mower blade sharpened. Mowing frequently at the correct height will promote a healthy, thick turf that is resistant to weeds. For St. Augustine, mow as high as your lawnmower will allow. This will help protect the lawn from drought damage. For St. Augustine or Bermuda lawns making poor growth thus far this year, make a second application of fertilizer. As spring rains slack off and give way to drier days, apply supplemental water as needed. Please use our Water Wizard to help determine your lawn’s irrigation requirements.
Consistent monitoring is the key to healthy plants. It’s easier to keep a healthy plant healthy, than to try to save a sick one.
The best way to conserve moisture in the landscape is by mulching. Pine bark, pine needles, cypress mulch, composted grass clippings and shredded leaves are among the materials suitable for a mulch. A three to four inch layer over the root zone retains moisture, keeps the soil cooler, and helps prevent weed seeds from germinating. As you check shrubs, ground covers, and flower beds, watch for seedling trees, such as oak, hickory and pecan. They are more easily pulled when young, and pliers will grip close to the ground to pull up the root. They are also more easily extracted when the soil is moist.
July is a great month for setting out colorful summer annuals. For large areas, try directly seeding zinnias, cosmos, gomphrena or portulaca. There are several others you can set out now as transplants including marigold, salvia, gaillardia, petunias, purslane, verbena, dusty miller, lantana, ageratum, amaranthus, gomphrena (globe amaranth or batchlor’s buttons), celosia, Texas bluebells (or lisianthus), cockscomb, and firebush. Plant copper plants now in a sunny spot for a beautiful display this fall. Color for shady areas include caladiums, coleus, impatiens and bedding begonias. Try nicotiana and coleus in partial shade, or for full sun the two Texas SuperStars SunColeus varieties ‘Burgundy Sun’ and ‘Plum Parfait’. Water transplants before you plant and then again afterwards. The soil should be well- prepared with additions of organic matter, and well-drained. Apply a diluted solution of water-soluble fertilizer at planting and then regularly once plants begin to put on new growth. Remove faded blooms to encourage new growth and repeat bloom. A layer of mulch will conserve water and prevent weeds. Be sure to mulch roses to conserve moisture and keep down summer weeds. Continue a routine spray program to control blackspot, and watch for insects and mites. Remove flowers as they fade and feed regularly to encourage new blooms.
Pests And Problems
One of the most common tomato disorders is blossom end rot, a physiological problem caused by a lack of calcium and fluctuating soil moisture. Keep the soil evenly moist, mulch to conserve moisture, and lime the soil before planting the next crop to provide calcium. Blossom end rot usually only affects the first tomatoes to ripen. Spider mites can occur on tomatoes, roses, junipers, marigolds and other ornamentals when the weather is hot and dry. Look for stippled leaves, and under severe infestations, fine webbing. Spider mites can be detected by taking suspicious leaves and rapping them over a white sheet of paper. Any dots which move are probably mites. Light infestations can be reduced by frequently syringing leaves with a sharp stream of water or using insecticidal soap. For more severe problems, use an approved miticide.