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Summer Lawn Care Tips  by Jerry Naiser                                                        

School's out, and it's getting hotter and summer time activities are getting into full swing. Watch out for chinch bugs by looking for dry spots around radiant heat sources, like driveways and sidewalks. They can also be found near foundations of houses on the west side, as well as unshaded 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. This spring's plentiful rainfall has hopefully helped our lawns, trees and gardens to begin to recover from last year's extreme stress. Take advantage of the longer days by doing gardening tasks in the morning or evening when it is more pleasant to be outside. To keep the lawn and garden looking great, here are a few tips for this June.


Hotter weather means grass will be growing faster. Keep up with the mowing so you don't have to bag the clippings. That may mean mowing every 5 or 6 days instead of every 7 to 10 days. 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 this year, make a second application of fertilizer. As spring rains slack off and give way to drier days, apply supplemental water as needed. Use our water wizard to help determine your lawns irrigation requirements. Too much water can  be devastating to most plants, including trees. There is no need to water established trees. If the weather is mild and dry, water newly planted trees as needed. Consistent monitoring is they key to healthy plants. Remember that it is easier to keep a healthy plant healthy than it is to save a sick one.

Landscape Plants

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 under your shrubs, trees and flowers. As you check your 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 help you get the grip needed close to the ground to pull up the roots. They are also more easily pulled when the soil is moist.

Summer Color

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 (TM) 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 your 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. This is not a disease but 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 now that 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.

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