By Paul James
Not sure what you should be doing in the landscape now that summer has officially arrived? Here’s a list of things to consider, all of which will help insure that your lawn and gardens continue to look their best in the months to come.
In the lawn, the most important thing you can do is increase the deck height of your mower by at least one notch. Doing so will promote deeper root growth, keep the soil cooler, and prevent sunlight from reaching dormant weed seeds. Use a mulching mower to return the nutrients in grass clippings back to the soil. And when you mow, try not to remove more than one-third of the leaf blades to reduce stress on the grass.
Continue planting annuals and perennials. Just because it’s getting hotter doesn’t mean you should stop planting. On the contrary, most flowering plants popular in this area are popular because they thrive in the heat. After planting, apply a thick layer of mulch (at least two-inches deep) and water well and often to promote rapid root growth.
Speaking of rapid root growth, there are a number of trees and shrubs whose roots grow best in warm soils, especially Crape Myrtle, Vitex (Chaste Tree), and Desert Willow, just to name a few.
In the veggie garden, consider sowing from seed a second crop of beans, corn, cucumbers, squash, and melons. All are warm-season crops that can take the heat. Keep an eye out for bugs, especially on the undersides of leaves. Use products containing spinosad to control most garden pests. It’s all natural and extremely effective. Apply a thick layer of mulch to tomato plants to lessen the likelihood of blossom-end rot on developing fruits.
Light pruning this time of year is perfectly acceptable, especially if your goal is to reduce the overall size of trees and shrubs or to thin out interior branches. Fruit trees in particular benefit from summer pruning.
And finally, water everything routinely. Container plants, veggies and herbs, and newly planted plants may need to be watered every day. Turf grasses and most ornamental plants need at least one inch of water every week. And trees and shrubs should be deep soaked every week as well.