Lawn, garden and landscape tips to help survive the summer heat

Mid-summer is a time when the mercury rises and subsequently plants may struggle to maintain healthy moisture levels both above ground in plant tissue, and below ground where roots reside in the soil. Providing your trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables with adequate moisture helps promote seasonal good looks, improved fruit and vegetable yields and longterm plant health. Remember all plants need 1 inch of water per week. This translates to about 66 gallons of water per 100 square feet. Consider these additional tips to make the most of your garden and landscape settings.

Fruits

Early summer rain has produced perfect conditions for lots of black rot to develop on grapes, as well as brown rot on peaches and nectarines. At this point, if you have not been applying fungicide sprays on a regular basis, you probably already have problems. Products containing Captan are most effective.

 When harvesting peaches for optimal flavor, consider leaving the fruit on the trees until the background color changes from green to yellow.

Prune and thin out blackberries and raspberries after harvest is over.

Vegetables

Tis the season for diseases in the vegetable garden – early blight and late blight on tomatoes and potatoes, mildews on squash and cucumbers, and rust on beans. Scout daily for early signs. Conventional fungicides include weekly sprays of Dithane or chlorothalonil (Daconil, Bravo, etc.). Organic control options include products such as Serenade, Copper or sulfur sprays.

Consider harvesting vegetables when young and tender while picking early in the day for best quality. Wait until leaves are dry before picking to avoid spreading disease.

It’s not too early to start planning for the fall garden. Brussels sprouts should be planted in July, most other cool season crops in August. Start seeds in pots for plants such as broccoli, cabbage and collards. Consider succession plantings or late crops of squash, bush beans and cucumbers.

For continuing crops, now is the time to side dress with additional fertilizer. Work material into the soil surface about 4-6 inches from the plants.

Lawns

Wet weather this time of year may create the perfect environment for the disease know as brown patch. Steps to minimize the spread of this disease are to avoid irrigation and mowing when the grass is wet. If the weather gets dry and the grass goes dormant, the disease will stop developing.

Maintain a 3-inch mowing height, and in most cases leave clippings on the lawn. If you have brown patch you may want to use a bagging attachment to remove clippings for a while.

Trees, shrubs and flowers

Finish any pruning or fertilizing of shrubs before the end of the month. Avoid pruning spring flowering shrubs now as the buds for next year are starting to form.

Some tree species bleed sap readily when pruned in winter, such as maples, birches and dogwoods. This time frame is not really harmful to the trees, but to reduce the sap flow, remove branches during the summer.

Don’t forget to water newly planted trees and shrubs – weekly if needed.

Irises and daylilies are typically divided now. If you have several varieties, a helpful tip is to divide them while they still have some blooms to keep them separated from one variety to another.

Now is the time to remove spent blooms from flower beds to promote continued bloom.

Other

Protect honeybees. If you must use an insecticide (even organic), spray late in the evening when few bees are active in the garden.

For more information, contact the local Extension Center at 488-3848 and 586-4009.

Christine Bredenkamp is NCSU Horticulture Extension Agent for Jackson and Swain counties.