|Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
|July Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
· For fall harvest of lettuce, radish, carrots, beets, turnips, kale and spinach, sow seeds in late July to early August.
· Successive plantings of crops like beans and sweet corn will provide a continuous harvest until fall. A small garden will produce a large quantity of vegetables if replanting is done throughout the summer.
· Empty areas of the garden, where the crops have finished, should be replanted with either a fall vegetable crop, or a cover crop of clover or vetch to help control weeds. Cover crops can be tilled into the soil later to add humus and nitrates to the soil.
· Good time to fill in bare spots with heat-tolerant annuals like cleome, celosia, cosmos, sunflowers, zinnia, verbenas, petunias, marigolds and gomphrena.
· Bearded iris may be divided and replanted when they have finished blooming. Discard all shriveled and diseased parts
· Pot-bound houseplants can still be transplanted or divided.
· Plant more water lilies if less than half of the pond is covered with plants.
· Divide and repot water lilies if needed.
· Marginal plants for the water garden can still be installed.
· Fertilize your vegetable garden once a month with a balanced fertilizer like 8-8-8, 10-10-10, etc.
· If lots of composted manure was added to the soil at planting, you probably won’t need to fertilize now. If not, then sidedress heavy nitrogen feeders like squash, eggplant, tomatoes, sweet corn and tomatoes at time of flowering and again three to four weeks later. Spread a band of fertilizer on both sides of the row, about six inches from the plants.
· Yellow leaves with green veins usually mean iron deficiency. Treat with chelated iron.
· Fertilize after pinching or pruning perennials to speed recovery.
· Use a fast-release fertilizer on annual ornamentals every four to six weeks throughout growing season if needed.
· Avoid using fertilizers on lawns in hot, dry weather unless you plan to water often and deeply.
· If you’re trying your hand at growing banana plants or giant elephant ears, remember they are heavy feeders and require frequent watering to support their huge leaves. Foliar feeding with fish emulsion works great on these plants.
· Feed houseplants as needed. Do not over fertilize.
· Floating-leaved plants in the water garden should be fed with slow-release aquatic plant tablets.
· Continue to deadhead (remove dead flowers) your annuals to encourage continued blooming. If your annuals have died off, pull them out and add them to the compost pile. Get a second bloom from faded annuals by cutting them back by one-half their height, then fertilize with a liquid 5-10-10 fertilizer.
· To promote ‘trophy size’ flowers, allow only one or two main shoots to develop. Remove all side buds as they begin to develop.
· Deadhead the developing seed pods from your rhododendrons and azaleas to improve next year’s bloom. Be careful not to damage next year’s buds which may be hidden just below the pod.
· Do a final pinching by mid-July of fall blooming flowers like mums and asters.
· Check fruit trees for water sprouts (branches growing straight up from limbs) and remove.
· Snapdragons should be pinched back after blooming to promote a second flush of growth.
· Cutting flowers is best done with sharp shears or a knife which will help avoid injury to the growing plant. A slanting cut will ex-pose a larger absorbing surface to water and will prevent the base of the stem from resting on the bottom of the vase. It is best to carry a bucket of water to the garden for collecting flowers, rather than a cutting basket.
· Early in the month, prune back the canes of once-flowering roses as they finish blooming. Cut them back by a third, and thin out any weak branches and old, thick canes.
· Make sure to prune your hybrid tea roses now in preparation for their big fall show in a couple of months.
· Geranium cuttings may be made in late July to start plants for indoor bloom during the winter months and for setting into the garden next spring. You may need to provide supplemental lighting with fluorescent grow lights for really good winter blooms indoors.
· Pinch tips off non-blooming perennials to force more lush new growth, which later on, will give you more flowers.
· The rule of thumb with chrysanthemums is to make your last pinch by the 15th of July in northern Alabama and no later than the 31st on the Gulf Coast.
· Harvest your herbs often to keep the plants bushy and healthy.
· Continue to water deeply. Those summer showers often seen in late afternoon and early evening can be deceiving! Unless a monster storm comes in that is a literal cloudburst, don’t expect Nature to provide enough rain. Water should be applied at root level. Water early in the morning before the heat of the day and early in the evening. Stop an hour or two before sunset. The minimum should be an inch a week.
· After watering, probe the soil with a stiff wire, rod or screwdriver. It will move easily through wet soil and stop when it hits dry.
· Water tomatoes from below to prevent fungal infections.
· Contrary to popular belief, a brown lawn isn’t necessarily a dead lawn. Grasses go dormant in times of drought, but will quickly return to life with the fall rains. If a lush green lawn is important to you, and you don’t mind mowing, water it regularly and deeply. If a water shortage is expected, or you hate tending to grass, you may choose to just let your lawn go dormant and water it as seldom as once a month.
· Water outdoor container plants daily, others as needed. Allow water to drain through the drainage holes in pots to prevent buildup of salts in medium. Consider using Soil Moist when potting plants to cut back on water usage.
· Refill your water garden if water level has dropped. If pool has fish, water will need to be dechlorinated before adding.
· Store pesticides in a safe place in their original containers, away from children and pets. Use pesticides carefully in your garden. Read the labels and follow the directions. The warnings and precautions are for your protection.
· Certain pesticides have a waiting period of several days between the time of the last spray and harvest. Read and follow directions on all labels before applying to your vegetable crops. Wash all produce thoroughly before use.
· Monitor garden plants for insect and disease problems. Early intervention brings best results.
· Watch for thrips (distorted flowers) and spider mites (undersides of leaves).
· Look for tomato hornworms early in the morning on tomato plants. Handpick and destroy.
· Be on the lookout for squash bugs on your squash, cucumber or melon plants!
· Don’t let weeds go to seed. "A year of seeding equals seven years weeding." Mowing off flower heads can help to lessen weed seed production.
· If you have diseases on your fruit trees, get rid of the affected fruit. Don’t let them sit under your tree as sources of infection next year.
· Continue to protect your fruit from the birds with netting.
· Change the water in your bird bath regularly and keep it filled. Standing water may become a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.
· Handpick Japanese Beetles and drown them in a pail of soapy water. Set out small saucers or partially buried tuna cans filled with beer or grape juice around plants like hostas. This will attract slugs which will drop in and drown.
· Another good way to protect your perennial plantings is with copper strips, available at garden centers and through mail order. Slugs and snails won’t cross them as they get a shock.
· Check for spider mites on roses.
· Kill weeds that continue to erupt between stones, bricks or along gravel paths.
· Pick off and destroy water lily beetles or midges from infested leaves.
· Keep your garden journal updated with results of current activities and plans for future projects.
· Harvest vegetables like beans, squash and cucumbers regularly. Most will stop producing altogether if over-mature fruit is allowed to stay on the plant. Share the excess with friends and neighbors.
· Turn compost pile, add new ingredients and start new piles.
· Mulch all bare soil with partially completed compost or other coarse textured material.
· Fix leaky hoses, spigots and valves to prevent wasted water.
· Support any leaning tall plants.
· Pick watermelons when underside turns from whitish to creamy yellow and the stem starts to wither.
· Dig Irish potatoes when half their tops have dried down.
· Pick sweet corn just before cooking. It is ready when silks turn brown and pierced kernels release a milky juice.
· So you’ve got company coming and need flowers for a quick arrangement; visit your local farmers’ market. Look for these great seasonal favorites: zinnias, sunflowers, blazing stars, coxcombs, dahlias and tithonias. They all make beautiful bouquets.
· A trellis or arbor might be the perfect solution for plants needing extra support or a vertical path. Installing it this year might be problematic, but it’s a good time to make a plan and be ready to begin construction later in the fall or early next spring.
· Moss on sidewalks can be a hazard, but if you like the look of moss in the garden, try creating a moss garden. Put live moss and some buttermilk or yogurt in a blender and puree it. Spread the resulting mixture where you would like to grow your moss. Make sure it is shady and receives plenty of moisture. Once you have some moss established, fertilize it twice per year with a mixture of water and buttermilk.
· Frogs, toads and most snakes are signs of a healthy ecosystem. Encourage these visitors to the garden to take up residence. They don’t have a lot of needs, except a pool of water and a place to live. You can make your own toad house by turning over a shallow clay pot with one side broken for a door. Toads and frogs eat a tremendous amount of insects and snakes will eat rodents.
· Try to get your lawn work done either early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the blistering heat of the day. Slow down in the heat! Heat exhaustion often occurs when people exert themselves in a hot, humid place and body fluids are lost through sweating, causing the body to overheat. A person’s temperature may be elevated, but not above 104°F. Heat stroke is life-threatening! A person’s cooling system, which is controlled by the brain, stops working and the internal body temperature rises to the point where brain damage or damage to other internal organs may result (temperature may reach 105+°F).
· No matter when you work, if you are in the sun, use some sun block. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and a hat to protect your skin. Don’t forget your sunglasses.
· While on vacation, ask a neighbor or friend to do minimal maintenance on your garden. Even if you have a sprinkler system and a timer, it’s a good idea to have someone make sure it’s working properly as well as lightly deadheading and trimming to keep your garden looking neat. Also, an unkempt garden, and unretrieved newspapers and mail is a sign nobody’s home...a sure temptation to criminals.
· Replace mulch as needed.
· Check garden centers for sales on remaining plants.
· Plant a cover crop in bare spots in the vegetable garden.
· Start planning your fall garden.
· Often, well-meaning friends arrive bearing gifts of perennials from their gardens. Before you accept, make sure you know the growth habit of the cultivar. If it is an invasive (a spreader), you will create more work for yourself trying to keep it under control.
· Begin to order fall-planted bulbs from your mail order sources for the best selections they offer. Start planning next spring’s display from the comfort of your air conditioned home or from your porch or deck while sipping a glass of lemonade!
· Assess your trees and shrubs for storm damage after thunderstorms. Cleanly prune torn branches away.
· Continue to change hummingbird feeder solution and clean the feeders at least every other day.
· A brown or grayish cast over a lawn can be caused by a dull or improperly-adjusted mower blades shredding grass rather than cut it.
· Continue attracting insect-eating birds to the garden area by providing them with a fresh water.