|Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
|August Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
· Later in the month, replace spent summer vegetables with carrots, beets, radishes, English peas, onions, summer squash, salad greens, beets, turnips, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
· This is a great month to start a fall vegetable garden. Cucumbers, summer squash and other short-season vegetables can be planted now. To ensure a good stand of fall crops from seed, it’s best to cover rows with burlap, paper, straw or even boards to aid in keeping the soil moist and cool. Complete fall garden planting by direct seeding carrots, beets, kohlrabi, kale and snap beans early this month. Don’t forget to thin seedlings to appropriate spacing as needed.
· In order to calculate the planting date for your fall garden, determine the frost date and count back the number of days to maturity plus 18 days for harvest of the crop. If snap beans mature in 55 days and your frost date is November 15, you should plant on or before September 3.
· Perennial and biennial plants can be started from seed sown directly into the garden this month or next.
· Plant container grown perennials, shrubs and trees. Always take time to properly prepare the soil by mixing generous quantities of peat moss, compost and processed manure with your existing soil.
· Spring-flowering perennials can be divided and transplanted this month or next. Be sure to do this during the coolest part of the day and water the plants thoroughly after transplanting.
· Plant daylilies in a sunny location; they will be well-established before winter.
· Mums should be planted for September bloom and fall color.
· Marigolds, asters, zinnias and celosia can be planted to replace faded annuals. They will require extra attention for the first few weeks but should provide color during late September through November.
· A few plants like cosmos, zinnia, Mexican sunflower and cleome can be sown from seed directly into the flower garden and have plenty of time to bloom before frost.
· Later in the month, plant winter cover crops in vacant space around the vegetable garden.
· Pot up perennial divisions for spring. Sink the pots into the ground this fall and they’ll be one less chore in the spring.
· Leave some annual flower seeds from this season to self-sow.
· Continue repotting overgrown houseplants.
· Strawberry plants are setting flower buds this month and into September. Fertilize late this month. Moisture is also critical for good flower bud set and ultimately a good harvest next spring.
· Roses should be fertilized through the end of September.
· Give azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons their final feeding this month.
· Feed mums with a complete fertilizer every two weeks and water thoroughly until buds show color.
· The two most common reasons for geraniums not blooming prolifically are too little light or too much fertilizer. With geraniums, it’s better to under-feed than over-feed.
· Irrigated Bermuda or zoysia lawns can be fertilized once again using three pounds of a nitrate fertilizer per 1,000 square feet. Around Sept 1 can apply 1 1/2 pounds of 0-0-60 per 1,000 square feet for grass to develop a winter-hardy root system.
· Remove water sprouts (sprouts from the trunk) and suckers (sprouts from the roots) from fruit trees.
· Prune and destroy blackberry canes that bore fruits this year. They will not produce fruit again next year, but they may harbor insect and disease organisms.
· Prune blueberry bushes after the harvest.
· Any dead or diseased wood can be pruned out anytime of the year.
· Disbud camellias, dahlias and chrysanthemums to produce specimen blooms.
· Cut back rose canes to 24-30 inches from ground for autumn blooms.
· Summer-blooming shrubs should be pruned for shape after they have finished flowering.
· Take out a few minutes to pick off the old dead flowers on your annuals and the spent flowers on perennial plants. A little time spent on grooming the plants will make a big difference in the overall appearance of the garden. By removing the spent flowers, the plants will not go into the seed producing stage and should continue to flower longer into the season.
· Trim and feed hanging baskets to prolong their beauty.
· Watering can be the biggest task this month particularity if the weather gets hot. Vegetable gardens, most flowering plants and the lawn all need about one inch of water every week to keep them green and looking nice. Be sure to water thoroughly and deeply each time you water. Monitor garden irrigation systems closely so crops and ornamentals don’t dry out.
· Add water to compost piles during extremely dry periods so it remains active. Turn the pile to generate heat throughout for proper sterilization.
· Make sure azaleas and camelias stay well-watered, because they are forming flower buds for next year.
· Rose beds can produce some of the best blooms in the fall. Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist.
· Trees take a beating with high temperatures and lack of rain. If you have a prized tree you want to keep, water once a week. When you water, water deep. It is better to water more in depth, less often and early in the morning.
· Once a lawn area is seeded, maintaining adequate moisture is critical for success. You might consider a light mulch of wheat straw.
· Be sure to check the hanging baskets and container-grown plants every day during hot weather and about every second day on moderate summer days. Don’t just check the surface...push your finger an inch or two into the soil to be sure there is adequate moisture throughout the root area. Water them thoroughly each time you water, but be careful not to overwater them.
· If the soil dries out in container plantings and begins to pull away from the sides, water slowly and repeatedly, pushing the soil back in place as it absorbs moisture.
· Notice: Pesticides should be used sparingly and use only when needed. Always follow the label directions.
· Keep the weeds pulled, before they have a chance to flower and go to seed again. Otherwise, you will be fighting newly-germinated weed seed for the next several years. Weeds in the garden are harmful because they rob your plants of water and nutrients, harbor insects and diseases, and, on occasion, grow tall enough to shade your flowers and plants.
· Sharpen or replace mower blades as needed. Shredded leaf blades are an invitation to disease and allow more stress on the grass. For an average lawn, you should sharpen your blades three times a season.
· If white grubs were a problem last year, treat your lawn in early August to prevent further injury. Be sure to apply insecticides at the proper rate and follow with at least a half inch of irrigation for best protection.
· Powdery mildew is a common fungal disease on trees and shrubs. Crape myrtles, lilacs and dogwoods are very susceptible. If you have a powdery mildew problem, spray with Funginex, Daconil or Immunox. On edibles like cucumber, squash vines and snap peas, spray with a homemade, nontoxic brew made up of two teaspoons baking soda and two teaspoons horticultural summer oil mixed in one gallon of water. Remove mildew afflicted foliage and then thoroughly spray new leaves.
· August-September is a good time to get rid of poison ivy and honeysuckle. Be sure to follow the label directions. Since they are perennials, applying glyphosate (example: Roundup) now can keep them from storing up nutrients for winter and reduce the chance of their surviving until spring.
· Continue deadheading and spraying fungicide and insecticide on roses. fertilome Liquid Systemic Fungicide, Immunox or Funginex will control most foliage diseases, while acephate is a good choice for insect problems.
· Insect populations are at their highest during the summer. Sucking or piercing-type insects normally reside on the underside of leaves. The leaves will appear speckled because the green chlorophyll has been destroyed in small patches. Since most insecticides are contact killers, it’s very important to spray where the insects are located - on the underside of the leaves.
· Spray the following vegetables if insects are observed: broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower worms; and squash borers or Control caterpillars on leafy vegetables with Bt, or by hand picking and removal.
· For mite control on ornamentals and most vegetables, hose off foliage, spray with miticide if necessary.
· Watch shrubs for the following insects: spider mites and lace bugs.
· Fall webworms are showing up in trees. They particularly like pecan, cherry and persimmon, but can be found in almost any tree and occasionally shrubs. If control is needed, you can use Bt, Sevin, Malathioin, acephate or bifenthrin.
· Peach trees need a trunk spray for peach tree borers at the end of August.
· Check apple maggot traps; spray tree if needed.
· Control yellow jackets and wasps with traps and lures as necessary. Keep in mind they are beneficial insects and help control pest insects in the home garden.
· Although bug zappers sound like a good idea and are low-budget, cheap (though morbid) entertainment on those long summer nights, research has shown the majority of these devices do very little good in reducing the number of bothersome insect pests. In fact, they kill many more beneficial and non-biting insects than biting ones. A study in Delaware showed less than a quarter of one percent or only 31 out of 14,000 insects killed were biting insects.
· Change the water in your bird bath regularly and keep it filled. Standing water is less healthy for the birds and may become a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.
· To keep those cute little bunnies from treating your garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet, put a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a spot of dish soap into a spray bottle with water. Spray your plants and the bunnies will dine elsewhere!
· Remove any diseased foliage now, so it doesn’t get lost in the fall leaves.
· Write and draw in your garden journal.
· Continue harvesting peas, summer squash and green beans for maximum yield. Consider donating excess produce to local food banks and soup kitchens.
· Harvest cantaloupes after they turn from green to yellow and come off the vine with a gentle tug. Pick watermelons when they have a dark and crisp stem, shriveled tendrils close to the melon and a dull look with yellowish underside. Ripe watermelons also produce a dull thud.
· Set cans under ripening melons to support them and keep them off the ground.
· Plan beds for bulbs. Order tulips, hyacinths, Dutch iris, daffodils, narcissus and amaryllis. Prepare beds for October planting by adding compost or leaf mold.
· Turn compost.
· If you don’t make your own compost, now is a good time to construct a compost bin. Make compost of lawn clippings and garden plants ready to be recycled. Do not use clippings if lawn has been treated with herbicide, including "weed-and-feed" products.
· Feed the birds! Summer bird feeding provides the potential of attracting a far greater variety of birds than in the winter bird-feeding season. Summer is the most heavily bird populated season. If a bird feeder is only put out in the winter, the opportunity to observe the birds during their active summer season will be missed. Also, numerous wild birds return in the spring to nest and raise their baby birds. This behavior will repeat itself many times over the course of the summer as some species may raise two to four families in one season.
· Tomatoes, bell peppers, lima beans and snap beans may stop producing fruit for a short time during the summer. When the temperature soars above 95o, pollen is killed and the stigma (female receptacle for the pollen) dries up. This is only a temporary set back. Do not pull up the plants. They will start producing fruit again when the temperature falls.
· All (green) bell peppers will turn or change color if you let them ripen on the plant longer. Riper peppers are sweeter, more flavorful and softer than green peppers.
· Hot peppers develop the most "heat" during dry, sunny weather. This is because capsaicin develops best under hot, dry, sunny conditions.
· The end of July/first of August is the best time to start tomato plants for the fall. Remove a few suckers from the healthiest tomato plants in your garden, dip the ends in rooting hormone and stick them in a well-watered part of the garden.
· Pick herbs for fresh use and for drying. Harvesting will keep them growing longer.
· Start saving seeds and taking cuttings.
· Check that your mulch hasn’t decomposed and spread a mid-season layer of compost or manure if needed.
· Take pictures of your garden at its peak. Take pictures of container combinations you’d like to repeat.
· Cut flowers from the garden to dry for ever-lasting arrangements.
· Shade trees showing fall color in August may have root or trunk damage. Inspect the tree for damage caused by digging near the tree, injury from soil placed over the root zone, chemicals in the soil, excess water (or too little water), and girdling roots growing across others or cutting into the trunk; all can be serious problems.
· Prop up branches of fruit trees heavily loaded with fruit.
· Try to change direction when mowing your lawn. This will help strengthen the roots system and expose different sides of the plant to sunlight.
· Now is a good time to take soil samples from your lawn especially if you plan to put out winter grasses. Soil boxes can be picked-up at your local Co-op store.