July was tough on lawns and landscapes. Most of the metro went the entire month without receiving even a ¼” of rainfall. Unless you are doing a good job of infrequent, deep watering, the soil moisture your landscape needs to survive the summer heat is missing.
And…now comes August!
Late July through August is typically the most difficult time of the year for your lawn and landscape. August usually brings over 20 days of temperatures in the 90’s and 5 days over 100. Nighttime temperatures don’t offer much escape from the heat either with lows that often don’t get below 80 degrees.
July’s lack of moisture followed by the thoughts of a typical August is enough to make anyone want to give up on having a great lawn and landscape the rest of the year. But, don’t give up! We are only a few short weeks from the cooler days of September.
August is the month to stay focused so you will have an enjoyable landscape when outdoor weather returns.
Mowing – Both warm season turf (Bermuda and Zoyia) and cool season turf (Fescue) should be mowed at the highest level this month, warm season 2-2.5” and cool season up to 3-3.5”. At the higher level the lawn will have more leaf space resulting in more heat and drought tolerance. Continue to mow often enough that you are removing only 1/3 of the grass each time you cut. If you are cutting frequently enough to pass the 1/3 test, don’t catch the clippings. Allowing the clippings to decompose on the lawn will return moisture and nitrogen to the soil. Give no bagging a try. You will be surprised at how much more color your lawn will retain even in the heat. When you bag your clippings you are tossing out nitrogen and water your lawn could really use this month.
Watering – Make sure your lawn and landscape are receiving at least 1 ½” of moisture per week. All the soil moisture from the abundant April through June rainfall has vanished. Your turf and plants need deep soakings to avoid showing signs of stress. Water in the early morning. To learn how long and how often you need to water to get 1 ½” of moisture, place small cups or cans around your lawn. Water a typical cycle and then check the cups. Adjust watering times and frequency accordingly to insure 1 ½” is applied each week. Trees planted in the last year will benefit from having a hose placed on a slow trickle for a few hours once per week.
The number one problem we are seeing in the lawn and landscape is short, too frequent, watering cycles!
If you are unsure about your watering practices, let us help. We can schedule an Irrigation Audit/Check to make sure your system is operating at its peak efficiency during the summer heat.
Fertilizer – Apply fertilizer to warm season turf this month. This time of the year, Bermuda and Zoyia benefit from a high nitrogen fertilizer that is low in phosphorus and potassium. DO NOT fertilize cool season lawns until we reach the cooler temperatures of September. Warm and cool season turfs react differently to the heat of July and August. Bermuda and Zoyia, when well maintained and properly watered, will thrive. Cool season lawns, although still green, are in their off season.
Weed Control – Spring pre-emergent herbicides are reaching the end of their effectiveness in your soils. Should an occasional weed show up in your turf this month, it is best to go easy on weed control. We have reached the time of the year that damaged turf may not have a chance to fully recover before fall. Great weed control is about 80% the result of thick turf. August is the month to focus on turf development going into the fall.
Inspect Shady Lawn Areas - September and October is the best time of the year to establish fescue in the shady areas of your lawn. This month, assess the areas of the lawn where Bermuda has become thin due to increasing shade (Bermuda needs 6-8 hours of direct sunlight), areas of the lawn where fescue did not perform well because of very dense shade (Fescue needs at least some dappled sun), and areas of fescue that have been damaged by brown patch this summer (June’s moisture and warm temperatures were the perfect conditions for brown patch). Because fescue does not spread you should plan on adding some seed every fall.
Insect Watch – If grubs have been a problem in your lawn, now is the time to apply an insecticide. Remember, the insecticide will kill desirable insects also. Only treat for grubs if there is evidence of a problem. Continue to inspect shrubs for aphids and treat as needed. If you have experience bagworm problems this summer and treated for them, it is a good idea to also remove as many of the old bags as possible. Watch for webworm in your trees in late August. The second generation of webworm is the one that causes damage. If noticed early when the webbing is small, simply cutting the branch out is the best control. If spraying is required, you most penetrate the webbing to gain control.
Landscape Color – Take pictures, make notes, of the plants that are doing the best in your landscape during the most stressful time of the year.
· Black-eyed Susan’s are the perfect perennial to add color to the landscape during July and August.
· Crape Myrtles are loving the warm days and rewarding us with abundant summer color this year.
· Lantana, Penta and Periwinkle are at their best now.
Go ahead, knock on the door of the house with great summer color and ask them about their plants. Pick a nice summer evening just too slowly stroll around a public garden for the purpose of seeing what plants are loving the summer warmth.
If you need assistance or have questions concerning your lawn and landscape, give us call. (405) 367-3873.
Hall | Stewart