This is the start of what I hope will be informational and/or helpful to you as you look out at your landscape. It is all things we consider as landscapers and homeowners in the month of August. These are things I’ve always tried to do, even before I was in the business and it’s something every homeowner can do to help their landscape through the tough part of the summer. Some of these we may take care of for you, depending on the level of your maintenance, or we may not but they are still worth taking a look at.
Y’all its August – the month my girls start back to school (in just 2 weeks!) and we are almost through this sweltering, drought-ridden, long as a pole bean summer. Luckily a week ago we had a break in the drought and in the heat and this coming week looks to be the same.
Looking at Your Landscape
Right now if you are looking out at your landscape, you probably want to go run back inside and not emerge again until the heat is over and you can start the repairs to your yard. Yes, I think everyone, including those Bermuda grass yards are feeling the effects of the summer. So, in case you didn’t take a deep look, here’s what it probably looks like and further down, what you can do this month to help things along.
Plants and Trees
Your flowering shrubs and trees most likely have yellowing leaves and they’re dropping making your heart drop with them wondering if they are going to make it. Most of them will – they are only dropping their older leaves because of the drought conditions. They will bounce back, especially if they are a drought tolerant plant like Azaleas. Some more finicky plants like Gardenias will also be showing signs of stress but they will need a little extra care – get them some water and make sure you fertilize them with the correct food.
If your plants have holes in the leaves, you have little bugs eating away and enjoying the feast on your plant. Use good old Sevin Dust or if you’d rather go organic, Spinosad, Neem oil, or for some a little spritz of water with dish detergent.
Deadhead and pinch back flowers that need it. This encourages new and bushier growth. Examples of plants that love it: Knockout Roses, Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia), Mums, Marigolds, and Coneflower.
Keep weeding and watering! If you are getting less than an inch a week, then make sure plants that are not drought tolerant are getting water. Try watering them deeply in the early morning every 2 -3 days instead of every day as well. Look out for wilting leaves on drought tolerant plants – this is a clue they need some water. Be careful of plants susceptible to root rot and not overwater them. Weeds will steal the precious water from your plants, so get rid of those when you can by spraying or pulling – or both.
Fertilize your landscape shrubs with the appropriate fertilizer. This will be their last feeding until the Spring – otherwise you risk new growth later that won’t survive a good frost. And if you haven’t hit your roses yet with some food, then please do! Also container plants may be looking for a liquid feed at this time so don’t forget them – they’ll last longer through the season for you.
Absolutely do not cut back your azaleas, forsythia, and other spring flowering shrubs.
By all means though, go ahead and prune off any dead, damaged, or diseased limbs or shoots even on those spring flowering shrubs. Make sure you throw them away and don’t leave them lying beneath the shrub to invite disease to the plant. I carry around one of those big blue Ikea bags for weeds and pruning. It is so convenient!
Some of you have had some good storms and it causes damage in your trees and shrubs. Cut off those damaged limbs and pull them out of the shrubs too if any fell into them. Clean up is very important to a healthy lawn and shrubs.
Suckers may be growing on the bottom part of your Holly trees, Crepe Myrtles and other similar trees that naturally want to be more shrub-like. Go ahead and take those off.
Boxwoods and other hedges like Yew and Privet will still benefit from a good pruning as well but this month is the month to do it otherwise afterward you’ll risk new growth during a frost period.
You can cut off the yellowed leaves of irises right now but leave the still green shoots. Or if you’d rather just leave it all until fall.
If your Hostas have holes in their leaves with burnt edges, they’re in the sun too much or in the heat of the afternoon sun. In the fall you can replant them to a shadier spot. And if you have to have Hostas in that spot find a Hosta that can take the sun better like Guacamole, Sun and Substance, and Squash Casserole.
If you are into propagation and sharing with your friends and neighbors, go ahead and take semi-hardwood cuttings from shrubs like Rose of Sharon or Forsythia. Stick them in a pot and get their roots going so they’re strong for the winter (like anyone can think about the winter with this heat).
Keep planting annuals and avoid putting perennial shrubs in the ground. Some perennial plants like Coneflower or Dragon’s Breath can still take it but it’s best to leave them to plant when it’s not so hot.
Your grass, especially if its Fescue probably has a spectrum of looks to it. But mostly it looks sickly, dead or overgrown with weeds. If you are one of our customers in the first year, bear with us – fall is the best time to rebound and next year it won’t be like this.
Much of what can be done for Fescue is done in the fall as spring is a late jump for Fescue. If you want more info we wrote two great articles on Fescue and our Southern Summers and How to irrigate for Fescue.
Patience is critical this time of year for Fescue, resist the urge to fertilize or undertake any seeding/sodding. The best time to begin those practices is just after Labor Day.
Warm season turf (Bermuda or Zoysia), the drought may be taking a toll on your turf, but don’t fret, it will bounce back quickly once adequate water is applied (either naturally or via irrigation). If you have irrigation, use it 2x’s per week for 30 min each early in the morning (4-7 am).
Moving forward, begin thinking about Fall pre-emergent applications. This is the most important thing that you can do to ensure that your next season is a great one.
Check out our other posts for more info on irrigation or other turf care topics.
We are expanding and added on another employee this month. Wesley is joining us as a fully experienced and well-qualified maintenance foreman. He has easily worked in and showed he is skilled and knowledgeable. We are still adding on maintenance accounts so he is a welcome addition to our team!