How is your landscape holding up with the higher temperatures of summer? It definitely makes growing a bit more challenging.
I’ve had several people contact me about lawn problems. In almost all of the situations, watering issues have caused the problems.
If you’re seeing dead places in your lawn, yet other areas appear to be green and healthy, try the tin can test. Simply place a few empty shallow cans, such as a tuna fish or cat food can in the green area as well as in the area with the problem turf. Run the irrigation as you normally would. Then check the amount of water collected in the cans and compare it. You might discover the area with the problem is not getting anywhere close to the same amount of water as the greener areas.
You wouldn’t think it would be possible to over-water your lawn, or any plant for that matter, but people actually do. To avoid either overwatering or underwatering, insert a long bladed screwdriver into the turf after watering. It should easily insert about 6 inches. Insert the screwdriver into the turf again before watering. If it will only insert a couple of inches it’s time to water. Water accordingly.
Dead areas of grass could also indicate grubs. I know the mere thought of grubs makes most people squirm but it’s just one of those things we have to deal with.
To check for grubs grab the dead area of grass with both hands. If it lifts right up, you probably have grubs. This is because grubs chew off the grass roots.
Should grubs be present, you will probably see the half-inch to 1.25-inch-long grubs. If your lawn has a history of grubs, an application of a lawn insecticide containing chlorantraniliprole, such as Scotts GrubEx at this time of year should help. This should be done a couple of consecutive years.
Lawn insecticide products containing imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin will also work but may not be quite as effective. Organic products containing Heterorhabditis nematodes, or Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae (grubGONE!), are another option.
This is not a good time to fertilize your grass. However, if you really think your grass needs fertilized, don’t apply more than about one-pound of nitrogen to 1,000 sq. ft. Heavier application could burn and stress the grass.
This reminds me. The water that comes out of a garden hose on a hot summer day can be really hot. If you’re watering your plants with a hose, let it run on the sidewalk or driveway until the hot water is out of the hose so you don’t boil your plants.
Spider mites thrive in hot, dry, drought conditions. The mites often live on the underside of the leaf so they often go unnoticed until you see the damage. Because spider mites are so small and hard to see, you can hold the suspected leaf sample over a piece of white paper and tap the leaf. If spider mites are on the leaf, you will see very small dots moving on the paper.
Increase the amount of water your plant is receiving and spray the mites on the plant with a strong stream of water every couple of days until the plant shows signs of improvement. A pesticide labeled for mites may be needed in extreme cases.
Brown crispy edges on a leaf are a sure sign the leaf is not receiving enough water. Remember, the root zone of a tree can extend at least three times or more than the height of the tree. So try to water to at least the drip line of the tree.
Watering right next to the trunk of an established tree can rot the trunk is not a good thing to do. Irrigation drip tubes that have been placed next to the trunk of the tree when the tree was first planted should be moved further out. Additional drips will probably be needed.
During the heat of summer, it becomes a little bit harder to find things blooming in the landscape. However, if you search a little bit, you’ll find plants that actually enjoy the heat. The shrub, Rose of Sharon or a butterfly bush, really shows off with the heat. A trumpet vine, bee balm, coreopsis, yarrow, day lilies, Vermilion Bluffs Mexican sage and Mohave sage are all great performers in hot weather.
Planting the right plant in the right place will really make a difference in hot, dry, windy weather. If the plant is continually drooping, losing leaves, or turning yellow, it may not like the location where it’s planted. You may want to consider transplanting the plant this fall or next spring. Replacing a problem plant with a more drought tolerant xeriscape plant could also be a good idea.
Try to get out early in the morning or evenings and enjoy these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Before you know, they will be a distant memory and we’ll be complaining about the cold.
Linda Corwine McIntosh is an ISA-certified arborist, licensed commercial pesticide applicator and advanced master gardener.