Best Summer Tips to Growing Lovely Lawn
Tree and Shrub Fertilizers Care
People often ask about transplanting trees and shrubs during the summer months. While it can be done, it’s usually better to wait until winter to dig a woody plant and move it to another location. When a tree or shrub is dug, roots are severed. Since roots supply water, the plant will usually die from heat stress soon after it is transplanted. Some nurseries dig plants midsummer, but extra care must be taken to ensure plant survival.
When choosing trees and shrubs for summer installation select vigorous containerized plants with a healthy root system. After planting, mulch the planted area and supply adequate weekly or bi-weekly watering for at least six weeks. Ball and burlap trees or shrubs can be used but are usually installed by contractors in landscapes that are irrigated to minimize stress.
Trees and shrubs can be given a third and final dose of fertilizer in July. When using “quick release” fertilizers apply them in March, May, and July. Many gardeners have made the switch, however, to controlled release forms of landscape fertilizer and make one application in late spring. Application of “quick release” fertilizer such as 6-8-8 at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet is a good rule of thumb for landscape trees and shrubs. One quart of 6-8-8 weighs about 2 pounds.
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St. Augustine Grass is attractive to people, but also to chinch bugs and a disease known as Gray Leaf Spot. Adult chinch bugs are small black and white insects about a one-fifth inch long. They feed by sucking plant juices and release poison into the grass that causes the lawn to yellow and turns brown.
Damaged areas are commonly seen as expanding patches of yellowing turf in sunny areas of the lawn. When chinch bugs are found, treat the whole lawn thoroughly with an appropriate insecticide.
A fungus that primarily attacks St. Augustine grass causes gray leaf spot disease. Extended rainy periods, over-watering, and/or over-fertilizing are common causes of gray leaf spot development. As the name implies, leaf spots of gray, dirty-yellow, or ash color are signs of this disease. If needed, fungicides are available for treatment.
Trees or Grass?
Grass and trees compete for light, nutrients, and water. As trees grow they cast a larger shadow reducing the amount of light that reaches the lawn. St. Augustine is our most shade-tolerant lawn grass, but will not perform well in deep shade. At least three hours of sunlight each day is a good rule of thumb for growing St. Augustine. Selective pruning of tree limbs instead of tree removal is a good first step toward increasing light levels to keep the lawn looking good.
Tips for Growing Lovely Lawns
Summer is the prime growing season for lawns. Lawns that are not performing their best can be made better through the fall. If you did not fertilize your lawn during the spring, you still have time to fertilize and get your lawn in good shape before fall. But only keep with a fertility program through early to mid-August, and water your lawn deeply once or twice a week as needed.
Watch for chinch bugs in St. Augustine and Bermuda grass lawns, and if they turn up, treat them with any recommended insecticide. Chinch bug problems show up as yellow-brown areas of the lawn during hot and dry weather. These insects extract plant juices from grass stems and crowns while pumping in toxic salivary fluids that disrupt the plant’s vascular system.
There is still time to dethatch Bermuda grass, zoysia, and centipede grass through late July if needed. Consider renting mechanical dethatchers for zoysia and Bermuda grass lawns. It might be better to hand rake out “thatchy” areas of centipede grass lawns because centipede grass can be slow to recover from aggressive dethatching. Fertilize and water lawns after dethatching. And keep in mind that St. Augustine grass is not as prone to thatch problems as other lawn grasses.
Centipede grass should receive its optional second and last fertilizing in late July or August. For centipede grass, apply only one-half pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet as a complete turf fertilizer – for example, three pounds of 17-0-17 or five pounds of 10-0-10 per 1,000 square feet. Other lawn grasses would need about twice this rate. A slow-release, turf-blend fertilizer is best and worth the extra cost. These types of fertilizers are widely available at garden centers and feed stores throughout the state.
Carpet grass only needs one fertilizing in spring. Fertilize St. Augustine grass, Bermuda grass, and zoysia in June and again in early to mid-August with at least one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, for example, seven pounds of 13-13-13 or five pounds of 19-19-19 per 1,000 square feet.
Make sure lawns are getting adequate moisture during the summer. Centipede grass is the least tolerant lawn to drought, so make sure it receives adequate amounts of moisture, especially during dry periods.
If you intend to apply liquid fertilizer on your lawn for fall, don’t just go by the name “liquid fertilizer” because it may be a northern type of fertilizer for a fescue-blend type of lawn. These types of liquid fertilizers are common in garden stores. A true southern liquid fertilizer should be low in nitrogen and high in potassium, or just use 0-0-60, which is muriate of potash.
You’ll need about one pound of potash – K2O equivalent – per 1,000 square feet. You can apply this as 1½ pounds of muriate of potash. Apply all granular materials on a dry lawn, and water it in soon after application.
Weed management is difficult in St. Augustine grass and centipede grass lawns because herbicides can cause severe lawn injury when temperatures exceed 90 degrees. Limit applications to careful spot treatments to reduce lawn injury.