Mid summer can be tough on lawns and gardens


With the summer heat upon us and afternoon or evening showers becoming common, we have to realize that disease problems will also be part of our gardening chores.

Flowers can get powdery mildew, a whitish-grayish coloring on the leaves, that can cause the leaves to curl up some or become distorted, and when the powdery substance gets worn off, the leaves will be brown in the affected areas.

To help stop this problem, spray with a fungicide if you see the whitish substance starting. Some plants that can be affected are dogwoods, gerbera daisies, zinnias and roses.

We will also need to fertilize our shrubs for the last time this year. Apply your fertilizer at the drip line of the shrubs and water in. Before you fertilize you should remove any weeds, tree seedlings or vines from your shrub beds.

Lawns will need another fertilization at this time to keep the lawn growing healthy and thick so weeds will have a tough time to establish themselves.

Another way to help with keeping the lawn healthy is mowing at the proper height.

Centipede needs to be mowed at one and one-half to two inches high, St. Augustine is mowed at three to four inches high, Zoysia is one- and one-half to two inches high, and Bermuda is mowed at one to two inches high.

The reason I keep talking about mowing height is that mowing at the wrong height weakens the grass and allows weeds to creep in and thins out the grass if it is mowed wrong.

We see this a lot with St. Augustine being mowed at the height of Centipede and we wonder why it is dying out from under trees, where it should be growing well. This is because the grass cannot produce enough food to support itself, so it dies out or thins out.

We will also have the possibility of brown patch attacking the grass if it keeps staying wet as it goes into darkness.

If you see brownish circles about the size of a dinner plate starting in your lawn, that is brown patch, and it must be treated with a fungicide to control the problem.

If you see grayish areas in the blade of St. Augustine, that is gray leaf spot and will need to be treated with a fungicide.

Last but not least, mole crickets can be active at this time, so watch for their signs of tunnels the height of a pencil or a pop-up of soil that breaks apart to nothing when touched. If you see these signs, treat with an insecticide recommended for mole crickets.

Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.

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