This time of the year there are many lawn and garden “maintenance” tasks.
Watering needs will escalate with the summer heat. Try to get in the habit of early morning irrigation or watering if possible. Plants need the water in the hottest part of the day, and early morning watering also will prevent water loss by evaporation. Be aware of watering restrictions in your community, and water thoroughly on assigned days.
You still can add a nice, thick mulch layer to your flower and vegetable beds if you have not done so to cool the soil and conserve moisture. You will get the added benefit of reducing weed populations and creating an attractive appearance.
Many of us planted replacement landscape plants this spring. Newly planted trees and shrubs need special attention during their first growing season since they don’t have an established root system. Water them deeply and thoroughly once a week to encourage a deep root system rather than frequent, shallow watering.
Container gardens and plants will need regular watering, perhaps daily if they are in full sun. You can add a mulch layer to container plants to help conserve moisture.
Warm-season grasses, like bermudagrass, usually need about 1 inch of water per week through the summer. Fescue will require 2 inches per week to perform well.
In addition, grass mowing heights should be adjusted for mid-summer. Cutting turf grasses below their recommended height will discourage deep rooting and can make turf less able to withstand heavy traffic and environmental stresses such as low soil moisture and extreme temperatures.
Gradually raise mowing height of common bermudagrass lawns from 1 ½ to 2 inches. Finer-bladed types, such as “Tifgreen,” should be mowed at ½ inch to ¾ inch.
Shady grasses, like fescue, should always be maintained at a slightly higher cut in order to increase leaf area to compensate for lower light levels. Mowing heights for cool-season turf grasses should be 3 inches during hot, dry summer months.
And don’t forget to keep your birdbaths full of fresh water for visiting feathered friends, pollinators and other beneficial insects. If you don’t have any type of water feature in your garden like a birdbath, fountain or pond, July is the perfect time to add one for the wild things and to create a cooling visual effect in your garden space!
Here is an important tomato tip. When temperatures are above 90 F, the red pigment in tomatoes slows and develops poorly. Slow ripening and orange- or yellow-tinted fruit often result. Once tomatoes have turned from green to slightly pink they derive no more food supplies from the plant, so they can be harvested in this transition stage without a loss of flavor or quality. Place them in a cool location so they will develop to a deep red color. By harvesting the fruit that has begun to turn pink, the tomato plant will begin to ripen the other fruit on the plant faster.
It is also time to get ready for fall vegetable growing. For help with this, download our fact sheet No. 6009, “Fall Gardening,” at osufacts.okstate.edu. You also can attend the Oklahoma County Master Gardeners “Wednesdays at Will” free workshop, “Planning and Planting Your Fall Vegetable Garden,” at 6 p.m. July 14 at Will Rogers Gardens exhibition building at 3400 NW 36.
Email Julia Laughlin, Oklahoma County Extension horticulture educator, at [email protected]