*Whew* is it hot out there or what? I sure hope everyone is taking extra precautions this month and only gardening in the early mornings or late evenings. This heat will really take a toll on you quick. But, now is a great time to start thinking about your fall gardening and getting your ideas on paper about which varieties you liked in the spring that you'd like to replant for fall harvesting.
During July, you can still continue to plant new grass (such as bermuda or sod) despite the heat, just make sure to keep it watered as this is very critical to new lawns. Its a little to late on centipede.
During these warmer months, raise the mowing height to 2.5 to 3 inches.
Try not to over water your lawns during the summer. If you think you need to water, check with your grass first and see if it really needs it. If you grass is not showing any signs of drought stress and you can still see some moisture in the soil, it is ok. Also, you want to make sure that when you do water, its a good long soaking water. This helps your lawn develop a good, deep root system. Frequent, shallow waterings, keep your grasses roots very close to the surface which makes them easily damaged.
Generally, trees and shrubs need deep watering with a hose every 10 to 14 days to a depth of 3 inches at the roots. Skip the fertilizing during July for your trees & shrubs, this allows your trees to start preparing for their winter dormancy.
Bugs! Bugs! And More Bugs!
During the hotter months, you'll start to notice many new insects creeping into you home trying to find water and keep cool from the heat. By using an all purpose insect killer like Demon WP or Viper, you'll be halting these creepy crawlers in their tracks.
Ants in the yard and especially around the pool area (looking for moisture and coolness) will also become a problem this month. You can combat them with Acephate. This super stinky white powder is a life saver when you need ant mounds gone fast.
If you lost some of your pretty flowers to the heat or forgot to keep them watered, then why not choose a flowering Lantana? These plants love the heat and don't require to much water either! Verbena are also outstanding and if you are looking for a climbing vine to cover a trellis, bougainville and mandevillas (shown) are the perfect plants.
Remove any faded or dead flowers to encourage new growth.
Prune hydrangeas right after bloom if you need to cut them back. Flower buds are formed in late summer and early fall; late fall and winter pruning removes these future blooms.
Plants with shallow roots are especially susceptible to drying out in the summer. Azaleas, camellias and dogwoods are some of the more common plants that need frequent watering and a protective mulch.
Mulching is an important job to keep up with in July. Organic mulches break down over time, so be sure to check the mulch around your plants. By mulching around your trees and shrubs, you will be helping them retain moisture so they don't become to stressed in the summer heat. Keep a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around your plants to retain moisture. Also keep a thick layer of mulch around the roots of trees and shrubs.
Finish pruning your spring-flowering shrubs by midmonth.
July is a great time for planning your fall garden. Your tomato and pepper plants are starting to slow down on production due to the heat.
Make sure to provide at least 1 inch of water per week for your garden if we don't have any substantial rain fall.
Harvest vegetables and fruits regularly to keep your garden productive.
If you are brave enough and can stand the heat, you can plant pumpkin seeds this month in the garden so they will be ready for halloween.
Also for the ambitious gardener, you can start the following seeds inside this month- collards, cucumbers, cantaloupe, cabbage, southern peas, tomatoes, broccoli and brussel sprouts. They will be ready to transplant to the garden about the time it starts cooling off again.
The birds and the bees, and squirrels?
Yes, even the squirrels! During this month the heat is sometimes unbearable and even our furry friends need to cool down. Keep a check on your bird baths and fountains to make sure there is always fresh water for our furry friends.
And pets too!
Our outdoor pups look miserable this month and the horses do too! Our dogs don't like to be hosed down, but we always make sure to check water bowls every night when we feed them to make sure they are filled to the top with fresh cool water. Also we place the water bowls in a shady place in the yard so the water doesn't get to warm.
You might consider purchasing an "Ever-Full" bowl for your outdoor pets. You simply attach the 3/4 inch hose (included) to your garden hose, turn on the tap, and the bowl fills to the perfect drinking level. The automatic float controls the water level so there is no spilling or overflow. The bowl is automatically replenished every time your dog drinks, so the water always stays fresh.
Our horses however, love the water and usually get a good hosing down every evening when I arrive home. Then of course, they go roll in the mud! But, this is a good thing for horses, as the caked on dirt will help keep the flies and biting insects off of them.