MID-SUMMER LANDSCAPE, TIME TO GET SOME WORK DONE!

Job one is your summer lawn. If you haven’t applied a summer fertilizing yet, do it now. Read the instructions on the bag and apply accordingly. If you are seeing broadleaf weeds, dandelions, etc., it is okay to use a weed and feed type fertilizer. I personally believe a straight fertilizer followed by a liquid, hose end sprayer type, weed killer only. A few days after the application of the weed killer, you should see the leaves of the weeds curling. Crabgrass is rearing its ugly head right now. You can pull the individual grass plants if you don’t have much infestation. Do it when the ground is moist, and make sure you are getting the roots and all. If your crabgrass infiltration is too large to pull out, there are some new products on the market available to consumers that claim to kill established crabgrass. I used some last week in my yard, it seems some of the crabgrass is starting to yellow, but I don’t know yet. The best practice right now is to get a lawn maintainance company, to apply crabgrass killer. The product they use is available to them only, powerful stuff! This still probably won’t end your problem. Depending on your infestation level, it usually takes a few years to totally eliminate crabgrass from the lawn. The most effective method is applying a pre-emergent crabgrass control in the spring, at around the time the soil temperatures reach 53 degrees. If you apply the product too long before the temperature reaching 53, it could become diluted and thus useless. If you wait too long to apply it, it’s too late, the sed has germinated. Crabgrass is not perennial. It is a self-seeder. One way to get control is to not let the plants “go to seed”. Keep your lawn mowed at 2.5 to 3 inches and if crabgrass is present, use the grass bagging attachment to your mower. The most important points for summer lawn care are to cut the grass at the appropriate height, 2.5 to 3 inches and to make sure your lawn is getting a minimum of one inch of water a week. People claim in dry conditions or even drought, the lawn doesn’t die when it turns yellow, “it’s just in dormancy”, they say. In the shorter term, that is correct. Turf grasses have that mechanism built in for long-term survival. But, I don’t go along with allowing the lawn to go dormant, ever. A dormant lawn actually is weakened. It needs to devote much energy to regain a normal green look when coming out of dormancy. Also, most weeds are much more drought tolerant than turf grass. When the turf grass is weakened in dormancy, that opens the door for more weeds to come in. Remember, the best weed control is thick healthy turf grass.

You really have nothing more to do with the lawn other than mowing and watering until mid-September. If you are planning overseeding the lawn or even seeding open areas, wait until after Labor Day. You can lay sod really anytime through the end of October. The key to successful sodding or seeding is watering. Sod needs to be soaked daily until it “roots in”. Seeded areas should be misted every morning and afternoon until established. I do not recommend seeding or sodding in August, it’s just too hot and dry.

August, however, is a great time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials! The main reason being cost. This time of year the nurseries and big box stores are reducing the prices on plant materials a lot. It gets to be a money loser for them to maintain these plants, etc. in pots and burlap balls during the dog days of summer. You can even negotiate with them for a better price. They will virtually give away plants that are in stress and wilted! All you have to do is get them in the ground and water the hell out of them, unless you’re in clay, they’ll do great for you! When planting trees, shrubs, and perennials in August the key is to give them enough water. If you are in sandy or loamy soil, mulch around the plant to help retain moisture. If you are in clay, water very carefully, let the soil go almost dry in the top couple inches before watering again. Do not over-water plants and trees in clay. Planting these materials this time of year is perfect as long as they get watered properly. They need to get their roots pushed out from the root-ball and into the native soil to search for water and nutrients. The most important thing to remember is to water these newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials until ground freeze up. This is particularly true of conifers and winter leaf holding plants such as rhododendrons. During the dry windy winter, these plants will lose moisture from their needles and leaves.

If you’re not much of a “green thumb” kind of person, August is also a good time to contract with landscapers to get your property updated and looking great. Those of us in the landscape business generally do a big push from ground thaw through July. You can probably get a better deal now, we need the work and we too, will be paying less for plant materials. Contact me or others in the landscape business to get some estimates for your job. That includes tree trimming. If you are in Minnesota and wish to get your large trees trimmed, you need to wait until well into August to trim American Elms, any Oaks, and any Ash.

I am a big proponent of large tree control. Large trees can be beautiful and be great shade providers but, they can also cause huge problems with the mess many of them create, fallen branches, limbs, and leaves. Trees that have lots of dead limbs need to be trimmed, it’s a safety issue as well as a health issue for the tree itself. There are also too many “trash trees” in the urban and suburban forests and landscapes. These include Siberian/Chinese Elms, Silver Maples, Cottonwoods, Mulberry, and Buckthorn. I personally, am not a fan of Red Oaks, either. They are around the calendar mess makers! Older and bigger Ash trees tend to turn into ugly monsters, lots of limb die-off as well as a downward curl growth of limbs. They simply are ugly and should be removed from the landscape. Always remember, the best time to trim trees is when they are in dormancy, late fall to late winter.

That’s the mid-summer landscape report, if you have questions or would like an estimate for work you would like done in your landscape, please contact me at camobert@comcast.net or on 612-747-5575. Thanks for today’s read and get out in your outdoor living areas and enjoy!
Cam Obert

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