June Lawn and Gardening Tips

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Lawn Care – Brown patch is a problem on tall fescue lawns and as we head into the summer the fungus makes itself known with the appearance of brown circular patches in the lawn. In order to limit damage mow when grass is dry and avoid fertilizer with high nitrogen. There are several fungicides (such as Heritage, Headway or Strobe to name a few) that you can choose from to treat brown patch. The granular formulations are the easiest to apply for most people. Make sure whatever you get is labeled for brown patch control. In our area two
applications, one in late May/early June and one in mid-August will typically keep your lawn fungus to a minimum. Also, remember when planting a lawn to use a seed mixture that contains at least 3 varieties of fescue to prevent entire lawn death when diseases hit. Warm season grasses tend to have less issues but do need monthly fertilizer applications to keep it looking its best.

Flower Care – Many plants will stop blooming once the plant begins to set seed. You can prolong the bloom period of both annuals and perennials by “deadheading” the spent flowers. Continue to pinch back herbs. Prune climbing roses after they bloom; fertilize at that time.

Pest ControlBagworms are relatively easy to control at this time of year on plants such as junipers, arborvitae and Leyland cypress. Inspect susceptible plants for tiny worms and spray with Dipel or Thuricide. (these are biological controls that contain a bacteria). You can also use Sevin. If bags have already formed, be sure to remove the bags.

Japanese Beetles hold their family reunion at your house in June/July. Hand-pick by holding a container of soapy water under the branch and tapping the branch. The beetle’s natural instinct is to drop when disturbed from above. Or you may spray with pesticides labeled for Japanese Beetles. Spray late in the day when bees are no longer active. Traps are NOT recommended. If you do use them, put them as far away as possible from the plant you want to protect, and be sure to empty them every 2 days. Apply a soil insecticide to kill Japanese Beetle grubs in early August.
Bees are busy pollinating, be careful and spray late in the evening to avoid unnecessary bee kills.

Fire ants are a problem we all face, especially in the lower elevations. Pastures can
become overrun with ants if we don’t treat regularly. For small infestations liquid Carbaryl (sevin) can be drenched over the mounds. Typically, it takes ½ to 1gallon of mixture to eliminate a mound. In larger areas you may consider purchasing fire ant baits that are spread in a granular form. These baits take a while to eliminate mounds as the workers must take the bait into the nest for the queen to consume. In small areas, drenching the mound with Carbaryl is the quickest, most satisfying way to eliminate an active fire ant mound but if you’re willing to wait it
may be easier to just spread the baits on an around the mound.

Top 6 Tomato Problems – The first step in controlling an insect or a disease problem is learning how to correctly identify the pests you have.

Cutworm: Most cutworms cut off stems of plants at or near the soil line. They curl up into a tight C shape when disturbed. Guard the plant base from cutworms with a wax paper collar about 3” high (2” above ground & 1” below).

Aphids: These plant lice cause the greatest damage when they suck juices from the plants. They usually feed in clusters. Several applications of soapy water are quite effective.

Tomato Hornworm or Tobacco Hornworm: They feed on tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and related plants. You can pick them off by hand or use pesticides to control them such as Dipel or Thuricide.

Early Blight: This disease produces brown to black, target-like spots on older leaves. If severe, the fungus also attacks stems and fruit. Sanitation is the best control and can be prevented by using a Copper Fungicide or chemical pesticides such as Daconil. Remove all diseased plant tissue on the ground. Do not plant tomatoes in the same place next year.

Septoria leaf spot which causes small brown spots and the plant to defoliate from the ground up can also be controlled in this way. The key to control is to begin spraying prior to infection and continue throughout the season.

Blossom End Rot: This disease is non-parasitic and is caused by a calcium deficiency in the developing fruit. The affected area darkens and enlarges in a widening circle. The calcium deficiency may be due to a lack of calcium uptake from the soil or to extreme fluctuations in water supply. Make sure your soil pH is between 6.0-6.5 to maximize nutrient availability. Since blossom-end rot is also associated with extremes in water supply, it is important to try to
regulate the moisture supply in the soil. Plants need 1” of water per week.

Bacterial Blight can be a problem in our area as well. It consists of angular brown spots on pepper and tomato leaves and can spread to the fruit. To control this, apply a copper fungicide prior too or as soon as any symptoms are noticed. Continue throughout the season based on label recommendations.

Perennial flowers – Spring and summer is the perfect time to plant herbaceous perennial flowers. You will find these plants at all garden centers and big box stores for the entire summer based on their bloom times. The key to growing good perennial flowers is drainage. Once established, the need relatively little irrigation and need great soil drainage. The biggest killer of these plants is water hanging around the roots during the winter so soil prep is the key to long
lived plants.

The use of brand names in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service of the products or services named nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.