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Polk County Lawn & Garden Checklist for JULY

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What to do in the garden in July

For more info, help, and advice on these or other lawn and garden topics, contact your Polk County Extension Director, Scott Welborn


√ Yellow Jackets

These bees can ruin outdoor activities until frost. With insect prey (their usual diet) becoming scarce, yellow jackets scavenge for other sources of nutrition, especially sweets, e.g. fruits, ice cream, soft drinks. A dilute solution of ammonia and water (6 oz. of ammonia per gallon of water) sprayed in and around trash cans and sponged onto outdoor tables and food preparation surfaces may help to repel yellow jackets from these areas. Use household ammonia, not bleach. Aerosol sprays that control wasps and hornets work well to control individual yellow jackets but are not very effective on the nest. Carbaryl (Sevin) is a better choice for nest control. Carefully locate the nest and drench the nest with a Carbaryl solution at dusk or after dark. Do not drench the nest with gasoline as it causes damage to surrounding plants and soil.

√ Crape Myrtles

The beauty of crape myrtles is shown in their color this month. Prune spent flower blossoms to prolong the flowering period. If the leaves appear dark and sooty or almost uniformly charcoal gray, you have sooty mold, the result of an aphid infestation. Spray with horticultural oil or soaps according to label directions. Next year, watch for and treat aphids in May. Some have problems with powdery mildew. Use horticultural oils as an organic way to control mildew. Many chemical fungicides such as Immunox or Daconil will control the problem as well.

√ Grasses

Fescue goes naturally semi-dormant during extremes of hot and/or dry weather; it can survive 3 weeks without water. Water only when grass shows signs of wilt (footprints will show when grass is walked on and the grass will seem to darken). The most effective watering method is to water to the point of runoff, turn off sprinkler to let water soak in, then water again, repeating until the root zone is wet. Unless the water reaches the roots, where it is taken up by the plant, you waste both time and water. Water in early morning if possible; late afternoon or early evening is the worst time to water as the grass stays wet for a longer time and encourages diseases. Do not get discouraged if you spot crabgrass and brown patch. It is common this time of year and with a little over seeding in the fall, you will have a beautiful fall lawn and an even nicer spring lawn.

Warm season grasses such as Bermuda and Zoysia need to be fertilized during the warm months of the year. Apply .5 pounds of nitrogen each month during the summertime. (1.5 pounds of 32-0-0 per 1000 square feet) Be sure to water these grasses during dry times.

√ Evergreens

July and August are the months to take semi-hardwood cuttings of evergreen shrubs such as azalea, boxwood, holly, and camellia. Remove the leaves from the lower half of cutting and dip in rooting powder. Set in a well drained media in a container that can be placed in a clear plastic bag or set in a cold frame. Place them out of direct sunlight and keep moist for about 6 weeks. (For more information, explore the NC State Extension publication “Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings.“)

√ Bagworms

Bagworms are often found on arborvitae, Leyland cypress, and juniper. Not to be confused with the large fall webworms, Bagworms make small (1/8′′ to 2′′ long), diamond-shaped silk bags. This month, it is best to control Bagworms simply by hand picking the bags. Pesticides are not effective once bags have been produced.

√ Trees

You can remove suckers, water sprouts and dead shoots from trees this month, but it’s definitely too hot to do any pruning.

√ Deadheading Flowers

Always remember that if you cut off (deadhead) blossoms when they die, you will prolong the flowering period of flowering plants.

√ In the Garden

What to plant this month? It’s a little late to be planting, but consider second crops of cucumbers and bush beans at this time. Be aware that disease issues are more intense on second crops so be prepared to treat diseases proactively. Also, begin to plan your fall garden so you can start planting that next month. Be sure to harvest cucumbers and squash regularly. The more frequently you harvest, the more the plants will produce.

NOTE: 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.