Around the Yard – June 2020

June Gardening tips from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

It is summer and that means the days are longer and hotter so try to get your gardening done in the morning and evening when it is more pleasant to be outside.

Planting Opportunities. There is still plenty of time to plant colorful, heat-tolerant summer annuals. Directly seed in sunny areas zinnias, gomphrena (bachelor buttons), and portulaca (moss rose); and purchase transplants of celosia, periwinkle, salvia, marigold, tithonia, zinnias, copper plants and purslane. For part or full shade, plant nicotiana, impatiens, begonias, caladiums, salvia and coleus. Be sure to water transplants regularly until roots become established.

Tropical plants are often overlooked in the quest for summer color. They offer spectacular color all summer long and give you even more bang for your gardening buck. Tropicals planted directly in the ground make interesting and colorful additions to the garden. Try esparanza (yellow bells), firebush (Hamelia), allamanda, mandevilla, Mexican heather, tropical hibiscus, brugmansia (angel’s trumpet), and bougainvillea.

Lantana is another great summer bloomer for the blazingly sunny, hot spot in your yard. Lantana varieties grow either upright as 3 or 4 foot shrubs or spreading like a ground cover, and they come in a variety of colors from cool white and lavender to hot orange and yellow.

Remove faded flowers (called dead-heading) on all perennials and annuals before they set seed to keep the plants compact, growing and producing more flowers. A light application of fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks helps keep annuals productive and pretty.

As long as you can supply water, it is not too late to plant trees, shrubs, ground covers, and establish new lawns. Supplemental water during the first year of establishment and during dry periods is the key to success. But do not over water new plants. More new plants are killed by over watering than by drought.

Crape myrtles will start blooming soon and that is a great time to select the right color variety for your yard to compliment your home. Be sure to pick one that matures to the exact height for the location. That eliminates the need to annually prune it back to fit the spot. There are many named varieties to choose from, each with a definite growth habit, color and mature height. Varieties with Indian tribe names like ‘Natchez’, ‘Hopi’, ‘Muskogee’ and ‘Acoma’ are interspecific hybrids with very good resistance to powdery mildew.

Bare spots in your garden and flower beds are the breeding ground for weeds. All a weed seed needs is a little bit of light and water to germinate. Prevent weeds by spreading mulch over all bare areas in your flower and vegetable gardens and under and around shrubs. Pine straw is an excellent choice and is slow to decompose. A layer of mulch will also cut down on a plant’s water needs.

Happy gardening.

Around the Yard – September 2019

September Garden Checklist

Below are some helpful tips from Southern Living and GardenHealth.com to get your winter garden in shape and start preparing for the spring. Our Sugar Land weather is pretty mild for a couple of more months so we are able to work in our gardens a bit longer to get them in shape for winter and spring.

September brings a change in season as autumn approaches. The leaves start to change colors and the temperature starts to drop. There is plenty to keep you busy in the garden this month.  It is a fantastic time of year to plant your spring bulbs, feed your lawn and/or prepare your winter vegetable plantings.

Plant

Start work on your fall vegetable garden.  Sow seeds of radishes, spinach, lettuce, mustard greens, kale, and other leafy crops that like autumn’s cool weather.  Get a head start by setting out small plants or vegetables from the garden center. Now is also the time to assemble containers of ornamentals for the crisp days we are anticipating to come.  Combine annuals such as pansies, violas, and ornamental cabbage and kale with fancy-leaved hardy perennials like heuchera, golden Japanese sweet flag, rue, variegated ivy, and ‘Tricolor’ common sage.

Fertilize

Fall is the most important time to feed lawns that stay green all winter. Choose a lawn fertilizer (not a weed-and-feed product) labeled for your specific type of grass.

Water

September is a dry month in much of the South, so trees and shrubs need your help. Proof of this was during previous droughts in the Southeast that killed a lot of plants that were assumed to be drought resistant. In dry weather, soak the roots of trees and shrubs—especially newly planted ones—at least once a week using a hose, not a sprinkler system designed to water grass. If a tree or shrub looks wilted in early morning, it needs watering immediately.

Watch

Notice large webs encasing the ends of branches on pecan, hickory, walnut, birch, sourwood, and fruit trees? These are nests created by fall webworm caterpillars which devour the foliage inside. Unless it is a small tree, the damage is more cosmetic than serious. You can cut out the infested branches or spray them with spinosad.

Sow a New Lawn

September is the best time of year to sow a new lawn. Depending on the weather, you can sow a new lawn up to mid-October.

Show your lawn some love

Remember to give your lawn some tender loving care by raking, aerating and removing dead or dying grass.  This will help the lawn develop healthier and stronger roots in the coming months.

Apply mulch to protect plants

As the temperature drops it is a good idea to protect border plants by mulching. It is best to apply when the soil is damp or wet and make sure you weed first. Mulch will help keep your soil from drying out, improve texture and help protect the roots of tender plants from frost.  A good 2 inch layer is best.

Take cuttings and divide up perennials

Extend color through to the end of the season with plants such as chrysanthemum, aster, daisy and sedum. You can also start to divide up large border perennials as the temperature cools to fills gaps next year but don’t forget to water them in.

Essential checklist for September
  • Buy spring bulbs
  • Plant bulbs for color at Christmas and spring
  • Dead head roses
  • Harvest sweetcorn and onions
  • Rake lawn, aerate and remove dead/dying grass
  • Sow new lawn
Last chance to
  • Take cuttings / divide up perennials
  • Start planting spring bulbs
  • Put down fall mulch
  • Apply fall fertilizer

Around the Yard – June 2019

Preparing for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. The most active time of year for these storms is August and September. During these months, multiple systems develop, one after another, moving closer to the Gulf of Mexico or up the coastline. Some hurricanes do occasionally form outside this window but the majority occur between these dates, with an average of twelve storms per year. The State of Texas has a great website for hurricane information at https://gov.texas.gov/hurricane and below is suggestions to help you prepare for the season:

  • Prune trees around your property to help reduce the likelihood of falling branches.
  • Secure loose shingles to help reduce the risk of losing them in the wind.
  • Clear gutters and downspouts. If torrential rains cannot drain outside the house, they will drain into the house.
  • Make a list of important documents and put it in an easy-to-find place should evacuation be necessary.
  • Photograph valuables to provide to an adjuster in case of damages items.
  • Pack an emergency kit including non-perishable food, water, medications, flashlights, cash, a whistle, and backup batteries.
The Difference between Tropical Depressions and Hurricanes

A hurricane is an immense weather system of thunderstorms that rotates around itself and wreaks havoc on everything in its path. The difference between a tropical depression and a hurricane lies in the wind speed. Tropical depressions have winds of 39 mph or more. A storm is not classified as a hurricane until the wind surpasses 74 mph. Once a storm is classified as a hurricane, it is then categorized by its strength. Using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, hurricanes are ranked on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the strongest and 1 being the weakest. Maria, Harvey, Irma, Andrew and Katrina were some of the most destructive storms in recent years, and all except Harvey (category 4) were category 5 storms. Even if a hurricane is rated a category 1, it is still dangerous and you must be prepared. Category 1 hurricanes can worsen and quickly climb the scale into more worrisome categories. Never underestimate a tropical depression or hurricane.

When Should I Prepare for a Hurricane?

If a storm is already in the news and has a name, the best time to prepare is now. Preparing in advance will give you some peace of mind. It also better positions you to take care of your family and pets when a hurricane hits. In addition to stocking up on supplies, it is important to create a hurricane plan. When anticipating a storm, find out where you can seek shelter and have an evacuation plan ready. Tropical depressions and hurricanes can suddenly change direction so be prepared even if you are not in the direct path.

Remember to check on your neighbors also. Some elderly and/or disabled persons may not have the capacity to prepare their home. Take a few minutes to visit with them to see if they need help.

The cost of being prepared for a hurricane is significantly less than the cost of repairs for unprepared homes and replacement of belongings.