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Flowerland July Gardening Tips

Watering do’s and don’ts, hot weather fertilizing, controlling grubs and bugs…

Water becomes a big issue in July. Hot dry weather can do a number on your prized plants. Grand Rapids, MI, heat always kicks in when you’re away vacationing at the beach!

With hanging baskets, learn to tell by the weight of the basket if it needs water. Gently press against the bottom of the basket lifting it up. You’ll learn quickly to water when the basket feels light. Water so that it is running out the bottom of the basket. Soil contracts when it becomes dry, pulling away from the sides of the pot or basket. If the water applied runs across the top of the soil surface and down the sides you may not be properly watering the root ball in the center. Dunking the basket in a bucket of water or upsizing the pot for a root bound plant may become necessary this month.

A Michigan lawn is best watered deeply and infrequently in spring and fall, but in summer light and frequent is the key! Don’t cut the grass short to avoid stress, keep the length at 3 to 3 _ inches. Try to get an inch and a half of water a week out on the lawn by setting out coffee cans and measuring. Run the irrigation daily in the morning, sometime between 5 and 8 AM. Watering lawns during the afternoon is not efficient due to evaporation by the sun and the wind. Watering in the evening hours keeps grass blades wet all night, combined with humid weather, creating an environment ripe for disease.

Deep trickle the water to plants in the landscape with a garden hose or soaker hose. Plants in the landscape have different water needs than turf. Sometimes “stirring” the mulch in the landscape improves water penetration and efficiencies. As the season progresses, sometimes mulch can web together forming a matting effect. The mulch is good for cooling the roots in the soil but needs to allow penetration of irrigation. The appearance of slime molds on the surface of your mulch may indicate a circulation problem.

Green up your lawn with a fertilizer formulated for hot weather applications. Some fertilizers like Milorganite green with iron as opposed to high nitrogen applications. These would be best to use in summer as long as you are practicing good cultural methods like morning watering and raised deck height on the mower.

Bugs become a big issue in July, especially Japanese beetles. Apply season long Imidicloprid or Merit to the lawn at this time of year to control grubs. Japanese beetles are the adults of the grub larvae and can do a lot of foliage and flower damage to vulnerable plants like roses and hydrangeas in July. Protect plants vulnerable to adult Japanese beetles with applications of Sevin or Neem to protect the foliage while the adults are active.

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