The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

June 7, 2014

Things to do in summer

By Susan Bowers, Master Gardener
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — School is out and summer is here. Find someone to water your plants, mow your yard and harvest your vegetable garden while on vacation.

If you do these things, it will imply that someone is home.

If you have not put any mulch down, now is the time. Mulch your ornamentals, vegetables and annuals to reduce soil crusting.

Mulching also will regulate temperatures and moisture during hot summer months. It also will reduce about 70 percent of the summer yard maintenance.

Each year I try to figure out how to save 30 more minutes a week in my yard. Last year, I did not plant any annuals that had to be dead-headed to save time.

Look for insect damage. Add spider mites to the list. The foliage of the plants will become pale and speckled. Get a piece of white paper and shake a branch over it. If your tiny specks crawl, you have spider mites and will need to spray.

Never fertilize fescue in the summer. I fertilize my fescue March 1, May 1, Sept. 15 (if it has cooled down, and Dec. 1.

Make sure you have done a soil test every five years no matter what type of grass you have. Dig down six inches and pull out a total of two cups of soil, small amounts from different places in your yard. Take your soil sample to the Garfield County Oklahoma Cooperative Extension office with $10. They will mail it in, and you will receive results indicating you are low, perfect or high in nutrients.

It will save you money for fertilizer that you may not need. Fertilize warm season grasses in the summer at one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

If you have dollar spot disease, it becomes visible in mid-May. Those are brown, circular spots in your turf that will need a fungicide applied. If you plan to seed bermuda, June is the month. Only Riviera and Yukon bermuda varieties can be seeded through July. Seeding at the right time will give the bermuda time to develop strong roots and will reduce winterkill loss.

If your pine trees have tip blight disease, you will need to spray them again in mid-June. During the summer, remove tree wraps to avoid potential disease and insect buildup. Softwood cuttings from the new growth of many shrubs will root if propagated in a moist, shady spot. Protect your trees from lawn mowers and weed eaters by mulching around them. Make sure that the mulch is not touching the tree trunk.

If your annuals are becoming leggy, pinch them back, which will encourage new growth. You may apply fertilizer to your annuals.

Also, feed your established mums and other perennials. When cutting your roses, cut back to a leaflet facing the outside of the bush. This will encourage air circulation and open growth. Your tall perennials may need to be staked before our Oklahoma winds arise.

Enjoy summer in your yard. Remember, gardening helps keep you young and healthy.

Bowers is a member of Garfield County Master Gardeners.