By Gerry Augustin
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Our yards and gardens have given us much enjoyment since spring. Now we are in a fight to keep them alive until cooler weather prevails.
Even though some parts of Oklahoma have received more than 30 inches of rain this year, we need to water our gardens and yards during the dry spells.
Our landscapes need 1 to 2 inches of water a week at this time whether from rain or our hoses. Grass and gardens should be watered enough to wet the soil to a depth of 4-6 inches. A simple rule to remember is when your footprints show in the lawn it is time to water. Place the water at the base of the plants and not overhead when you water gardens. A light watering encourages plants to have a shallow root system and causes them to dry out more quickly.
Water deeply and well, rather than shallow and often. Water early in the day so plants can absorb the moisture before the hot sun dries the soil. Early watering also ensures the foliage dries before night. Foliage that remains wet overnight is more susceptible to fungus disease.
Don’t forget the birds when watering. Change the water in your bird bath regularly and keep it filled. Stagnate water is less healthy for birds and becomes a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.
This also is the time of year to divide and replant spring blooming perennials such as iris, peonies and daylilies. Some hedges and bushes may need pruning. Summer blooming shrubs should be pruned for shape after they have finished flowering. Remove any dead or diseased branches. Do not prune any spring-blooming shrubs or trees. By this time of the year flower buds already have started to form for next spring and any pruning you do will remove these buds.
Continue to watch for insect, slug and snail, or disease damage throughout the garden, and take the necessary steps to control the problem.
Late-August through fall is a great time to plant evergreen trees and shrubs. The new plants will have several months to establish new roots before winter arrives. Water these new plantings 1 inch of water every week until the ground is frozen.
A light fertilizer can be placed on flowering shrubs and roses, but don’t overdo it as it will encourage new growth that could be hurt by cold weather.
Now is the time to start our fall and winter vegetables. Some of the plants that can be planted are green onions, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, radishes and cauliflower. Winter gardens are less susceptible to insect damage. Clean up the rest of your garden and toss the material in your compost pile after removing any infected plant matter to prevent attracting diseases and pests.
Mow often. It is one of the best defenses against weeds. If you haven’t set your mower high do it now. Longer grass shades the soil, thus retaining moisture and blocks seed germination. Don’t pick up the grass, rather use a mulching blade. Every cutting adds about 1 percent nitrogen back into the yard.
See Oklahoma State University publications 6420 Lawn Management, 6009 Fall Gardening, 7313 Home Garden Insect Pest Control and 7450 Safe use of Pesticides or contact the Garfield County Extension Service for information.
Augustin is a member of Garfield County Master Gardeners.