July lawn and garden tasks in central Oklahoma
July is upon us, and hopefully you are beginning to enjoy the fruits of your spring and early summer labors such as beautiful lawns, flower beds and harvesting some home-grown vegetables, fruits and herbs!
This time of the year, there are many lawn and garden “maintenance” tasks. Watering needs will escalate with the summer heat. Try to get in the habit of early morning irrigation or watering if possible. Plants need the water in the hottest part of the day, and early morning watering also will prevent water loss by evaporation. Be aware of watering restrictions in your community, and water thoroughly on assigned days.
You still can add a nice, thick mulch layer to your beds if you have not done so to cool the soil and conserve moisture. You will get the added benefit of reducing weed populations and creating an attractive appearance.
Newly planted trees and shrubs need special attention during their first growing season since they don’t have an established root system. Water them deeply and thoroughly once a week to encourage a deep root system rather than frequent, shallow watering.
Mature shade trees often will develop clear yellow leaves that drop in the hottest part of summer. This is a normal reaction to heat and drought and should not concern you.
Container gardens and plants will need regular watering. Hanging baskets will dry out even faster since they are more exposed. You can add a mulch layer to container plants to help conserve moisture.
Warm-season grasses, like bermudagrass, usually need about 1 inch of water per week through the summer. Fescue will require 2 inches per week to perform well.
One of the best tips to help your lawn and improve your lawn-care plan is that your grass mowing heights should be adjusted for mid-summer. Mowing at the incorrect height in the summer months is a common lawn-care mistake that can have undesirable results.
Cutting turfgrasses below their recommended height will discourage deep rooting and also may cause the turf to thin, because it is less able to withstand heavy traffic and environmental stresses such as low soil moisture and extreme temperatures.
Gradually raise mowing height of common bermudagrass lawns from 1 ½ to 2 inches. Finer-bladed types, such as “Tifgreen,” should be mowed at ½ inch to ¾ inch. Mowing heights for cool-season turf grasses like Fescue should be 3 inches during hot, dry summer months.
Geraniums and other garden flowers often will “heat delay” as we hit the high temperatures of mid-summer. Remove old blossoms (deadhead) to help keep them flowering. Many of the newer varieties on the market are self-dead-heading and may not need trimming. Other plants that respond well to deadheading include ageratum, marigold and zinnia.
July is also the perfect time to divide and replant crowded hybrid iris (bearded iris) after they have finished flowering. Iris plantings or beds that have stopped performing well probably need to be thinned.
Also, don’t forget to keep your birdbaths full of water for visiting feathered friends, pollinators and other beneficial insects. If you don’t have any type of water feature in your garden like a birdbath, fountain or pond, July is the perfect time to add one for the wild things and to create a cooling visual effect in your garden space!
Email Julia Laughlin, Oklahoma County Extension horticulture educator, at firstname.lastname@example.org .