Wow, it was hot last week. And somewhat earlier this year.
I looked back at past columns, and it was August before I discussed these kinds of temperatures. You just never know what twists and turns our climate will take from one year to the next.
July is never an optimal time to be planting new items, since new plants require extra watering until they are established. And the hot temperatures cause the foliage to release excess water and become stressed, many times to the point the plant succumbs. There are some tough species and natives that could be planted and handle the heat, but be ready to hand water it multiple times a week until it shows no signs of stress.
So what can we be doing in our yards during July? If you haven’t mulched around plants, flowers and trees, you better get going on that. If you haven’t used a grub control product, that’s due to be done. There may be some spent flowers that need dead-heading. Vines that have new growth can be tidied up by winding it into a more compact shape.
I’ve seen nut sedge making its debut, so those can be pulled up or poisoned. There may be new “suckers,” or new shoots growing out of multi-trunked shrubs that can be pruned.
A very important thing to do right now is look closely at your yard; notice its condition. Make sure you have raised your mower blade. Cutting grass too close will cause it to dry out, stress and become weakened. Only cut off one-third of the blade length when mowing. Another thing to watch for is an area where the grass is not growing as tall as the surrounding blades, or places turning brown. This is especially common next to curbing, sidewalks and driveways. Cement radiates heat and dries grass out more quickly. Wherever it occurs, consider adding sandy loam to help retain more moisture. Check for soil compaction, which will cause water to not be absorbed, and do a test run on your sprinkler system to see if it’s missing or spraying over that area of turf or is in need of repair.
Let’s hope we get some cloud cover and rain this month.
Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.