“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”– Warren Buffett
August is here and needless to say, it is hot. There are chores to be done, and the landscape needs special attention during the heat of summer in West Central Texas. This is usually one of the driest months for our region, and rainfall may be sparse. With new watering restrictions in place, when and how you water becomes even more important.
Make the best use of the water you have by watering early in the morning before the wind speeds pick up. Evaporative loss of water is higher during the heat of the day and when wind speeds increase. Select sprinklers that emit larger drops of water as these are a better choice than emitters that reduce the flow of water to a mist.
Water deeply and less frequently. Turfgrass and woody shrubs need about one inch of water each week during this long summer period. But, if your heavy clay soil does not take up water very quickly, you should adjust the timing of those irrigation zones to make sure water is not running off the landscape. Your irrigation schedule should be adjusted to allow for slow infiltration of the water. Be a WISE waterer, and keep water on the landscape.
Check that mulch. Soil that is exposed can heat up to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to kill those tender root hairs near the surface. Soil that is mulched will be as much as 10 to 20 degrees cooler.
August is the last month to plant a new lawn before winter temperatures arrive. Newly-installed lawns need at least six to eight weeks to establish a healthy root system. Bermuda grass is a better choice for West Central Texas because it does not require large amounts of water when compared with St. Augustine grass. Fertilize established lawns with an all-nitrogen fertilizer and water in immediately.
Get your soil tested. It is difficult to manage your landscape when you cannot be sure of what you are working with. A basic soil test will tell you what nutrients are present, and what may need attention.
Prune roses back, but do not remove more than one-third of the plant. Prune and remove spent blooms on annuals and perennials to encourage continuous blooming well into fall.
Are your tomatoes worn out and not fruiting? Even though the plants are still growing, they will not set fruit in this high heat. Pinch back top growth and side dress established plants with fertilizer to encourage new growth and to keep them healthy. Once cooler temperatures return, they should flower and set fruit, and you will have a fall tomato crop.
If it’s too hot outside for you, spend some time indoors and plan your fall garden. Start seeds for cool season color such as snapdragons, pansies and dianthus.
Start gathering seed from flowering plants in your garden. Allow seeds to air dry for a couple of days and then store in an air-tight container.