“Dirty hands, iced tea, garden fragrances thick in the air and a blanket of color before me,
who could ask for more?”
–   Bev Adams,
Mountain Gardening

sunIt’s July and it is hot. For the dedicated gardener, be careful of the heat as you spend time outside. Take advantage of the cooler hours in the morning and late evening to get those gardening chores done. Drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks. Here are some helpful tips to help you in the garden this month.

· Deadhead or remove spent flowers to encourage late-season flowering

· Shear back 3 or 4 inches of Salvias and lantana to remove spent flowers and encourage compact growth.

· For Spring-planted trees and shrubs, continue to water to get them established.

· Pinch back or shear spent blooms from Crape Myrtle and Vitex to encourage re-bloom.

· It is not recommended to plant trees or shrubs during the summer months. A better option would be to go “window shopping” at the nursery centers for the trees and shrubs you want to purchase and plant in the fall.

· Change or alternate the pattern and direction you mow the grass. This will prevent the grass from developing a “grain” or laying down in one direction.

· If you are planning a vacation, mow your lawn the day before you leave. Don’t lower the blade and try to remove more grass! This will cause stress and scalding of the grass. Make arrangements for the grass to be mowed while you are away.

· Have a purpose and goal when pruning. If the gusty wind has snapped a limb, then prune dead and damaged branches from shade trees to prevent splintering and further damage. Fall and winter months are the ideal time to prune.

· Oak trees should not be pruned until next January or February. If you must prune a broken limb on an oak tree, sanitize your equipment with a 10% bleach solution and seal the pruning cut immediately with a wound paint. The disease, Oak Wilt, is becoming a serious problem in our community and you can help prevent it by pruning an oak tree at the best time.

· Prep your soil for the fall vegetable garden by amending the soil with partially-decomposed manure or plant matter. Water in and cover with leaves or mulch. This is called “sheet composting” and the composting material will continue to decompose and your bedding area will be ready for fall planting.

· Continue to maintain your mulch layer. Mulch should be at least three to four inches deep. Mulching helps to regulate the soil temperature, keep weeds from germinating and reduces water loss due to evaporation.

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