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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Transitioning to Summer

As we progress through the year of maintaining our landscape it’s time to focus on transitioning from spring into summer. Whether you spend the summer in the Valley or leave, details that are taken care of now will yield big results in the look and enjoyment of your dream landscape.

While the official first day of summer isn’t until mid next month, May typically marks a seasonal transition from spring to summer for gardeners in our area. As temperatures near 100 degrees, spring flowers fade in the heat, winter vegetables and rye grass die off, Bermuda grass springs out of dormancy and certain fungi and other pests become more active and prevalen–it’s time to get into summer gardening.

Flowers & Vegetables
Some of the first plants to become visibly stressed by the heat are in your flower and vegetable garden. So, have no mercy and tear out the old annuals and spring/winter veggies and plant summer-loving flowers and vegetables. Choose from flowers like Angelonia, Celosia, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Dahlberg Daisies, Lisianthus, Nierembergia, “Fantasy” and “Wave” Petunia, Salvia, Vinca, Zinnia and more. Vegetables such as corn, zucchini, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, okra and herbs will all thrive in the summer heat. Helpful hint: toward July, shade tomatoes and they’ll produce longer.

Bermuda lawns
While rye grass is dying back, Bermuda lawns are transitioning out of dormancy. If you haven’t already, start mowing your rye grass shorter by a quarter-inch per week until the grass is about one inch tall. The Bermuda will get more sun to strengthen its growth. Rejuvenate the lawn with an application of soil acidifier and a balanced, slow-release fertilizer like 21-7-14.

Watering frequencies
In general watering will need to be increased. Shrubs will need water twice per week and trees once per week.

Queen palms
Queen Palms (Arecastrum romanz) are prone to suffer from the effects of soil alkalinity and fungal diseases that are brought into the heart of the palm on birds’ feet from other infected palms. Telltale signs of infection or soil problems are fronds dying back with a brownish appearance, yellowing or spindly, accordion-like folds on new fronds. Prevent soil-related distress by acidifying and adding micronutrients such as iron and manganese. Soil Acidifier will provide acidification as well as iron and manganese. Fungal problems are easily treated with a product called “Bordeaux” that treats the heart of the palm. Stand on a ladder next to the palm and pour the drench into the heart of the fronds at the top of the tree.

Blooming Trees & Shrubs
Many homeowners want to know what plants bloom when and what microclimates they are suited for to help them choose material for their planter beds. If a plant does not have enough light, it will affect the blooming. Be aware that some of these plants may also bloom at another time of year as well. For example, a rose bush will bloom in spring and fall. Some shrubs that bloom in May and June include: Arizona Yellow Bells, Autumn Sage Red, Cape Honeysuckle, Crown of Thorns, Fern-leaf Lavender, Hibiscus, Oleander, Orange Jubilee, Petite Pink Oleander, Pomegranate, and Spanish Lavender. Some trees that bloom in May and June include: Leather-leaf Acacia, Willow Acacia, Shoestring Acacia, Palo Blanco, Orchid Tree, Blue Palo Verde, Hybrid Palo Verde, Foothills Palo Verde, Palo Brea, Desert Willow, Jacaranda, Feather Bush, Desert Museum, Texas Ebony, Texas Honey Mesquite, Chilean Mesquite, Velvet Mesquite, Yellow Oleander and Vitex (Chaste Tree).

Weed & Insect Control
The heat also brings pests like weeds and insects. If you treated areas with a pre-emergent mix in the spring, you probably have a fairly weed-free garden. Weeds that have already sprouted can be treated with a variety of products depending upon your needs. If the weeds are in a lawn, use ‘Weed & Feed’ fertilizer with herbicides that will knock them out and feed your lawn too. In gravel areas, treat weeds with Round Up or Compleet. If grass is a problem in your flowerbeds, spray ‘Grass Getter’ onto the offending grass to work wonders without harming your flowers. There are truly amazing choices available now for weed control.

Insect control is just as easy– given the right treatment. Neem Oil is a fantastic organic, non-toxic choice for insect control in your garden. It works well on a broad range of insects, mites and funguses. And, if you want to be your own in-home pest control agent, there are a number of products like Home Pest by Bayer or Diatomaceous Earth for in-home use to control crickets, roaches, spiders, and scorpions. Special control of spiders and their webs can be had by using Dr. T’s Cobweb Eliminator.

Pruning can be done this time of year for well-established shrubs. This is mostly a shaping type of pruning—nothing severe! You can tip the desert trees in summer but no heavy pruning.

By Gary and Sharon Petterson

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