School’s finally out for your children and grandchildren, and so is the sun! For the most part. With the continued weather fluctuations here in the Bay Area, your landscape needs active monitoring and adjustments in order to maintain the beauty and vitality that will make your home the perfect place to host summer gatherings with your friends and loved ones.
What pests to watch for: Continue your watch for aphids as budworms, thrips, white fly, and mites begin to become more of a problem. Weevils especially tend to thrive during this time of year, spending their days in debris on the ground until they crawl up your plants to feed at night. Notches along the edges of leaves are good indicators that you may have weevil problems. Their preferred foods include abelia, roses, raphiolepis, photina, privet, and many fruit trees.
Tricks and Tips: Your first line of defense against these harmful insects is to keep leaves and other debris cleaned up to help eliminate any daytime hiding places. You can also use a band of sticky material around the trunks of your plants to create a barrier. Lastly, apply an insecticide in the late evening to nip their nightly raids in the bud. Parastic nematodes have also proven to serve as a good control. Treatments for mites include reducing dust on leaves with a regular hosing with water. Clean up debris around plants and treat with insecticide soaps or oils if they persist. Though thrips and whiteflies tend to be more difficult to control, persistent applications of insecticidal soaps will give partial control. You may need to remove badly infested plants if practical.
Planting party! It is the perfect time of year to plant alyssum, cosmos, dwarf dahlia, gaillardia, gazania, impatiens, lobelia, marigolds, petunias, portulaca, verbena, and zinnia. Lawns, ground covers, and permanent landscape plants can also be planted this month, but they will require more water to become established than if they were planted earlier in the year.
Fertilize! Give your summer flowering plants a balanced fertilizer to keep them vigorous. Nitrogen tends to be the most limited essential nutrient in the soils in our area. Remember, too much nitrogen will promote a abundance of foliage growth and reduce flowering.
What to prune: Maintain your hedges by removing new growth, but avoid heavy pruning as sun scalding/burning will result. Pinch any new growth back to encourage denser plants on both your annuals and perennials, and remove spent flowers to encourage continuing blooming. Cut back daisy, foxglove, penstemon, and sweet alyssum to encourage a second bloom.
Lawn Care! Apply a high nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer. Check your lawn for dry spots and adjust sprinklers as needed. Since June carries the longest and hottest days within the year, you may be tempted to simply leave your sprinklers running for a longer amount of time, but a better approach is to run your sprinklers twice for shorter amounts of time. This back-to-back watering of your landscape helps to minimize the risk of wasteful run-off and allows the water to more deeply and effectively reach the roots of your plants. Avoid over watering most of your lawn just to keep the dry spots green. Too much water can lead to disease and invasions of foreign grasses and other weeds such as bentgrass and roughstalk bluegrass, which frequently invade over-watered lawns. To avoid this, modify your sprinklers or spot water dry areas with a hose end sprinkler.
If you had problems with white grubs in your lawn last year, chances are they will be back again this year. Try using commercially available nematodes rather than an organophosphate pesticide. These white grubs are usually attracted to lawns with a thatch problem, so use good cultural practices to minimize the thatch buildup. The application of most chemical pesticides kill the microorganisms that break down the thatch and keep it in check. The accumulation of thatch repels water and sets your lawn up for more disease and insect problems such as fusarium blight, brown patch sod webworm, and billbugs. Check out our last post for more information on grubs and what we recommend to protect your landscape against them.