Seasonal Maintenance Guides For Austin and Travis County

Father's Day and the first day of Summer is Sunday, June 18th.

"If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance."
- Bern Williams

We recommend early morning gardening now with long pants, long sleeved shirts, hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, gloves and lots of water.

P L A N T

Plant trees, shrubs and flowers that will flourish in Zone 8. Plant woody ornamentals now before the heat of summer takes its toil on under established root systems.

See Flower Ideas

F E R T I L I Z E / C O M P O S T

Fertilize or compost all planting areas. This is the second of the three major fertilizations of the year. Composting requires less insecticides, herbicides and water. There are many types of compost available now so make sure you're applying the correct one. For the fertilizer we suggest using a high grade, slow release and long lasting balanced urea coated mix with iron such as 10-10-5. Read directions and water thoroughly afterwards. You don't need to disturb the mulch as the granules will seep into the soil

W A T E R

Check your local water restriction guide. Hand water dry spots, annuals and newly planted areas. Water twice a week in the early morning as night watering can cause fungal problems. It's better to water deeply occasionally rather than many light sprinklings because plants do best with a good soaking allowing the soil to dry out. Water at plant's base rather than on foliage to avoid fungus problems. Watering regularly prevents heat stress which can cause insect and disease problems. Watch for any standing water around your landscape, including gutters, because it provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

M U L C H

Mulching keeps moisture in and provides nutrients for your plants which keeps weeds down making your landscape look great. We recommend a depth of 3 to 4 inches of shredded cypress or hardwood mulch. Keep mulch a few inches away from the plant's trunk to prevent insect or disease problems.

W E E D

Dig weeds out, roots and all, as soon as they appear. If you don't get the root the first time, it will be waiting for you the next time. Keeping your lawn fed, watered and mowed can also help limit weeds. Weed and Feed solutions are not recommended because they are not good for the environment and they might not eliminate the type of weed you have.

P R U N E

Prune dead or diseased materials. Deadhead (remove faded flowers) annuals and perennials by pinching back old growth on newly planted annual and perennial plants to encourage branching with more flowers. You can tell if a plant is alive by scratching the bark of a limb or branch and see if it is green inside.

Fall Blooming Perennials
After they are finished blooming, trim back and lightly fertililze Chrysanthemums, Asters, Mexican Bush Sage and other fall bloomers to form denser plants for this fall. Pinch back old growth on newly planted annual and perennial plants to encourage branching with more flowers.

Shrubs
Cut back Salvias, Lantanas and Butterfly Bush one third after their bloom cycle to encourage more branching and flowers later in the year. Complete pruning of spring blooming shrubs, such as Azaleas, Camellias and Roses, after they've bloomed, so they'll have time to regrow and set buds for more flowers. Don't prune summer flowering plants.

Trees
Wait to prune Oak trees until July or August when the beetle that transfers Oak Wilt disease is not active during those 100 degree temperature days. Don't prune or trim off the lower branches of newly planted trees because they are trying to get established. Crape Myrtles still can be shaped but don't dehorn (cut off their tops). Any branches not growing up and out or touching another can be removed. They also are susceptible to powdery mildew which leaves a black mold behind. There are many products available to combat these problems.

Roses
Deadhead flowers back to just above the first leaf with 5 leaflets to keep them reblooming. Fertilize after trimming. Also remove any dead or weak branches. Water twice a week using a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system to avoid brown spot on leaves which results from using a regular spray head. Fertilize every 4 to 6 weeks with small amounts of a complete fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Spray when needed for insects, brown spots on the leaves and powdery mildew.

P E S T S  A N D  P E S T I C I D E S

Mites and aphids can be discouraged with blasts of water. Direct spray upward from beneath the plant or you'll miss most of these pests. Products to control pests and diseases are numerous so choose the lowest toxicity and the right blend for your particular pest problem. Powdery mildew can be found on Roses and Crape Myrtles due to high humidity possibly from too much shade as they are sun lovers. Look for less toxic products such as neem oil, sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate which will also work for brown spot.
Don't worry if you see little round balls on tree leaves and twigs because these are galls produced by insects and don't need any attention.
Use horticultural oil for scale on your woody plants rather than the heavy dormant oil.

L A W N S

Check lawn mower blade as stringy, ragged grass ends may indicate a dull blade that makes for an unattractive appearance. Check spark plugs too. Use a mulch mower to return the clippings to the soil for more nutrition. Cut the lawn on a regular basis so the clippings don't get piled up. If they do, just run the mower over them again. Mow St. Augustine and Bermuda once a week. Buffalo and Zoysia may be cut every 3 weeks or as needed. If you see brownish circles in sunny areas next to drives, curbs or other masonry structures in St. Augustine sod, you may have chinch bugs due to excessive water and fertlizer. They can be spot treated with insecticides without spraying the entire lawn.

Alternatives If you don't have the time or energy to keep up large expanses of turf, you might consider installing perennial beds, groundcover, walkways or dry creek beds in your landscape.

July 4th is the first Monday

"The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses."
- Hanna Rion

Best time to garden now is early morning with sun block, wide brimmed hat, long sleeved cotton shirt and pants for most comfort. And drink lots of cold water before you need it.

P L A N T

Shrubs, grass, and flowers. Don't plant trees now except for container grown.

See Flower Ideas

W A T E R

Hand water dry spots, annuals and newly planted areas. Water at plant's base rather than on foliage to avoid fungus. A drip irrigation system is the most efficient watering technique. Water lawns and planted areas 2 to 3 times a week in the early morning because night watering can lead to fungal problems. Check your local water restriction guide. It's better to water deeply occasionally rather than light sprinklings because it promotes sturdy deep root growth which will stand up to high temperatures and drought. Watering also prevents heat stress and sunburn which can cause insect and disease problems. Plants do best with a good soaking and then let the soil dry to a moist state.
Keep Azaleas moist or flower buds won't develop because they are shallow rooted.
Watch for any standing water around your landscape because it provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Check rain gutters, tree hollows, etc.

M U L C H

Mulch all bare areas because it keeps moisture in, weeds down and moderates soil temperatures. Mulching also provides nutrients for the plants. We recommend a depth of 3 to 4 inches of shredded hardwood mulch or cypress mulch. Keep mulch away from plant trunks to prevent disease from constant moisture. P R U N E Prune dead and diseased plants. Deadhead (remove faded flowers) annuals and perennials to promote flowering which also keeps plants compact by inducing branching. Early this month you can finish pruning spring flowering shrubs. Don't prune Camellias as their buds have already set. Prune hedges so the top is narrower than the bottom allowing for more light to the lower branches.

W E E D

Hand weed all beds and lawns. It's better to pull them out manually, roots and all, rather than relying on herbicides which weaken the turf making it susceptible to diseases. The fewer chemicals you use, the healthier you and your surroundings will be. Keeping your lawn fed, watered and mowed will help limit weeds.

M O W

Mow dry grass as wet will tear and clog your mower. Wear sturdy shoes and eye protection. Mow once a week except for Buffalo which can be mowed as needed. Cutting more than one-third height of lawn at any one time can lead to heat stress in sunny areas while shady areas need only one-fourth cut off. St. Augustine, Zoysia and Buffalos grass do best at 2 inches, common Bermuda at 1 1/2 inch and hybrid Bermuda at 1 inch tall. Check lawn mower blade as stringy, ragged grass ends may indicate a dull blade that makes for an unattractive appearance especially on Zoysia grass. We recommend using a mulching lawnmower which lets clippings fall back onto the grass nourishing the soil so you don't need to fertilize as much. Check spark plugs too. If you don't have the time or energy to keep up large expanses of turf, you might consider installing perennial beds, groundcover, walkways or dry creek beds in your landscape.

G R O U N D C O V E R S

Keep Vinca, Liriope and Asian Jasmine regularly watered. Asian Jasmine's best height is 3 to 4 inches

T U R F  P E S T S

The Travis County Extension Office http://insets.tamu.edu/extension/fulletins/L1766.html has free information on pests and remedies such as grubs (c-shaped caterpillar looking bugs) and chinch bugs (black and white tiny bugs) which cause dry circular brown patches in sunny areas next to a drive, curb or other masonry features. Remember only to treat infected areas because wide spread application is a waste of time and money.

F E R T I L I Z E / C O M P O S T

If you haven't already Common and Hybrid Bermuda need to be fertilized or composted this month and then again in October. Also warm season grasses such as St. Augustine can be fertilized if you didn't do it earlier. However, it may be best to wait until October along with Zoysia and Buffalo Grass. Fertilizing produces top growth at the expense of roots which may be attacked by insects and diseases. Be sure to follow directions as too much fertilizer can burn the turf and water after feeding. Avoid fertilizing cool season grasses like Fescue this month so wait until October.

I R R I G A T I O N

Inspect your system for leaks and heights so you're getting the proper coverage. You might want to install a water sensor so if it rains your system will not turn on needlessly. There are wireless sensors available and also private weather stations that will link with your irrigation system to save water.

F L O W E R S

Pinch back old growth on newly planted annual and perennial plants to encourage branching with more flowers. Plants are always more dramatic grouped by color rather than mixing them.
Your new flowering plants can be fertilized with a slow release product that will produce blooms even longer. Make sure to water well after feeding. Fertilize blooming plants every 3 weeks during the prime season with soluble fertilizer.
Container plants and hanging baskets need to be fertilized and watered frequently. If they are heat sensitive, move them to a cooler, shaded location and remove their faded flowers.
Cut flowers decorate any space and you can make your own floral preservative using a tablespoon of sugar, teaspoon of vinegar and one crushed aspirin in 12 ounces of water.
In mid-July, stop pinching your Chrysanthemums to make them bushier and more flower filled. It's also a good idea to fertilize them with a complete fertilizer for their fall display.
Trim Wisteria, Spirea, Hawthorn and other spring flowering shrubs and vines in July. Cutting now will encourage buds for next spring.
Prune Roses that are dead or have weak wood. Deadhead Roses and other plants that don't naturally cast their blooms to keep them attractive and reblooming. Water according to your local water restrictions. Use a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system to avoid wetting the foliage because the water could cause black spot, a fungal disease. Fertilize Roses twice a month in July and August with a complete fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Sprays of water from a garden hose or insecticidal soap will discourage spider mites on Roses.
Shear back most Salvias after a bloom cycle to encourage branching and flowers. The first part of July is the time to plant Gladiolas successfully for the year. Set in a sunny, well drained spot planted deep so the stalks stay upright.
Plant seeds for fall flowers at the end of month such as Zinnias, Portulaca and Petunias.

See Flower Ideas

T R E E S  A N D  S H R U B S

Trees planted within the last 12 to 18 months need special attention and should be hand watered every 5 to 7 days unless it rains. This isn't a good time to plant trees because of the heat. If you do, be sure to water young trees once a week and protect them from lawn mowers and edgers. Don't prune or trim off the lower branches of newly planted trees. Root Stimulator can help young trees but don't fertilize during the first growing season. It's better to let young trees become established before you remove any limbs. Keep hedges in shape by clipping back lightly which encourages branching making the plant fuller. Cut back your Wisteria now so it forms more buds between now and next spring's show. Let Texas Mountain Laurel dry out between waterings to get the best growth and flowering while avoiding disease.

I N S E C T S / D I S E A S E

Powdery mildew can be found on Roses and Crape Myrtles due to high humidity or not enough sun exposure. Look for less toxic products to control this such as neem oil, sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate. A black, soot like substance on the leaves of your Azaleas, Gardenias or Hollies is probably a sign of sooty mold which is secreted by certain aphids and whiteflies. Try using insecticidal soaps to control these insects. Watch for red spider mites on Marigolds, Junipers, Verbena, Roses and other narrow leafed evergreens now and in August. These misnamed insects (not really spiders) can be seen on leaf undersides and by the fine webs on new growth. A garden hose water blast or insecticidal soap will usually eliminate them. Products to control pests are numerous so choose the lowest toxicity and the right blend for your particular pest problem.

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience"
- R. W. Emerson

Best time to garden now is early morning with sun block, wide brimmed hat, long sleeved cotton shirt and pants for maximum comfort. And drink lots of cold water before you need it.

P L A N T

Plant shrubs, grass and flowers. Don't plant trees now except for container grown.

See Summer Flower Ideas

W A T E R

Check your local water restriction guide. Water in the early morning for less wind and evaporation as night watering can lead to fungal problems. It's better to water deeply occasionally rather than light sprinklings often. Plants do best with a good soaking and then let the soil dry out a bit. Grass can steal water from trees so water them individually. Leave soaker hose at tree's dripline for several hours.
Hand water dry spots, annuals and newly planted areas.
Watch for any standing water around your landscape because it provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Check rain gutters, tree hollows, etc.

M U L C H

Mulch keeps moisture in, weeds down, moderates soil termperatures and provides nutrients for your plants. We recommend a depth of 3 to 4 inches of shredded hardwood mulch or cypress mulch. Keep mulch away from tree trunks to prevent disease from constant moisture.

P R U N E

Prune dead and diseased plants. Deadhead (remove faded flowers) annuals and perennials to promote flowering which also keeps plants compact by inducing branching. Finish trimming hedges or shrubs not grown for flowers. Don't prune spring flowering shrubs because you'll nip next year's buds.

M O W

Always mow dry grass as wet tends to tear and it can clog your mower. Wear sturdy shoes and eye protection. Use a mulching lawnmower to let clippings fall back into the grass to nourish the soil. Mow once a week except for Buffalo which can be mowed as needed. Cutting more than one-third height of lawn at any one time can lead to heat stress in sunny areas while shady areas need only one-fourth cut off. It's also a good idea to raise the height of your mower as much as possible when it's hot and dry which will leave the grass taller allowing for more moisture retention of the soil. Check lawn mower blade as stringy, ragged grass ends may indicate a dull blade that makes for an unattractive appearance especially on Zoysia grass. Check spark plugs, change the oil, clean the air filter and check the fins on the engine cooling fan too. If you find your mower is difficult to start, it may be old, leftover gas that has collected moisture.

W E E D

Weed all beds, roots and all, as soon as they appear. We like to weed after watering so they come out easier. The best prevention for weeds is watering, fertilizing, mulching and turning (cultivating) the soil. It's better to pull them out manually rather than relying on herbicides because it's healthier for us and the environment.

I R R I G A T I O N

Inspect your system for leaks and correct positioning for best coverage. You might also want to add a moisture sensor or a weather station to your system which prevents your system from watering if a pre-determined amount of rain has recently fallen.

F L O W E R S

Lightly fertilize flowers every 3 weeks with a soluable liquid.
Marigolds are good heat tolerant plants. (Gold and these yellow beauties interested the explorer Hernando Cortez so much that he named them Mary's Gold.) Best time to plant them is in late August for bloom shows in September and October.
Roses can be selectively pick pruned and then fertilized in late August for the last time this year with a slow release fertilizer with a high level of phosphorous which promotes root growth, larger blooms and disease defense. To revive fading Caladiums, discontinue water or fertilizing for about 2 weeks then apply one tablespoon of 5-10-10 fertilizer per sq. ft. and water thoroughly.
Stop pinching back the Mums now so the buds can get ready for a fall display.
Asters and Daylillies needing 6 hours of sun a day can be added to the garden now.
Towards the end of the month you can begin planting wildflower seeds.
Make sure your container plants are watered, fertilized and in the right sun or shade spot.

See Summer Flower Ideas

P E S T S  A N D  P E S T I C I D E S

Mites and aphids can be discouraged with blasts of water or insecticidal soap spray although lady bugs and lacewings are even better. Direct spray upward from beneath the plant or you'll miss most of these pests. Products to control pests are numerous so choose the lowest toxicity and the right blend for your particular pest problem.

T R E E S  A N D  S H R U B S

Don't prune or trim off the lower branches of newly planted trees. It's better to let young trees become established before you remove any limbs.
Trees planted within the last 12 to 18 months need special attention and should be hand watered every 5 to 7 days unless it rains.
The best place to water a tree is its dripline which is the ground under the outer tips of the limbs where all the feeder roots are located. A soaker hose left for hours in this spot will help your trees be healthy.
Prune back Salvia Greggi by one-third to encourage blooms and keep it a manageable size.
If powdery mildew or black spot has appeared on the leaves of your shrubs or small trees, try using neem oil or potassium bicarbonate.
Crape Myrtles planted in shade have this problem and should be transplanted to a sunnier spot when they are dormant during the winter.
Wasps eliminate fall webworms so leave their nests alone unless they are a real problem.
Don't trim Glossy Abelia but enjoy their flowers and natural weeping habit.

G R O U N D C O V E R S

Keep well watered. Use a weed eater or hand trimmer to shape.

L A W N S

Wait until October to apply your fall fertilizer and compost. Thoroughly soaking your lawn and the ground beneath by deep watering with four to six inches of water will encourage deeper root systems which will then require less waterings. Chinch bugs usually appear in sunny areas next to a drive, curb or other masonry structure. Over watering and over fertilizing may make your turf more susceptible to chinch bugs but there are several insecticides available. Treat just the infected areas and not your whole lawn.
Dig weeds out, roots and all, as soon as they appear. Keeping your lawn fed, watered and mowed can also help limit weeds.
This is the last month to seed Bermuda grass lawns until next April. Be sure and water well.
If you don't have the time or energy to keep up large expanses of turf, you might consider installing perennial beds, groundcover, walkways or dry creek beds in your landscape.