By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

It is very dry and hot and apparently not going to get any better. This puts a lot of strain on mature trees. They transpire (sweat if they were people) a lot of water on hot days. That water has to come from somewhere and if it isn’t in the soil we will have to put it there. It does no good to set a sprinkler under a tree for an hour. Especially if that sprinkler is one that throws water high into the air. 

To properly water a large tree, let a hose run slightly more than a trickle at the drip line, until the soil feels soggy when you walk on it. This may take a full day or even longer. For a smaller tree, especially one that has been planted less than 5 years, punch a few small holes in the bottom of a 5 gallon pail. Set it beside the tree and fill it with water. When the pail is empty, move it to the other side of the tree and repeat. All growing, green plants, including trees need at least one inch of water a week, whether by rain or hose. Watering grass under a tree is somewhat helpful if it gets soggy wet. Since each mature tree in your yard adds several thousand dollars to the value of your house, if you need to decide between a water bill and your tree, the tree should win.

Now is not the time to fertilize, with one exception, as it will do much more damage than good. Do fertilize your potted plants with 1/4th strength fertilizer every week. Be sure they are damp when you do as fertilized water on a dry plant will send the poor thing into shock and may even kill it.

If possible, water in the morning. It is cooler so less moisture will evaporate and the water won’t stay on the leaves. Water on leaves can lead to fungal diseases like powdery mildew. If you do see this stinker on a plant, treat it with a cup of whole milk and a drop of dish soap in a gallon of water. The butterfat is apparently what stops the mildew for going any further. If you get a lot of powdery mildew in your flower bed, you may have to thin it out. Proper air circulation around plants prevents quite a few problems.

If you have had a grub problem, you should treat the area about mid July. Whatever you use, must be watered in with at least ½ inch of water. If we ever get rain, apply it just before a shower. Don’t reseed until fall. That is the time the grass is actively growing roots. It is also the time weeds are starting to pull sugars into their roots so it is a great time to kill them dead!

Treat creeping Charlie in late fall for best results. The problem with this monster is that if your neighbor still has some, you will get it back. Charlie spreads by roots and seeds. There is no reason to put up with him as there is very little nectar in the flowers for pollinators, the flowers aren’t particularly attractive and he stinks when disturbed. He doesn’t grow well in full sun so limbing up trees he is under can reduce him somewhat. He likes poor alkaline soil the best so making it more acid with soil sulfur and adding compost to improve the soil should at least slow him down.

These chores should keep you busy until September