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Sirhornsalot

June Landscapes – All About the Lawn!

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During the heat of summer, keep your lawn cut higher!

When it comes to how high or low to cut their lawns, people are all over the place. Some prefer it a little high while others want it as short as possible. 

The reality is – science should be the decider.

If you have a St Augustine or Zoysia lawn, you should be mowing your lawn high. Your lawn should be between 3.5” to 4” after cut during periods where temperatures are in the upper 90s and 100s. That normally means the entire months of July and August in Texas, but this year we have to include June in the discussion because a string of 100s will welcome us this month.

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Why do we mow a St Augustine lawn this high?

Mowing high promotes deeper root growth, a darker green lawn, fewer weeds and a lawn that can better handle the stress from drought, insects, etc. The less stress a lawn is put under, a healthier lawn with fewer weeds will be the result.

Mowing high also enables the turf to hang on to moisture, longer. High grass hides sunlight from the soil surface, slowing down evaporation whereas shorter grass loses its moisture at times in a matter of hours.

Once you’ve mowed, its great to follow it up with a watering. When a mower blade cuts a grass blade, a wound is created. If left that way, the tips of the blades will singe in the hot sun the following day. Giving the lawn a nice watering after a mow helps those wounds heal overnight and no tip singe will happen.

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Bermuda lawns can be kept at a lower height than St Augustine. However, you will still gain a deeper green, healthier lawn by keeping Bermuda cut high during the hottest months.

You may even consider mowing only twice a month during July and August.

What if I still want to mow it short?

Well, you can do that. But know that weeds are going to become an off and on resident in your lawn because of the stress it will be put under. When turf recedes, weeds fill the void.

 

Watering schedule

You should change your watering start times to evening waterings. Start your cycles well after the sun has gone down, such as 10 pm or 11 pm.  What this does is enable the turf to spend many hours more with the water as opposed to morning cycles where the evaporation process begins soon after. 

There’s no need to worry about lawn fungus in Texas during June-July-August. It’s just too hot for fungus to survive in most cases. 

We will return to morning starts on Labor Day.


Mower Blades need to be sharp

If you haven’t already done so this year, remove your mower blade and either sharpen it yourself (using an electric grinder) or take it to a mower service facility and have them do it for you.

A dull blade will leave behind a slightly brown lawn because it tears the blades of grass instead of cutting them. The grass tips are shredded and become singed. This causes stress and opens up the risk of pests and disease.

While you’re performing this type of maintenance on your mower, its always good to check the oil, make sure there are no leaks, and clean or change the spark plug.

 

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Mowing Patterns

It is not good to mow in the same direction/method each time you mow your lawn. Doing so will create areas where the soil is compacted and ruts.

Change directions. Mow in a diagonal pattern one week, back and forth the next week, and up and down the following week. Then repeat them all over again.


Leave the Clippings!

I highly recommend that you not bag your lawn clippings when you mow. If you don’t have a mulching mower, make one your next mower purchase. Even still, let the clippings stay on the ground. If they are clumping, use your blower and blow them around until they are dispersed.

Leaving the clippings on the turf allows the nutrients in the grass to be returned to the turf. When you fertilize, those nutrients wind up in the blades of the grass. Clippings do not cause or contribute to thatch. 


Do not cut more than 1/3 of the grass height at a time

Some people think they’re saving themselves some money without sacrifice by only mowing twice a month during the growing season. They may save money, but they’re sacrificing their turf as each time they mow, they’re having to cut more of the grass blade than they should.

Cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade height will cause problems. It causes discoloration of the turf, exposes the more delicate under turf to the sun, increases stress and eventually causes recession.


Grub Control

Grub worms are busy feeding on turf roots during late May and throughout the month of June. If you haven’t already applied a grub control product to your lawn, you really should do that now.

There is no way to prevent grub worms from getting into your turf soil. They begin as larvae laid by Japanese Beetles (commonly called “June Bugs”) which are always bouncing around exterior light fixtures during the mid summer. The larvae are placed anywhere from five to six inches deep in the soil and stay there through winter. As the soil begins to warm during spring, they begin to climb to the surface. Once they’re at the three inch level, they’re feeding on turf roots.

Grub damage can be pretty significant. It will appear at first as just weakening grass and will get progressively worse, no matter how much water you put on it.


Mid-Season Fertlization

Around mid-June is when we apply our mid-season fertilization to our lawns. This time, you will want to reduce your spreader ratio so that you’re not putting down as much product as you did during the spring application. You want to dial that down and apply more sparsely so that the lawn is not put into stress.

Fertilizer and hot temperatures generally don’t mix so a lighter ratio will give the turf what it needs without causing issues.


Safe to trim Oaks again

The March through June 1 period where we discourage the trimming of Oaks is now past us. We do this because this is the period when Oak Wilt disease is in pollination mode so open cuts on an Oak can put it at risk of getting Oak Wilt. 

That risk is now diminished, so its safe to trim them.

 

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Sharing a Question

A question from one of my readers last month asked why his Oak keeps trying to grow low on one side. He said he’s trimmed it several times over the years but always has to trim that one side where the limbs grow out and down.

This is a self defense mechanism of the tree. It is attempting to put shade over its root zone on its west side in order to slow down evaporation from the sun.

The tree does not know it has an owner who will provide water for it on an ongoing basis. Lol


(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)

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Good stuff as always Sir.

Question please, a buddy of mine has a tree which he planted about 3 years ago and is around 15-18 ft tall. During a recent storm, it appears to have loosen the tree to the point that he can grab the truck and move it from side to side. He is worried during the next storm, it may fall on his house. He says he has tried to repack the soil around the tree but to no avail. 

Is there a way to "fix" this or is this tree done? 

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9 hours ago, tejasrulz said:

Good stuff as always Sir.

Question please, a buddy of mine has a tree which he planted about 3 years ago and is around 15-18 ft tall. During a recent storm, it appears to have loosen the tree to the point that he can grab the truck and move it from side to side. He is worried during the next storm, it may fall on his house. He says he has tried to repack the soil around the tree but to no avail. 

Is there a way to "fix" this or is this tree done? 

No, the tree isn't done. Not by a long shot.

Once a tree is planted, it takes between 6-12 months for it to become established. And when we say "established" we mean the roots of the original root ball (which filled the container it was sold in) have extended into the soil around it.

At three years, this tree had easily become established, but what happened in the wind storm was the tree rocking with the wind snapped those outer roots so its now back to the original root ball.

I would stake the tree for six months so that the next storm doesn't topple it over. You can get heavy duty stake kits from most nurseries. Those outer roots should be grown back by six months.

Once staked, it would be good to feed the tree a mild, liquid, water-soluble fertilizer mix. Do this about once a week for a month.

 

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Two weeks ago, tragedy struck Green Thumb Landscaping when one of our trucks, carrying our installation crew members, was involved in a head-on collision near Roanoke.
Today is a special day because it marks the return of that installation crew, minus one crew member (Travin), as they begin a large landscape project in Oak Point, TX. This project involves creating these flower bed borders of stone (we'll add brick caps tomorrow), creating sidewalks on each side of the home, a large concrete patio with pergola, and two additional concrete pads.
Travin continues to improve and our prayers remain with him until he is able to rejoin the crew.

 

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Mark, is there a window for trimming crepe myrtles like we have for oaks?  I have one that grinds against the house in storms.  I have previously cut the branches that are near the house without any issues, but figured I would check if a safe window is the preferred way to go.  Thanks!

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33 minutes ago, MikeV73 said:

Mark, is there a window for trimming crepe myrtles like we have for oaks?  I have one that grinds against the house in storms.  I have previously cut the branches that are near the house without any issues, but figured I would check if a safe window is the preferred way to go.  Thanks!

No, there's no window with Crapes. Trim them when you need to. :)

 

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Also, when you trim your Crape (or any other tree that is a potential threat to your home or roof), you have to imagine how far it will sway in a 30-40 mph wind. Trim far enough back to where thats not an issue.

 

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15 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:

Also, when you trim your Crape (or any other tree that is a potential threat to your home or roof), you have to imagine how far it will sway in a 30-40 mph wind. Trim far enough back to where thats not an issue.

 

My crepe was planted really close to the house by the builder 10 yrs ago. Can't trim too much or I'll be left with only the front 1/2 of the tree.  I let it grow tall and don't chop it off low every year like some prefer.  Thanks for the input.

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2 hours ago, MikeV73 said:

My crepe was planted really close to the house by the builder 10 yrs ago. Can't trim too much or I'll be left with only the front 1/2 of the tree.  I let it grow tall and don't chop it off low every year like some prefer.  Thanks for the input.

You might want to consider pulling the thing up and starting over, planting in the proper location. If its too close to the foundation, you may have foundation issues ahead.

If its not too big, it can be transplanted. Crape's are fairly durable and can take some stress without kicking the bucket.

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SHA, There is a crepe myrtle at a residence here in Fbg. that is deep red, almost burgundy or wine colored. My wife's friend, who just built her house, wants to incorporate this color into her landscape except she can't find it anywhere in the greater San Antonio and Austin areas. Any ideas?

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"Dynamite Crape Myrtle" and "Tonto Crape Myrtle" might be what you're referring to. Dynamite will be dark red blooms while Tonto will be almost Burgundy red.

However, the "Black Diamond Crape Myrtle" is probably the hottest seller right now. It hasn't been long since it was introduced. Dark chocolate leaves with bright red blooms.

So what I'm saying is that we need to identify the type you're wanting and then we can go find it.

 

 

 

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Thanks again. You are a bad ass. It was the Dynamite I was looking for, although the picky friend want's a dwarf version. Which apparently doesn't exist, at least not in this area. Thanks again.

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1 hour ago, Sirhornsalot said:

You might want to consider pulling the thing up and starting over, planting in the proper location. If its too close to the foundation, you may have foundation issues ahead.

If its not too big, it can be transplanted. Crape's are fairly durable and can take some stress without kicking the bucket.

It's about 25 feet tall...too big to move.  Are crepe roots that strong to impact a foundation?  The wood always seems so soft when trimmed.

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1 hour ago, Baron said:

Thanks again. You are a bad ass. It was the Dynamite I was looking for, although the picky friend want's a dwarf version. Which apparently doesn't exist, at least not in this area. Thanks again.

Dynamite is not found in a dwarf form. However, you can find similar looks in dwarf form. Each and every Crape type is an individual creation. So there's no shorter or taller version of the same crape.

Here's a link to a Southern Living page which has a short listing of some shrub crapes and dwarf crapes. Let me know where you're at and maybe I can help you find what you're looking for.

https://www.southernliving.com/garden/grumpy-gardener/choose-a-smaller-crepe-myrtle

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59 minutes ago, MikeV73 said:

It's about 25 feet tall...too big to move.  Are crepe roots that strong to impact a foundation?  The wood always seems so soft when trimmed.

Yes, Crape roots can negatively impact a foundation. Agree, its a soft wood but when living, its quite strong in the root department.

At 25 ft tall and with no foundation problem, you're probably okay.

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On 6/26/2018 at 9:48 PM, Sirhornsalot said:

Yes, Crape roots can negatively impact a foundation. Agree, its a soft wood but when living, its quite strong in the root department.

At 25 ft tall and with no foundation problem, you're probably okay.

Thanks...so in theory with it being this big the roots have rooted without going through my foundation?  

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4 hours ago, oldhorn2 said:

In San Antonio my Tiff bermuda lawn is looking like crap and thinning badly. Can I over seed with Texas Bermuda or even a dwarf varity?

 

I don't think thats your answer. I would apply a fertilizer such as Scott's Turfbuilder and water it well for a couple days. That should get it going again.

That said, if this Bermuda lawn is suffering due to shade, then nothing is really going to help it. Bermuda wants full sun.

I also have to ask, did you apply a grub treatment last month? If not, you may be looking at grub damage.

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3 hours ago, utparothed said:

I have big dogs, mastiffs, who have made big dog paths in my backyard that I'd like to fix if possible.  Is there a way to get grass growing in that area again? 

 

Yes there is. Aerate the pathway area a couple times a year and add cotton burr compost topdressing right after, each time.

Aeration is the answer as it allows air in there. In your case, I would make several passes to get it good and "holy." lol

The cotton burr compost is a proven clay softener/loosener, so its also working to help the soil. It is also loaded with nutrients so your grass will react well to it.

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42 minutes ago, Sirhornsalot said:

 

I don't think thats your answer. I would apply a fertilizer such as Scott's Turfbuilder and water it well for a couple days. That should get it going again.

That said, if this Bermuda lawn is suffering due to shade, then nothing is really going to help it. Bermuda wants full sun.

I also have to ask, did you apply a grub treatment last month? If not, you may be looking at grub damage.

I did not...but we are under very tight water rationing and that is a big problem.....well....that and the dense shade I have all over my yard.....

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2 hours ago, oldhorn2 said:

I did not...but we are under very tight water rationing and that is a big problem.....well....that and the dense shade I have all over my yard.....

I would apply a granular grub treatment to your lawn and water it in. If the water patrol is a concern, you can time it for your watering day(s). That will help.

The dense shade is a problem. You could have your trees cut back to let in additional sun, but eventually that issue will return as the tree grows.

With that on the table, I'd consider switching my turf grass to Palisades Zoysia. Its a beautiful turf that can grow in full sun or shade and does not have the issues that St Augustine can have.

If you do, I'd wait until fall to follow through when watering and heat are no longer concerns.

 

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20 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:

 

Yes there is. Aerate the pathway area a couple times a year and add cotton burr compost topdressing right after, each time.

Aeration is the answer as it allows air in there. In your case, I would make several passes to get it good and "holy." lol

The cotton burr compost is a proven clay softener/loosener, so its also working to help the soil. It is also loaded with nutrients so your grass will react well to it.

Cotton burr compost doesn't sound like anything that Lowe's, Home Depot or the Houston Garden Center carries (especially those that are around me...they suck).  Any suggestions on the type of place that might carry it? 

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