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July Landscapes – Show the Spirit of '76 in your landscape!

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Patriotism in the landscape

When it comes to decorating for the holiday, July 4th should not be discounted

One of the funnest things about our holidays during the year are the opportunities to decorate our outdoor living spaces in the holiday themes. The July 4th holiday is no different and people really get creative in showing their patriotism on America’s birthday.

Here are a few ways you can add some Spirit of 1776 to your place:

1. Hang red, white and blue banners across your porches and patios. You can also hang them from windows across the front of the home.


2. Line your driveway, entry sidewalk or your front curb with mini-US flags.

3. Buy some patriotic garden art and place into your beds or even in pots.

4. Fly a 3 x 5 US flag from your home. If you don’t have one already, they are easy to mount and can be purchased at most any hardware store.

5. If you have landscape lighting, switch the clear/white bulbs out with red, white and blue bulbs for the day/night.

6. Hang patriotic wind socks from your trees or porch.

7. Christmas does not have a patent on holiday lighting. Some folks run red, white and blue lights on their roof lines or along the tops of the porches.

8. Yard signs that portray patriotic messages and greetings.


9. Make lawn stars with flour or spray paint.


10. Decorate your mailbox in patriotic red, white and blue.

Those are a few ways to transform your landscape into the holiday theme. There are many other ideas, some you may have of your own. Feel free to share them with us!


Why we keep our lawns cut higher during the hotter months

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.

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.

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.

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 our 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.

Ways to help your landscape beat the heat

1. Water during the evening, allowing plants/grass/trees to absorb more water and nutrients. Start your sprinkler cycles at around 11 p.m. or whenever you’re finished with outside stuff. If you’re manually watering, begin at 6 p.m. or later.

2. Do not trim your shrubs during the months of July/August when temperatures are often 100 or higher. Trimming can cause stress, which invites pests and disease.

3. Make sure your beds have proper mulch.

4. Do not fertilize your beds or lawn during July. Fertilizer (nitrogen) makes lawns use more water.

5. Have your sprinkler system checked for mid-season performance issues. A good thorough check of each zone in your system will insure that all plants and grass are getting the water they need in these hot months.

6. Raise the blade of your mower to a height of 3-4 inches. Your lawn can look just as manicured at that height as a lower height. But at 3-4 inches, it will be greener and healthier during the hot months. When fall arrives, we’ll drop the blades back down.

If you have any questions about your own landscape or plants/trees in your landscape, feel free to ask them here!


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



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6 hours ago, BWilk55 said:

@Sirhornsalot I just bought a house and inherited 3 palm trees. Any Palm tree care advice?

Do you know what type of Palms they are? And I need to know where you're located to give the best advice.

First off, when you feed your Palms, you may use a "Palm food" or product specifically created for Palms. Do not use ordinary plant fertilizer on a Palm.

The best product I've found as far as making Palms happy and healthy is simple Epsom salts. Epsom salts is quite different than table salt, so don't get them confused. Epsom salts = grow, table salt = kill.

Epsom salts is hydrated magnesium sulfate while table salt, sea salt are magnesium chloride. 

Epsom salts gives the Palms what they would normally get in their normal environment (the coast) – salt content.

Epsom salts is great for any plant, but Palms especially. I would feed them the Epsom salts mixed with water (1 cup per 4 gallons, dissolved) about once a week during the growing season. You can simply mix the epsom salt with water at your spigot with a hose and a five gallon bucket. Pour the mixture around the base of the Palms.

If you're in North Texas, you may want to wrap the trunks of your Palms with burlap during the winter to save them from damage. If you can tell me what type Palms you have, I can give you further and more specific advice.


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@Sirhornsalot Wow, thanks for the reply. Awesome info even without me giving you all the necessary details.

I don't know what type they are, I added a few photos if you can ID them from those.

I am in New Orleans, not super coastal but palms seem to do well here.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 10.54.35 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 10.54.54 PM.png

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Those are Sabal Palms. Very nice. 

You're in New Orleans, so you have nothing to worry about during the winter with those things. Early spring you can cut off the yellow/brown fronds because once they turn, they won't green back up.

If there are nearby trees, try not to let them steal the sunlight from the Palms. The more sun, the better they do.

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4 hours ago, BWilk55 said:

@Sirhornsalot Awesome. Being in New Orleans, do you think they need Epsom salt or is the environment salty enough?


I'd do it anyway. You're going directly to the root ball with it, so there's an almost immediate benefit. You could back off to twice a month instead of weekly though.

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@Sirhornsalot Thanks again for the advice. The backyard is really the only major project on the house (thank goodness) so I am excited to see what we can do with it.

We plan to add a privacy fence along the sides (currently a chain link fence as pictured). We really like the look of finishing off the fence line with some low maintenance landscaping. Some friends lined theirs with Monkey Grass and I like that look. Any advice on lining a fence?

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3 hours ago, BWilk55 said:

@Sirhornsalot Thanks again for the advice. The backyard is really the only major project on the house (thank goodness) so I am excited to see what we can do with it.

We plan to add a privacy fence along the sides (currently a chain link fence as pictured). We really like the look of finishing off the fence line with some low maintenance landscaping. Some friends lined theirs with Monkey Grass and I like that look. Any advice on lining a fence?

Well, you're in New Orleans. Rain will never be an issue for you. So you have lots of choices/options.

Rather than use Monkey Grass (Liriope or Mondo Grass) which is very aggressive and will have you on your knees in no time – try Society Garlic. You will get the same look but is non-aggressive, sends up a very nice clusters of blooms during the summer, and is a true onion so it is a pest/animal deterrent. It can handle full sun to full shade, although it blooms less in shade.

Not sure how high you're going with a fence, but I'd go to a 7 ft, add a nice dark transparent stain on cedar – and you're in business. 

You're going to be able to plant Sago Palms, Bananas (look at the Red Banana, very pretty) and Cannas – giving you color and tropical look and you really won't have to do anything for them during the year.

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