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Landscape Thread – Happy July 4th!!!


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Get your flags out!!!


July 4 is one of my favorite holidays. Make sure you put out your flag on America’s birthday. I have one hanging every day and think it adds to my landscape’s appeal. It looks really nice when a whole neighborhood participates!! Happy July 4th to you all!





Month of Survival


The month of July, landscape-wise, is a month of survival during normal years. Whatever plants, grass or trees you’ve planted in the months leading up to this, you’re now shifting to survival mode instead of growing mode.


The intense heat of July-August is just prohibitive to growth in most plants, exception being the desert plants. So temper your expectations this month and set your goal at maintaining the look you have now throughout the month.


The good news is, July 1 is here and taking a look around Texas, we’re in great shape in most places. Some lakes in North and East Texas still way out of their banks. Believe it or not, a flood watch is still in place for Denton County, despite not having real rainfall here for two weeks.


So Texas is green during a time when we are normally crispy and brown. What a tremendous blessing!


Let’s get on to the nuts and bolts for this month!



Gator Bag


Have a new tree in your landscape that you’re nervous about heading into July? One way to ease your mind is to employ a “Gator Bag†or "Tree Gator." A Gator Bag is a tough plastic bag that wraps around the trunk of the tree. You simply zip it up to put it in place. A hole at the top of the bag allows you to introduce supplements to your watering.


There are several sizes of Gator Bags available, but the most common one is the 21-gallon size. The bag works by having two pin holes in the bottom which slowly release the water over the tree’s root ball. There is no waste. The tree gets all the water.


Why a Gator Bag if you already have a sprinkler bubbler at the tree’s base? Because the bag affords you the ability to supplement nutrients into the water.





Watering Start Times


Now that the heat of summer is upon us, it’s time to change your sprinkler cycle start times from morning starts to evening starts. The threat of fungus is behind us for a couple of months because of the high temperatures. If you start your cycles at 10 p.m. or so, your lawn will get to spend much more time with the water than it would with morning starts. The result is healthier turf that is better able to handle the day-to-day heat.


If you’re in the Austin area and are still under water restrictions such as twice a week, you can parlay that two day a week schedule into four waterings if, on your watering days, you run a cycle right at midnight and another the next evening.


July is a great time to check your sprinkler system to make sure all your heads and nozzles are working properly. This is not the month to be having sprinkler issues.





If you didn’t mulch this spring, now would be a fabulous time to mulch your beds. If you did mulch your beds in spring, check to see if you need to supplement your mulch as it tends to get thinned out over a short time.


There are a number of mulches to choose from. Cedar mulch offers a couple of extra benefits in that its highly aromatic for a period of time and it also deters insects and other critters that you’d rather not have around.


Hardwood mulch is nice, particularly shredded hardwood mulch. It has a nice color (medium to dark brown) and breaks down into the soil on the bottom layer very well.


Cypress Mulch is another mulch that is aromatic and insect resistant. It is quite different in color, however, as it has a pale yellow color in most cases although there are versions that are more lite brown in color.


Colored mulches, such as black or red, also serve to help provide contrast to the beds which accentuate the plants and their color.


The best mulch I’ve come across is sold widely in the Austin area, Texas Native Shredded Hardwood Mulch. It’s a very dark brown and is properly shredded with no “surprise†pieces of lumber inside the bags.



Youth in the landscape


If you have kids, do them a favor and begin introducing them to landscape duties. My love for landscaping bloomed when I was a young man of about 10 years old. My parents purchased some land and built a new home on it. Once completed, the only thing left to do was landscape the front of the home. And that would fall on the homeowner in 1974. I raised my hand and said “I want to do this.â€


Our new lawn was not your typical lawn. It was about an acre in size with an adjoining pasture which also had to be mowed.


Forty years later, here I am, still at it.


It doesn’t matter whether you have an acre, 100 acres, or a quarter acre – there are opportunities to share landscaping with your kids. Draft them (lol) to help you plant flowers. Charge them with bringing up some ideas on how to arrange them. Teach them to mow the lawn and use a weed eater and blower and show them all the safety guidelines as you do. Someday, they’ll own their own home and will know exactly what to do.


It’s more fun and more rewarding than indoor video games and so much more better for them, health-wise. They love to watch things grow. Sometimes you have to remind them.



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We average 2.2 inches of rain (DFW) for July. We received (near the airport) two inches of rain today, almost hitting our monthly average in one day.


I am told that our friends in Abilene received almost 10 inches of rain yesterday and the day before.


According to radar,  it was raining over the headwaters of the Colorado for about 8 hours straight. Lakes should get a nice boost in a few days.


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SHA-thank you for all of your help over the years. My lawn looks amazing and your recommendation for sedge hammer worked perfect.


I recently picked up some some dirt cheap southern wax myrtles from HD that I am going to use as a privacy screen for the back of my fence line. Any tips for planting them in this heat? I am in Leander.

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SHA-thank you for all of your help over the years. My lawn looks amazing and your recommendation for sedge hammer worked perfect.


I recently picked up some some dirt cheap southern wax myrtles from HD that I am going to use as a privacy screen for the back of my fence line. Any tips for planting them in this heat? I am in Leander.


So glad to hear of your success and that the Sedge Hammer worked for you.


If they're tall, make sure you strap them down for the first six months (tree stakes). If they're not, then don't worry about that. You'll want to keep them watered well for the duration of the heat period. Back off as temperatures subside.


Like you said, it is hot, so the bigger concern here is for you. lol In Leander, you don't have to go far down before you hit rock. That's a booger to deal with, especially in this heat.


Because there is rock there below, it could be that it will trap the water you're giving the Wax Myrtles. That could lead to root rot so poke your finger into the root ball zone to gauge moisture on a regular basis.


Do not fertilize until next February.

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