August is one of the busiest times in the landscape!
August is one of the busiest months in the landscape. So much to do, so much to think about. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Way back in May I told you to set your sprinklers for an evening start instead of morning starts. We can do this in Texas because of how hot it gets here, otherwise it would be a cause of fungus issues. This approach allows the landscape/turf more time with the water you’re supplying. The recovery from the day’s heat is more complete.
But the weather is changing as summer begins to wind down. Nights become longer and cooler, days become shorter – which sets up the conditions for fungus.
To prevent fungus from happening, we should return to morning waterings starting on the last day of this month. Starting your cycles in the morning will give the sun an opportunity to evaporate some of that moisture during the day as our temperatures from that point on will become cooler and cooler.
This might seem like a minor thing but it’s really not. Especially if you have St Augustine turf. Make yourself a reminder now.
2nd round of Pre-emergent due this month!
August is also the month where we apply our second round of pre-emergent. Put it down any time between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31. Pre-emergent is one product where there’s really no such thing as too much. The more you put down, the more protection against new weeds you will get.
Keep in mind, pre-emergent does not kill existing weeds. If you have weeds already and put this product down, your weeds will still be there later. No, this product has one function and that is to sterilize soil against weed seed germination. So it will prevent you from having more weeds.
This is important – if you intend to have your lawn overseeded with winter rye in October – do NOT use this product. It will prevent the rye seeds from germinating.
Pre-emergent of course should be used on lawns, but should also be applied to landscape beds to prevent weeds there, too. However, if you grow any flowers or other plants from seed, the you wouldn’t want to apply this product to your beds.
Any product with prodiamine will work.
Last round of fertilizer this month!
This month we’ll be putting down our last application of fertilizer for the season. You will want to use the same product you have been using, but this time we want to reduce our ratio a bit. For example, if your spreader is normally set to “12” for your product, this month you will want to set it for 11. We want to slightly reduce the amount of fertilizer this time because of the possibility of fungus as we move into Fall.
One of fertilizer’s active ingredients is nitrogen. The presence of nitrogen for fungus is like gas to fire. So we go a little lighter for the Fall application so that we’re not contributing to a problem.
Watch for Chinch Bugs!
Many folks thought we’d have an easier time of it this season, insect-wise, due to the big winter storm we had. Initially, that proved to be true. However, I can tell you that the usual culprits are making a remarkable recovery here recently.
Already, we’re seeing Chinch bugs in some lawns. These are nasty critters and leave behind a trail of destruction. They can be recognized by a bronze hue to the area they are attacking. It will be located in the hottest spot in the lawn, often near concrete, metal or stone – things which retain heat.
Chinch bugs will strike both St Augustine and Bermuda lawns. They create distinct dead spots in otherwise green lawns. They’re damage looks much like someone took a blow torch to the grass, removing all moisture content.
If you think you might have Chinch bugs, but aren’t sure, there is a test you can perform to find out. Take a coffee can and knock out both ends. Go to the area where you suspect Chinch bugs are present. Tap one end of the can into the ground. Then fill the can up with soapy water. If there are Chinch bugs present, they will float to the top.
Bifenthrin is the chemical solution for Chinch Bugs. There are several name brand products which have this ingredient in it.
Sod Web Worms
Another insect that preys on our lawns is Sod Web Worms and they’ve been active again since early June. Sod web worms get their name because they weave a funnel-like web made of grass thatch in the lawn. They resemble holes in the turf. You’ll know their presence by those holes and also by the little white moths that fly up as you walk through the turf.
Bifenthrin is again the chemical solution however, you must adopt a different strategy for this insect. They feed at night and sleep at the bottom of the turf during the day. They are protected by the funnel-web they make. So spraying them during the day is usually not successful.
I have found that if you apply a granular product with bifenthrin in it just before the sun goes down, and then flip on the sprinklers once the sun does go down, you get more success. As they come out for the night they will come into contact with the chemical and die. The little white moths will also come into contact with it and die.
Sod web worms are incredibly resilient, so a second application may be necessary a week or so later.
Bifenthrin applications employ a “contact kill” strategy, meaning they only work when the insect comes into direct contact with the chemical. So spraying or applying to prevent insects isn’t really effective. It works when they are present.
Something to look for in the garden this month . . . . The Gulf Muhly Grasses as well as the Pink Muhly Grasses will start their fall blooming toward the end of the month. They are showy with their purple/burgundy flumes and when you see them, you can know Fall is just around the corner.