Help for your gar­den and land­scape dur­ing the dog days of sum­mer

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - Betty Cahill, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post Betty Cahill speaks and writes about gar­den­ing in Colorado.

EIn the land­scape

The mean­ing of the say­ing “dog days of sum­mer” has more to do with astrol­ogy than hot weather. The ris­ing of the Dog Star, or Sir­ius, just be­fore sun-up in late July was noted by an­cient Greeks and Ro­mans. Over the cen­turies many sto­ries about “dog days of sum­mer” sprang up in folk­lore. The tales blamed floods and even sour wine on the dog days, and Homer even associated dis­as­ters and wars with these days from July through mid-Au­gust.

Now, we can all agree on one thing — it’s hot!

• Help your lawn by keep­ing it cooler. Let it grow a lit­tle longer be­tween mow­ing, up to 3 to 4 inches. The ad­di­tional leaf area cools and shades the crowns of the grass.

Let grass clip­pings re­main to add valu­able nu­tri­ents to the soil.

Wa­ter lawns in the morn­ing, in­fre­quently and deeply — to a depth of 4 inches. No need to fer­til­ize cool-sea­son lawns, aer­ate or ap­ply weed killers when tem­per­a­tures are high.

• Pay at­ten­tion to your tree’s

Ewa­ter­ing needs. Trees within lawns gen­er­ally get enough mois­ture. Trees with­out lawn ir­ri­ga­tion — near streets, in side­walk plant­ings or dry parts of the land­scape — will need sup­ple­men­tal wa­ter­ing down to a depth of 12 inches.

Ev­er­greens or conifers may be show­ing signs of stress with nee­dle dis­col­oration and brown­ing. There can be sev­eral rea­sons for these con­di­tions, in­clud­ing im­proper plant­ing, cul­tural care (lack of year round mois­ture or ex­po­sure to road salts), en­vi­ron­men­tal stresses, pests and dis­ease. It is com­mon for older nee­dles to drop dur­ing late sum­mer into fall; tim­ing varies per type of cul­ti­var.

Sched­ule a pro­fes­sional ar­borist or con­sult with knowl­edge­able gar­den cen­ters or county mas­ter gar­den­ers for as­sis­tance.

•A void plant­ing or trans­plant­ing peren­ni­als dur­ing the heat of sum­mer. Plant in the evening or on cloudy days and cut the fo­liage back by a third to help the roots es­tab­lish. Wa­ter daily for sev­eral days. Rig a shade cloth us­ing sheets or row cover over a tomato cage to pre­vent heat stress.

Veg­eta­bles and herbs

• Con­sis­tent high tem­per­a­tures (in the 90s) can be tough on plants and may cause blos­som drop, which means less fruit. This is com­mon on squash, zuc­chini, toma­toes and green beans. Blos­som drop can also be caused by un­der-wa­ter­ing and over-fer­til­iza­tion. Shade net­ting can re­duce tem­per­a­tures by 10 or more de­grees, de­pend­ing on the qual­ity of shade cloth used.

• Large, leafed veg­eta­bles like cu­cum­bers, mel­ons and squash are quick to wilt dur­ing the heat of the day. If they are get­ting enough wa­ter they will re­vive in the evening. Veg­eta­bles re­quire deep wa­ter­ing and mulch to keep soils cool. Both help pre­vent leaf wilt.

• If you have room in the veg­etable gar­den, start the fall gar­den this month by di­rect seed­ing crops that need 60 days or less to grow and ma­ture (check seed packet). Choose from basil, green beans, cu­cum­ber, okra, New Zealand spinach, sum­mer squash, pars­ley, bunch­ing onion, ci­lantro, Swiss chard and beets.

• Be sure to share ex­tra har­vest good­ies with friends, neigh­bors, shel­ters and food pantries.

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