Phil’s Garden Tips and Tricks for August

It is high summer, and the dry season is at its peak! We have only had one significant rain event since April, making ground moisture very low. Many plants are stressed if they have not had some additional water. Even the native plants do not look their best this year. The forests and meadows are tinder dry, so please be vigilant!

To do this month:

  • Weed. Weeds should be few and far between now that the hot weather is upon us and it has been a long time since it has rained. Do not let weeds go to seed in your yard!
  • Mow regularly.
  • Don’t forget to water. The best time to water is in the early morning using approximately one inch a week on the lawn. Use more if it has been hot and dry. Beds need half that much.
  • Control caterpillars on leafy vegetables, Geraniums and Petunias, as needed, with Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT). It is a natural product.
  • Use mulch to protect ornamentals and garden plants from hot weather damage. For spider mite control on susceptible ornamentals, hose off foliage once a day for three days, once a month in July, August and September. Arborvitae hedges are the most susceptible.
  • This time of the year fleas can inhabit dusty dry areas where suburban wild creatures such as Raccoons, Skunks and Opossums lurk. Fleas that were left from those animals can very easily jump onto your pets or you. Sometimes just watering these areas can drown the fleas, or, sprinkling some food grade Diatomaceous Earth can cause disruptions in their life cycle.

Ask Phil – Spotted Spurge

This month’s “Ask Phil” question comes from J.W. –

Q: I’ve repeatedly picked out low-lying, flat tiny-leafed weeds I believe are called Spurge. They are tenacious, coming back and spreading rapidly. Any ways to combat them?

A: Hi J.W., it is good to hear from you. Spotted Spurge is a difficult weed to control. It is almost impossible to eradicate as the seeds are very tiny and can last several seasons in the soil, waiting to sprout. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you are into non-herbicide weeding, I suggest regular use of the Hula Hoe or similar method on a dry sunny day, before they set seed. That way you can leave them lying there and they will dry up. They set seed when they are bigger, and it is hotter. It is hard to tell if they are setting seed unless you get down and look at them up closely. If they are setting seed, then carefully pull them up and place them in your garbage container and do NOT place them on the ground to dry up.
  • This is a warm-season weed. If you are into herbicide spraying I would suggest using a lawn weed spray with a little Dawn soap in the mix to coat the foliage better. That should kill them, but it must be done repeatedly and do not do this around vegetables or fruits that you will eat. If they are seeding, then it will do NO good, because the seeds are still viable, and will all sprout this summer and next season.
  • Lastly, Spotted Spurge only gets about 2″ tall at most, so it cannot cover up plants that you want. They are just annoying flat to the ground weeds.