Keeping a beautiful lawn and garden is less about hiring the best professionals or purchasing the most expensive lawn care products and more about knowing the best time to do certain activities. For example, planting mums in the springtime is most likely going to result in a failure as mums are best planted in the fall before any threat of frost sets in. Similarly, watering your lawn during the middle of a scorching, summer day will cause much of the water being lost to evaporation and could often cause your lawn to suffer from water stress.
Furthermore, taking care of a lawn and garden will be substantially different in Minnesota than in Florida. While planting out your flower bed in Miami might be possible in early February, you would have a hard time breaking the frozen ground in Minneapolis at that same time of year. Knowing the specifics of your planting and heat zones where you live is important. However, the specific guidelines for the optimum times to do certain lawn and garden activities can vary widely even within certain plant hardiness zones.
For Houston, Texas residents, the average high temperature of 62 degrees in January means that we lived in an extremely privileged part of the country when it comes to maintaining a beautiful lawn and garden year round. The heat and humidity of the summer months, however, can be a challenge for certain homeowners trying to keep their lawn and ornamental gardens healthy and vigorous during those summer heat waves when temperatures in the high 90s are a daily occurrence. Below, we offer a complete breakdown of the most essential summer garden and lawn care tasks for Houston homeowners.
Lawn and Garden Activities for May
While much of the country is finally enjoying the arrival of the warmer temperatures of spring, Houston residents have been enjoying average temperatures above 70 degrees since March. One of the most important activities for May is to prepare your lawn for the barrage of hot summer temperatures that are set to arrive. Broadcasting a slow-release fertilizer is a great idea to help strengthen the root systems while also increasing the resiliency of the plant to droughts that can be common in late summer and autumn. Slow release fertilizer formulas designed for lawns, such as 15-5-10 can be spread dry over the lawn. However, the fact that we average well over 5 inches of rain in May should mean that a couple of afternoon showers will help to activate the fertilizer so that it can be best used by the grass.
May is also a good time to control chinch bugs that are reproducing around your home and probably causing damage to your lawn. While there are several pesticide options to control this common lawn pest, you can also use organic controls such as applying diatomaceous earth around your lawn or spraying your lawn with a biodegradable soap that will penetrate the exoskeleton of these bugs and cause them to die.
Lastly, if you have a decent sized flower garden, it might be a good idea to apply a bit of chelated iron to the base of your flowering plants. The high temperatures of summer can cause flowering plants to suffer from iron deficiency, thus yellowing leaves and sometimes causing the plant to die. A bit of chelated iron will go a long way in helping to avoid this common problem.
Lawn and Garden Activities June
June is the wettest month in the Houston area with close to 6 inches of average rainfall. The abundance of rain and warm temperatures usually leads to abundant foliar growth in your ornamental shrubs. Early June, then, is a great time to get out the pruning shears. By pruning back your bushes and hedges early in the season, you can effectively stunt their growth and thus make it easier to keep them the size you want. Of course, subsequent pruning in later summer and autumn will also most likely be necessary.
The early spring flowers that you planted in January and February will most likely be done flowering by June, thus giving you an excuse to replant other flowers. Perennial flowering plants are a great option if you have some extra space around your home. Pink Autumn sage offers yearly pink flowers that are incredibly aromatic and bloom almost year round. They are also very drought tolerant. Another option for perennial flowers is verbena. This plant can flower pink, purple or red, and is a great groundcover for areas around your home that will keep the weeds at bay.
Lastly, if you have any overgrown trees around your home, pruning large tree limbs might be a good idea before hurricane season begins.
Lawn and Garden Activities July
During July, the heat really picks up in the Houston area. To protect your lawn, it is a good idea to raise your lawnmower to 4 inches height. This will protect the grass against droughts and heat as extra moisture can be stored in the longer, individual blades.
If your lawn has an automatic irrigation system, you will want to run it continuously during July, especially during dry spells. If you are irrigating fruit or ornamental trees in your yard, July is a month when you want to make sure that the root areas of your trees are being slow-soaked at least once a week. If you are using sprinklers, make sure to only run them at night as this will help limit the amount of water you use through minimizing evaporation.
Also, in July you might spot fairy rings popping up around your yard and garden. While these strange looking creatures might cause alarm for some homeowners, they are simply a type of mushroom indicating healthy soil with an abundance of organic matter.
Lawn and Garden Activities August
August is a great time to set out your hummingbird feeders around your garden. Migrating hummingbird species generally past through the Houston area this month and they are a delight for gardeners. You can attract them by simply boiling 4 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to make a delectable nectar that they will love.
Also, if you have cacti plants in your garden, you will want to let the roots completely dry out before replanting. Digging up fresh cacti roots will usually kill off the plants. Since August is usually the month when most fungal and bacterial infections of plants prosper, you might consider spraying your ornamental and edible plants with a seaweed spray. These sprays are full of essential plant nutrients and will boost their immune systems in order to help them avoid certain diseases.
There are dozens of other activities that could (and should) be done around the garden and lawn throughout the summer. The fast growth of plants and grasses mean that you will most likely spend a fair amount of time mowing and pruning. For garden lovers, however, there is simply nothing better than being outside on a cool, summer evening, watching hummingbirds float through your flowers in full bloom.
Have more lawn care or gardening questions? Visit our Houston, TX lawn care page for more information.