Summer brings vigorous plant growth and lots of maintenance work. This list will keep your landscape looking good.
• Put down a layer of organic mulch 2 to 3 inches deep around the plants to help conserve moisture and keep down weeds. Be sure to keep mulch 2 inches away from the base of all plants.
• Prune dead parts from shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants anytime it appears. Dead wood and stems are the perfect entryway for disease and wood-eating insects.
• Consider replacing shrubs that require constant pruning to keep them in bounds with more manageable shrubs like dwarf Walter's viburnum (Viburnum obovatum, "Mrs. Schiller's Delight"), India hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica) or dwarf Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria, "Schillings Dwarf").
• Wander through your landscape weekly and look for signs of damaging insects. Catching infestations early allows for easier control. Watch for beneficial insects that control the pests and take care of the problem for you.
• When treating for insect pests, use the least toxic method first, and only treat where the pest is found. It is usually not necessary to treat the whole landscape. Always follow the directions on the pesticide label very carefully.
• Mow your lawn at the highest setting for the type of grass and leave the clippings on the lawn.
• Black spot on roses can cause rapid defoliation during hot, humid weather. Control by spraying with a suitable fungicide and by removing and destroying all infected leaves including those on the ground. Better yet, plant disease-resistant rose varieties.
• The small lubber grasshoppers seen earlier this year are now maturing into the very large adult grasshoppers that are yellow with dark markings and a red area on their wings. Once they reach this size, chemical controls are of little value. Consider making it a game for children to catch them and dispose of them in a bucket of soapy water.