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Should I Feed My Lawn During the Summer Heat?

My answer:  Depends on how hot it is, what kind of lawn you have and how many times you have fed so far this year.

Since it is best to feed lawns during periods of active growth it helps to know how Southern and Northern lawns grow during summer.  Southern lawns (like Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Centipede and Bahia) grow actively this time of year, even if daytime highs are consistently in the 90’s and the night temperatures are not that much different.  Northern lawns (like Bluegrass, Fescue and Ryegrass) grow more when daytime temps stay in the 80’s and below.  However they tend to slow their growth if the daytime and nighttime temps and humidity don’t drop much from the 90’s.  Night temps that drop back into the 60’s at night can do wonders to help Northern lawns continue active growth even when daytime temps are hitting 90.

This Northern lawn is looking healthy in August because it has received regular feedings. (click photo to enlarge)

Now that you know how Southern and Northern grasses grow, here is my answer to the summer feeding question:

Southern lawns (like Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia) love to be fed at two month intervals from spring to fall for a total of about 4 feedings a year.  Centipede only likes two or three feedings a year from late spring to late summer. So feed now if it has been a couple of months since your last feeding or if you have only fed your Centipede once so far this year.  Scotts GreenMAX Lawn Food, Scotts Southern Turf Builder or Scotts Natural Lawn Food would be good choices for this time of year.  Watering after you feed will help activate the feeding while helping to protect your grass during excessive heat.

If your Northern lawn has not been fed in a while and you live in an area where night time temps drop into the 60’s, you can give your lawn a feeding now.  If you have already fed your Northern lawn twice this year and it is hot where you live you could skip feeding until late August or early September.  Scotts GreenMAX Lawn Food, Scotts Turf Builder or Scotts Natural Lawn Food can be used in summer on Northern lawns.  Don’t forget to water after you feed, especially during high heat.

An alternative feeding choice for both Southern and Northern lawns, if you want to protect your lawn from the insects that cause your lawn to thin and turn brown during summer, is to feed with Scotts Turf Builder SummerGuard.  However, note that this is a lighter feeding than you would get with the other Scotts Lawn Foods I have mentioned here.

Our Deer Strategy Works!

We have two approaches to keep deer from destroying our garden and landscape.  The first one is for our non-edible plants and the second is for our edibles.

We stopped the deer from nibbling our perennials, hydrangea and other non-edibles with Ortho Deer B Gon.  This product is now sold as Tomcat Deer Repellent (click here for info).  No sooner would the new growth begin to emerge only to become dinner for the many deer around our home.  Not only are the deer now bugging someone else, but we love the smell of this stuff compared to what we have used in the past.  There are repellents for other animals in this product line from Tomcat:  (click here for info)

Our Huechera are beautiful this year since the deer have left them alone thanks to Ortho Deer B Gon! (Click picture to enlarge

Since I really do not want to spray repellents on my vegetable garden, I have found another approach that works great for that area!  The Scarecrow Motion-Activated Animal Deterrent startles the deer with a harmless burst of water and sound teaching them to avoid my veggies.  This approach has changed their browsing habits.  And, you can link several of these together using the same water source. 

The Scarecrow Motion-Activated Animal Deterrent protects my vegetable garden from deer, rabbits, birds and other animal intruders. (click photo to enlarge)

Keep Ants, Roaches, Scorpions and Spiders Out of Your Home

Yesterday I sprayed a barrier around our outside house foundation to keep the creepy crawlers out. It was easy, fast and saves lots of money compared to hiring someone to do this job I can do myself. I put down Ortho Home Defense MAX Outdoor Perimeter Insect Killer. I like this product not only because it works great, I also like that it does not stain and there is no bad odor. You can put down your protective barrier as dry granules or as a spray. Click here to get more info on the no-mixing spray. Click here to get more info on the granules. There is also a concentrate available if you want to use your own sprayer (click here for more info).


Our Deck Planters Give Us a Surprising Quantity of Veggies

We have had great success growing veggies on our deck with our 6 self-watering planters.  These planters hold about 4 gallons of water and are on rollers so they can be easily moved.  We fill the water reservoir twice a week even if we are getting regular rain.  (Here is a link to more info on the planters we are using.)

This year after the last of our spring harvest from our deck planters (kale, spinach, various kinds of lettuce) we planted our summer veggies.  One planter has 3 – Padron Pepper plants, one has 3 – Carmen Sweet Pepper plants, one has carrots and beets, one has Pickler Cucumbers that will vine onto a trellis (will update you on how this works later this summer), and the last two have Bush Green Beans planted a month apart.  Around mid-September we will plant the planters with lettuce, kale and spinach.

The pepper plants are supported with cages. We pick the green beans every day or two and get just the right amount for the two of us. The second planter of beans was planted a month after the first. The pickle cucumbers will climb the trellis and provide shade for lettuce plants that will be planted in a few weeks. Carrots and Beets will soon be ready for harvest. (Click photo to enlarge)

The soil is Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix. We have found it is best to start with fresh soil each year and clean the roots out of the water reservoir. We also added some fresh soil to the top 4 inches when we planted our summer veggies.  We fed the plants with Osmocote Plant Food when we planted them.

We pick the Padron Peppers when they are about an inch to an inch and half long. We toss them in olive oil and salt, bake them for 10 minutes at 375 degrees (or grill them). They are slightly black. Eat them whole! (click photo to enlarge)

I’m A Dad… And I Love These Tools! (Father’s Day Idea)

Passing along a Father’s Day gift idea that I am glad I own.  If it is possible to love power tools, you can put Rita and I into this corner.  We bought the Scotts SYNC Lithium-Ion String Trimmer and Scotts SYNC Lithium-Ion Blower and both tools have exceeded our expectations!  They are very light weight and a perfect size for the jobs around our home.  It is very easy to recharge the lithium battery using the handy charging station we hung on our garage wall.  I love the fact that there is no electric cord or can of mixed gas.  And this Lithium battery technology is far better than what I have experienced in the past.  You can check out the complete line of lithium-Ion tool by clicking here.

These tools will make a great Father’s Day gift for someone in your household or you will be glad you gifted them to yourself!  Click this video to learn more.


Reasons Your Grass Seed May Not Have Grown

If you experienced spotty grass seed germination this spring, here are some factors to help you figure out what may have been the cause:

Grass seed needs to come in contact with soil to live after it germinates.  Grass seed that lies on dead thatch in a lawn will likely not reach the soil and will likely not begin to grow.  Break up the thatch and top inch or so of soil with a rake or use a special machine called a slit seeder to place the grass seed next to the soil.

Grass seed that lies on dead thatch in a lawn will likely not reach the soil and will likely not begin to grow. (click photo to enlarge)

Sometimes grass seed is spread on a lawn in spring after a crabgrass preventer or other weed control has been put down by the lawn owner or lawn service.  The result is poor germination.  Be sure to check weed control labels to see what the waiting period is to put down grass seed.  When seeding in spring, a special crabgrass preventer should be used that is compatible with grass seed like Scotts Starter Lawn Food plus Weed Preventer.

Personally, I’ve missed an area when I spread grass seed and did not realize it until after I saw no germination in that spot.  This can happen to the best of us.  It is that tell-tale strip or space where the spreader missed (or should I say where the spreader operator missed).

One time I covered the seed with too much soil in one spot.  The proper method is to spread the seed and then spread the Starter Lawn Food For New Grass, and then make one pass across the newly seeded area with an upside down leaf rake (tines pointed up).  Note: this is a leaf rake, not a garden rake.  The idea is to make sure the seed is in good contact with soil and that it is no deeper than the top 1/8 inch.  It is ok to still see some seed on the soil surface after seeding.

Seed can dry out during the critical time when the grass is germinating.  When this happens, you will likely see little to no germination in the sunny areas and good germination where the soil is in partial shade (where the soil is slower to dry).  The Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Blends, with Water-Smart Formula, really give you an edge when you are trying to keep your new seed moist.  Scotts EZ Seed also helps to hold moisture next to your seed.  Keep your grass seed moist by watering lightly several times a day.

A heavy rain in a newly seeded area can move grass seed to the low spots leaving the high spots with little to no germination.

Old seed that has been stored in the garage will likely germinate very poorly.  When seed is stored where you find big temperature changes and excess humidity the seed will likely not sprout.  Buy fresh seed and use it all up that season.

Years ago when we lived in Ohio, the grass seed did not seem to want to come up next to a wooded area.  I seeded several times.  Then early one morning while using my flashlight to find the newspaper in the dark, I shined it on this area I had seeded to see if my grass seed was germinating and I saw hundreds of small slugs eating my grass seed sprouts.  These slugs crawled from the woods at night and were grazing on my new grass seedlings every time I planted.  They would then crawl back into the woods during the day.  I put down slug bait and finally I got new grass.

One more thing:  Spring seeding takes longer to germinate than fall planted grass because the soil is colder.  With colder soil you can sometimes count on 2 weeks or more before you see new grass spouts.  Also, you will generally see some of the grass seed come up a week or so before the rest germinates because of the different varieties in the seed blend.  So keep the area moist a week or so after you see the first germination.

A feeding of Scotts Turf Builder one month after seeding will also help your new grass fill-in thin areas.  If you need to reseed some spots, rough up your soil a little before you seed again.

Time for Japanese Beetles

The first Japanese beetles of the season are showing up on roses and other plants.  It is important to kill these scouts that will help the others find the most desirable plants in your landscape.

Japanese Beetles eat the foliage of many plants and then lay eggs in your lawn that become grubs in late summer that feed on your grass roots until winter. (click photo to enlarge)

When you spot the first beetles you can hand pick them into a jar of soapy water or spray susceptible plants with an insecticide that is compatible with flowers and vegetables.  Ortho Flower Fruit and Vegetable Insect Killer does not need to be mixed up and kills around 100 different kinds of insects that can attack plants.  Read the label and you will see this product can be used on edible crops.

Some folks have tried Japanese Beetle traps with mixed results.  The reason is many times these traps attract more beetles to their plants than they actually collect.  If you take this approach, place the trap several hundred feet away from the plants being attacked (but not next to your neighbor’s roses).

These beetles will soon be laying eggs in your lawn that will hatch into grubs to chomp on your grass roots beginning in late summer and continuing into fall.  If you have already spread Scotts GrubEX on your lawn during the past few weeks, your grass is protected from the next generation of grubs.  If not, you still have time to protect your lawn, be sure to give your lawn a good watering of at least a half inch after you spreading GrubEX.  It is OK for your pets and kids to play on your lawn after the grass has dried.

Of yes… and one last tip regarding moles:  Since GrubEx does not eliminate earthworms in your lawn (one of their favorite foods in addition to grubs) you are still likely to get moles even though the grubs are not present.  For mole problems, click here to check out this info on the options from TOMCAT.