Get an Early Start to Fall Gardening

August is here! School and football are starting up, and were eagerly anticipating cooler weather. What should you be doing this month in the garden.

Prune your ever-blooming roses back about one third of their height in late August to early September to encourage new blooms for October and November. Remove all the dead canes and diseased wood. Remember when removing diseased material to rinse your pruners in a 10% bleach solution and then water before making any new cuts. This will help prevent the transfer of disease to other parts of the plant or other plants in the garden. Dont prune once-blooming roses because you may reduce the blooms for next year. Do remove any dead or diseased canes.

After trimming your roses, it is a great time to fertilize with a rose, general purpose or organic fertilizer at the recommended rate. The extra nutrients will encourage vigorous new growth and enhance flowering over the next few months.

Spray roses for blackspot, powdery mildew and other fungal diseases. Rake up and remove all fallen leaves to prevent further infection of rose bushes and dispose of them in the trash. If you compost, dont put the diseased leaves there.

August is a good time to cut back and stake tall plants and deadhead the spent flowers on annuals, ground covers, perennials, and vines that are still thriving but have gotten too large. It is also a good time to remove anything that just no longer looks good and think about a good replacement for the fall as the temperatures cool.

You can cut back bedding plants that still look good but may have become leggy to encourage blooming through fall by removing one third to one half of the plant material. This will help to bring back a fuller-looking plant and encourage blooming throughout the fall. This includes begonias, blue daze, coleus, impatiens, lantana, pentas, periwinkle, ruellia, verbena and a host of other bedding plants.

Consider another application of fertilizer for your lawn. Your third and final application of fertilizer can be made in August for bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass and zoysia.

Be on the lookout for chinch bug damage in your lawn, especially in St. Augustine grass. Hot, dry weather is ideal for the chinch bug that feeds on sap from grass stems. Look for grass that is yellow brown or straw looking and eventually dies. Good cultural practices can help minimize the damage with proper fertilization, irrigation and mowing. If the problem has gotten out of control, consider insecticide applications of bifenthrin, carbaryl or permethrin. Follow the label instructions carefully.

Fire ants can also be a real problem this time of year. They will not hurt your lawn, but they can sometimes kill the turf where mounds are growing and block out the sun. If you have small children or have severe allergies to ants, you can apply granular dursban or diazinon.

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