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Gardening Tips: June

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Check irrigation systems:
As hot weather begins, it is time to turn on the irrigation system. Take time to check for broken heads, leaks, clogged drip emitters, and sprinklers that are malfunctioning. Improper irrigation can lead to wasted water or plant problems with over or under irrigation. Avoid daytime watering. Set your timers to water at night or early in the morning to conserve water. Make sure lawn sprinklers don’t spray into landscape beds since these beds should be watered separately to avoid over watering. Check sprinkler heads to avoid over spray onto impervious surfaces such as driveways and walks to conserve water. To also conserve water, be sure your beds have a good layer of mulch to reduce surface evaporation; increase mower height to avoid lawn burnout.

This grass-type weed is recognized by its shiny light green/yellow color and triangular stems. It produces many tubers at the end of rhizomes; from these tubers, many plants are formed. Tuber sprouting is promoted by moist soil conditions, hence nutsedge growth in wet areas. Nutsedge is very hard to control because it produces so many tubers. Mulching over it does very little to control it because it can readily grow though mulch. Pre-emergent herbicide, if applied in early spring, will help in the tuber sprouting. The post-emergent herbicide Sledgehammer, applied in woody landscapes and turf, has been found to be very effective. Roundup or products like Roundup can be effective. The biggest problem with this herbicide is the nutsedge leaf has a very shiny waxy coat, which can initially be impermeable. The use of Sticker is very important.

Summer perennial maintenance:
Cut back fall perennials like chrysanthemums, sedums, asters, and bee balm half way. This will delay flowering somewhat but will result in fuller, shorter plants that may not need staking. Make sure your mulch layer is no thicker than three inches; this will be sufficient to discourage weeds and maintain soil moisture. It is important to set up support stakes for tall perennials; once they fall to the ground or start growing crooked, they are very difficult to straighten. The deadheading of perennials is not only to improve the appearance but to also help to promote new flowers. It is also time to cleanup spring bulb foliage (Daffodil and Tulips). This foliage should be allowed to die back on its own; after the flower is dead, the plant spends its time putting energy back into the bulb for next season.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid: (HWA)
Our native Pennsylvania hemlock has been in the decline because of this insect. Hemlocks in this area natively grew in very high organic matter environments, along streams that provided ample moisture. When we take this plant and bring it into our suburban environment, this plant will struggle. HWA will more likely attack these stressed plants. Providing supplemental water to mature hemlocks during the hot dry season will go a long way in helping these plants. HWA is very easy to detect, it has a white cottony sack located at the base of the needles. By this time of the year, mid to late June, they have completed their egg hatch stage and the adults will die over the hot summer. HWA populations can be managed successfully with sprays of horticultural oil; Merit as a soil injection is also very effective.

Pruning of flowering shrubs:
There is a good rule of thumb when it comes to the pruning of flowering shrubs. The best time to prune them is right after they bloom, so they have time to grow out new growth and set buds for next year. If you have Azalea, Forsythia, or Weigela, pruning should be done as soon as blooming as ended. The only plants to watch are plants that are being grown for their berries like winterberry, Beautyberry, and some Viburnums. Prune this group of plants as soon as the berries start to fade.

Slugs typically live in damp shady places; they hide under boards, rocks, and other debris. Slugs love hostas and other shade-loving plants, leaving holes in the leaves where they have fed. Set out a shallow pie plate filled with beer or baking yeast dissolved in water. Slugs will be attracted, fall in the trap and drown.