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July landscape tips

Many native and ornamental vines can become a weed problem in your landscape if left unchecked. Some examples would be English ivy, Virginia creeper, Kudzu and poison ivy.

Some of these vines, like English ivy have ornamental value. Other less desirable vines like Virginia-creeper are important sources of food for wildlife. In a perfect world, all of these would be maintained or removed as small plants. Unfortunately, many people buy property that have vines rambling through flower beds and climbing up anything that they can reach. Sometimes these vines were planted by the previous property owner as an ornamental, and with lack of care, unsupervised ornamentals begin to take over. Whatever the reason, if you have a vine that you are trying to get rid of, there are a few tactics that could help in your efforts. First, consider try regaining control of the vine you are considering removing. Certain plants such as English ivy and Virginia creeper can be easily brought under control with a little pruning. Many of these plants can take years to reach the stature they have achieved! These plants don’t become a problem overnight, and even the mighty Kudzu, can take years to cover a tree canopy. Things to consider: What will replace the green mass when it is gone? Is the vine that big of a problem? Can it be brought down to a manageable size if pruned?

If you are still adamant about removing the problem vine, there are two methods to remove the plant – physical removal and/or the use of herbicides. The effort of physical removal will vary depending on the plant. A well-established Wisteria can be a difficult to remove, requiring the use of heavy equipment to totally remove. On the other side of the spectrum, a young Crossvine can be easily removed by simply pulling it out. If you are not opposed to the use of herbicides, a combination of both control measures can be the best plan of attack. Many vines, like Wisteria, Kudzu, and English ivy, can be partially controlled by simply cutting the vines a few inches above the ground and painting the fresh cut stem with a herbicide containing glyphosate (i.e. Roundup, 41% active or above) or triclopyr (i.e. Brush-B-Gone). Both of these products should be used according to label directions. The degree of control will depend on the time of year treated (fall applications are generally better) and plant species treated. Some re-growth can occur. If it does, wait until the shoots are 6 to 12 inches long and repeat treatment with your herbicide of choice. With any post-emergent herbicide application, use cardboard to prevent spray solution from contacting desirable plant foliage and stems. Always take time to read and follow labeled instructions when using any pesticide.

Other landscape chores for July:

  • During hot, July weather, be sure to mow your lawn to the appropriate height (2-3 inches for fescue, 1-2 inches for bermudagrass, 0.5-1.5 for Zoysia, 2-3 inches for St. Augustine, 1-1.5 inches for Centipedegrass). This reduces water loss and helps lower soil temperatures. Leave clippings on the lawn to decompose and act as mulch.
  • Get a second bloom from faded annuals by cutting them back to approximately half their height, then fertilize them with 2 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer per square yard of planted area and apply a generous layer of mulch.
  • Well-decomposed compost is an excellent soil amendment. One to three inches of compost applied to the soil surface and incorporated into the top 10 inches will result in a 10 percent to 30 percent increase in organic matter.
  • When watering roses, avoid using lawn sprinklers or other overhead irrigation devices that wet the foliage and encourage leaf diseases like black spot. A soil-soaker hose placed under the mulch is ideal. Drip or trickle irrigation kits are also excellent irrigation systems for rose plantings.
  • Junipers do not tolerate heavy pruning because of the lack of new growth on old wood. Junipers can be tip pruned and thinned, but not cut back to large limbs. Pruning out old, dead foliage underneath creeping junipers will often contribute to better air circulation and better health of the plant
  • Prune overgrown Hydrangea immediately after flowering.
  • If you have been pinching back your mums all summer, mid-July is the time to stop so they can develop flower buds for the fall
  • Under extended dry conditions, some trees may lose up to 10 percent of their leaves. This helps reduce the amount of water trees lose by transpiration (water vapor loss).
  • If rain is lacking, determine which plants are most important and water them first. Water plants early in the day through drip irrigation or hand held hose with shut-off nozzle. Apply mulch to plantings to help conserve moisture. Allow lawns to go dormant; they will green up again when rain returns. Remove weeds, which compete for water.
  • Deadhead annuals and perennials to encourage continuous bloom and cut back any rampant growth. Remove any fallen leaves and debris which can harbor insect pests and disease

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Brenda Jackson at Murray County Extension at 706-695-3031 or email .