Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

July, 2008
Regional Report

Examine Lawn for Dead Spots

If you are seeing brown spots in your lawn, the first thing to check is the sprinkler system. Turn it on to see if every head is working properly. If not, remove the head and clean or replace it as necessary. Sometimes a sprinkler head just needs a slight adjustment.

Set Out Nesting Material

Help the wild birds build a home for their families by setting out nesting material. Pieces of yarn, string, and dryer lint are welcome additions to late-season home builders. House finches and doves will have several clutches of babies in a season. Nesting materials can be stuffed into the crotch of a tree or hung in mesh bags.

Plant Tuberous Begonias

The warm soil temperature is perfect for the elegant tuberous begonia. Select a site in partial shade. Amend planting beds with ample amounts of compost and humus, and then water well. Plant the tubers convex side up and barely cover with soil. Once growth begins to show above ground, begin fertilizing with 22-14-14 until buds develop, then switch to 0-10-10 or 15-30-15 every other week during the growing season. Tuberous begonias will not stand overhead watering. With a generous layer of mulch to protect the soil, the plants will require very little water to put on an amazing show of color.

Protect Your Property Against Wildfire

The recent wildfires in Santa Cruz and Napa are an indication that it is going to be a long fire season. To keep your home safe from wildfires, move wood piles away from the house, prune any tree limbs that overhang the roof, and use a weed eater or mower to cut down dry grasses that surround your property. Plan a defensible area by removing any combustible material from around buildings.

Plant for Color

It's not too late to plant annuals for summer color. Even a small annual bed will perk up a green garden setting. Purple wave petunias are not too thirsty and add a dramatic splash of color to hillsides and retaining walls. Plant coleus in shady areas. Favorite colorful summer annuals include nasturtiums, marigolds, annual lupines, Shirley poppies, alyssum, morning glories, celosia, and lobelia.

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