Southwestern Deserts

August, 2012
Regional Report

Dethatch Lawns

Thatch is a tangled layer of dead and living grass that builds up between the soil and the lawn. A thin layer of thatch is okay and provides some protection for the root system, but when thatch builds to more than one-half inch, it needs to be reduced. Dethatching should take place in summer when grass is growing vigorously and can recover after the process.

Harvest Okra Pods and Flowers

Okra produces pods until the plant freezes if harvested regularly, usually every couple of days. Even you do not like the gumminess of okra, you may still enjoy their pretty, edible, hibiscus-like flowers, which can be stuffed like squash blossoms.

Continue Monitoring Water Needs

Container plants, non-native species, recent transplants, and shallow-rooted annual flowers and vegetables are all highly susceptible to quick death if their roots dry out. Do not waste water with sprinkling from above, as much is lost to wind and evaporation, and what remains does not soak deep enough to moisten the entire root system. Always irrigate through the root zone, applying water slowly to the top of the soil where it will soak in. Remember the 1-2-3 Rule: Water should soak 1 foot deep for shallow-rooted annuals, cacti, succulents, and ground covers; 2 feet deep for shrubs; and 3 feet deep for trees.

Prune Storm-Damaged Trees

If limbs are broken during summer storms, remove them promptly. Cut back to the juncture with the trunk, or with the nearest larger branch. Trees have specialized tissue in this junctures that seal the pruning cuts to prevent insects and diseases from easy entry. If you lop off limbs and leave a stub, the tree cannot heal the wound on its own. Never apply sealants, which actually do more harm than good.

Fertilize Citrus

Apply one-third of a tree's total annual nitrogen application in August or September. Scratch fertilizer into the soil around the tree's dripline (edge of the canopy) before a regularly scheduled watering, and be sure to water in deeply. Alternatively, you can dissolve the fertilizer in water and pour it around the tree during irrigation. Water should soak 3 feet deep for mature trees or about 2 feet deep for recent transplants.

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