Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Eco-Friendly Tips for the Summer Landscape

I thought this great scarecrow that my friends Jim and Glennie Duke made was a fitting illustration for my first day of summer post.

Jim and Glennie also created the cute scarecrow couple in my post about Scarecrows and Other Natural Bird Control.

For Summer tips, I've chosen some from The University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center e-newsletter and added links to some of my previous articles on the subjects.

The entire Extension Center Newsletter can be downloaded here, in pdf format.

Tips for Summer Landscape Care
• Follow proper mowing techniques to help your lawn through the dog days of summer.

• For crabgrass and other summer weeds, try eco-friendly options for weed control or try some Zen weeding.

• Mid-August through mid-October is the best time to start new lawns and renovate or overseed existing lawns. Maryland Extension recommends a turf-type tall fescue cultivar at a rate of 4 lbs. of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. of area for overseeding, or 8 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. for new lawns. If your lawn area contains more than 50% weeds, consider a total lawn renovation. Newly seeded turf must be watered regularly. (HG 102) . Click here to learn more about Selecting Turfgrass. This post on the University of California website will allow you to find more detailed information on each species: Information about Turfgrass Species.

• Keep newly planted trees or shrubs well watered through dry weather this summer. Thoroughly soak the root ball every few days. A 2-3 inch layer of mulch is helpful. Keep mulch away from the trunk or stem.

• Attract beneficial insects to your landscape by planting a wide variety of flowering annuals and perennials that will bloom over the entire growing season. Good choices are plants in the following families: daisy (marigolds, daises, asters, mums), carrot (dill, fennel, anise, yarrow, parsley) and mint (all mints and thymes).

• Slugs are found on all types of flowering plants. Feeding damage ranges from just a few holes to the entire plant stripped of its foliage in a few nights. Slime trails are a definitive sign of slug activity. Trap with shallow pans of yeast added to water or beer, then discard. Diatomaceous earth, sharp sand or ground crab and oyster shell can also be applied around plants as physical barriers.

• Control weeds by laying down entire sections of newspaper covered with straw or last fall’s mulched leaves.

• Cut back herbs through the summer to keep plants bushy and productive. Essential oils are most concentrated right before bloom. Don’t fertilize herbs as it encourages succulent growth and dilutes essential oils.

• It’s time to begin thinking of fall vegetables. Plant broccoli and cauliflower seed in containers the 3rd to 4th week in June for transplanting into the ground mid July through mid August.

Earthworms are a sign of healthy soil and are normally seen in the greatest numbers in fall and spring. Adding organic matter in the form of composted leaves, manure, grass clippings, etc. will improve soil structure and attract earthworms.

• Select shredded pine bark or hardwood mulches, not wood chips, for use around your home to minimize the possibility of attracting termites. Avoid any mulches that contain chunks of wood.

• Summer is snake mating season, their most active time of year. Snakes are beneficial creatures and should not be harmed. The most likely encountered large snake is the Black Rat Snake. It can grow to be about 5 feet long and is found in both rural and suburban areas.

• Rabbits can be a destructive nuisance in flower and vegetable gardens, feeding on young and tender plants. They can be excluded with a low, 2 ft. high fence that is secured to the ground. You can also repel them with commercial repellents, bloodmeal, or by sprinkling hot pepper flakes around plants. Or, you can just accept them for the great organic weed control that they provide.

• Prevent deer from feeding on garden and landscape plants, by applying a repellent, such as “Deer-Away”, “Liquid Fence”, “Deer-Off”, “Hinder” or “Ro-Pel” to vulnerable plants. Polywire fencing connected to an inexpensive, solar-powered charger can successfully exclude groundhogs and deer.

• As the summer progresses and temperatures rise and rainfall decreases, cool season lawns usually become dormant. Dormancy is a normal plant response causing them to stop growing and turn brown. Established lawns will not die and watering is not recommended. Newly seeded or newly sodded areas will still need watering.

• Late crops of beans, beets, carrots, Swiss chard, and cucumbers can be direct sown through the end of July.

• Bare soil is very prone to erosion from summer thunder storms. Prevent this by covering the soil with mulch, groundcovers, or turf.

Mosquitoes are always a summer time nuisance at any outside activity. Reduce mosquito populations by eliminating standing water. Change bird bath water frequently, and empty buckets, lids, garden furniture and toys. The Asian tiger mosquito requires very little water for breeding. Back yard ponds stocked with fish or moving water (fountains or filters) should not contribute to a mosquito problem. However, to be certain, B.t. dunks can bin the pond for mosquito control.

• August is frequently dry. Water deeply by allowing water to soak the soil directly underneath and around newly planted trees and shrubs. Check the depth of water penetration into the soil by digging a small hole after watering. Hard-crusted mulch will repel water and needs to be broken up with a rake or hoe to help the rain and irrigation water to penetrate the soil.

• Late August through September is usually a good time to transplant, divide and plant perennials such as daylily, liriope, and Echinacea. Be sure to keep them well watered during dry periods. If hot, dry conditions persist wait to divide your perennials.

• Do not fertilize shade trees, fruit trees or shrubs in late summer. Fertilization in August is very likely to stimulate new growth at a time when plants are beginning to enter dormancy and could result in excessive winter damage.

• Many kinds of interesting invertebrates live in a compost pile including manure worms, centipedes, millipedes, pill bugs, and pseudoscorpions. They are part of the composting ecosystem and should be appreciated, not feared. Do not attempt to spray or otherwise kill these beneficial critters.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds continue to visit flowers and nectar feeders. Keep nectar feeders clean and change nectar solution frequently during hot weather to prevent spoiling.

National Pollinator Week Activities Starting today - Bee there!

I love pollinators. These birds, bees and butterflies play an important role in many of the foods that we eat and the flowers that we love. But like many species, pollinators can be impacted by the practices that we carry out in our own yards.

Five years ago the U.S. Senate unanimously approved and designated the final week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marking a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week, which is June 20th -26th this year, has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.

To learn more about the importance of pollinators and how to attract them to your own yard, read my posts Enjoy the Birds and Bees in Your Own Backyard and Gardening for Hummingbirds, and Create a Butterfly Garden.

For even more information, plan on attending some of these activities in the area which have been planned for National Pollinator Week.

June 20th - 24th, 10:00 am - 1pm daily  
Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave, Wheaton, MD 20902
Learn about pollination and pollinators, vote for your favorite pollinator, play "I Spy" pollinator scavenger hunt, plant a flower to attract pollinators in your garden.
Contact Lynn Richard , lynn.richard@montgomeryparks

June 21, 2011 - 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.  
USDA Bee Research Laboratory, Bldg 476, Entomology Road, Beltsville, MD 20705
The BRL will host an open house for the public to highlight honey bee research activities conducted at the nation’s capital by the USDA Agriculture Research Service. Visit the lab and hear about our research, advanced beekeeping techniques, and how to identify bee diseases. A detailed agenda and directions to the lab will be posted on our web site during May. Contact - Bart Smith bart.smith@ars.usda.gov , http://www.ars.usda.gov

Tuesday June 21, 2011, 11am-3pm  
Smithsonian's National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Come explore the exciting world of pollinators! All the fun takes place behind the Invertebrate Exhibit. Discover which of your favorite snacks you wouldn’t have without the helpful honeybee and its wild relatives. And taste the difference a plant makes when it comes to honey at our Pollination and Food table. Butterflies are more than just beautiful, they are pollinators too! Learn all about how they do it at our Butterfly table. Discover the secret language of color that plants and pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, use to communicate. You can even make your own pollination pinwheel at our activity table. Sure, you’ve heard of honeybees and bumblebees, but did you know there are thousands of other types of bees buzzing around in your backyard? Learn all about how these bees live and help keep our planet green at our Bee table.
Contact : Amy Rutherford, rutherfordam@si.edu , http://nationalzoo.si.edu
Don't Miss These Keeper Talks
11:30 – Native Bees
12:30 – Butterflies
1:30 – Hummingbirds
2:30 – Flower Power

June 25th, 2011 - 10am - 2pm  
University of Maryland Extension, Salisbury Zoo, Salisbury, MD 21801
The Maryland Master Gardeners will have a display on pollinators - high lighting butterflies. plants and flowers that provide nectar and pollin will also be on display. A local bee keeper and the University of Maryland State Specialist will also be there with handouts and live bees.
Following the Pollinators Day, a local bee keeper and Ginny Rosenkranz, Extension Educator, will create a video on beekeeping, finding Queens, opening up a hive and talking about the plants that need pollinators to provide us with the vegetables and fruits of summer. the video will be available as Delmarva Gardens - pollinators.
Contact Ginny Rosenkranz rosnkrnzy@umd.edu  

Virginia, By proclamation, Governor Robert F. McDonnell declared June 20-26, 2011 as Pollinator Week in the State of Virginia.

June 25, 2011 - Noon - 5pm
Rockwood Backyard Beekeeper Association, Rockwood Nature Center 3401 Courthouse Road, North Chesterfield, VA 23236
Celebrate the role of honeybees and other pollinators in agriculture and our ecosystem. Knowledgeable speakers will offer presentions on an array of current and interesting topics such as basic beekeeping, native bees and how to attract them, what's happening to our bees, landscaping for pollinators, and more. Children's and Family Activities Include: Arts and Crafts, Games, Contests, Prizes, Facepainting, Array of honey and other products will be available for sampling and sale. Contact: Kristi Orcutt; Ken Woodard, mrbeeva@yahoo.com, chesterfieldoutdoorprograms.com

June 25 and 26, 2011  
Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, Bon Air Park; Wilson Blvd & N. Lexington St., Arlington, VA 22205
Arlington’s Bon Air Park is home to two demonstration gardens maintained by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, in support of the Arlington County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Visit the Sunny Demonstration Garden on Saturday, June25, to learn what’s happening in the early summer garden, how to attract birds and butterflies, and how to maintain your garden during the hot days of summer.Then, visit the Shade Demonstration Garden on Sunday, June 26, to learn about summer color and texture for shady places in your yard,attractive ground covers for replacing invasive English ivy and planting for pollinators. Contact: Mary Free, mmf222@verizon.net

June 25th, 2011 - 10am-3pm  
Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve & Piedmont Environmental Council, 21085 The Woods Road, Leesburg, VA 20175
"Bee Local" discussions about honeybees, agriculture, and colony collapse disorder. Games, hayrides, and butterfly garden activities for kids.
Contact: Kim Winter, kwinter@pecva.org, http://www.pecva.org/

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