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Yesterday was a first. I actually made a wood fire in the fireplace on the back porch, and its mid-July in Oklahoma! I almost thought I was at our old cabin in the Colorado mountains sitting by the fire. Compared to many of the recent summers we’ve experienced in Oklahoma, with brutal heat and little rainfall, the summer of 2014 is turning out to be quite a godsend. So while the rain does mess up our production schedule somewhat, we’ll take the benefits that it provides.

So how does this cool, rainy weather affect lawns and landscapes in Tulsa and NE Oklahoma? Well for one, you can and should turn off your irrigation system for a while, and give it a break. That’s a good thing for your water bill, with the 2” of rainfall last week, and now a day or so of good soaking rains. These are the types of rains which really soak into the deeper layers of soil, causing the turf roots to grow deep. And that’s a good thing, so when the very top soil layer dries out later, there will still be good soil moisture deep being utilized by those deep roots.

Some people water too much, not only wasting precious water resources, but also hurting the turf. Excess soil moisture cuts off the oxygen supply in the soil, which is bad for the turf. Too much rain or irrigation leaches out soil nitrogen faster, leading to a negative impact on green turf color later on. Summer weeds such as crabgrass and nutgrass love saturated soils, so they can proliferate in wet soils. And, turf diseases such as Brown Patch can be more severe in wet periods and with over-watering.

So turn off the sprinklers and let Mother Nature do her thing! Get outdoors and enjoy the green turf, trees, and landscapes in Tulsa and NE Oklahoma this July, instead of sitting in the air conditioning trying to stay cool as we normally do during July. With the rains, bermudagrass will be growing like crazy into July, so now is a great time to try Primo, our great turfgrass growth regulator, which slows down the growth of grass by 50% for up to 6 weeks with one treatment. Our customers who have this service done several times during the summer love it, as it saves time, money, and their turf actually is greener and thicker with the Primo treatment.

Our LawnAmerica guys also love this cool summer weather. Normally, they are dog tired by 1:00 with working in 90 and 100 degree heat. Not now…..they just keep on working into the afternoons killing weeds and fertilizing grass, like the energizer bunny. So give em’ a shot on your lawn if not already doing so! They’re good, and they service more turf than anyone in Oklahoma.

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Daylilies need to be divided every three to four years to maintain vigor. Though they may be divided in early spring before growth starts, it is more common to divide them at this time of year. Many gardeners cut back the tops to about half their original height to make plants easier to handle.

Daylilies have a very tough root system that can make them difficult to divide while in place. Dividing in place is practical if it hasn’t been long since the last division. In such cases, a spading fork can be used to peel fans from the existing clump. If the plants have been in place longer and are well grown together, it is more practical to divide them after the entire clump has been dug.

Use a spade to lift the entire clump out of the ground. Although it is possible to cut the clump apart with a sharp spade, you'll save more roots by using two spading forks back-to-back to divide the clump into sections. Each section should be about the size of a head of cauliflower. An easier method involves using a stream of water from a garden hose to wash the soil from the clump, and then rolling the clump back and forth until the individual divisions separate.

Space divisions 24 to 30 inches apart, and set each at its original depth. The number of flowers will be reduced the first year after division but will return to normal until the plants need to be divided again.

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What a summer we are having this year! One can actually go outside during the day and enjoy it. Our lawns in Tulsa and Northeast Oklahoma are actually thick and green, compared to burnt and brown as they have been in many recent years. Whether global warming is just not all that it is cranked up to be, or we are just catching a break with a different weather pattern, I'll take it.

With all of the rain, I've not had to run my sprinkler system that much either, which is nice. For healthy turf, about 1.5" of moisture is needed per week, and for the most part, Mother Nature has been providing that and then some in certain weeks. So just save yourself some money and turn off your sprinklers. Some homeowners and businesses though just keep them running no matter what the weather is like. This is not only wasteful, it also is bad for your lawn. Excessive irrigtion or rainfall will bring about more weed problems, as most weeds love water. Pre-emergent products applied earlier in spring will decompose and break down sooner with excessive soil moisture. Therefore, there may not be enough product left in the soil to stop crabgrass and other late summer weeds from popping up. Turf roots also be affected, as too much water in the soil takes the place of air, so oxygen needed by the roots is absent. So let your turf dry out some before turning on your irrigation.

Excessive moisture and wet turf also causes more turf discease problems, such as Brown Patch on Fescue and Large Patch on Zoysia. So again, just turn off the sprinklers and let the turf dry out some. There is nothing as good as a deep rainfall with 1-2" of rain, which allows the moisture to reach deeper soil levels. This deep soil moisture can be utilized for a week or more, so let the roots use that and keep the topgrowth dry. The soaking rains have also helped our trees and landscape plants recover.

One of the biggest pleasures this summer has been working all day without feeling like you've been beaten up in the process. Our LawnAmerica guys are actually smiling when they get back to the shop, and I'm happy because they can stay out longer into the afternoon to work in such mild conditions. And it's been so cool that I can enjoy a great Oklahoma sunset from the back porch at the Oh Be Joyful Farm!

summer sunset

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Yesterday that "passing shower" just kept on coming, ending up with over 2" of rain in most areas of Tulsa and NE Oklahoma. That's rare for July in Oklahoma, so I'll take it, even though it messed up our work day. Generally, Tulsa lawns require about 1.5" of water per week to look good during the summer. So when we get good, soaking rains such as this, one can turn off their irrigation system for a few days. A 2" rain will get the water down deep into the soil, where the deeper roots can pick it up. So it's OK to let the top soil surface dry out a little now. Just don't think that this rain will last you for several weeks, as it will not. We do have rain in the forecast again for next week, along with cooler temperatures. Your lawn will appreciate that, as will everyone else in Tulsa I'm sure.

Summer is a great time to aerate lawns in Oklahoma, especially now with the good soil moisture present after the soaking rains. This allows our aeration machines to pull nice, deep soil plugs, almost 3" long, with holes in the lawn about every 4" or so. That's alot of holes in the lawn, which help loosen up compacted soil and allow oxygen to reach the root system better. Yes, turf roots do need oxygen to remain healthy, and they get that from the soil. This summer, we are offering our Holganix liquid organic soil ammendment applied at 50% off, if done at the same time as aeration. Contact LawnAmerica for more informaition.

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I have three dwarf Crape Myrtles in a small landscape bed tucked away in a corner, which I don't really notice that much. Last week I checked them out and was dismayed at how awful they looked, whith black sooty mold on the leaves. Sooty mold is caused by a heavy infestation of aphids, which are tiny inects found on the underneath side of the leaves which suck plant juices from the leaves as they feed. The aphids then secret a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew, which then causes the black sooty mold to form on the leaves. So it's an ugly cycle, all caused by the aphids coming in and feeding on the Crape Myrtles.

If I was on our LawnAmerica Tree & Shrub Program, my Crape Myrtles would probably be looking just fine. Aphids can be controlled with an insecticide treatment applied, usually during the summer. Aphids typically come in and feed on certain plants, such as Crape Myrtles, vegetable plants, and certain trees such as Maples. If the poplulation is large, they can damage leaves with their feeding to the extint that plants are damaged, leaves turn yellow or drop, and even death. If inseciticide sprays are used, the plants much be drenched thoroughly, as the insects are found usually on the underneath side of leaves. Some insects such as Ladybugs are natural predators of aphids, so this will help if you have some of those good insects. However, there are usually not enough natural predators to keep the aphid population down in some cases, so spraying will be necessary. Several treatments may be needed also for best results.