Texas Gardener: Things to Do in July

By this period in a Texas summer, we are in the middle of 100-plus degree days, rain is irregular, and the atmosphere is heavy. Should you really feel like slipping under these conditions, your garden probably feels exactly the same. But we Texans (zones 8a, 8b, 9a) are a tough audience, and so are our gardens. Take a little extra attention, along with your summer garden may stay lush, green and fit throughout the growing season.


Plant heat-loving flowers: there are lots of vibrant flowers that will take our Texas heat and laugh it off. To add a refreshing color to your summer garden, plant zinnias, ageratum, Blue daze, periwinkle, wax begonia, portulaca, purslane and torenia. Make sure you plant them in locations where they are going to get the appropriate quantity of sun or shade, and water them well after planting to get them established.

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Watch out for garden bugs: Summer is celebration season for many garden pests and diseases like spider mites, leaf rollers, aphids, chinch bugs, fleas, ticks, chiggers, grubs, scale, powdery mildew and webworms. Some ornamental crops, like roses, are particularly susceptible to aphids and powdery mildew, so keep ahead of these problems before they take their toll in your garden.

To manage pests, start with the least invasive methods possible — handpicking them or hitting them with a hard spray of water. If they are not causing too much harm, you might opt to make them, but if they start ravaging your berries or ruining your lawn, be sure you identify the pest or disease you are dealing with before you treat with any chemicals. The local county extension office or trustworthy nursery will have the ability to help you determine the problem and choose a suitable treatment.

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Plant vegetables and fruits: Strategy for your harvest garden by planting pumpkins and sweet potatoes from early to mid July, and planting corn, eggplant and peppers from mid to late July. If you are sowing seeds, be sure to check the back of the seed packet for advice regarding the number of times it takes for this particular plant to reach adulthood and start producing produce. Basil, oregano and thyme are bulletproof herbaceous plants to plant from 4-inch nursery transplants. Try a few more unusual varieties such as spicy globe basil, cinnamon basil, Thai basil, lemon thyme, coconut thyme, pink lemonade thyme, hot and hot lavender, and Greek oregano.

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Protect yourself from the heat: If you are planning to work outside in the garden, remember to protect yourself in the heat and sun. Drink a lot of water, apply sunscreen, wear gloves and don a wide-brimmed coat to shield your face and neck. Shades are also valuable in protecting your eyes from the Texas sun that is powerful.

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Entire a garden project: Build an arbor for your garden entryway, build a trellis to showcase a climbing rose, lay a pathway to create walking through the garden easier or create some decorative plant markers. Have one long-term and many short-term jobs going to keep your energy and interest level high in July — your garden will thank you in the end of the season.

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Plan your fall garden: It is not too early to get a head start in your fall garden. Plot it out on graph paper, produce plant lists, remove perennial weeds prior to tilling the new bed, and include compost or fertilizer to enhance your soil. Step beyond the anticipated and mix your edible plants such as vegetables and herbs, along with your decorative crops and flowers.

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Practice great lawn maintenance: Mow your lawn in the suggested height for your grass type which you have, and never remove more than a third of the total height of your lawn in one mowing. Be sure your lawn mower blade is sharp so as to make clean cuts, and also keep your mower in good working condition throughout the season when it is used the maximum.

Water less frequently but more deeply to encourage deep grass roots; they will be convenient throughout our generally dry summers. Always stick to any water constraints or watering instructions for your area, but think about adding a rain detector to your automatic irrigation system. It is going to automatically turn your system off if you have had rain so your lawn is not overwatered.

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Feed the birds: And while you’re at it, home them and them, also. Add birdbaths to your garden, and make sure they are kept clean and full of clean water. Bird seed can be saved in feeders, and birdhouses are great places for birds to nest and raise their own young. If you have pets such as cats and dogs, keep an eye on them when they are outside in the yard to safeguard your garden birds’ security.

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